Recently we had the eye of a Category 4 hurricane (Michael) pass over our house. We were fortunate in that our damage was minimal but the amount of debris left on our heavily wooded lot was unbelievable. No way I could haul all that out to the curb by myself. It occurred to me that I could build a sort of sled (I call it my skidder) to make the job easier.
When I started building it, I had my doubts as to how well it would work as I only had a small lawn tractor (9 HP) to pull it. Experience showed me that the lawn tractor was more than powerful enough to do the job. I estimate that some of my loads weighed 300 to 400 lbs, and the tractor pulled them with no trouble.
It's a simple concept and a simple project, but it can make an impossible job possible !
So far I have pulled about 200 loads an average of 300 to 500 feet with only minor wear on the skidder. About half of the distance was on hard paved road.
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Step 1: Get Your Materials
I used a single sheet of 1/4" plywood for the bottom. Two 8 ft 2x4's were used for the sides and a third one was cut in half for the front and back pieces. You will note that the 2x4's I used are pink in color. This denotes that they are cut especially to be building studs. They were a little shorter and significantly cheaper.
I cut a curve at the front of the side studs so the front of the skidder turns up a bit like a sled or toboggan. This keeps the skidder from hanging up on minor bumps or roots. A gentle curve starting at the middle of the front side pieces (about 1 3/4" up) and joining the bottom about a foot back worked perfectly. You can see it in the picture.
Note also the the front 2x4 is turned almost flat to match the curve cut into the side pieces.
The front and back are cut to size and placed INSIDE the side pieces for strength. This is important. I would suggest using drywall screws to secure the plywood to the 2x4 frame. Space them about every 8" or so. Use 12d nails or 3" drywall screws to secure the side rails to the front and back pieces. Glueing everything is optional but makes it a LOT stronger.
Step 2: Dragging and Dumping
I used 3/16 nylon cord to build a bridal to pull the skidder. Drill two 3/8" holes in the front 2x4 for the bridal. I doubled the rope on the bridal for strength. Also put a loop of rope at the midpoint of both sides to aide in lifting one side to dump the skidder. I put one more loop of rope at the back to aide in positioning the skidder exactly where I wanted to dump.
Step 3: Load and Dump
Thats it. Hook you skidder to your lawn tractor load it up with debris, tow it to the dump site and use the rope handles on the side to lift it up and dump to the opposite side. The rope loop (if cut to the right length) really saves the back muscles!
A tip to make things easier. If your load is a heavy one try to pile it along one side. The mechanical advantage of lifting the opposite side makes it possible to dump very heavy loads.