DIY tug

Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by 206driver, Oct 12, 2021.

  1. 206driver

    206driver Filing Flight Plan

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    Hi, i am new to the forum but i am looking to build a small tug. I need to push a 206 up a small gravel slope and into the hangar. I have my design more or less figured out but my biggest question is how much power i’m going to need. I’m thinking probably 2 electric motors but not sure how big or how much battery power i would need. So if someone with more knowledge on that could help me it would be very helpful.
     
  2. BladeSlap

    BladeSlap Pre-takeoff checklist

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    The schools I rented from, and my current employer, use old golf carts with a pintel hitch welded on the front and a tow bar, or we just push by hand. Golf carts also make zipping around the airport easy.
     
  3. MauleSkinner

    MauleSkinner Touchdown! Greaser!

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    A cordless drill has enough power and battery capacity to move a 206 uphill. The specifics of your design will determine how much more you need.
     
  4. unsafervguy

    unsafervguy Pattern Altitude

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  5. WDD

    WDD Pattern Altitude

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    Golf carts would be my first choice, but a used cart seems to be pricy lately.

    You can buy a used lawn tractor for a small amount, remove the deck and blade and weld a hitch to the front and/or back.
     
  6. 206driver

    206driver Filing Flight Plan

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    My design would be 3 wheeled with motors on both forward wheels and the back wheel would turn. it would be fairly easy for me to build with what i have and riding mowers or golf carts are not easy for me to come by.
     
  7. WDD

    WDD Pattern Altitude

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    Vintage Snazzy (so my adult children say)
    Could always use something like this ……
     
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  8. SoonerAviator

    SoonerAviator Final Approach

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    DIY tug . . . is that some form of "self care"?
     
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  9. kyleb

    kyleb Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    Multiple RV owners have built tugs using a tarp motor. Your airplane might be heavy enough to require two tarp motors. You'd need a 12V battery for each motor. It wouldn't take a lot of battery capacity to move the airplane a few feet.

    People also use the chassis and motors of used-up mobility scooters to make tugs.
     
  10. ebetancourt

    ebetancourt Line Up and Wait

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    I have super slick hangar floor. I tried a mobility scooter and it simply doesn't have enough traction to move even a Citabria over a small ramp. It may have enough power, not sure.
     
  11. kyleb

    kyleb Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    Yeah, that's one of the challenges on a slick surface. The solution is to load up the tug with more weight - for instance build a nosewheel ramp/capture device so the weight on the nosewheel is ultimately carried by the tug's wheels. OTOH, the Best Alpha, which is $3K gets rave reviews and it is a straightforward 2 wheeled tug that doesn't carry the nosewheel. It weighs a little over a hundred pounds. The question is whether it is that good, or whether people who spent $3K on a tug have a big dose of confirmation bias to go along with their tug.
     
  12. Schokie

    Schokie Filing Flight Plan

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    Can you install a winch on the back wall and pull it inside instead? Or is the slope too long? A corded remote control would allow you to operate the winch and steer with the towbar.
     
  13. kyleb

    kyleb Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    If you get the airplane reasonably close to the same starting point every time, a winch hooked to the towbar will pull the airplane right in and on a very consistent path.
     
  14. Racerx

    Racerx Line Up and Wait

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    I use a wireless remote winch. Trick is to make sure the winch is off the ground. Works great.
     
  15. azpilot

    azpilot Line Up and Wait

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    Can you elaborate on what your design is? I have a couple of questions.

    1) Have you thought at all about gear reduction? Any size motor will be capable of moving your 206 if you have the correct gear ratio and enough time. The power output of the motor will dictate how quickly you'll be able to move it.

    2) You mentioned you need to move it up a slope. How steep is the slope? What is the elevation increase over what kind of distance?

    3) Also, you mentioned the slope is gravel. Has your design factored in a way to ensure you'll get the proper traction to not slip on the gravel?
     
  16. Daleandee

    Daleandee Pattern Altitude

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    [​IMG]

    Perhaps she can also put the plane back in the hangar for you ... :D
     
  17. dtuuri

    dtuuri En-Route

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    It's cheaper to throw a cup of water under each wheel. Don't ask me why it works..
     
  18. Robert Gee

    Robert Gee Pre-takeoff checklist

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    My father had 3 different scooters so I wager some of them definitely have the power. The big one was designed for outside & sloping ground. It has a wider and long wheelbase. Wider wheels, taller, semi-knobby lower pressure tires for ground clearance and rated for at least a 350lb person, Dad and 10yo granddaughter quickly up uneven grass slopes anyway.
    I kinda wish I needed to...the right tires, enough weight for traction...break out the welder and the neglected barbell plates.
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2021
  19. azpilot

    azpilot Line Up and Wait

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    I think the biggest challenge with this design is going to be getting sufficient traction while trying to push a relatively heavy airplane up a hill with gravel. Those front drive wheels will need to have enough traction to generate forward force, and that will be difficult in that configuration.

    Empty, a Cessna 206 is 2176 lbs. Throw in some av gas, and you're probably looking at up to 2700 lbs. If your slope is 1 foot of incline per 20 feet of linear distance, you need to be able to generate at least 105 lbs of friction with the surface just to keep the tires from spinning. According to some online sources, your friction coefficient will be ~0.6. That means you'll need at least 175 lbs of load on the tires just to keep it from slipping, and that doesn't account for acceleration. You'll probably want to increase that normal force by at least 50%, or maybe double it. Of course, the exact numbers will depend on the slope you're trying to push up.
     
  20. Aviatordoc

    Aviatordoc Pre-Flight PoA Supporter

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    I bought a tug made off a snowblower. Works great. Will post a pic after my next visit to the hangar.
    Has electric start as well.
     
  21. ebetancourt

    ebetancourt Line Up and Wait

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    After screwing around with various solutions, in the end my solution was the best thing I ever did for myself. I looked at several electric start tugs, bought an electric tow bar thing, and wish I had done this from the beginning:

    COMPACT TUGS - AC AIR Technology

    I use it on tailwheel airplanes, but it would work on nose wheel airplanes with care. The more expensive one with the turntable would work best for a nosewheel I think. You can be anywhere as you move the airplane, so whatever needs watching is where I am standing (or sitting).
     
  22. Albany Tom

    Albany Tom Line Up and Wait PoA Supporter

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    That math sounds right to me... It first with idea of using a lawn tractor to move it. My mower weighs about 500lbs, so probably about 350-400 on the driven wheels when I'm on it. I think it would push a plane up a small grade, on dry pavement, without extra weight, but it would be close. It has 10hp, but is geared pretty quick. So maybe a 5 HP motor geared low would be fine. I don't think you could build something cheaper than either purchasing or modifying something else, unless you have access to free motors, controllers, battery, gearbox. If you can't get a mower, golf cart, 4 wheeler, etc., a small forklift or skid steer would certainly work, maybe an electric pallet jack. Or a ww2 surplus german remote control mini-tank.
     
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  23. 206driver

    206driver Filing Flight Plan

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    Thanks for all the reply’s!! I am planning on having the nose wheel pulled onto the tug to give it traction and having a motor on both front wheels. I’m thinking of getting a electric wheelchair with the two separate motors and using the motors and possibly the controller. That would give me forward and reverse with variable speed. The only thing I’m not quite sure about is the power but they seem like good sized motors. This is a very slight grade to be pushed up. Two guys can push it in but it’s a lot of work.
     
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  24. azpilot

    azpilot Line Up and Wait

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    Good to know you've got the traction problem solved. The nose wheel weight should certainly help with that. If the motors cannot generate enough torque, you might be able to do something fairly simple like use bicycle sprockets to get some more mechanical advantage.
     
  25. Albany Tom

    Albany Tom Line Up and Wait PoA Supporter

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    Using the nose weight should help. Wheelchair motors and gears might be just fine. Guessing the nose weight of a 206, and the size of some people in wheelchairs, could be pretty similar.
     
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  26. Hang 4

    Hang 4 Cleared for Takeoff

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    This might give you some ideas.

     
  27. wrbix

    wrbix Pattern Altitude

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    Where you located?
    I’m about to give away a lawn tractor based tug
     
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