THE YARD MULE ELECTRIC DUMP TRIKE

A ROBUST DIY ELECTRIC DUMP TRUCK MADE FROM RECYCLED CAR PARTS AND BASIC STEEL TUBING.


differential drain plug

A new gear oil filling and checking port added.

For some reason, the rocket scientists that made the differential installed this tiny drain plug in the most hard to reach place, also making sure you could not drain the oil without breaking the cover seal. To fix this goofy design, I added my own filling port so that the oil could be filled to the correct level, which was about one third up the axle tubes. This port will also allow the insertion of a dipstick to check the level periodically, unlike the original design.

headlight mounting arms

Headlight mounts made from scrap conduit and tubing.

The local Fire Chief gave me this huge old chrome light from a 1940’s firetruck, so I decided to make new mounts to allow it to install like the old headlight from the motorcycle. This giant chrome light is also adjustable up and down, and will give the Yard Mule a very unique look. The light mounts were made using some scrap electrical conduit and bits of 1 inch tubing I had laying around.

paint curing

The painted Frame and Dump Box.

Waiting for paint to cure is like torture to me! I really want to get everything installed and see this project transform from a bunch of junk I found into something that looks like it came from a factory. So far I am really pleased at how well the Yard Mule has progressed, and the bright Holland Yellow paint really stands out. For the wood panels that fill the dump box, I think I will head to town tomorrow to find some forest green, as that would really make a nice mix with the yellow main color and black trim.

cutting dump box panels

Cutting the treated plywood box panels.

To ensure that the Yard Mule is built to last, I opted for 3/4″ thick treated plywood to make the dump box sides and bottom. The plywood will also get a thick coat of oil based paint, so it should be many years before I have to repair or replace the wood. Two 4×8 sheets of plywood are enough to make the required 5 panels for the dump box.

dump box panels

Bolting the side panels into the dump box frame.

The side panels will be held in the dump box frame using a few carriage bolts and by the order of installation of the boards. By placing the bottom panel in last, it will hold the lower ends of all the side panels tight to the base, so very few bolts are required. The real challenge was remembering which panels went where after they were painted.

install the rear wheels

Installing the rear components first.

Even completely stripped of all components, the base frame is far too heavy to move around easily, so I started assembly with the wheels so that I could at least move the unit around during assembly. I finally had the chance to install the rear differential gear box fluid as well, and the new filling cap seemed to work well. I will show detailed instructions on how to reseal the differential cover when it is available.

differential cover hole

The new differential cover filling hole.

Rather than laying on my back attempting to fill the rear differential with gear oil through a badly placed tiny hole, I made this filling hole right on the back cover. It was easy to drop in a funnel and just pour in the fluid until it was at the required level. This hack also allows me to use a dipstick to check the fluid level rather than having to pop the cover and break the seal.

headlight installed

Installation of the front forks and wheel.

Installing a motorcycle fork set is done the same way as with a bicycle, just grease the bearings and install the fork nuts. I added a new tire since the old one was completely rotten, and added a new brake cable from a bicycle so I would have a parking brake. Some hacking was needed to get the bike brake lever to fit, but it worked out. Also note that I have the fork legs installed higher than normal in the triple tree, which was done to bring the front end down a little more.

It rained so often out here that I had to keep tarps handy at all times and basically work in small sections at a time, pulling back the tarp to get at the parts I was working on!

lots of chrome

Now that’s one huge headlight!

The massive 1940’s chrome headlight really worked out nicely on this project, adding just the right compliment of chrome along with the rims. I wired in a 12 volt headlight bulb and added a switch so that it could be powered at any time, even with the master switch in the off position.

motorcycle tire install

Installing a new motocross tire on the old rim.

Installing a motorcycle tire by hand is easy if you take your time and use plenty of soapy water to help convince the rubber to slide onto the rim. This tire was a bit too wide for this old 1970 minibike rim, but I managed to get it on and only needed to inflate it to 20 psi or so. The aggressive tread will assist in the front parking brake if I ever need to park on a slope.






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