“Cub Cadet” Road Grader Zero-Turn Mower Converted To Tracks

Tractor Converted To Remote Control
Brian Laine could think of lots of times when
having a remote-controlled tractor would be
useful, so he converted one himself. He used
off-the-shelf parts where he could and created
his own where necessary.
“I did the conversion on my Deere 4210,”
says Laine. “The hydrostatic drive and power
steering helped keep the project manageable.
It eliminated the need for throttle control, as
the hydrostatic lets you control speed with
a constant throttle setting. All I had to do
was control fore and aft direction, speed and
Laine used a standard RC controller from
Futaba that’s used on RC cars. The receiver
that mounts to the tractor has a range of about
500 ft. and cost about $70.
“I needed to convert signals from the RC
receiver into outputs at the tractor,” says
This required that he piggyback electrical
controls to the hydrostat and mechanical
controls to the steering column. Foot pedals
on the 4210 are equipped with position
sensors that feed signals to the engine control
unit. Laine spliced into the wires for power,
ground, and fore/aft signals.
The added wires were connected to an
electronics control module Laine designed
to read output signals from the transmitter.
Unless the hand held transmitter is turned on,
the tractor operates normally. When turned
on, the electronics module uses its signals to
imitate foot pedal-activated signals.
As the steering is hydraulically
controlled, he needed a way to motorize
the steering shaft for RC, but be able to
disconnect the motor for manual control.
“I found a used 12V DC motor with electric
clutch on eBay for $35,” recalls Laine. “The
motor was too slow, but the clutch, which
normally sells for around $200, could be
Laine attached a stepper motor with gear
reduction to the clutch, attaching it in turn
to a chain drive. He made adapters for both
to mount them to the tractor and mounted a
sprocket on the steering shaft. A #25 roller
chain connects the chain drive on the clutch
with the shaft. Signals received by the module
are directed to the motor and the clutch
for either remote control of the shaft or to
disengage the clutch for manual control.
“The microprocessor and stepper motor
electronics driver module fit in a stout metal
box for physical and electronic protection
and are mounted under the instrument panel,”
says Laine. “I did have to give up the tiltsteering function to make room for the motor,
but I hadn’t used it in the previous 15 years
that I had the tractor.”
Laine admits that the process was filled
with challenges, including just getting the
steering wheel off. He ended up cutting it off
and replacing it. The hydrostat control box
had to be redone to be more mechanically
and electrically robust.
“The steering mechanical was the biggest
issue,” says Laine. “I ended up making
mounting pieces at least 3 times and had to
try different gear ratios for the chain drive
and even a different stepper motor with a
different gear ratio. Issues were strength and
flex, speed, clutch torque management and
clearance under the instrument panel.”
That said, Laine is more than satisfied. “It
works great,” he says. Check out a video of
the RC 4210 at www.farmshow.com.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Brian
Laine, 7921 Wade Rd., Arlington, Wash.
98223 (ph 425 879-2890; brianlaine@aol.
com; www.lainefamily.com).
Brian Laine used mostly off-the-shelf parts to convert his Deere 4210 to a remotecontrolled tractor. A standard RC controller is used to operate the tractor.
Steering is
controlled with
electrical controls
that piggyback
onto tractor’s
hydrostatic drive.
Photo at left shows motorized controls mounted on steering column. Photo at right
shows steering control box.
Zero-Turn Mower Converted To Tracks
James Bassett, Berlin, Md., turned an early
1990’s Yazoo zero-turn riding mower into
a camouflaged marsh buggy that rides on
tracks, and can motor through the marsh land
on his property.
The tracks ride around 3 sets of wheels and
axles. The mower’s original rear wheels drive
the machine, and the tracks ride around them
and 2 more sets of axles in front. A wooden
compartment just in front of the driver is used
for storage and to haul dead deer.
“I live on a big farm that borders a bay
with lots of marshland. We do a lot of deer
hunting there, and it’s always a battle getting
dead deer off the marsh. My marsh buggy
works excellent both on and off the marsh,”
says Bassett.
“I already had the zero-turn mower, and a
friend gave me some old hard plastic tracks
off an old Argo off-road vehicle.”
The Yazoo mower was equipped with a
25 hp. Kohler engine and 60-in. deck. He
removed the deck, then cut off the front part
of the mower frame and used 2-in. square
tubing to lengthen the mower frame by 18
in. He mounted 2 boat trailer axles on front.
The gas tanks were in the way of the tracks
so he added 2 wooden side panels to the
machine and bolted the gas tanks onto them.
“I built the machine 5 years ago and it has
really changed the way I hunt. Now I want
to shoot deer on the marsh just for a chance
to use it,” says Bassett. “The rear tires drive
the machine without any slippage inside the
tracks, and the side pieces keep water from
splashing on me as I drive. I use the mower’s
original controls to steer and to go forward
and backward. If I need to haul more than one
deer I pull the second one on a rope behind
Phil Murphy
built this
tandem axle,
4-WD road
grader out of
2 Cub Cadet
rear ends.
James Bassett converted a Yazoo zero-turn
mower into this camouflaged marsh buggy,
which rides on tracks that go around 3 sets
of wheels and axles. Photo below shows
original mower.
Bassett also replaced the mower’s original
rear tires with lugged ATV tires. “The
4-wheeler tires have plenty of tread to pull
the tracks,” he notes.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, James
Bassett, 9632 Goody Hill, Berlin, Md. 21811
(ph 443 366-2034; bassettpullingteam@
“Cub Cadet” Road Grader
About 16 years ago Phil Murphy of Mansfield,
Ohio, was in an accident and suffered a severe
spinal injury. He now walks with a cane, but
he still puts his mechanical skills to work
building machines just for fun. He recently
built this miniature 4-WD road grader out
of 2 Cub Cadet rear ends. It’s painted Allis
Chalmers orange.
The tandem axle machine rides on six
12-in. tall, 10 1/2-in. wide garden tractor
wheels. It’s equipped with a 5-ft. wide blade
that can be angled left or right, up and down,
or tilted from side to side. Power is supplied
by a Kohler 22 hp, 2-cyl. military cast iron
engine mounted on back. The engine is
coupled to one of the Cub Cadets’ hydrostatic
“It’s modeled after a real Galion road
grader and built mostly from scrap materials.
I tell people that I already had the engine and
decided to build something to put it on,” says
Murphy, who notes that he got a lot of help
from a local machinist friend.
“I took photos of a real Galion as a
guide and built it as close to the real thing
as possible. For example, the front wheels
hydraulically lean inward when turning.”
He used 3 by 4-in. steel tubing to build the
grader’s frame. The 2 Cub Cadet rear ends
are bolted together with a big steel plate that
Murphy welded to the frame. A homemade
driveshaft runs from the engine up to both
rear ends.
The grader’s front axle uses the rear wheel
hubs off a Dodge minivan. “The Dodge hubs
had the same bolt pattern as the wheels on the
Cub Cadet rear ends,” says Murphy.
The grader is equipped with 5 hydraulic
cylinders. They’re used to raise and lower
the blade, to adjust the blade angle, to tilt
the blade up or down, to control how far the
blade’s teeth dig into the ground, and to lean
the front wheels in when turning. “All the
cylinders operate off a hydraulic pump on
one of the Cub Cadets,” says Murphy.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Phil
Murphy, 1958 Ashland Rd., Mansfield, Ohio
44905 (ph 419 589-3524).
1-800-834-9665 • editor@farmshow.com • www.bestfarmbuys.com • www.farmshow.com• vol. 40, no. 3• FARM SHOW • 23
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