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yard mule rolling frame

The bare Yard Mule frame and wheels ready for assembly.

Because the weather has been against me for a week with torrential rain, the paint actually had a chance to cure. Normally I can’t resist assembling a new vehicle, and I usually end up scuffing the soft paint as I try to assemble in the most careful way. This time I am safe after a week of curing, and you can see that the jungle around my workshop is starting to look like the rainforest again.

24v battery charger

A new 24 volt battery charger giving the old batteries one last chance.

Battery maintenance is very important, and is something that many overlook, mainly due to false information and tales from the dark ages. No, you cannot damage a battery by placing it on cold concrete, and no your car alternator is not going to properly maintain a deeply discharged battery, and no, those cheap 12v chargers are not good for a new battery!

To properly maintain any lead acid battery, it must be charged using the correct cycle for the chemistry, and it must never be left to sit without a full charge. Leaving a battery at 80% for a month is like tossing away half the battery life right there. Shown here is a proper computer controlled charger that can select between plate lead acid, AGM lead acid, and lithium batteries and it also has a repair function that I am trying out on these badly aged batteries.

Unfortunately, these old batteries were left to set for a year with only 11 volts in them, so they are shot. I can get 20 minutes of this pack and that’s all. New AGM deep cycle batteries will be purchased, as these are more suited to the task anyhow.

motor and jackshaft

Installing the motor and pillow block bearings.

Putting together an electric vehicle is so much nicer than doing the same with any gas engine vehicle. Basically, you just bolt on the motor, install the transmission, run a few wires and you are good to go! It takes me longer to clean the carb on my weed wacker that it did to get the Yard Mule up and running completely. Long live electric power!

idler sprocket installed

Installation of the chain and idler sprocket.

Chains eventually stretch after a lot of use, so there has to be some way to make adjustments to compensate for this. The yard Mule transmission is designed so that both chains can be adjusted as required. This photo shows the idler sprocket which is responsible for pulling up on the slack side of the primary drive chain. Adjustment is made with a single nut and bolt.

The slack side of a chain is not under tension, and since all components shown here turn in the clockwise rotation, this makes the lower side of the chain the slack side. Just like a bicycle!

battery compartment

The batteries are secured inside the battery box.

The battery box is designed to take many different sizes of batteries, which is good since these two were eventually replaced by much larger 80 amp hour AGM batteries that just barely fit! I used rigid foam block, cut to fit around the batteries so that they would not jostle around during trips through the untamed bush. Carriage bolts were also placed in front of the batteries to keep them away from the front door, which was important due to the front mounted terminals on one of the batteries.

dump box hinge install

The dump box is easily installed or removed from the frame.

The “drive away” dump box system worked out very well. Because of the position and angle of the dump hinges, the dump box can be set to “ever tip”, allowing it to sit flat on the ground. In this position, the hinge bolts can be removed by hand so that the box can be installed or removed just by driving into position. In normal service, the limiting chain prevents the box from tipping over this far.

dump box limiting chain

The dump box limiting chain.

This heavy gauge chain stops the dump box from tilting so far that it hits the ground. It is set so that the dump box tilts over its center of gravity, which will make dumping any load easy. The chain is also adjustable by changing the link that is bolted to the frame.

dump box side panels

The side panels installed in the dump box.

The dump box floor is the last panel to install, and is the one that holds the other three panels up against the frame. Using the 2 inch angle iron and the 3/4″ plywood gives each panel a solid base to rest on. You can also see the tailgate hinges at the back that allow the tail gate to be removed if required.

dump box locking pin

The dump box locking system.

To make sure that the dump box is always secure, this double locking system is hidden behind the seat so it cannot be accidentally triggered while mowing through the bush. The locking system has to be lifted and then pulled, so it will not bounce itself open no matter how rough the ride may become.

tailgate lock pins

Tailgate locking pins and rear reflectors.

The tailgate has several modes of operation. It can swing open, right to the ground or it can open to the horizontal position by the use of limiting chains just like a pickup truck. The tailgate can also be completely removed just by lifting it up. These locking pins secure it for transport and also double as lower hinge locks when you want to put weight on the open tailgate.

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