A Homemade Reel Lawn Tractor Attachment

A simple way to speed up lawn maintenance with this simple reel lawn tractor attachment, including diagrams and instructions.

| March/April 1986

  • 098-076-01
    Once you've decided you have an appropriate means of propulsion, you can launch a search for your mowers. We paid a total of $19.00 for our three reels, one of which was a steel-wheeled, seven-blade model which represents the zenith of push-mower technology.
  • 098-077-01
    To make the crossbar that pulls the two trailing mowers, simply tap a bar stock section into each end of the 33 inch tube, then flatten the ends in a vise and drill a 7/16 inch hole through each "ear."

  • 098-076-01
  • 098-077-01

A "reel" simple way to speed up lawn maintenance.  

Enjoying a plush green lawn is a heck of a lot easier than maintaining one, especially if your domain is measured in acres rather than square feet. Of course, if you've got a tractor and a mower deck, you're one step ahead of the game. But if you don't, and if you're scratching for an economical means of keeping the greens trimmed this coming season, our mower with homebuilt lawn tractor attachment might be just what you're looking for. (See the image gallery for the tractor reel attachment diagram).

Creating a Homemade Reel Lawn Tractor Attachment

Now, there are probably several reasons why this lawn tractor attachment shouldn't work, but the design is so blamed simple that there's hardly any room for flaws. When planning this project, we immediately dismissed powered rotary-mower decks because of their cost and maintenance requirements, and because a four-wheeled carriage wouldn't track correctly through turns. Rather, we chose to use old push-type reel mowers: They're still not too difficult to come by (and at junk prices), they demand only an occasional sharpening, and they're easy to maneuver.

At first glance, it would appear that, without the pressure of someone pushing down on the handle, the wheels would merely skid across the turf rather than turn and drive the blade. By the same token, it'd seem that the handleless carriages would want to seek their own direction while being towed. Both these worries were eliminated by designing the tow bars as extensions of the handles: Instead of just pulling the mowers forward, the angled shafts tend to draw them downward as well. And since the bars are fastened between the original handle mounts, each carriage moves only in the direction of the bar pulling it.

If you want to try your hand at working up your own gang mower implement, look first at the vehicle you'll be using to pull-it. Our initial tests were done with the homebuilt minitractor featured in MOTHER EARTH NEWS NOS. 76 and 78, using a simple drawbar fastened to its three-point hitch. Soon thereafter, we rigged up a sturdy belly hitch for a staffer's all-terrain vehicle to see how well it could handle yardwork. Both machines had the power at fast-walking speeds to operate the three mower gang . . . the difference being that the tractor was working in high gear, while the ATV did the pulling in its lower ranges. Either way, the towing vehicle must be able to move at a reasonable pace to maintain the inertia of the spinning blades.

Once you've decided you have an appropriate means of propulsion, you can launch a search for your mowers. We paid a total of $19.00 for our three reels, one of which was a steel-wheeled, seven-blade model which represents the zenith of push-mower technology. All had separate handle mounts from which the handle shaft could be removed; without that feature, the handle will have to be cut just above the point where it spreads.

8/13/2009 8:29:37 PM

dear mother earth i was wondering if i could get a better picture of the diagram for the gang of three lawn implement? the one you have post on the web page is hard to see and i cant make out any of the words. I have been wanting to build one of these for a couple years, i have the mowers dust couldnt put it together in my head to build it. now i found your page and cant read the info i need. thanks for any info! dean

12/24/2007 10:44:34 AM

I would also like to get hold of the MOTHER NOS. 76-78 article, homebuilt minitractor Thanks in advance ED

3/25/2007 11:45:22 AM

How do I get the article about the homebuilt minitractor featured in MOTHER NOS. 76-78? I tried the archive search and found the hyperlink for the articles, but nothing comes up. I was a subscriber in the days these articles came out, and actually planned on building the tractor back then. But life got in the way, and I cannot locate my old issues. I would be willing to subscribe again, if I can retreive those old mini-tractor articles.

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