Monday, April 21, 2014

Pull-Behind Lawn Roller

Project:
Building a 44" lawn roller that I can pull behind my lawn tractor

Difficulty Level (Easy, Medium, Hard, Insane):
Medium

Process:
Ever since I've seeded my yard in 2009 it has been quite bumpy. Probably because the push lawnmower wheels sank into the soft top soil. Since then I've wanted to level it out and make it a bit more pleasant to walk on and mow.

My dad made a heavy-duty lawn roller out of an old water tank and filled that sucker up with concrete so it weighs about 2000lbs and makes a perfectly smooth (boccia ball quality). Although it would have been nice to make a really heavy one like that I opted for making one that can be filled with water. It's not as heavy and probably doesn't work as nicely but it's certainly easier to transport.

I've been on the lookout for a water tank and I was pricing out some old 48" long propane tanks but they wanted $70 bucks at the scrap yard and this project wasn't supposed to cost much because I didn't really "need" it...

A friend of mine who works at a plumbing store hooked me up with an old hot water tank so my son and I took it apart (always wanted to see what they looked like on the inside) and I was surprised at how large the tank actually was. There was only about an inche of polyurethane insulation, everything else was tank.

After I cut off the various protruding iron flanges off and welded the holes shut I drilled a 1-1/4" hole where I wanted to be able to fill the tank, made a tap (like in tap & die set) out of a black iron nipple, slapped an o-ring on a plastic cap and got started thinking about how I can pull it behind my lawn tractor.

As for the materials I used, a few weeks ago I burned out my treadmill (my wife had burned out the first treadmill a few years back). Back then, we replaced it with an identical Sportcraft TX390 treadmill we found on kijiji and I took the one she burned out to make a ball mill for my Home Foundry.

I still had most of the metal from the first treadmill frame lying around so I figured I could use that material with the material of the frame of the second treadmill to make a frame for the roller.

The only thing I had to buy was 5' of 1" solid round steel for the axle and two 1" bearings that were on sale for $6 bucks each at princess auto (love that store!).

A few hours of welding and it was done. Took it for a test drive on Friday and was actually able to do my entire lawn in about 15 minutes. Now it is noticeably smoother and all the rocks from the driveway I flung on the lawn during  my snow blowing are pushed into the grass now too which is a bonus...saves me from raking the lawn this year...

Videos:



Pictures:
Inspired by dad's creation
After I got rid of all the insulation and patched up the holes
All the left-over metal from the hot water heater
doing a preliminary layout of the pull mechanism
welding the two treadmill arm rests into a puller
Here's the hole I'll use to fill up the tank with water later on
The plastic cap on the right and the hardened tap made out of a 1-1/4" iron nipple
Top view of the tap
The cap with an o-ring sealing off the hole
Support splines for the axle
The axle inside of the water tank heating hole
A view a little bit further away
After the axle was welded in I filled it with concrete to give it another 50lbs weight
Filling in the concave end of the water tank (the one that was at the bottom by the burner)
At first I was going to use nuts & bolts to make the arm removable but later changed my mind
Almost done, when I realized that it didn't look very nice
I ended up filling in the gap with some more square tubing and removed the bolted on pieces
Almost done
Measuring the cross brace
Close-up of the cross brace
My little helper
Filling it with 50 gal water
He did such a good job!
The grass reminds me of Saskatoon in the summer

Tools:
Angle grinder
Measuring tape
MIG welder
Crow bar
Oxy/Acetylene torch to heat treat the tap
Screwdrivers
Knife to cut insulation
C-clamps
Drill
Socket set
Drill press
 

Materials:
Old hot water tank
5' of 1" cold rolled round steel
Two 1" bearings
Parts of the frames of two treadmills

Cost:
$28.00

Time:
4hrs

Savings:
$150.00

Conclusion:
Works like a charm

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