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Chevrolet MowerTruck

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1975 Chevrolet Silverado K1500 MowerTruck

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Necessity breeds a monster.

A Tama Article

This is your land. Your domain is a backyard of which every man in America could be proud. You stand atop your kingdom, savoring your creation and challenging all those who look upon it to do better. All is as it should be in your world – until that son of a bitch next door does the one-up dance.

Everybody has one. He is the guy across the property line whose accomplishments are always just beyond your reach. Your lawn is green – his is greener. Your sidewalk is clean – his is cleaner. Your shrubs look good – his look shrubbier. Every single inch of real estate you claim as your own has already been overstepped by this guy, who then has the juevos grandes to ask “Howdy neighbor! How’s your yard doing?”

One-uppsmanship

“Why? Because I can.”

The words of the truck’s creator James Conley ring loudly with the principle of ingenuity – if it’s not there, build it.

Build it he did. The concept of a MowerTruck was born to fulfill the desires of comfort and efficiency. Three hundred collective acres of grass to maintain makes a case for the quest of an upgrade. Comfort is invaluable during 10 hours of mowing in the oppressive summer heat, and the efficiency to knock down 300 acres of grass in one day’s time is equally so. Built without a blueprint or a prayer – “at least four complete tear-downs and refits,” says Conley – the MowerTruck is the consummate example of determination in the face of nonsensical creation.

The Machine

Before the hybridization of battery and petroleum was even a blueprint, there was a two-faced monstrosity being built in a lonely warehouse in western Pennsylvania. The truck is a 1975 Chevrolet Silverado K1500. It is a bare-bones work truck of the single-cab long(gone)-bed variety. Two high-riding bucket seats stand tall in the stripped-out yellow cabin, and along with enlarged rear-view mirrors serve to enhance the operator’s line of vision. A 350 Chevy Small Block powers the beast and an unstoppable all-wheel-drive system is paramount to maintaining the trucks mobility. Four massive Sidewinder Radials on 15-inch steelies further the ability of the truck to tackle any lawn. A heavy-duty quad-terminal battery sends electricity to the decks in the rear. Three hydraulic arms enter the truck through an aftermarket hole in the base of the cab, and are used to lift and drop the batwing-style mowers. An auxiliary fuel pump to the mowers is switched on and off from the drivers seat. Three enormous tachometers relay the state of the mowers during operation. The a/c compressor has long since met it’s end, and the lack of passenger cooling and radio presence serve to remind that this is indeed a work vehicle. Ironically, all means of soundproofing are absent in a vehicle that feeds the atmosphere with the collective roar of four separate engines.

The business of the truck takes place rear of the cab. Three 5.5-foot mower decks have been lifted from a Toro Fairway mower and retrofitted to the bare frame of the Chevy. They operate in much the same style as originally intended: the mowers port and starboard fold straight up and stand vertically while not in use, and the rearmost mower lifts straight upward and remains parallel to the earth. On the ground, the mowers span a 15-foot cutline, more than enough incentive to build and rebuild the truck. Each mower deck receives juice from its own 15 horsepower Briggs and Stratton powerplant, a system far more appealing when those motors function smoothly.

Connecting the mowers to each other and to the truck is a highly unorganized and explicitly dangerous cluster of wires, hoses and chunks of overly-welded steel. Tall in the middle of the bare framework sit two gas tanks totaling 20 gallons of explosive potential. Dual fire extinguishers inside the cab provide defense against bad luck and have been essential to resolving fiery situations in the past. No less than 8 fuel lines run throughout the wire and hose network of the vehicle. The Chevrolet Corvair was known for its explosive nature, but the firepower of the MowerTruck is enough to leave Ralph Nader in tears.

The Drive

The extensive amount of work in building this monstrosity (nearly a year) was not solely in the name of comfort. The truck was built with the problem in mind that it would be taking care of tremendous fields in at least three separate locations. Short of the hydraulic labyrinth that would have to be concocted just to make the system work properly, the greatest task at hand would be making the thing street-legal.

Indeed, if not for the purpose of road going, the decks would not need to fold up to the sides of the cab. Though batwing mower systems are a more ambitious feature among pickups, by folding up and staying within the height and width regulations, the truck passes all inspection and license procedures. Such a system has allowed the vehicle to maintain different properties in a timely manner, while simultaneously making for the ultimate head-turning vehicle.

The act of mowing is one of elation. Bring your favorite set of earmuffs and a cooler packed with your favorite beverage (okay, favorite beer), and you are set for a full day of endless grass-murdering goodness. The machine moves swiftly for its size. Weight is dispersed over a fifteen foot span in the back – combine this with four massively wide tires and the machine, despite a total weight of about 5000 pounds, will not leave the slightest hint of ruts in the freshly mowed ground.

The turning radius is surprisingly nimble in a vehicle so large. Conley’s greatest foresight in the largely unplanned build-up was the turning circle. “When I built it, I aligned the mowers in such a way that when the wheel was turned fully in either direction, if the front corner of the truck missed the object, so would the mower decks.”

The permanent all-wheel drive system is the MowerTruck’s ace in the hole, allowing it to climb hills and navigate grades like a champ. Mowing speed hits its highest acceptable point at about 10-15 mph, depending on grass height and moisture.

The truck is somewhat a forerunner to the Hummer family, in that it is fantastic off-road and frightening on-road. The knobby treads make for an extraordinary amount of road noise. With the mowers in driving position (standing straight up in the air), the machine is a rolling weeble that will very easily fall down. Taking a sharp bend? Good luck.

The Legend

The sensation the MowerTruck leaves on an operator is that of massive and uncontested power. After driving a vehicle that is wider than a tank and equally loud, those who run the truck leave it grinning like idiots.

Since its creation, the MowerTruck has compiled a reputation of biblical proportions. The machine has gotten stuck no less than 17 times. It has an estimated usage of about 4500 hours. The rear frame has been fortified, twice adding leaf springs to the half-ton suspension. It has spontaneously combusted three times – once while cutting, twice while in transit. Fuel economy is a spritely 35 mpg (mows per gallon). In winter of 2002, the truck underwent a complete overhaul, receiving new paint, body panels and hydraulic equipment. In summer 2003, the old mower engines finally worked themselves dead. In the past week, all systems have been revamped within the vehicle, and a few new ones added just for giggles.

Don’t be fooled by its handyman demeanor -- the Chevrolet MowerTruck is a killing machine. It makes no distinction between grass or otherwise – 7000 golf balls have been fired out from under its ruthless decks. Built for the systematic slaughter of grass, the machine has come to spell the end of several groups of small animals. At final count, the brute’s nine rotating blades had laid waste to approximately 40 birds, 20 rabbits, three families of groundhogs and a bear.

The vehicle was built to serve the purposes of comfort and efficiency. According to its creator, “The only way to cut grass is under the comfort of shade, air conditioning, radio, and with a beer in hand. The MowerTruck has given me this.”

The Chevrolet MowerTruck is a machine that can knock down an acre of grass in an hour and fire a projectile golf ball towards the neighbor’s dog in excess of 80 mph. This is not a girly ride-on mower for the pickings of the public at your local Home Depot. Rather, it is a testament to that ever-shrinking category of American men who look to improve everything that can be improved by the tip of an arc welder.

This is not the yuppie’s one-up lawn mower. This is a real man’s machine.

And I can’t wait to hear what that smug son of a bitch next door has to say now.

Stay tuned to see more pictures and videos of operation, once I find a place to host them.

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i have the photos all posted in photobucket, but i dont know how to make them publicly viewable

This is a "MySpace" description but I think it's basically the same way when posting here.

http://photobucket.com/tutorials/myspace/mysp_tag.html

Just use the "IMG" code instead of "Tag".

Edited by Variance

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Hmmmm... western PA huh? Wonder if BlackViper knows this guy? :P

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