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Thread: Airplane Tugs

  1. #1

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    Airplane Tugs

    What are yawl doing for airplane tugs? Within the next year (hopefully) I'll be finishing a small cub on Baumann 1500 amphibs and want the correct tool for moving it around. The shop is concrete but it is sod/gravel outside the shop. We built an electric/hydraulic lift/mover for the helicopter with positive results but that is a different animal than amphibs.

    Trying to not reinvent the wheel...

    Ideas, thoughts, problems I haven't thought about yet... and even better, pictures?????

    I saw a zero turn lawnmower hooked to the gear of a ag tractor that seemed like a good idea but someone must have figured out the parade model solution to this already.

    Many thanks for the wealth of knowledge from those on this forum.

    Sikorsky
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  2. #2
    Farmboy's Avatar
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    A cub on Amphibs moves around extremely easily. Perhaps a touch less on Sod.

    We use a zero turn mower to move airplanes at work and personally with the right operator I couldn’t be happier.

    I am casually looking for a used zero turn with a bad deck, to fabricate my own improved version of a zero-turn tug. Currently the drawbacks are novice operators as many have never learned the deft touch and finesse needed to run a skid-steer or excavator properly. The second drawback is too light for heavy twins on grass. So to address these issues is first off to build a small pedestal frame to mount the operators seat higher, and facing backward. In doing so this will put the seat over the existing foot space. Placing the operator now on the “steering end” does a few things. The hitch off the engine end moves less with steering movements and so provides greater control. The now “front wheel drive” may work better for traction, but also allow for small tractor weights to be added as needed. And the current slower “reverse” speed of the hydrostatic transmission is ideal for pushing aircraft, and the new reverse (was forward) is ideal for pulling aircraft.

    The raised seat and foot rest above the engine provides greater overall visibility around the aircraft as well.
    A simple linkage up to new control handles allows for the same arm throw.

    I think it could be a winner based on how we use the existing, but time will tell.

    Another guy is completely sold on using the electric golf cart, so I just fabricated a front hitch for them to use that as well. I see speed control and turf operations as being the issue on the cart.

    Pb



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  3. #3

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    I have a Taylorcraft on Baumann 1500 amphib and just pull it in and out of my hangar by hand and back with a rope tied to each cleat. It is slightly up hill going in but still no problem. Of course the ramp if paved.

    Jim

  4. #4

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    I mostly use a strong back and weak mind to move the planes. When it gets too slick out or need to run over to IA's hanger I have a 96 Polaris explorer with chains on the rear tires. I made a front tow bar that hooks to straight ski pedestals for pulling planes forward out of the hanger. The older I get the better battery a battery powered tow rig looks. DENNY
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  5. #5
    Crash, Jr.'s Avatar
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    My dad used to use a winch bolted to the floor with a long controller lead to pull the cub on skis in in the winter. That and myself and my brother placing pieces of conduit on the floor behind the skis for them to roll on and it was a pretty quick job. I'm sure this would work fine with a harness on the float cleats and the winch pulling on that.
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  6. #6
    mvivion's Avatar
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    First, I'd be REALLY careful putting much strain on float cleats. I'd rather connect to something structural, like the spreader bars.

    If your unpaved area is pretty smooth, you really shouldn't have much problem moving it by hand if it's a light Cub. As Crash Jr. noted, a winch works great for pulling a plane into a hangar. Pushing out by hand should be pretty easy, but amphibs are kinda hard to steer if you're by yourself. They tend to have a mind of their own.

    On our Beavers on amphibs, our maintainers fabricated an eye at the base of each front spreader bar. Then they made a tow bar that attached to those points. Worked really well. May be overkill for a Cub, but.....

    MTV
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  7. #7

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    Yeah, I really don’t want to reef (spelling?) on stuff that could be a failure point. The Baumann’s are fairly fragile compared to many of the other variants. Maybe build a rolling platform that the floats could roll onto and have that propelled by a hydrostatic zero turn lawnmower? Not trying to make this harder than it needs to be... but also don’t want to destroy stuff, my body included.

    Or start pouring concrete and buy a trunk monkey!

    Sik

  8. #8
    Steve Pierce's Avatar
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    A tailwheel tow bar on Wips works very well in my hangar.
    Steve Pierce

    Everybody is ignorant, only on different subjects.
    Will Rogers
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  9. #9

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    zero turn mower and a stearman tow bar works great!


  10. #10

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    I have to look up the zero turn lawnmower, but in the meantime have you guys seen that little $4000 radio controlled silver tank that ambles over to the nosewheel, picks it up, and moves it wherever you want, all while you have a beer in the other hand? What a kick!

    You could buy two, and teach them formation tank tracking - or just get the computer that flies those four rotor drones, and get it to teach them how to move Wip nosewheels.

  11. #11

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    Bob! What’s this nose wheel thing of which you talk?��
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  12. #12

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    Bob- I like the track idea. Maybe cannibalize a track propelled snow blower. Take off the front snow blowing stuff and put a ball hitch or the like in its place. Do you think having the thing in front of the floats or back of the floats would be the best spot to operate from? Somehow capturing the main wheels...

    Never thought I’d own an airplane with nose wheel(s).

    Sik

  13. #13
    cubdriver2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sikorsky View Post
    Bob- I like the track idea. Maybe cannibalize a track propelled snow blower. Take off the front snow blowing stuff and put a ball hitch or the like in its place. Do you think having the thing in front of the floats or back of the floats would be the best spot to operate from? Somehow capturing the main wheels...

    Never thought I’d own an airplane with nose wheel(s).

    Sik
    I've had both types of walk behind snow blowers. I bought a track one and it had terrible traction. Took it back a got one with wheels again. Plus you can always put chains on a wheeled one

    Glenn
    "Optimism is going after Moby Dick in a rowboat and taking the tartar sauce with you!"

  14. #14
    Crash, Jr.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ross d View Post
    Bob! What’s this nose wheel thing of which you talk?��
    I think he's talking about one of these: https://acairtechnology.com/product/ac-tracktech-t1v2-2/

    Saw them at the AK Aviation gathering a couple years ago. Pretty neat, especially if you could put guns on them and maybe pit them against each other in a little arena.

  15. #15
    NDRII's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Crash, Jr. View Post
    I think he's talking about one of these: https://acairtechnology.com/product/ac-tracktech-t1v2-2/

    Saw them at the AK Aviation gathering a couple years ago. Pretty neat, especially if you could put guns on them and maybe pit them against each other in a little arena.
    I ended up with this brand in a deal that was too good to pass up. Way overkill for my Cub but works really well!

  16. #16

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    A friend has an AC Air Tech tug that he uses to move his Widgeon around. Works great. Otherwise it was a 3 man job to get it in and out of a level hangar.

    Jim

  17. #17

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    When I had the Howard, I had a modified Cessna tow bar that fit over the tailwheel axle, and then a loop of rope around the handle that was about 8’ long. I’d drop the loop over the depth rod of my Troy Built roto tiller and pull it in the hangar that way. It was a slight downhill grade going out of the hangar so I could push it out by hand.


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  18. #18
    gdrean's Avatar
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    I was skeptical when my friend wanted me to buy an AC Technology remote tug(mentioned above). At the ALaska airmans show I mentioned to the salesman that i would be interested if it could move an amphib. Just then the video showed the tug moving a 206 amphib. I bought one and it really works great. Moves a beaver on wheels, 206 and cub on amphibs. But the best part is being able to get 4 planes in a 3 plane hanger. Sometimes I have to move two to get a third one out. Use to dread what now is a piece of cake.You can get them within inches moving them around. You can stand in the front, sides or back and really see what you are doing. Something very difficult to do with a heavy plane and a slight hill. I have only used on pavement.The company is great to deal with and I am sure they can guide you on off pavement ops.
    GDrean
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  19. #19
    FdxLou's Avatar
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    I love my AC Technology tug.Works great on the 180 and my friends Air Cam on Amphibs.
    Lou

  20. #20

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    Gdrean- Progress. So I’m assuming it captured one of the front caster wheels? I’d be concerned with putting a lateral load on the front wheel, but monkey see monkey do just might work. I really don’t want to reinvent the wheel. I’m willing to but would rather not.

    Sik

  21. #21
    skywagon8a's Avatar
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    Something like this works great on amphibs. A single bar on just one nose wheel creates steering issues.
    N1PA

  22. #22
    gdrean's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sikorsky View Post
    Gdrean- Progress. So I’m assuming it captured one of the front caster wheels? I’d be concerned with putting a lateral load on the front wheel, but monkey see monkey do just might work. I really don’t want to reinvent the wheel. I’m willing to but would rather not.

    Sik

    yes, captures the front wheel. On my 2100A I need to have the wheel turned rearward to clear the tug. They have changed the tugs a bit over the years. Mine is 3 years old. I have landed mY amphib cub on grass strips occasionally. A lot more stress on the the front end (even laterally) I believe than using the tug. There are three speeds available. I use the slowest when moving the amphib. I suspect wipline had to test the sideload on the front assembly as a crosswind puts a sideload on the front.
    But most important for me is the ability to safely get,things tight. Probably not as important for a single plane hanger unless it is a tight one.
    GDrean

  23. #23

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    Plus, they really, really look neat! It is a little like getting a new toy when you were six!

  24. #24
    Farmboy's Avatar
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    Best Tugs usually has a number of AC remote tugs on trade, you might find a deal.


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  25. #25
    Farmboy's Avatar
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    Best Tugs usually has a number of AC remote tugs on trade, you might find a deal.
    (They make a bigger wheeled remote control version)


    Transmitted from my FlightPhone on fingers...

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