Re-purposing a riding mower as a mini homestead tractor

If you are like me you have the need to move things around your property.  I’m surprised how frequently I find myself jumping on this striped down ridding mower.  We picked this up for a song because it had some problems with the mower deck.  After we determined the mower deck problems were beyond worth fixing we decided to just use it to pull things around.

First I stripped off everything I could connected with mowing.  Since the back tires had trouble holding air they were replaced with something with more traction.  The little trailer was found on Craig’s List and will dump and has a removable tailgate.  I must admit that due to the fact we have so little money into it I just leave it outside where I’m using it and just tip up the seat.  I know I should cover it up but I don’t.

Things to look for are a mower that starts and runs well, unless you want to take on fixing the engine as well.  Bad tires and bad mower deck are good as it will bring down the price.  You are going to want to strip off all the mowing related stuff and put on different tires anyway.  This model I have has the type of drive train that pressing the pedal further makes it go faster by changing the size of the pulleys in the drive train.  A hydro-static transmission would also be good, but those are harder to fix.  If all you can find is one that you have to shift the gears that would be OK, but look for one that does the speed control by just pushing the pedal.  You do want good brakes as well since you will be using it to hauls stuff around and if you have any hills no brakes can be bad.

I have a fairly steep incline in one area and this has no problem having enough power to go up it.  However sometimes I lose traction and frequently the front wheels are too light to steer well.  I’m thinking of adding fluid to the tires or at least some weight in the front.  I find moving firewood, feed and mulch this is a nice setup to use.  I’ve also used it to move my skid-able chicken coop around.

This can be a low-cost way to have a powered method of moving things around your property and gives you a chance to learn some repair skills.  DR also sells what they call a Powerwagon which is like a small flatbed powered by a gas engine.  From time to time they pop up on Craigslist but usually they cost a lot more and you don’t see very many of them.

Looking around for something used that can be re-purposed to fit your needs can be a good way to learn something and save some money.

Author: Jerry Ward

Working on creating a 10 acre urban homestead in S.E. Michigan. To pay the bills I work as a product manager/business analyst in the IT field. Now the admin of Save Our Skills

  • keebler

    I did the same thing -I found some on craigs list needed some repairs works for me, especially doing firewood.

  • Ben Nelson

    Another great piece of equipment is a General Electric “Elec-Trak” electric lawn and garden tractor. They were built in the 1970’s and still work great! Since they are electric, they can be renewably powered by solar or wind energy. Electric motors have fantastic torque too. I’ve used mine for moving VERY large trailers, moving firewood, and even take down a very large tree. I also have a plow for it, which works for clearing snow in the winter and moving dirt in the summer. http://300mpg.org/projects/electrak-e15/

  • Believe it or not I also have an E20 that we got summer of 2014. It sat in a barn for about 30 years so I’m still going through and fixing things. It doesn’t have any brakes and I need a place to store it that is easier to get it in and out of. I mowed about 2 acres of grass with it all of 2015 so while it doesn’t take much time to get the mower deck off with this other one sitting right there it is easy to just use it. You can read about it at my other blog http://www.my10acres.info/tag/elec-trak/ I think an electric garden tractor is incredible and I have no idea when they are not more popular. At some point I will be getting a bigger mower and then the E20 will be used more for hauling chores.

    I have the snowblower attachment for it, but it sat outside for most of those 30 years so I haven’t got it working yet. I’m not even sure it can be brought back to life.

  • Believe it or not I also have an E20 that we got summer of 2014. It sat in a barn for about 30 years so I’m still going through and fixing things. It doesn’t have any brakes and I need a place to store it that is easier to get it in and out of. I mowed about 2 acres of grass with it all of 2015 so while it doesn’t take much time to get the mower deck off with this other one sitting right there it is easy to just use it. You can read about it at my other blog http://www.my10acres.info/tag/elec-trak/ I think an electric garden tractor is incredible and I have no idea when they are not more popular. At some point I will be getting a bigger mower and then the E20 will be used more for hauling chores.

    I have the snowblower attachment for it, but it sat outside for most of those 30 years so I haven’t got it working yet. I’m not even sure it can be brought back to life.