Screw Drive Tractor Hasn’t Conquered Canada Yet

[REDNIC79] lives somewhere in Canada where key terrain features include mud and snow. Half pontoon boat, half auger, screw-propelled vehicles excel in this kind of terrain as long as you’re okay with going really slow.

In his 11-and-counting part video series, [REDNIC79] goes through the conversion of a lawn tractor into a slow, theoretically unstoppable, Canadian screw-propelled tractor. He welds a frame, plonks some beefy chains on it, and throws a few hefty looking bearing mounts on there to boot. Then he makes some screws out of gas tanks; which was an enormous amount of work.

It was time to fire up the tractor. On the first muddy incline encountered, the tractor ceased to move. The culprit? A cracked transmission housing. Ouch. The end of the shaft holding the chain for the right screw was unsupported. When the shaft turned, it imparted its rotational force, but there was also an unconsidered down force on the end of the shaft, which resulted in a moment the bell housing wasn’t designed for.

Undeterred, [REDNIC79] welded the housing back together and threw a bearing on the end of the offending shaft to balance the moments. He fired it up, engaged the transmission, and the right screw bearing pillow block completely shattered. Ouch again. We can safely begin to assume that screw-propelled vehicles see a lot of forces.

[REDNIC79] hasn’t shelved the project yet. His next plan is to beef up the supports and build a much larger set of screws with smaller blades out of some propane tanks. This should reduce the force the power house needs to put out. Video of the first fail after the break.

30 thoughts on “Screw Drive Tractor Hasn’t Conquered Canada Yet

  1. A lot of countries have made versions of this – the Achilles heel of them is that they can’t travel on anything *except* mud/bog. Imagine that screw drive on concrete.

    1. make the screw retract into the pontoon and have rubber strips or rollers(sideways) on the drum part for hard surfaces?

      i wonder if a flywheel or some other mechanical isolation would decrease the peak force experienced?

          1. Why not just have a set of wheels/tracks just below the screws on the inner side? If you’re in mud/water the wheels will just sink and the screws take over.

      1. Think self drilling, tapping screws. These work by cutting “threads” in the snow or soil. Asphalt or concrete will merely grind away any friction material you put on the cylinders. Even soil and snow are likely to wear out the parts too.. The mess is was testing in here is essentially a grinding compound. In the event the concept (an old one) was practicalwe would be seeing military and commercial vehicles of this type.

  2. That machine makes me laugh, and I’m not entirely sure why. I think it’s a combination of the wacky means of locomotion and the derpy, google-eyed face on the front of the thing. I can imagine it humming tunelessly as it throoms along.

  3. Nice effort. I’m thinking maybe he needs to turn the screws sideways, shorten them, and have 4 of them, more like the real tractor/vehicle. Or just mount very large regular tires.

  4. He should turn his screws around. He’s shoving the blunt end into the mud. That amount of resistance probably isn’t helping. Don’t think he’ll have that problem if he goes to propane tanks since they’re rounded on both ends.

    1. A.K.A. “Manitoba gumbo” Anyone that has had to trudge through some while hunting will never forget the way it sticks to boots. Five steps and you have 10 kilos of it stuck to the soles.

  5. Been quite interested in this subject for years, there’s been lots of very sucessful screw drive vehicles. Snowbird6 has retractable wheels and uses the screws to clamber onto floating ice and swim with.

    Probably the most sucessful in daily use I can think of is the amphirols, which see service in marshland and estuary waters in holland for example. Or the mudmasters designed to break up tailings from a mine also in the above link. The king of the “really want one to play with” list has to be the Zil thats leaping about the russian tundra in one of the above links. Just don’t have the territory locally to justify building one apart from the couple of weeks a year it snows. If I were to tackle something similar, the hydraulic drive system from a commercial golf course mowing machine would be great donors for the screw drives and let you mount a pump on the motor and distribute with hoses to the drive motors.

    I saw this particular one on youtube a bit back and not to be too negative but I thought it looked like horrible workmanship around the chain drive outrigger supports, had too narrow screws to work properly (though there was some plan to improve that with even larger tanks, although the screw spindle axles also looked very undersized for the loading and distance between bearings) and was underwhelming in testing. A mk1 experiment then back to the drawing board for a better version later on in fact rather than something justifying an article. I would still like to see how mk2 or 3 turns out though.

  6. The videos of these sort of vehicles on YouTube are fun to watch, but not as entertaining as videos of people using motorized flying wedge (for lack of a better term) log splitters. More likely than not one has to think at least industrial tractor duty parts, to end up with vehicle that can do heavy duty work, beyond moving it’s own weight.

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