Introduction: Electric Sand or Salt Spreader for Your Truck or Tractor From Junk
This Instructable will guide you through the creation of an electric spreader that can help you coat icy surfaces with sand or salt with the flip of a switch. No more soup can, bucket, and falling on your butt! A hopper is constructed from a 5 gallon bucket with a hole in the bottom. Sand exits the big hole through a funnel made from a 2 liter bottle. The sand then piles into a PVC pipe tee. A cordless drill is used to spin the PVC pipe tee. When the pipe tee spins around, centrifugal force pulls the sand out of the tee and slings it everywhere. The 45 degree elbows on the ends of the pipes keep the sand from falling out when the sand spreader isn't running. No valves are needed to keep the sand in. Then lengths of the pipe can be changed to change the area the spreader can cover. I opted to use a switch to turn on the spreader and power it from the battery on my lawn tractor—you could just use the trigger lock on your drill if it has a battery. My drill didn't have a good battery so I got it for free. Total cost of this project depends entirely on what you have on hand. Estimated cost is $53 if you had to buy everything. I had all of it on hand. I will probably have about $10 in replacing the fasteners I used.
The first steps is to gather your materials. You will need:
(1) Five gallon bucket – Can be had free from your local drywall contractor where houses are being built. $3
(1) 2 liter bottle $1
(3ft) Threaded rod (¼-20 is what I used). $4
(20) sheet metal screws >= #8 x ¾ $3
(1) 1” PVC Pipe Tee $1
(1ft) 1” PVC Pipe $1
(2) 1” 45 degree elbows $1
(1ft) 2x4 lumber $0.50
(3ft) 1x4 lumber $0.50
(6) ¼-20 x 1-1/2” bolts $1
(12) ¼ flat washers $1
(6) ¼-20 nylon lock nuts $1.50
(3ft x 6”) 3/4” plywood or equivalent $2
(1) old cordless drill with a dead battery – Let your friends at work know you want one. $14 on sale
(2) ¼-20 hex nuts. $0.20
(6) Drywall screws 1-5/8” long
(4) Drywall screws 1” long
If you want a switch on your tractor or in your truck you will need:
(At least 8ft) #14AWG two conductor wire $3
(1) 15A rocker switch $5
(1) 15A fuse with holder – Please don't skip this. You might burn up your tractor or truck. $5
(2) 5/16" Ring terminals for the #14AWG or larger wire.
(2) 1/4" female Crimp terminals may be needed for the rocker switch
Step 1: Drill a ¼” Hole in the Very Center of Your Pipe Tee.
Step 2: Bolt Your Threaded Rod to Pipe Tee.
You may wish to use some Loctite thread locker to keep this from ever coming apart. Tighten the nuts down until the cut into the plastic.
Step 3: Assemble the Slinger
## Some things I've learned in the last two years -- I added some length at the very ends after the 45 degree elbow to keep sand from bouncing out of the ends of the arms while plowing. I also jammed my slinger once and the drill started to screw the threaded rod deeper and deeper into the slinger. Adding some extra jam nuts, bending over and wire tying the threaded rod, or some other means of reinforcing this joint may be a good idea -- be sure to submit photos with your comments to share your ideas! ##
Cut two sections of pipe about 3” long. Press fit them into each end of the tee. DO NOT GLUE THEM. The length of the pipes will need adjusted to change the size of the spreading pattern later on. Put the 45 degree elbows on each end of the pipe. In the photo I used very short pieces of pipe at first. I found my spreading pattern was too small, so I pulled them off and replaced them with 3-1/2 sections. That pattern was a little big, so I cut them down to 3”.
Step 4: Make the Funnel
Cut the bottom off your 2 liter bottle to make the funnel for the hopper. I “flowered” the top out to allow MANY sheet metal screws to hold it to the bottom of the bucket. PET is tough stuff.
Step 5: Prepare the Hopper (5 Gallon Bucket)
Cut a hole in your bucket that is SMALLER than the funnel made by the 2 liter bottle by about 1/8” in radius. This will give you a little overlap when you screw the bottle to it.
Step 6: Attach the Funnel to the Hopper
Screw the bottle neck to the bottom of the bucket using each of the little flags as a mounting tab.
Step 7: Cut the Threaded Rod to Length
Test fit the drill to the bucket and cut the ¼-20 threaded rod. I made sure the chuck of my drill was at the top of the bucket so I didn't get sand into the chuck which could keep it from working.
Step 8: Make the Drill Mounting Assembly
Your bucket may have dimesions that are different from mine. I have suis just what I had. pplied them just to give you a rough idea of the parts to cut and how to install them. Cut a pair of wooden blocks. 2x4's would be be fine. This is just what I had. Mock up the cross member in the bucket after you have placed the two blocks in the bucket to see where the board will go. Screw the cross member to the block and then slide it into the bucket. Cut a piece of 1x4 for the vertical piece the drill will be taped to. Screw it to the cross member. AFTER SCREWING THE BLOCKS TO THE CROSSMEMBER AND THE VERTICAL PIECE THE ASSEMBLY CAN BE SCREWED TO THE SIDES OF THE BUCKET. Sheet metal screws work well to hold the blocks to the side of the bucket.
Step 9: Mount the Drill
Tighten the drill chuck on the threaded rod. Pull the drill up until the tee bottoms out against the funnel. Then lower the drill 1/8" to allow for a loose fit. Tape the drill to the vertical mount on the drill bracket with some duct tape or Gorilla tape.
Step 10: Make Mounts to Hold the Spreader on the Tractor
Cut two pieces of 3/4" plywood about 18" long and 6" high. My tractor has a flat plate at the back of it that was perfect to hang the spreader from. Screw the two pieces of plywood together temporarily to make cutting identical notches in them easier. Trace out a mounting slot that will allow the wooden tang to hang over the inside of the flat steel plate on the tractor. Make sure the tang is short enough that it can slide in under the fender deck. Cut out the wooden tangs from both 18"x6" pieces of plywood.
Step 11: Bolt the Mounting Plates to the Side of the Bucket
Use 3 1/4-20 x 1-1/2" bolts to attach the plywood to the sides of the bucket. Use a Bolt-Washer-wood-bucket-washer-locknut sandwich in all three places. Then bolt the other side on. I found that hanging the brackets off the tractor made it easier to keep everything in alignment while I drilled the holes.
Step 12: Solder Wires to the Drill
I chose to add a fuse and switch so I could turn on the spreader from my seat and wouldn't need a working battery. To make connecting the wires easier I cut the battery housing off the handle of the drill with a multi-x. A hacksaw would work well too.
Step 13: Solder the Red Wire to the + Terminal on the Drill and the Black to the - Terminal
Check the housing or the defunct batter to figure out which is which. Polarity is important. If you hook it up wrong, it will fry the drill. Wrap it liberally in electrical tape when finished.
Step 14: Add a Switch to Your Tractor
Route the wires from the drill to where your switch will go. Most rocker switches can go in a simple rectangular hole. Make a masking tape template and then drill/saw/dremel until you get the rectangle close to size. Then finish it with a file to get it just right. Your switch should interrupt only the positve (red, +) wire. Most chassis mount switches will have 0.25" crimp terminals. It works out very neatly if you can use those.
Step 15: Add a Fuse Holder and Connect It to the Battery
An inline fuse holder with a 15A fuse is required. If the wiring on your system gets worn through by some metal rubbing on it over the years it will set your tractor on fire if you don't have a fuse. Put it on the end of the red wire. Then condinue the red wire to an appropriately sized ring terminal. Try using the clamping bolt on the battery as a place to take power off the battery. Connect a second ring terminal to the black wire and connect it to the clamping bolt on the negative post.
Step 16: Profit!
Finally, we get to the PROFIT step! Use "Coarse fill sand" that is KEPT DRY to fill the spreader. Put a plastic trash bag or another bucket over the top to keep snow from getting the sand wet. Use a bungee cord to hold it around the top of the bucket. If the sand gets wet it may stick and not exit the spreader properly.
Remember how we press fit the PVC pipes together and didn't glue them? This is because we haven't seen how far the slinger throws the sand yet. If the slinger doesn't throw the sand far enough, remove the straight sections of PVC pipe and substitute in longer ones. With my drill on the "low" gear setting, I arrived at 3-1/2" straight sections as being just right to cover a 12ft wide area.
Thank you for the time you spent looking over my instructable. If you have read this far and are thinking, "This was great and totally worth a buck" You can help me continue to make more instructables by making a donation using this link to my ebay store. Thanks, and keep building! -- Yeltrow