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All-Purpose

Yard. Horse
This 40-m.p.h. scooter earns its keep
the year round by converting to five
powerful machines for use around the house

By Alfred W. Lees

I T DIDN'T seem likely—until we saw for ourselves.


The letter from Clarks Summit, Pa., described a
homemade scooter that pulled apart for portability
and boasted a set of attachments to convert it into: a
hauling tractor, a snow plow, a power lawn mower,
a portable electric generator, and a pump.
The inventor, anticipating our skepticism, enclosed
a map labeled "Route to Douglas Biesecker." So PS
photographer Bill Morris and I drove out to investi-
gate. We found a young man waiting for us, up a
country lane identified by the Biesecker mailbox. He
straddled a neat-looking two-wheeler with a frame
welded up from black iron pipe, angle, and strap iron.
"Put it through its paces," we suggested.
CONTINUED
WATER FROM A CISTERN or any natural source EMERGENCY LIGHT SOURCE is rigged by bracket-
can be brought to the job site by coupling the ing a 110-volt, 1,000-watt generator to the
feed and discharge hoses to a 1,000-gallon- frame. It's propped on a bolt; turning a wing-
an-hour pump, powered by the scooter motor. nut pivots the assembly for belt tension.

1. The scooter. Biesecker obliged by


jerking the four-cycle, three-horse motor
to life and roaring out onto the road at
40 m.p.h. In a flash he was gone over the
crest of a rise. Seconds later, he reap-
peared, banking back into the lane. He
killed the motor, hopped off, and de-
tached two levers from the handlebars.
"The throttle control is the standard
type used on power mowers," he told us.
"The cable's other end is connected to
the carburetor throttle lever. The brake
cable should be taped to the frame in
several places, but I clamp it to the steer-
ing column so it's removable."
Next, he withdrew a long T-shaped pin
that passes through the vertical pipe
brace in front of the seat. The 1/4"-by-
LURE OF THE OPEN ROAD calls scooter from its
17-1/2" rod holds the ends of the steering-
chores. Since all attachments are complete in column braces in pipe-coupling sockets at
themselves, the scooter totes no extra burdens each end of this brace. Biesecker lifted
when stripped down for road travel. the scooter's separated halves into the
trunk of his car. "Total weight's about
SCOOTER CONVERTS TO MOWER in three steps: 60 pounds," he announced.
Auxiliary frame sets steering column vertical; 2. The pump. "While the scooter's in
mower unit replaces front wheel; large wheel
replaces speed pulley in drive train. the car," said Bill, "why not drive back
by the barn cistern and demonstrate your
pump by giving the car a hosing?"
Biesecker had the setup nearly com-
pleted by the time Bill had his camera
equipment ready. He'd reassembled the
scooter, set it up on its kick stand, and
bracketed a small pump to an accessory
rest—which consisted of a short cross pipe
with pins at either end. A bolt, project-
ing beneath the pump's mounting base,
was seated in a hole in the frame brace
152 POPULAR SCIENCE MAY 1961
THE CART BED DUMPS for unloading dirt or rock. SNOW-PLOW BLADE pivots on frame ior adjust-
Biesecker's left hand is on the spring catch. ment of angle; it is raised by lifting entire
The new steering column fastens to rear wheel frame, which hooks onto steering-column cross-
bracket; scooter's front fork is removed. bar, and brackets to cart axle at the back.

in front of the seat. By turning a wingnut coupled the other end to the pump. Soon
on this bolt, Biesecker pivoted the pump he was directing a sturdy spray at the
upward to put the proper tension on the soaped-up windshield.
long belt that connected it to the drive 3. The generator. We ran the drip-
pulley. He fed a hose into the cistern and ping auto into the twilight interior of the
CONTINUED

How the power unit is used to make six different machines


TO TAKE IT APART for portability, you detach brace. This releases the ends of the steering-
throttle and brake from the handlebar and column braces from their coupling sockets.
pull a pin that passes through the center frame Both halves fit neatly into a car trunk.
barn. Biesecker set up a photographic said, slipping the new frame down to butt
light bar and replaced the pump with an against it. I had a question:
electric generator equipped with an iden- "Why's the separate frame necessary?"
tical mounting bracket and adjustable "To set the steering column vertical.
prop-bolt. After starting the scooter The scooter's column slants at 15 de-
motor again, he lifted the car's hood and grees, but the mower's has to set upright.
directed the light exactly where he need- Notice how all the pipe-column housings
ed it to work on the engine. are slightly counterbored at each end to
"Actually," he said, "this portable gen- take brass bushings. These are pressed in
erator is handy in lots of places beyond tight to support the shaft."
the reach of city power. I've used it for He replaced the handlebar column,
outdoor photography, night repair work retightened the studs, and reconnected
in the fields, and even to rig a light for a the brake and throttle levers. Then he
hunting camp. It's handy in case of power wheeled the mower unit into place, pivot-
failure." ing its mounting bracket up to bolt it into
Biesecker detached the generator. The the wheel-less fork. "I leave the mud-
coupling pin was pulled once more, and guard in place since it doesn't interfere
the scooter began to lose its identity. with mowing. The mudguards are merely
4. The mower. To ready the power a standard bike fender cut in half."
unit for its next function, the high-speed With the inventor aboard, the little
drive pulley was replaced with a power tractor-mower moved out across a wide
wheel of twice the diameter. The axle stretch of grass, maneuvering around
nuts were loosened to drop the front several fruit trees and running close along
wheel from its slotted fork. a hedge.
Nearby lay a handleless lawn mower 5. The dump cart. This time, when
and an extra section of pipe frame. the coupling pin was withdrawn and the
Biesecker loosened two studs threaded frame pulled apart, the front steering
through the handlebar column and column was discarded. Instead, a new
slipped this upper unit off the steering vertical column, welded into the frame of
shaft. "All shafts are cold-rolled steel," a two-wheeled cart, was bolted onto the
he informed us. "This one's 3/4" in diam- fixed fork of the rear wheel. Only the back
eter and 13-3/4" long. Note how I filed it half of the scooter is used in this conver-
flat in two places at the back to seat the sion, and the power wheel becomes the
studs." He slipped the angled steering- front wheel of the cart tricycle—which is
column housing up off the shaft and steered by pivoting the entire power unit.
pointed out the coil spring that it had A U-shaped auxiliary foot rest is hooked
rested on, where the shaft was welded to onto the scooter frame behind the kick-
the wheel fork. "That spring stays," he [Continued on page 202}
154 POPULAR SCIENCE MAY 1961
All-Purpose Yard Horse
[Continued from page i.54]
stand pivot. The cart bed is a simple
wooden box nested in an angle-iron frame
that's fastened to the wheelbase frame by
means of three pivot bolts. Biesecker re-
leased a spring catch and lifted the front
end of the box to show us how it dumped;
then he swung aboard the new seat and
headed the tractor into a potato patch. In
a moment he chugged back with a full
load. "It'll tote 500 pounds without strain.
Only trouble is, you get lazy," he called
as he passed on back toward the barn.
6. The snow plow. It was now time to
hook on the largest accessory. "A sheet-
metal shop cut and bent the blade for
me," Biesecker explained as he laid the
long frame flat on the slab floor. After
removing the pipe spacer between the top
ends of the notched uprights, he lifted
the tractor to swing it across and drop it
inside the frame's broadest opening. The
steering-column braces slipped down the
slot formed by the uprights.
With the spacer pipe bolted back in
place, Biesecker crawled beneath the cart
to raise the back of the plow frame and
bracket the upbent ends to the axle. Next,
settling himself on the seat, he reached
down between his thighs, gripped the
handles on the uprights, and hitched the
entire frame up until one of the notches
hooked onto a short length of rod welded
across the top brace. The plow frame and
blade now hung suspended, so that when
he started the motor he was able to drive
the whole assembly out of the barn. We
squinted up at the mild, cloudless sky.
"Last winter was great for plow-test-
ing," Biesecker assured us, presenting a
snapshot to back him up. "My best trac-
tion is when my girl rides in the cart."
The demonstration was complete. But
it hadn't exhausted Biesecker's ingenuity.
As we tucked away note pad and cam-
era, he patted the transformed scooter
thoughtfully. "This is only as far as I've
gone," he announced. "I'm now working
on a couple of collapsible pontoons and
a propeller drive. So this summer, when
I ride the scooter up to the lakeshore,
I'll just keep on going. And"—his eyes
lifted, focusing somewhere out in space—
"maybe . . . souped up a little and
equipped with rotor blades . . . it'll lift
right off the ground . . ."
We fled.