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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I buy lots of stuff cheap, fix it up and call it my own. That's how I acquire my toys. Better engineered than new!

I own a fairly ordinary Cub Cadet 1040 Lawn tractor. It can do all sorts of amazing things.
This story is about how I took a fairly old, somewhat banged up, but hardly used Agrifab tow-behind sweeper and made life uber-easy on myself. I'm no spring chicken and getting off and on the mower to make adjustments is a major PITA, and other places too.

Part I was to automate the dump mechanism. Pulling and pushing a rope or stick to open and close the hopper ain't no fun especially if you are picking up stuff from the driveway and road that weighs a lot. I considered a linear actuator but went with a bottom of the line (cheap) Harbor Freight winch, due to the long range of motion I needed to move the hopper from its resting position to a full dump. This was the easy part.

I mounted the winch to the back of the tractor, above the tow hitch, with room enough to still access the hitch properly. I threw away the "remote control" that came with it and wired up a switch on the dashboard to a Solenoid under the seat along with an appropriate slow-blow fuse. Topped it off with switch illumination via the headlight on/off switch I previously installed. There was no good place to put a winch roller fairlead, so I'm just a little more careful when I wind the winch. This way I also have a winch available for another automation project I did for a core aerator.

Automotive tire Hood Tread Motor vehicle Wheel


I attached a carabiner onto the top of the hopper bar (see movie). The elongated shape of the carabiner was just the right size for the winch clevis snap hook to clip into with no effort. Saved some $ there. There's a video link herein that shows it in operation. I used it last fall and this spring and it worked like a champ over the course of 30-40 loads. Saved a lot of back work and more importantly, reduced work time significantly.


Tire Wheel Automotive tire Hood Vehicle
Circuit component Electrical wiring Hardware programmer Electronic engineering Motor vehicle




Part II of this project was to automate the sweeper height adjustment. This was by far the most rewarding and the most useful of all the mods I've ever done. That's because trying to find the right height to sweep has always been a series of adjustments that is quite time consuming. Each year I have seasons for: sticks, leaves, tiny seeds, fir tree needles and all sorts of grit that accumulates in the road. Each requires a different setting, and multiple passes. Each pass requires another, rather fine adjustment.


Tire Wheel Automotive tire Light Tread

For height adjustment control, I elected to use a 6" linear actuator from Progressive Automations. I was inspired by the video posted on YouTube where guy welded a bolt on to the sweeper height adjustment lever and then shaped a piece of metal to provide the length necessary to mount the top end of the actuator properly. See photos. While I know how to weld, I don't have the equipment. Being an engineer, and being cheap, I always am seeking a simpler, easier, more reliable and yet more effective way of of design. I decided to drill a hole adjacent to the sweeper height adjustment handle (push/pull handle removed) on the height adjustment lever, same place the fellow welded a nut. I then to fed a bolt from the inside end of that hole outward. To do that without disassembling the sweeper, I bored out the very top height adjustment hole (next picture below) just large enough to pass the head of my bolt through in order to reach the height adjustment lever hole I just drilled. I then raised the lever to align with the topmost hole and fed the bolt through the hole I bored, into and through the hole I drilled in the lever, until the head stopped inside the lever. I secured the bolt with a nut and lock washer. I then slid the actuator hole over the bolt and secured it with flat washers a nylon lock washer.

Tire Wheel Automotive tire Light Tread
Bicycle tire Automotive tire Tread Tire Wood


I formed my mounting bracket out of two pieces of steel bar. I measured the force required for the adjustment arm lever to move was pretty small, so attaching the actuator via a single bold projecting outward was sufficient, it would not cause either the bar or the bolt to deform. I didn't need to use a mounting buckle. I decided to put the motor end of the actuator up high to avoid any unpleasantries that mother earth may wish to cast upon it.
Automotive tire Hood Tire Motor vehicle Bumper



For power, I ran the wire from the actuator across the sweeper (leaving ample room for flex and turning), ending in a12 volt plug that would insert into a power outlet to be mounted on the tractor (next step).

For convenience, I mounted a weatherproof outlet for the actuator plug into near the hitch point, running wires to the switch (next step)

For a switch, I selected a double pole, double throw, momentary on, illuminated switched, which I cross-wired. Based on the anticipated force the actuator would be required to push, I calculated I only needed to supply 1 amp of current at 12 volts, so I decided to wire the actuator directly to a switch, avoiding the need for a solenoid and heavy gauge wire. Mounting the switch on the wheel well-made length of wire runs quite small.

I installed a 2-amp, slow blow (motor application) fuse dedicated to that plug.

One lesson I learned in ergonomics from the winch project is that it's better to put the switch on or near the rear of the fender wells, so you can see what's going on when you are pressing the switch the switch. You will also see in the video I used a permanent marker as reference guides for height adjustment (since I cannot see the side lever while seated.)

Testing
When I tested it out on the road, picking up these seeds the size of puffed wheat cereal, it was like graduating from "good enough" work to perfection. After each pass, I'd see how good a job it did, and tap or two the switch to lower it ever so slightly. About four passes and I was done. The ability to finely control sweeper brush depth was remarkably useful.

An advantage to having the height adjustment on a switch is that when you're done sweeping and ready to haul your load away, push the button to raise the sweeper height to the near top. At that height, it picks up nearly nothing along the way and is even tall enough to let me go over some small curbs in front of the dump site.

One caution. The guy in the first video entirely avoided showing you what happens to the dump bin if you pull it all the way forward. In his design, the bin will land smack dab on top of his actuator and in short order I'm sure punch a hole in the bin. I avoided that by attaching a horizonal "stop" slightly above the actuator, so the bin side frame rests on this little stop. See the photo showing the top of the actuator mount. Notice on mine that One of the steel rods ends slightly above the actuator. I put a very long bolt into that hole and put shrink-wrap over it. After holiday, I plan to cut off a piece of an old broom, drill a hole in the center of its length and screw it on the bolt, giving the frame something a bit more forgiving to hit. I suppose rubber would be better, but I couldn't find any in the shop and I'm cheap. I've got lots of broken broom handles.

Since this was my first attempt up-loading media here, it seems I cannot upload my videos of this beast in action. Space limitations I presume. Too bad. (I posted the videos on Google, you can find the links below).

My next show and tell project will be how I got my tow behind core aerator to raise and lower its wheels without me having to pull down on a side-mounted handle. I have my eye on a used de-thatcher I'm going to do the same thing to.

p.s. and for everyone who thinks it's cheaper to buy new than repair new, I've found that the newer the equipment, the more cheaply it's made and the more prone to failure it will be. I believe this applies to 95% of all mechanical products. Buying a machine that lasts half as long as an old one will cost you more in terms of money and aggravation, but the most important reason is that you are minimizing the manufacturing impact on our fragile little planet.
 

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I buy lots of stuff cheap, fix them up and use them. That's how I acquire my toys.
I own a fairly ordinary Cub Cadet 1040 Lawn tractor. It can do all sorts of amazing things.
This story is about how I took a fairly old, somewhat banged up, but hardly used Agrifab tow-behind sweeper and made life uber-easy on myself. I'm no spring chicken and getting off and on the mower to make adjustments is a major PITA, and other places too.

Part I was to automate the dump mechanism. Pulling and pushing a rope or stick to open and close the hopper ain't no fun especially if you are picking up stuff from the driveway and road that weighs a lot. I considered a linear actuator, but went with a Harbor Freight winch, due to the range of motion I needed to move the hopper from it's position to a full dump. This was the easy part.

I mounted the winch to the back of the tractor, above the tow hitch, with room enough to still use the hitch properly. I threw away the "remote control" that came with it and wired up a switch on the dashboard and a Solenoid under the seat along with an appropriate slow-blow fuse. Topped it off by switch illumination from power from a headlight on/off switch. There was no good place to put the winch guide, so I'm just a little more careful when I wind the winch. This way I also have a winch for another automation project I'll describe another time.

View attachment 2556945

I attached a carabiner onto the top of the hopper bar. The elongated shape of the carabiner was just the right size for the winch clevis snap hook to clip into with no effort. There's a video herein that shows it in operation. I used it last fall and this spring and it worked like a champ over the course of 30-40 loads. Saved a lot of back work and reduced work time significantly.


View attachment 2556939 View attachment 2556940



Part II of this project was to automate the sweeper height. This was by far the most rewarding and the most helpful of all the mods I've ever done. That's because trying to find the right height to sweep has always been a series of adjustments. Each year I have seasons for: sticks, leaves, tiny seeds, fir tree needles and all sorts of grit that accumulates in the road. Each requires a different setting, and multiple passes. Each pass requires another, rather fine adjustment.


View attachment 2556944
So for height adjustment, I elected to use a 6" linear actuator from Progressive Automations. I used the video posted on YouTube where guy welded a bolt on to the sweeper height lever and shaped a piece of metal to provide the length necessary mount the actuator properly. While I know how to weld, I don't have the equipment. Being an engineer, I always am seeking a simpler, easier, cheaper and yet more effective way. I decided to drill a hole adjacent to the adjustment handle (removed) on the height adjustment lever, same place the fellow welded a nut. I decided the to feed a bolt from the inside end of that hole outward. Without disassembling the sweeper, I bored out the very top height adjustment hole just large enough to pass the head of my bolt through. I then raised the adjusted to that topmost hole and fed a bolt through the hole bore, through the hole until the head stopped inside the lever. I secured the outer end of that with a nut and lock washer.

View attachment 2556941 View attachment 2556942

I formed my mounting bracket out of two pieces of steel bar. I concluded that the force required for the adjustment arm lever to move was pretty small, so attaching the actuator via a single bold projecting outward was sufficient, I didn't need to use a mounting buckle. The lower end of the actuator is attached to that bolt I secured to the adjustment arm. I decided to keep the motor end of the actuator up high to avoid any unpleasantries that mother earth may wish to cast upon it.
View attachment 2556943

One lesson I learned in ergonomics from the winch project, is that it's better to put the switch on or near the rear of the fender wells, so you can see what's going on when you are pressing the switch the switch. I selected a double pole, double throw, momentary on, illuminated switched, cross-wired. Based on the anticipated force the actuator would be required to push, I calculated I only needed to supply 1 amp of current at 12 volts, so I decided to wire the actuator directly to a switch, avoiding the need for a solenoid and heavy gauge wire.
To complete it professionally, I attached a 12 volt plug on the end of the wire (properly secured) from the sweeper to n weatherproof outlet I mounted near the hitch. The outlet then is routed to the nearby switch I previously wired. I just have to remember never to drive more than 15 amps through that switch, but I solved that by simply installing a 2 amp fuse!
When I tested it out on the road, picking up these seeds the size of puffed wheat cereal, it was like graduating from "good enough" work to perfection. After each pass, I'd see how good a job it did, and tap the switch to lower it ever so slightly. About four passes and I was done.

Another advantage is that when you're done sweeping and ready to haul it to your dump side, push the button to raise the sweeper height to the near top. It picks up nearly nothing along the way and even is tall enough to let me go over some small curbs in front of the dump site.

One caution. The guy in the first video entirely avoided showing you what happens to the dump bin if you pull it all the way forward. In his design, the bin will land smack dab on top of his actuator and in short order I'm sure punch a hole in the bin. I avoided that by attaching a horizonal "stop" slightly above the actuator, so the bin side frame rests on this little stop. Right now, the stop is a long bolt. I plan to cut off a piece of an old broom, drill a hole in the center of its length and screw it on the bolt, giving the frame something a bit more forgiving to hit.

Since this is my first attempt upoloading media here, it seems I cannot upload my videos of this beast in action. Space limitations I presume. Too bad.

My next show and tell will be how I got my tow behind core aerator to raise and lower its wheels without me having to pull down on a side-mounted handle.

Very nice mod to the machine and sweeper. As far as video goes you must first put it up on something like YouTube or Vimeo and then put the link from that video on your MTF post.

Mammal Circle Font Pattern Symmetry



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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
ctor, above the tow hitch, with room enough to still use the hitch properly. I threw away the "remote con
Very nice mod to the machine and sweeper. As far as video goes you must first put it up on something like YouTube or Vimeo and then put the link from that video on your MTF post.

View attachment 2556950


View attachment 2556949
Everyone cheaps out on storage today even though its never been cheaper. I buy my own. Don't need Youtube to control my rights.

I'll let you figure out how to make it "user friendly" since MTF barfs at my urls when I try to follow the process you illustrate.
Here are the videos.




 

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Father Deerest
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I didn't see in the video if there were stops for the hopper, when I pull on the rope on my sweeper the hopper keeps going over from the weight of material. I see the winch as a good idea for many reasons and adding it as you did will make your machine more versatile with other projects or pulling yourself out of a muddy situation should one arise.
 

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Rich
2010 Deere X300 42 deck
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511 Posts
Lets see your aerator in action.
Here is my end result. Really love crossing driveways and sidewalks
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
I when I pull on the rope on my sweeper the hopper keeps going over from the weight of material.
Only problem is that if you retract the bin too far, it falls down onto the frame and stopper. That's ok if you're done for the day, but in that case you have to push it back up. To prevent that, when I don't want to collect debris, I'll use the winch to pull it in just far enough to be open, but not far enough to fall forward. As the tractor turns left and right and the winch line is the same length, the bin just opens and closes a little if I leave it taught. No turning stress. Pretty pleased with it. Used it yesterday to pick up all the dead grass from the detatcher.

The winch is also good for pulling out stuff from places you don't want your tractor to go....
 

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Only problem is that if you retract the bin too far, it falls down onto the frame and stopper. That's ok if you're done for the day, but in that case you have to push it back up.
On my Brinly, I installed a 2" ABS pipe with two Tees across the top to which I also attached the top flap. Not only does it keep the hopper from flipping past the point-of-no-return, but by holding the flap higher, it keeps debris from over-shooting the hopper.
 
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