EV Garden Tractor

I have a 30 year old John Deere garden tractor that I no longer use and having always been a tinkerer and never one to through anything away have been thinking of converting it to an electric tractor. I am new to the electric part but do a lot of welding and machine work so I’m asking for help in starting this project. I do not intedn to mow grass or heavy pulling but rather just to ride around my 4 acres and have the satisfaction of doing a conversion. I will drive the original transmission probably with a chain drive and use the transmission only to have a varity of speeds.
My first questions would be what motor and where to get one. I am retired and on a fixed income so don’t have a fortune to spend.
Any feedback or advice would be appreciated. Thanks Len

Len, You are in luck, as this is one of the easiest, and cheapest conversions to do. You can use parts from an old fork lift, powered pallet jack, and other equipment. I would recommend check out austin EV http://www.austinev.org/evalbum/type There are several items just like you are describing, and due to the generally low speed involved, you can do lots of work, such as mowing, and towing. One other thing is to check out project Forkenswift.http://www.forkenswift.com/ This is a car conversion, but using an old fork lift for the motor, and controller. He build the whole thing for a few hundred dollars. hope this helps, Eric

I just got a brush type motor and the plate on the side says 26 volts. It moves my tractor but I would like to increase the speed. I have done this for a short time by adding one more 12 volt battery to the 2 I have wired and it does the job but will I harm the motor?

Len, As I understand it, going up a bit in volts wont hurt things. For the most part heat build up is quicker, so pulling a load for a long time, while using more amps, and volts than the motor was designed for will have a negative effect, but only while exceeding the motors ratings.
Some people will duct air to the motor to keep it cool while under higher than designed loads. Hope this helps, Eric

P.S. I saw some cheap 36v Curtis controllers on ebay recently, if you have any interest.

I have my 40 year old garden tractor almost complete. I took out the original engine (10 HP gas engine) and have replaced it with an unknown HP motor and am powering it with 3 12 volt marine batteries. The tractor originally had a variable speed belt drive to the four speed rear end. I have mounted the new motor where the old one was and am using the original belt drive. I have had a few test runs riding around my property and have even been pulling my trailer to clean up some dead trees and limbs. The next thing have to do is get a 36 volt charger as I am now using a 12 volt on one battery at a time. Thanks for your help and I have some pictures but don’t know where to post them.

Wow, that was fast! I’m glad to hear it’s coming along so well. I don’t know about posting pictures here, but for sure, you should put them up at Austin EV http://www.evalbum.com/type That way anyone thinking of doing the same can see your photo album, and specs. for the build. I look forward to seeing them.
It sounds like you are getting plenty of torque? I would imagine your range is pretty decent with three big batteries, what do you think?
Anyhow, Congratulations! Hopefully I will get my project done some day in the near future, Eric

Is it possible to wire 3-12 volt battery chargers in series and thus charge 3-12 volt batteries wired in series?

Hi Len, I just saw your tractor on Austin Ev, It looks great! I sent some pictures of it to a friend of mine, that I am trying to get to convert his small tractor. Once again, Looks great!

As I understand it, You simply wire the three chargers in series , and you are in business. If you connect the POS. of the charger to the POS. on the battery #1, then connect the NEG. wire on the charger to the POS. of the next charger, and so on, until you connect the NEG of the last charger to the NEG. on battery #3, and your done, 36 volts should be coming out to the batteries.
I would recommend putting plugs, or hard wire the chargers together, so the alligator clips don’t come loose, or touch anything. Take care, Eric

Thought a picture was worth a thousand words.