July 12, 2019

Tractor Wagon

We get a lot of use from our wheelbarrows and garden cart. But Dan wanted something that could carry larger, heavier loads than what we can manage with those, especially since most of this year's firewood is down the hill in the woods. We looked at both new and used pull carts for lawn tractors, but in the end, he decided to build a wagon from an old riding lawn mower.

Dan tore an old broken riding mower down to just the frame. 

The two by fours were scraps. Their function is to raise the bed
of the wagon above the back tires. The angle iron came from the 
crate our chipper was shipped in. Dan cut and welded it to fit.

The sides are pressure-treated decking boards.

Steering closeup. Dan had to do a bit of welding to get the steering stable.

Ditto with the tractor side.

Then a bit of paint,

and she was ready to go.

The only advantage a commercial cart has over Dan's is that they can dump their loads, while this one can't. But that's a small trade-off for making something mostly out of materials we already had. Dan bought only the decking boards, so the entire wagon cost under $20 to make.

The wagon holds 5 wheelbarrow loads of wood chips.

Being able to transport larger, heavier loads is the kind of useful convenience that enables us to work smarter not harder. We need to get the job done without wearing ourselves out! And that helps us keep things manageable as we get older.

Our workhorse wagon is champion at hauling firewood.

The right equipment is so important around a homestead, although I have to say it usually takes us awhile to figure it out. That probably sounds strange, but with a limited budget we often do things by hand because at the time there isn't another choice. As we analyze what we do and how we do it, we discuss options and look for sensible technology; usually the simpler the better. It takes some time to make decisions, but I think we've been able to make the best choices for us that way.


  1. Oh, I love repurposing old things! Although storing them, can be a bit of a mess. This wagon though, is a wonderful new tool and a credit to Dan's skillset. One trip, instead of five, and using up the mess (I mean, repurposing pile). Saving money, is the bonus.

    Goodness, how long we've waited to improve the way we do things, because of budget! I'm embarresed to list them all. But you can only do what you can do, and be patient in the meantime. Often the solution in the end, is the right one. :)

  2. Chris, "repurposing pile." I like that! Dan and I often feel like finances define progress, so when the materials and an idea come together, it's exciting! The right equipment makes things so much easier.

  3. Brilliant. You guys are brilliant! Dan is a magician with found/repurposed objects. Question: the pics don't give a good shot of the back end of the cart .... is the back part removable for easy loading/emptying? My old cart had 3 pieces of wood in a groove and easily slid in/out. Boy, I can see you guys getting a LOT of use out of this new baby.

  4. WOW I love the mower frame and wheels!!! Amazing.

  5. Kris, yes, the back end of the cart is removable, the same as you describe on yours. And you're right, it does make for easier unloading!

    Seeking Serenity, it turned out pretty well, didn't it? The tires are nice because they make it less of a battle to pull over rougher terrain.

  6. I know a fellow with a similar setup except the box is mounted to the frame with a hinge in back and the "dump" feature is one of those old car jacks mounted in the front. It's all manual but does get it up for many things to slide out fairly easy.

  7. What a wonderful creation for you and Dan. You do indeed strive to work smarter, not harder.

  8. A handsome and capable trailer! Does the lawn tractor struggle when it's full of firewood? Funny, I always thought of your property as flat!

  9. How handy! I love it when things can get a new life like that. I probably told you about my cutting table for the sewing room... Neighbor was giving a kitchen table away, hubby used wood scraps to raise it up to 34" tall and made shelves underneath. Then added legs to the extension leaves to build two desks that we put on either side of my sewing machine table to make a U shape. Now I have my serger on the right desk, the sewing machine in the middle and then the left desk is to hold up large items. It has been super handy as I have had three curtain jobs recently.
    But hubby learned this from the best... we have a wall unit that my father in law made from discarded kitchen cabinets and shelves. When the inlaws had bought their house, the subdivision was still under construction. As the homes were all custom there were many items that the contractor would put in a house and then have to rip out if the buyer didn't want them... so FIL would take a walk each evening and check out the dumpsters. He became friendly with the contractors so they would leave him the good stuff outside of the dumpster to make it easier for him. He was also able to get some sliding closet doors to make a big storage closet in his garage.
    We also have some extra pews for our church that are going to be converted into coat racks and shelves.

  10. So smart!!! I love this post!! What a great idea, and yes...making things easier and more manageable as we age is what we need to do!

  11. What a great project - is there anything Dan can't do??? That cart is going to come in handy for so many things!

  12. Ed, that's a great idea. I'm not sure if Dan thought about trying to make the wagon dump or not. It would certainly be a value added feature, but I can't complain about how it's turned out.

    Sue, that's exactly the idea! Hard to imagine how we ever got along with out it. :)

    Michelle, the lawn tractor does just fine. The only struggle is that there's a steep hill coming out of the woods with very little traction. So sometimes the wagon's tires don't catch. The lawn mower has a 17HP engine, I believe.

    Renee, very clever about your sewing table. There's so much that can be done with "discards!" And good for your FIL! It's horrible to think all that perfectly good stuff would end up in a dumpster. Unfortunately, that's standard form in the manufacturing world.

    Rain, thanks! Anything to make the job easier!

    Susan, so far I haven't found anything he can't do, lol. He wouldn't agree, but I can always trust he'll come up with something. :)

  13. Neither my husband or I have ever been handy. Our son is, however. Not sure where that came from. We have always admired those that can work out a solution without buying a solution.

  14. Perfect Leigh! Dan has engineered quite an awesome addition to your acreage! That will be priceless! Never thought of using an old mower frame, but gives endless possibilities for future projects for a lot of us folks out here! Thanks a lot for sharing.

  15. Very creative and the price was excellent. - Margy

  16. RT, I don't consider myself very handy either, which makes me especially thankful for Dan's ability. :)

    Wyomingheart, when Dan first mentioned making a wagon out of our old broken down mower, I couldn't see it. So many times we discussed getting rid of that thing, but he always kept it because the engine still worked. Turns out it wasn't the engine he used after all, but it works!

    Thanks Margy!

  17. Major cart envy and admiration here!

    I after 12 years of service finally had to give up and recycled my red wagon I use to do feeding chores for the last time. It was beyond resurrection.

    Isn’t it fun where a little thought and elbow grease can take one?

  18. Goatldi, a wagon at feeding time would be a great help! I can just see all my little bucks trying to jump into it at the same time. :)

  19. Love it. When we use a trailer that doesn't tip to move brash and clippings we lie a rachet strap in the bottom first. then when we get where we need to be tie ti to something and drive away. Everything comes out then with the strap. normally anyway!

  20. It helps a lot to have Dan who is a super handyman and has the talent to do so many things on the homestead in the way of making and/or crafting nifty things like your new wagon/cart.

    Papa Pea made something like yours that mounts on the front of our old Gravely garden tractor. It holds and hauls a good sized load but isn't as "mobile" as a pull behind trailer like yours.

  21. That looks so very nice....Roger was always one to make do. He could build about anything...

  22. Kev, we use a ratchet strap the same way! Firewood Dan just stacks out of the wagon and for chips he uses a flat nose shovel to "sweep" it out. Works pretty quickly. :)

    Mama Pea, great use for an old gravely! Any help like that helps. :)

    Rose, it's the old "necessity is the mother of invention!" Not having much money helps too, lol.

  23. Nice, job, Dan! What a beautiful job! That will be so useful for a long time, and you know it's sturdy because he built it himself.

  24. M.K., definitely sturdier than anything we could have bought ready made! It's finding lots of uses, including hauling tools and equipment from one section of the property to another.

  25. That's a beautiful thing! Gosh. Welding is one skill I've never had a chance to even try, let alone learn, and it's such a powerful and useful skill to have!
    Both my old wheelbarrows have been out of commission this year - one due to more rust than metal, and one with damage to the wheel hardware when the builder used it to move way too many heavy rocks, so the axle keeps coming out and I haven't been able to get the pieces that should hold it in place unskewed. So I'm down to the garden cart that I brought home as a tangle of broken pieces at the dump. I rebuilt that to a functional level, and use it ALL the time, but I did a pretty ramshackle job compared to your beautiful wagon!

  26. TB, Dan never ceases to amaze me. :)

    Quinn, thanks! Ramshackle is perfectly acceptable when it's useful! We have plenty of those on our list of credits, but I have to say that Dan outdid himself with this little wagon. It immediately went into to full time use and hasn't stopped yet!


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