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Anyone converted a garden tractor to electric?

 
steward
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I have a 1974 John Deere 110 garden tractor that I mow, snow blow and haul wood with.  It's leaky and stinky but it works well and usually starts.  I'm toying with the idea of converting it to electric.  I've found a few websites and videos on the topic but not too many that cover my style of tractor (non hydraulic and one constant speed engine to run everything).  

Has anyone on here done something like this?

Is there a relatively common and cheapish motor that would have similar oomph to the 10hp Kohler that's in it now?

I believe I'd just need one motor to exchange for the engine, batteries and a way to turn it on and off.  I'm not even sure that I'd need a speed control for the motor since this tractor has a "variator" that acts like a variable transmission AND the clutch pedal is intended to also adjust speed as needed.

Thanks!
 
steward
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I sure haven't done that, but it sounds like a fun project.

my only (possibly) helpful input is that I've heard of folks using surplus electric forklift motors for conversions like this.
 
pollinator
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I've got an unpowered Wheel Horse tractor that I was planning to make electric, as a hauling machine. I talked to a friend, Ted Dillard who has written for Home Power about EV cycles, and he had also done an electric lawn tractor conversion.

He hauled it out one day and showed me.

I think he had used an industrial DC motor, but had recommended finding an electric golf car as a donor, since there was also the chance of controls and charger to use as well.

 
gardener
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I like your idea Kenneth.
Mike,  I would be inclined to wait till your tractor was dead before making such a radical change.
I think of this as Conservation of Functionality , aka,  ain't broke, don't fix.
A broken down tractor should be cheap compared to the cost of the DC motor and batteries,  if you want to get started right away,  and not wait for the John Deer to die.
 
Mike Haasl
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Thanks for the input everyone!  I'll keep an eye out for forklift motors or golf cart motors/batteries.  Kenneth, did you mean that Ted suggested a golf cart for the motor as well?  I didn't realize they were that powerful...

True William, I'm loath to change a working gas tractor into a halfass kinda working electric tractor.  But if it did work flawlessly, I'll be happy I took the plunge.  

I guess at this point I'm just trying to figure out what I'll need if/when I do it so that if I run across the right motor, I'll know to grab it.
 
Kenneth Elwell
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Yes, for the motor, and the controls, charger. A pretty simple (pre-engineered) kit to marry to the tractor. Rather than sourcing all new parts ($$) or cobbling random finds together.

The golf cars are made to move two adults, two sets of clubs, beer?... seats, fenders, and a roof.
They're often 36V, so 3x12V or 6x6V.

There's all levels of used golf carts out there... rusted hulks, rolling chassis but no guts, charger/or not, good runners with bad batteries, and turn key ones.
I figured I would aim for a good runner with bad/missing batteries, and build a 4-wheel trailer out of the chassis to go with the E-lawn tractor.
I found, but did not have time to go get a free one on Craigslist a few years back.

There's even MORE broken down lawn tractors out there! Often with blown motors... aw shucks... what to do!?!?
 
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Mike, check out https://endless-sphere.com/forums/viewforum.php?f=34&sid=bd5445486ad77c50f7ca444acdd27709 endless sphere. Lots of documented mods some pretty good.
 
Mike Haasl
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Thanks Kenneth, I'm hoping that it would not only be able to move the tractor around but also either run the three blade mower deck or the 38" single stage snowblower.  I'm guessing that those take more power than locomotion but I'm really not sure.  And I've never ridden in a golf cart so I could be underestimating their snort.  I have been around electric forklifts so I'm fairly certain they have the horsepower.

Fitting existing stuff that works together into the tractor would be much easier than piecing it all together.  I'm more mechanical than electrical...

Thank Tj!  I hadn't see that forum before.  I'll dive into that for a few days and see what I find
 
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Edmond Electric makes a conversion kit also just plans to convert a gas lawn tractor to battery power,  website:-     ElectricLawnTractor.com
 
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Mike,  Did this project idea ever make it to assembly?  I have a dead Craftsman riding mower.  I'm thinking it would make a useful electric get around if I can find a cost effecient way to re-power it.  Been looking at the electric add on motors for bicycles.  The volume of production makes them cheap but I worry they are not designed for the continuous high power required for a 600+ pound tractor vs bicycle duty.  Tom
 
gardener
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Mike, I am curious as to how much you would change out on the tractor.  For instance, would you keep the existing transmission?  Would the mower/blower continue to be belt-driven?  Would the mower/blower get their own, separate motors and batteries (though that could get expensive)?  This sounds like a really cool project, but as I have found with my little battery box, I am pretty certain that it will get more complicated in practice than in theory.

Just to satisfy my curiosity, how much would you need to mow & blow?  These might put practical limits on the number of batteries in your tractor.  I have recently seen some electric zero turn mowers at Home Depot and I might start there just to see how much run time and acreage they were getting out of those before starting.

Still, a really cool idea,

Eric
 
Mike Haasl
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I dropped the project after not really seeing any successful implementations elsewhere.  If I'm gonna be the inventor I'd need to be more invested in it.

I ended up getting a cheap riding mower from a neighbor that had a collection bin in the back.  Works great for chipping up leaves and collecting grass/leaves in the fall for the garden.

The John Deere is my snowblowing machine now.  I fixed the source of the stinky/leaky (gasket on carb) and the not starting bit with a aluminum thingie and it runs well now.  I use it occasionally in the summer to pull a trailer for wood harvesting but it's mainly a winter tractor now.

For my needs, it would've needed to be able to mow for at least a half hour.  A full hour would be better.  Snow blowing for 20-30 minutes.  I would've had to keep the rear transmission/differential but the belt drive for that and the snowblower were on the same shaft.  So I probably would have ended up with a motor in the place of the engine with the output shaft near where the take off clutch is.  It probably would've been a really painful project so I'm glad I didn't take it on.
 
Eric Hanson
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Mike, I can’t blame you for dropping the project.

The electric modification would be really interesting project but I am not certain that I would want it to replace my actual garden tractor yet.  There is also the problem of what to use to mow/blow/pull while the modification process is being worked on,  this sounds suspiciously like another tractor and even more expense—just what you don’t need.

Great that you got the existing tractor fixed,  maybe if you feel really ambitious a home built electrical tractor could be in your future.
 
pollinator
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Mike check out the http://www.evalbum.com/type/JOHN there are examples of lots of conversions of John Deere and other tractors.
 
James Sullivan
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This group has been building a skid steer machine with different implements, open source.
https://wiki.opensourceecology.org/wiki/Main_Page
 
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