When Bob Domenjoz wanted a new manure spreader, he did something better than simply buying a new one — he enlisted the help of longtime friend Don Stace-Smith to build one from scratch.
“It’s better than one that’s manufactured,” Domenjoz said. “It’s stronger. It won’t bend or twist.”
It was cheaper, too, said Domenjoz, owner of two miniature horses and a quarter horse. A new manufactured spreader would have been about $4,000 for one; this one was under $2,000.
Stace-Smith, a journeyman millwright, appreciated the opportunity to create something new. He built a boat when he was 14, and project in the decades since have included a crossbow pistol and geodesic dome.
“I’ve made all kinds of ‘weird things, strange and wonderful,’ my sister says,” said Stace-Smith.
He prefers to create only one of everything, though.
“The challenge is for the first one,” said Stace-Smith. “After that, you’re like a machine.”
Part of the challenge for this was to figure out the drive system, which required the wheels to propel the spreader forward, while the track in the bed and flails at the rear turn the opposite direction to spread the manure. The result is a complicated — at least, to the layperson — system of gears and chains.
“There’s a lot of little finicky work,” said Domenjoz (who has himself built a four-wheeled buggy — and wants to build an artillery tank).
“Even making square holes with a file takes time,” added Stace-Smith.
Altogether, the project took about two months of weekends and some evenings before it was completed Sept. 11.
Domenjoz laughed when he admitted to some surprise during the early stages of construction when he saw that the frame looked nothing like what he’d imagined.
“I had the frame upside-down and he couldn’t figure out what was going on,” said Stace-Smith.
“Now, I can take it apart and put it back together,” added Domenjoz.
The project turned out to be a success, and with the quad painted a slick red and black, matching the quad used to pull it, Domenjoz has found the scratch-built manure spreader to be quite a time saver. It holds about a ton, and it takes him 10 minutes load it and five to unload it.
“For me, it’s a miracle,” said Domenjoz. “I don’t have to shovel anymore.
“I just put it in gear and away I go.”