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Hand Controls for Clutch and Brake

Fri Sep 28, 2012 7:00 am

Last year my wife and I started a small vegetable farm or truck farm. We grow a wide variety of vegetables and take them to market. The diversity of the cub has fit our needs. Especially now that we got it running right it's been a great little tractor.

Here's the issue, I really need to take over the tractor work so my wife can spend more time tending to growing and other things. The catch is I'm paralyzed from the chest down. So I'm looking for ideas on clutch/brake hand controls on the cub. I can get a lift or build a ramp to get in the seat, that's not a big deal.

Does anyone here have, or seen hand controls for the brake and clutch?

I'll be keeping the brakes latched together. I'll need to still use the implements, universal mounting frame, hillers etc, plowing with the muldboard, disking, and using the belly mounted flail mower.


Re: Hand Controls for Clutch and Brake

Fri Sep 28, 2012 7:28 am

I bet Rick Prentis or Gary Dotson (and others) will be able to dream up some good ideas

Re: Hand Controls for Clutch and Brake

Fri Sep 28, 2012 7:36 am

Although not a perfect solution, a simple one would be to weld bars to the existing vertical sections of the clutch and brake pedals. Bring the bars upward, then bend or have a second bar which comes towards the drivers seat, just under the steering wheel. See marked up photo below. You would have to use some stout materials, maybe angle iron or some really heavy bar stock, and maybe even add an angle support down to where they attach to the pedals, but I think this could be done fairly easy. You may even want to drill the pedals rather than weld to them, and bolt the new pieces to the pedals (in case you ever want to take it off). This seems fairly simple and should be quite easy to fab up, and I think the length of the lever would give you sufficient leverage to actuate the pedals, but you would have to fab it up to see if it will really work. Also, anyone would still be able to drive the tractor if they had too, using the foot pedals. Anyway, just an idea. Definitely let us know how you end up doing it.



Re: Hand Controls for Clutch and Brake

Fri Sep 28, 2012 7:43 am

For a start, you might want to think about something on the order of this lever that was used for mounting a Woods mower on an A or B that had no lift mechanism.

One that mounted to the rear boss (covered by the lever plate in photo) and curved to reach around pedals and be within your reach. A bracket containing 2 levers, one for clutch, and one for brake, or maybe a single lever with spring so that it could operate clutch and if pulled further the brake might do it. You need to use the rear boss, because the front one is used by the flail lift. A combination lever mount and jockey rod (flail) mount might work out, or you could modify your flail like this one, so the jockey rod (stabilizer bar) could be adjusted to make up for a different thickness, and removed by pulling a pin.

One thing you need to remember is the cub uses a graphite bock for a throwout bearing, so you need to remember to release the clutch when you are not using it to start and stop etc. Do not leave it setting running for long periods with the lever down hold clutch open or you will be replacing the throwout bearing and pressure plate (finger wear) much sooner than normal. The levers will need to be able to latch, to hold them in place, such as locking the brake, and maybe holding the clutch for shifting gears.

Also sionce you said form the waist down, you may need a seat with a back support and arms for stability, but you have probably already thought of that one.

Re: Hand Controls for Clutch and Brake

Fri Sep 28, 2012 7:52 am

I do not think it would be hard. Here is my idea. Excuse any "insensitivity", as we are problem solving. :big afro:

The brake should not be a problem if they are latched together. A good welder could fabricate a lever, attached to the left brake shaft, extending back, and up and beside the left fender beside the rear rockshaft rod.

Similarly, for the clutch, I would fabricate a detachable assembly, with a rod coming to the back across the floorboard, then 90* in front of the tool and battery boxes, then up beside the fender.

This lever would need to clamp or bolt to the clutch pedal, so it could be removed for your wifes use. The rods across the floor should not be in the way for your use, as you could position your legs out of the way. The brake lever on the left should not be an issue with an operator with the use of their leggs. (This was the insensitive part :big afro: )

I am also sure you have considered the safety factor of "staying in the seat", but also, what would happen if you were secured to the tractor and there was some sort of accident.

Being safe is the most important issue here.

Good luck

Re: Hand Controls for Clutch and Brake

Fri Sep 28, 2012 8:21 am

That is a tough order! Keeping one hand on the wheel will be a problem with two actions to cover. At first I thought of a rocker type lever activating either the clutch or the brake but after further thought, discounted that idea as both clutch and brake are needed simultaneously for safe operation.

I was thinking of the old Divco milk truck single brake clutch pedal that as you pushed it down it first disengaged the clutch and as it was pressed further, the brakes were applied. In my opinion not the best system for a farm tractor as the engine needs to remain engaged to the transmission while braking on downhill grades, especially in reverse whereas cub braking power is nearly non existent.

Then it dawned on me, why don't you contact your or a mobility expert who sets up hand drive vehicles (such as the one you probably drive) and consult with them as they have the knowledge of what is possible to "hand drive" and a parts room stocked with levers, pulleys, rods and hardware you will need to perform a safe, functional retrofit.

Best of luck to you on your project!

Re: Hand Controls for Clutch and Brake

Fri Sep 28, 2012 11:35 am

Your O&M folks may be able to help. A google search also can be useful. I have some experience with this place:


You may give a call and see if they have any words of wisdom.

For a cub, I would not use the current clutch setup but some type of over the top lever such as on the old 2 cyl JD tractors and others. That way you do not have to hold the clutch disengaged. Hand brakes were common on tractors and some type of hand lever on the sides would work. A combined brake clutch may be even better. I would not place levers on the current brake pedals so as to not limit a potential ingress and egress path, leave the front open and place the levers inline with the seat.

Re: Hand Controls for Clutch and Brake

Fri Sep 28, 2012 12:42 pm

Randy, I noticed this post earlier this morning and it's been on my mind all day :shock: My thoughts right now would have two levers side by side located in plain reach on the left side of the seat/steering wheel. Usually when a person hits the brake, they also push in the clutch, or vise-versa. If the clutch lever side, or even the brake lever too, had some sort of spring loaded lock button or trip lever similar to the handlift lever or whats on some of the implements, you could push the clutch lever forwards to disengage the clutch, it would snap into a detent position to hold the clutch disengaged while you shift gears, then as you grab the handle and release the lock button or trip lever, you gently release the lever to engage the clutch. I can picture having both levers close side by side so you can actually use one hand to push either both at the same time or just one lever with just your left hand, while keeping your right hand on the steering wheel. Now to design the levers to attach to the existing pedals and still have the pedals working normal for Jo to use when she wants to. More daydreaming ideas to come.


Re: Hand Controls for Clutch and Brake

Fri Sep 28, 2012 1:34 pm

I own a older model Economy Jim Dandy tractor that has hand brakes. It uses brake drums and bands very similar to the cub. It has one brake handle on each side coming up right beside the fenders. They work great until I forget which tractor I'm on and start trying to find the brakes. I would be glad to take some pictures of them and email them to you if you think they might give you some ideas about modifying your cub.

Re: Hand Controls for Clutch and Brake

Fri Sep 28, 2012 1:56 pm

I don't know how deep your pockets are but for less than a cub traditionally costs, you could go this route:

Since all 3 pedals are on one pin and accessable underneath the operators platform, tabs could be welded to the pedals just below the center pin. Attached underneath the platform would be 3 air cylinders with enough power and travel to fully depress the clutch and apply enough stopping power to each individual brake pedal.
Also underneath the platform would be an air reservoir. An air compressor to operate the system could be PTO driven or possibly hydraulically driven if the PTO was needed for implements.

Moving up to the steering column just above the speed control and hydraulic lever would be a mount with three small levers in a row. A clutch engage/disengage lever which could remain in either position and 2 equal size brake levers, one for each brake which could be pinned together just like the pedals. The brake levers would have friction stops so they would hold or release the air in the cylinders depending on your braking requirement.


This modification would be tightly contained under the operators platform and would allow the tractor to be operated as originally designed with no interference from the retrofit and shouldn't interfere with implement attachment or travel. For safety, every function could be operated with your right hand remaining on the steering wheel.

Who knows, you could very well have the first cub with air brakes.

Re: Hand Controls for Clutch and Brake

Fri Sep 28, 2012 2:47 pm

You guys are an awesome resource.

I'm working with some folks that have done hand controls for cars, but that is a very different beast. Also, for folks worried about saying anything insensitive, don't worry. After 20 years I've got more then thick skin and if we are discussing issues around the build I'm not concerned about any comments

Also, I might even have some engineering help.

Rick and L.U.D. I was envisioning something like Ricks idea. However the hydrolic actuators underneath is interesting idea. Could it also be electric actuators?

Any more thoughts on these ideas, or more ideas, would be helpful. Your knowledge on the cub and engineering ideas will be really helpful for me and the folks that are going to help be build it.


Re: Hand Controls for Clutch and Brake

Fri Sep 28, 2012 3:46 pm

You are absolutely welcome. In answer to your question, whether the actuators are electric, hydraulic, or air operated, any of the three would work as long as they had the travel and power to do the job.

I opted for air as these actuators have been in use for decades doing exactly this. Air tubing is cheap and air systems don't drip oil.

If you accomplish the task of building an ADA approved cub, when you retire I'm sure you will get every penny you invested back because I'm sure there are more than one paraplegic or amputee who would kill to be able to be back in the seat.

Re: Hand Controls for Clutch and Brake

Fri Sep 28, 2012 3:55 pm

Since this is a brain storming session.

Tractor with automatic transmission. This would eliminate one lever for clutch operation. Probably make either hydraulic or manual linkage for the brakes easier to adapt.

Re: Hand Controls for Clutch and Brake

Fri Sep 28, 2012 4:03 pm

Does your Cub have hydraulics? If so, by adding a by-pass block you can add valving that could operate a couple of small hydraulic cylinders which could engage or disengage the brakes and clutch. That would be the neatest, cleanest way to operate those controls. The cylinders could be mounted below the floor pan and a small bank of 2 or 3 valves could be conveniently mounted within easy reach just to the left of or behind the steering column.


I wish you lived close by, that would be a fun project.

Re: Hand Controls for Clutch and Brake

Fri Sep 28, 2012 4:13 pm

As Eugene stated. A cub may not be a good tractor to convert.

The concept is easy, the devil is in the details. Converting a tractor to hand controls would be simple, doing it safely in a way that was reliable is a bit harder.

Lots of links on google but I could find none for a cub. I still will push the Sheperd center that I linked above. They work on things like you describe as well as the much more complicated. They will have the experience to do it right and may have sources of funding that you may be able to take advantage of.

I know some folks like to bash Home Depot for some reason but the founder gives an amazing amount to charity including the Sheperd center to help fund project surch as yours. I have no connection to the Sheperd center other than touring their facility years ago and have several very happy patients that were evaluated and treated there. You have nothing to loose by asking their advice. They may be able to help directly or steer you to the appropriate folks that can help. No reason to reinvent the wheel when what you want to do has already been done safely by experts in that area.
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