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All-Purpose Yard.

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


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 investigate. 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.

WATER FROM A CISTERN or any natural source can be brought to the job site by coupling the feed and discharge hoses to a 1,000-gallonan-hour pump, powered by the scooter motor.

EMERGENCY LIGHT SOURCE is rigged by bracketing a 110-volt, 1,000-watt generator to the frame. It's propped on a bolt; turning a wingnut pivots the assembly for belt tension.

L R OF T E OPEN ROAD calls scooter from its UE H chores. Since all attachments are complete in themselves, the scooter totes no extra burdens when stripped down for road travel. SCOOTER CONVERTS TO MOWER in three steps: Auxiliary frame sets steering column vertical; mower unit replaces front wheel; large wheel replaces speed pulley in drive train.

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 reappeared, banking back into the lane. He killed the motor, hopped off, and detached 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 steering 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"-by17-1/2" rod holds the ends of the steeringcolumn braces in pipe-coupling sockets at each end of this brace. Biesecker lifted the scooter's separated halves into the trunk of his car. "Total weight's about 60 pounds," he announced. 2. The pump. "While the scooter's in 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 completed 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, projecting beneath the pump's mounting base, was seated in a hole in the frame brace

Biesecker's left hand is on the spring catch. The new steering column fastens to rear wheel bracket; scooter's front fork is removed.

THE CART BED DUMPS for unloading dirt or rock.

SNOW-PLOW BLADE pivots on frame ior adjustment of angle; it is raised by lifting entire frame, which hooks onto steering-column crossbar, and brackets to cart axle at the back.

in front of the seat. By turning a wingnut on this bolt, Biesecker pivoted the pump upward to put the proper tension on the long belt that connected it to the drive pulley. He fed a hose into the cistern and

coupled the other end to the pump. Soon he was directing a sturdy spray at the soaped-up windshield. 3. The generator. We ran the dripping auto into the twilight interior of the

How the power unit is used to make six different machines

TO TAKE IT APART for portability, you detach throttle and brake from the handlebar and pull a pin that passes through the center frame

brace. This releases the ends of the steeringcolumn braces from their coupling sockets. Both halves fit neatly into a car trunk.

barn. Biesecker set up a photographic light bar and replaced the pump with an electric generator equipped with an identical mounting bracket and adjustable prop-bolt. After starting the scooter motor again, he lifted the car's hood and directed the light exactly where he needed it to work on the engine. "Actually," he said, "this portable generator is handy in lots of places beyond the reach of city power. I've used it for outdoor photography, night repair work in the fields, and even to rig a light for a hunting camp. It's handy in case of power failure." Biesecker detached the generator. The coupling pin was pulled once more, and the scooter began to lose its identity. 4. The mower. To ready the power unit for its next function, the high-speed drive pulley was replaced with a power wheel of twice the diameter. The axle nuts were loosened to drop the front wheel from its slotted fork. Nearby lay a handleless lawn mower and an extra section of pipe frame. Biesecker loosened two studs threaded through the handlebar column and slipped this upper unit off the steering shaft. "All shafts are cold-rolled steel," he informed us. "This one's 3/4" in diameter and 13-3/4" long. Note how I filed it flat in two places at the back to seat the studs." He slipped the angled steeringcolumn housing up off the shaft and pointed out the coil spring that it had rested on, where the shaft was welded to the wheel fork. "That spring stays," he

said, slipping the new frame down to butt against it. I had a question: "Why's the separate frame necessary?" "To set the steering column vertical. The scooter's column slants at 15 degrees, but the mower's has to set upright. Notice how all the pipe-column housings are slightly counterbored at each end to take brass bushings. These are pressed in tight to support the shaft." He replaced the handlebar column, retightened the studs, and reconnected the brake and throttle levers. Then he wheeled the mower unit into place, pivoting its mounting bracket up to bolt it into the wheel-less fork. "I leave the mudguard in place since it doesn't interfere with mowing. The mudguards are merely a standard bike fender cut in half." With the inventor aboard, the little tractor-mower moved out across a wide stretch of grass, maneuvering around several fruit trees and running close along a hedge. 5. The dump cart. This time, when the coupling pin was withdrawn and the frame pulled apart, the front steering column was discarded. Instead, a new vertical column, welded into the frame of a two-wheeled cart, was bolted onto the fixed fork of the rear wheel. Only the back half of the scooter is used in this conversion, and the power wheel becomes the front wheel of the cart tricycle—which is steered by pivoting the entire power unit. A U-shaped auxiliary foot rest is hooked onto the scooter frame behind the kick[Continued on page 202}

All-Purpose Yard Horse
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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 released 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 sheetmetal 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-testing," Biesecker assured us, presenting a snapshot to back him up. "My best traction 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 camera, 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.