Sunday, September 11, 2016

Home stretch

Another two days down, and I'm finally on the home stretch! All of the wood construction is done, complete with a working door. Then it was time to paint.

Mostly done - door removed for painting

I had a really old can of paint, which was meant for outdoor use. It was going to be perfect for this project, only the can was rusted. It dropped metal flecks into the paint. So I transferred the contents into a large glass jar.

Then the opening was covered in a double layer of cling wrap, with the top screwed on. I  wrote the instructions on the front, in case I needed reminding of drying times.


But before I get to the painted tractor, however, I wanted to share some of the features I've built in. This comes with experience of having built my old tractor, and what needed changing.

Close up

First up - eaves. I learned from the water damage on the former carry handles (I replaced) is that water needed to be diverted off the roof and away from the wooden base.

That base has 8 years vintage, over the new a-frame, so it needed a little extra protection. It should also provide a little more rain protection for the occupants underneath too.

Wooden, u-bracket

I actually had this in my former construction, but I don't think I ever wrote about it. This is one of a matching set. It allows me to sit a plank across them both, and be able to remove it, when required too. Handy when you want to catch small birds that want to hide in the corner, behind the perch.

It's floor space is only 1.8 metres long, by about a metre wide. So it's quite cramped inside. Any feature I can make portable, to open the space inside, is important. So I was going to have another removable perch.

Door jamb

Here is a blast from the past. It's a piece of the original cot, I made my first permanent chicken coop, from. I try not to throw anything away, which might help me with projects in the future.

This handy little piece, is a door stop. It helps to add support to the door's hinges, so it's not leaning into the tractor. It's a very lightweight door, but why put undue stress on the hinges, if you don't have to.

Door stop

This is the second door stop, down the bottom. I made it from a wood off-cut. I tried screwing the first one in, but the screw ended up splitting it in half. So I made the second one, by drilling a pilot hole, then gently hammering in a nail.

Thankfully, I had plenty of off-cuts to spare. I don't like to throw them out until I finish a building project, just for reasons such as this. You never know if that little wedge or block, will come in handy.

Metal angle bracket

I'm not a proficient carpenter. I know enough to get by. But one thing I like to emphasis to novice builders, is the use of brackets. Just a few of these can add support to a structure. Even on a novice build.

This bracket helped attach the a-frame, to the base, but it's also supporting the eave under the a-frame. I used six in total. They're light, but very strong.

Meshed vent

This was an absolute must, after having an a-frame tractor before. I didn't have it on the old one, so I always had to make sure the tractor was under shade. Because the hot air would rise to the apex, and have nowhere to go but radiate downwards.

In a small space, partly covered in tin, you really need cross ventilation to help hot air escape. The other side of the pen is open, so any breezes will just go right through the top.

First coat

This is my tractor, all painted! The side on the left will be covered. The side on the right will be open. I look forward to showing the rest soon. I was hoping to have it finished by the weekend, but it may just take an extra day.

That is the unpredictable component of working with bits and pieces. Nothing is uniform, and often you have to make adjustments along the way. Which is the time consuming part. What you thought would take a day, ends up taking two!

But you get to use supplies from your stash instead of having to buy them, and it can save a lot of money. This build has come under $50. I've recycled a lot of screws from the former tractor when I took it apart. Many of them were still in good condition. I didn't even have to buy the brackets. They were leftovers too. Most of the cost was the new wood, and a roll of snake mesh.


  1. Wow! That's looking good. And you not a carpenter? Don't believe it! Noticed the nicely countersunk screws, too. Amazing how much you learn by doing things yourself and each time the results get better and better.

    1. Thanks foodnstuff. I learned about countersink bits from my mum. ;) She inspired me to make stuff. We do learn a lot by experimentation though, and that bit of experience gets added to all the time. :)

  2. Chris, I would be so proud of myself if I built something as well made as your tractor.

    1. Thanks Sherri. I am proud, after all that. I hope to update on the progress soon.


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