|Vintage Sears Garden Tractors
For the past few years I’ve been moving firewood from where I cut it in the woods to my splitting log in the back yard by use of a
wheelbarrow. The ground is loamy and hidden obstacles would sometimes stop me dead. Hitting a hidden stump is not a good thing
while trying to push a fully loaded wheelbarrow. It was hard work. I was growing tired of the logs spilling out when crashes happened. I
needed a small trailer to use behind my tractor to haul the wood out.
I had found two discarded wheelbarrows recently. There were enough parts to make one good wheelbarrow. The more I looked at it
though, the more I realized that I should try to use the pieces to make a wood hauling trailer for the Suburban. Normally I just tow my
utility trailer around the yard behind the tractor. It's really too wide to bring into the woods. I am constantly replacing my signal lights
because of hitting trees. I also tend to overload the trailer with too much wood for the Suburban to pull comfortably.
My first attempt at construction of my wood hauling trailer was semi-successful. The weak point is the Harbor Freight wheels I used.
The metal hub is very weak and bends with any amount of sideways thrust. I will rebuild the trailer when I get better wheels. At that
time I'll also make some other changes to make it more sturdy.
Here's what it looks like. The "legs" from the wheelbarrow frame
makes it ride high. Not a bad thing for what I'm using it for. The extra
clearance keeps it from getting hung up on stuff. The wood frame is
made of pieces of cull wood from Home Depot. I always look at the
cull rack every time I'm there. The trailer length was determined by the
shortest piece of wood. In this case it was 46".
You'll recognize that the axle supports for the trailer are straight off the
wheelbarrow. A closer look and you will see that the wheelbarrow axle
support brackets are holding the axle on the trailer. The lateral supports for
the axle assembly are also from the wheelbarrow. Yup...I'm that cheap. As
mentioned above, the wheels stink. Any side thrust on them, or just a lot of
weight, will easily bend them. They are rated at 300 lbs. each, but I would
say that's wishful thinking.
The tongue is supported by a scrap piece of 4X4. You can't see it
well in the pic, but there are three big lag bolts through the pipe into
the wood. The pipe came from my old heating system. The grey
metal are L brackets I picked up somewhere. The bottom 2X6's on
both sides are merely supports for the vertical 2X4's which hold the
I wanted the trailer to be small and it is. The small size makes it easy
to maneuver in the tight woods. It also prevents me from putting too
much weight on it. The woods floor is thick with leaves, hidden
downfalls and other obstacles. Trying to pull too much weight there
makes an uncomfortable ride. I keep the blade on the front for extra
weight and too keep the tractor from lifting the front wheels. I
wouldn't even try it without tire chains or AG tires.
***UPDATE: Two weeks later.***
|Vintage Sears Garden Tractors
Well, I knew it was inevitable; the second time I used the trailer a wheel
broke. Poor manufacturing, weak metal and bad quality control all
conspired to give me a catastrophic wheel failure. The trailer had less than
300 total pounds on it when the wheel failed. Again, sidewards thrust, in
this case caused by a turn, caused the damage. I wish I had saved the
receipt. I took a trip to a local scrap yard, Porchtown Recycling, in search
of new wheels. They keep a section of mowers and tractors there for
people to pick parts from. I found two wheels from the front of a
Craftsman riding mower that looked almost new.
The new wheels had a 3/4" axle hole, grease fittings and replaceable
bronze bearings.....all pluses in my book. I should have gone this
route from the beginning. The wheels gave me three issues: I needed
a new axle, new mount system, and the tires hit the support bracket.
The picture covers my solutions. I did away with the 5/8" axle and
mount system. U-Bolts now hold the axle on. It's more secure than
the old system, plus the old mounting holes even lined up. A piece of
water pipe was used as a spacer to keep the wheels away from the
support on each side.
Here's the new wheels. Not only is the metal heavier and stronger, but the
tires seem a lot more rugged than the old ones. They are wider also,
which will help keep them from sinking into the woods loam. The whole
upgrade, minus shopping time, took about an hour. It cost about twenty
dollars. I made a couple other changes on the trailer when I was at it. I
used lag bolts to hold the upright supports on the trailer sides and I moved
the 2X6 sides to the outside of the uprights. The wider wheels now stuck
out from the trailer bed. Having the trailer sides wider not only gave more
room on the bed, but also will help keep the wheels from getting hung up
***UPDATE: Only one day later.***
I love this weather...40 degrees and sunny....so I was cutting wood
again. I figured that the new wheels and axle needed the test, so I gave it
to them. About 500 lbs. of wood should do it. FAIL! It proved too
much for the cheap steel of the wheelbarrow axle supports (legs). Oh
well....back to the garage. I love the Suburban's pulling power; I didn't
even feel the drag of the skidding wheel when I was pulling the trailer
fully loaded. I noticed the trailer was low on one side when I went to
Here's the new mounting plan. That's more cull lumber from Home
Depot to the rescue. I had some 4 X 6 and 4 X 4 pieces that I picked
up for no specific reason a while ago. I also had 1/2 X 8 lag bolts
from some old project in the garage. The mounting for the axle
stumped me at first, but I found conduit mounting brackets that will
do for the time being. That will be the new weak point, as they are
not very heavy. When I get a chance, I'll mount angle iron on the
supports and reuse the U-bolts I had holding the axle before. I tested
the trailer after this upgrade to see how it worked. Two of the biggest
loads yet and no problems. I love playing with this kind of stuff,
especially when it actually works!
It's March 2012 now and I've used the trailer on and off
for almost 3 months for hauling wood. It's working great,
with no more failures. I'm just a weekend woodcutter
who enjoys being out in the woods, so I'll take down one
tree at a time, load it on the trailer and bring it to the
splitting area. There is no shortage of oak trees to saw, as
about half of the red oaks in my woodlot are dead or
dying from Oak Decline. I only take the standing dead or
recent downfalls. These are mature, beautiful trees that I
hate to see die. They get the typical summer leaf drop,
then sucker branches growing off the trunk, then next
year they are dead. The wood is dead and decaying on
these trees just below the bark when you saw into them.
The center is still solid through.