Homemade gravel cart solves agency's problem

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Gene Knowlton and Duane Wetzel didn't mind a bit when the U.S. Forest Service asked them to help solve an unusual problem.

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Duane Wetzel maneuvers his horses while spreading gravel in Sumter National Forest using an improvised device he and a friend, Gene Knowlton, made using scrap metal and a mini-van rear axle.  Special
Special
Duane Wetzel maneuvers his horses while spreading gravel in Sumter National Forest using an improvised device he and a friend, Gene Knowlton, made using scrap metal and a mini-van rear axle.

"They needed to get gravel back in the woods -- in places their equipment couldn't go," Knowlton said. "Me and my buddy sat down and put some ideas together."

In the end, their horse-drawn contraption -- fabricated from scratch with little more than scrap metal -- proved to be a resounding success, said Glen Kansanback, a natural resource specialist in Sumter National Forest's Long Cane district.

"The main thrust was that we needed to put gravel out on our horse trails that were getting mucky from being wet," Kansanback said. "They aren't accessible from our Forest Service access roads."

A second problem, he said, was to find a way to spread the gravel along the narrow trails without heavy equipment.

Kansanback and a colleague, Libby Meadows, explored using mules equipped with hard panyards -- reinforced saddlebags -- to haul the gravel, which would then be spread by hand.

Knowlton and Wetzel weren't fond of the panyard idea and decided to come up with their own.

"We used the back axle from under a minivan -- and a whole bunch of scrap metal," said Knowlton, a welder who also ran a machine shop for 30 years. "Whatever we didn't have, we made."

Their final product was a horse-drawn gravel-hauling cart that could carry a ton of aggregate. It also had a tapered box with a gate that could be opened slowly, allowing the gravel to self-spread as the horses moved forward.

"In a little more than a day's time, we spread right at 60 tons of rock," Kansanback said. "It's a very different piece of equipment."

The Forest Service now uses the device whenever it needs to maintain remote trails, and Wetzel and Knowlton provide the horses.

"It was fun to build," Knowlton said. "And it actually worked better than I thought it would."

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johnston.cliff
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johnston.cliff 05/26/10 - 07:13 am
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I don't see why a small, pick

I don't see why a small, pick up size, dump truck wouldn't work, but if a horse drawn cart was the answer, I'd say this is an excellent solution. It looks like it was a fun project. Wonder how it made the papers and I wonder how those horses like pulling all of that weight down those trails. I suspect PETA will be investigating.

reader54
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reader54 05/26/10 - 08:30 am
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If you read the article

If you read the article carefully, you would understand why a pick-up truck wouldn't work. Give the guys credit for good ole American ingenuity instead of second guessing from your computer. P.S. Obama had NOTHING to do with this.

gnumbgnuts
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gnumbgnuts 05/26/10 - 08:48 am
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If it's as wide as a minivan,

If it's as wide as a minivan, any ATV should work.

corgimom
31471
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corgimom 05/26/10 - 09:31 am
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Patent it, you could make

Patent it, you could make some serious money!

Nightwing
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Nightwing 05/26/10 - 05:22 pm
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It is "green" uses no fuel

It is "green" uses no fuel except oats to feed the horse.

joey jenkins
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joey jenkins 05/26/10 - 05:32 pm
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john deere calls it a

john deere calls it a gator!!!

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