Some functional eye candy for the front of the frame.
I had some scrap grating left over, so I cut a piece for the front of the frame that acts as a large gusset and also offers some place to hang items such as a water bottle or various tools. I really added this grating because I thought it looked cool, but later realized it would offer some actual function.
Heavy trailer hitch support and ball added.
I added a standard 2” trailer hitch to the Yard Mule so that I could really move a lot when required. Sometimes when I drop a tree, I also like to take the crown away, so now I can load the dump box with the bucked up logs and then stuff my trailer sky high with the small branches and leftovers. The trailer hitch is made from the same 2 inch 3/16” wall square tubing as the frame, and it is welded directly to the differential tubing for extreme sturdiness.
The hitch tubing is placed on a downward angle so that it does not get in the way of the dump box, and the ball is placed as close to the axles as possible so that a loaded trailer won’t add much tipping effect the vehicle. I bet this hitch setup is stronger than what you get on a brand new pickup truck!
The dump box limiting chain added.
This heavy chain stops the dump box from completely tipping right to the ground so that a load of dirt can be spread by tipping and driving away, just like a full sized dump truck. The chain is easily removable as well as adjustable by removing the bolt that secures it to the frame.
Chain links make nice wiring guides.
I am getting close to completing the Yard mule and am now starting on the small details. I had some extra chain left over so I cut a bunch of links in half to make nice wiring guides for the heavy gauge motor controller wires, routing them safely around the moving parts into the battery box. It’s sometimes the smaller details that take the most time (like trim in a house), but these are the things that really set your craft to the next level.
The master shut-off switch mounted for easy operation.
A large, high amperage switch is added to instantly disconnect the power so that the vehicle can be shut down after use and not have any drain on the battery bank. This switch is also an emergency kill switch, so it is placed at an easy to reach position just under the seat. Although highly improbable, a situation where the motor controller fails in the full forward mode could be overcome by just cutting the power with the flip of a switch. When in the off position, the switch will also activate the external battery charger port.
Draining out the original differential oil.
When I salvaged this differential, it was positioned vertically in a half burned out truck used by the rural fire department in a training exercise. I had no idea if there was even any fluid left, so I popped the cover to see what was what. Although the fluid was much lower than the typical level, there was at least some left, so the gears were all in great shape. I also needed to yank out the axles to do some other work, so changing the differential fluid was always going to happen. Dang that stuff smells bad!
Painting the smaller components.
After finishing all of the welds and cleaning everything up, I waited until the next sunny day and spent the entire day painting everything. The bugs were insane, so I put any part I could lift into my shack for curing, although some bugs still found their way into the paint.
Painting the frame from the top down.
Calling this a paint job would be an insult to real painters around the world, because out on the farm you have to apply paint as fast and as thick as you can! Between the rain that starts out of nowhere and the endless black flies, you just have to work as fast as possible. This is a farm machine, not a Ferrari, so I can live with a thick, bug infested coat of paint rather than a show room finish. Actually, it did turn out quite well in the end.
The fully painted Yard Mule frame, curing in the sun.
I was lucky today, as a huge thunder storm just side swiped us. I picked the only day this week that said less than 60% chance of rain, and it was a great day to paint. I started painting at 8:00am, and didn’t stop until 8:00pm, but did manage to paint everything. Painting a DIY Dump Truck is a lot more work than painting a recumbent bike, that’s for sure!
Inside of the truck wheels painted.
Since auto parts are designed to rust the instant they leave the factory, I decided to also paint the inside of the rims, as they were just starting to show signs of oxidization. Now the problem parts such as the inside of the rims and the differential axles and housing are full coated in a peanut butter like thick coat of paint. Look for a meal someplace else, rust monster, you won’t find one here!