Solar Bulldozer Gets Dirty

As the threat of climate change looms, more and more industries are starting to electrify rather than using traditional fuel sources like gasoline and diesel. It almost all cases, the efficiency gains turn out to be environmentally and economically beneficial. Obviously we have seen more electric cars on the roads, but this trend extends far beyond automobiles to things like lawn equipment, bicycles, boats, and even airplanes. The latest in this trend of electrified machines comes to us from YouTube user [J Mantzel] who has built his own solar-powered bulldozer.

The fact that this bulldozer is completely solar-powered is only the tip of the iceberg, however. The even more impressive part is that this bulldozer was built completely from scratch. The solar panel on the roof charges a set of batteries that drive the motors, and even though the bulldozer is slow it’s incredibly strong for its small size. It’s also possible for it to operate on solar alone if it’s sunny enough, which almost eliminates the need for the batteries entirely. It’s also built out of stainless steel and aluminum, which makes it mostly rust-proof.

This is an impressive build that goes along well with [J Mantzel]’s other projects, most of which center around an off-grid lifestyle. If that’s up your alley, there is a lot of inspiration to be had from his various projects. Be sure to check out the video of his bulldozer below as well. You don’t have to build an off-grid bulldozer to get started in the world of living off-the-grid, though, and it’s easy to start small with just one solar panel and a truck.

Thanks to [Darko] for the tip!

33 thoughts on “Solar Bulldozer Gets Dirty

    1. He may be eccentric to you but there is no way you can call a guy who has that level of practical ability to be a nutter. As far as being an “average” or normal human is concerned he is very successful and has a happy and healthy family, can you claim to have achieved that yet?

      1. his political videos aside, he makes an habit of labelling any kind of engineering rule he that doesn’t fit his world “propaganda”.
        Like : his walls have cracks ? This is good actually.
        Structural engineers in the comments telling him it’s dangerous ? Propaganda !
        Putting a metal frame ? Nah, just plug the holes with concrete.

    2. I used to subscribe to his Youtube channel but had to unsubscribe due to his “philosophy” videos. I couldn’t take it anymore.

      But he’s a clever mechanical engineer, though. Wish he’d just stick to that.

      1. Despite his “creative engineering” I’d not call him a clever mechanical engineer. Hack-ish != engineer-ish

        The first thing that I see is that these solar panels are not designed for such kind of abuse and probably sooner than latter are going to crack if the support is not properly reinforced. The dynamic loads are not the same as for a static mount like in a roof or a boat.

        You can see that the steering in that thing don’t provide any significant side force to the plow so won’t be able to dig through any significant oblique terrain without severe pain.

        Also, structural concrete without steel, without being guaranteed to always be fully in compression? The horror! =8-(

  1. That would be a lot more effective if it was mechanically geared way down and had tracks or much better tires on it. Anything that engages the ground needs to be geared way down. Also, if the solar cells on top are all of the power it is going to get it is not going to run long on a charge. I have a solar application, running large CFL lights in part of a security system, and they have a similar fate. A day of charging for perhaps a half hour of use with the current solar cell.battery pairing.

    1. Having a proper galvanic insulation between both materials there should not be a problem.

      but if are not isolated the aluminium corrodes and gets converted to white alumina dust.
      A common mistake is using “stronger” stainless steel rivets with aluminium parts like boat masts.

  2. You can’t seriously describe that as a bulldozer. Its more lawn tractor with a small scraping blade class.
    Actual bulldozers weigh several tons, and have serious abilities to survive abuse and do work.
    I clicked on this link expecting to see a nice retrofit of a electric motor onto a existing machine or at least something semi comparable to a bulldozer.
    The diesel engine in my ancient jcb backhoe is *really* tired and is now smoking pretty bad due to low compression, and they go for serious money because theyre rare now in good condition, its only 80hp or so and I only use it on odd occasions when I need its muscle. I’d be tempted by a electric retrofit for that, but it would have to be a really cost effective route as the machine is effectively past its real working life.

  3. The build has been interesting to follow. There are lots of points where he states he’s doing it for long-term use (hence the aluminium, stainless & solar, good for a marine island an hour from civilisation), but his drive to hack solutions overrides it. Some bits are very innovative, such as the double figure-8 drivechain. Other bits are either questionable (building the chassis to flex but with rigid panels attached, which will probably lead to early metal fatigue), or just plain showing his lack of understanding (see all YT comments relating to him trying to get 12v for his starter relay from 24v) or his need to hack solutions Right Now (angle-grinding slots for bolts because he doesn’t have the right type of drill, which will probably cause the planetary gearboxes deep in the middle of the assembly to shatter in a few months use) which is fine for hacked projects, but not for long-life ones.

    Also he recently had a nasty foot infection that you’d think might have served as a warning of how exposed his family are to injury out there. More than anything, as others have pointed out, I fear for his kids around the house he’s making that’s “okay” to have cracks in the thin unreinforced concrete walls. We don’t see much of his partner, but I hope she’s a moderating influence to him that will keep them from moving into the resulting multi-ton cracked eggshell.

  4. The only “Threat” of “Climate Change” is that some folks still do not understand it is a hoax and a con. Jump on my comment all you want but, it has been proven to be false many, many times now so anyone can look it up and see for themselves. No sense arguing about it here.

    1. “anyone can look it up and see for themselves”
      Then provides no evidence.

      “No sense arguing about it here.”
      Proceeds to make bold claims, but won’t let you refute them as that would be arguing.

      Ok, we’ll just carry on, then.

      1. Incorrect. I was refuting a bold, false claim made in the open line of the article. I “assumed” that folks here know how to use Google so…no, I did not want to post a bunch of links. Look it up for yourself. I also never said I will not “let” anyone refute them. Geeze, what post were you reading? Thanks.

        1. Burden of proof lies with whom?

          If you want to make a statement that you know will be controversial, back it up, don’t just rely on general hand-waving and “the truth is out there, if only you’ll look for it” nonsense.

          You don’t want to post a bunch of links? Okay, how about one? You didn’t even do that.

          “Geeze, what post were you reading?”
          “No sense arguing about it here.”
          The one where you said there is no use in arguing about it. That one.

          1. “Proceeds to make bold claims, but won’t LET (emphasis mine) you refute them as that would be arguing.”

            Ummm…no where did I ever claim I would not LET anyone do anything. So, you just made that up or thought you were reading another post I guess?
            I assumed that you know how to use Google, but, from your response I supposed I assumed incorrectly. Here is just one I found in less than 1.2 seconds: http://www.newsmax.com/Finance/MKTNews/Global-Warming-climate-change/2014/11/17/id/607827/

            There are many, many more but, you are on your own. This is my last reply on this as we have drifted from the main point of his article.

          2. So your reply amounts to: “Here’s a crappy website with awfully biased news with an article written by someone who talked to an ‘expert’ whose technical field isn’t anywhere near climate research, but let’s just trump him up because it lends credibility to what I’m saying. We’ve found data, ohh, it’s good data, let’s talk about the data, but first, lets talk about other things, but ohhh, that data is rich, let me tell you.”

            “The reality is this: The world is 1.08 degrees cooler than it was in 1998.”
            That’s not how science works. “One data point is colder, QED, therefore it’s all a lie!”

            “Al Gore and his liberal friends have stood onstage blaming you and your “gas-guzzling” car, standard four‑bedroom house, and the factory downtown.

            Shame on you, right?

            Of course, the hypocrisy of the claim is that Al Gore himself racks up annual electric and gas bills of $30,000, more than 20 times the national average.”
            How does this relate to the topic at hand?

            If your news source is something like this article, I can understand why you run around with your hands over your ears, unwilling to talk about the issue, but simply adopt the ideas of other. Thinking is hard work, I get it.

            That article never once cites actual data, it just says, that some research was done that found this thing I’m trying to talk about. An article with real facts will cite their sources, not hide behind this written hearsay.

            Your response in this thread has been such that you refuse to do any work.
            “No sense arguing about it here.”
            Then you didn’t provide any sources. Then you did provide one, extremely poorly written, obviously biased and blatantly deceptive source.
            Then you attacked me personally by intimating that I am, somehow, unable to perform a simple search.
            Then you claimed that this has derailed the topic. The topic that YOU brought up.

  5. Interesting hack. Though not a bulldozer, more of a low geared golf cart with a scraper.

    The CG on is messed up and can easily tip over as shown in the video. His steering mechanism is a disaster. Just get a old steering wheel.

    I don’t blame him though for trying to make a small home brew dozer considering how much even a used one goes for.

  6. Very interesting project. I have a need for something like that myself, although my calculations showed that gasoline engine is a must for any longer work. Also, solar panels won’t charge the battery well in a forest.

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