Rugged, Reliable Sprayer

August 27, 2008 10:56 AM
A sprayer built by Stan Briggs has stood the test of time. After 12 years, the Minneapolis, Kan., farmer wouldn't change a thing, except for adding a guidance system.
Farm Journal awarded Briggs' sprayer first place and $500 in the sprayer category of the magazine's 2007 "I Built the Best” Contest.

A 70' sprayer built by Kansas farmer Stan Briggs, using mostly salvaged parts, travels 14 mph in the field and 35 mph on the road.
Photo by the author
Briggs—who has built a grain drill and a folding cultivator—spent six months planning the project. His main objectives for the sprayer were a field speed of at least 10 mph and a road speed of 35 mph.
Briggs built the sprayer on the chassis of a tilt-cab 1960 International Harvester truck. In addition to the frame, he used the truck's engine (400 cu. in.), the springs and the four-speed Allison automatic transmission.
"I can get by with a smaller engine because the sprayer is driven mechanically, rather than hydraulically,” Briggs explains. "And mechanical drive is almost trouble-free.
"Finding gears with the correct ratios for the field and road speeds I wanted was difficult,” Briggs says. He achieved his goal by using a light truck differential for primary gear reduction and the final drive from a combine for secondary gear reduction. "I had to turn the pickup differential upside down to get the right direction of travel,” he says.
Briggs made the front axle from the end axle and hubs of a 1943 2½-ton truck. Heavy truck shock absorbers on the front axle cushion the ride and keep the boom level. He fabricated wheels from ½" metal plate welded to rims. He made the rear axle from ½" steel plate. 
Down to details. The air-conditioned cab was salvaged from an old swather. Retaining the tilt-cab feature makes it easy to service the engine, Briggs points out. A foot switch in the cab raises and lowers the boom.
"Except for the gearshift lever, all the controls are electric-over-hydraulic,” Briggs says. A seven-function electrohydraulic control operates the five-section 70' boom.
Briggs built the boom from 2" square tubing, installing breakaway sections in the ends. He spaced triple-head nozzle bodies 30" apart.
With the front-mounted boom, Briggs can see all but six of the nozzles. Those six are on a flow monitor. "A front-mounted boom also makes it easier to turn away from obstacles,” he notes.
The boom adjusts vertically from 30" to 60". "That's important because I farm many small fields with terraces,” Briggs says. The body of the sprayer offers 37" of crop clearance. Wheel spacing is adjustable from 90" to 100".
The spray tank holds 1,000 gal. of solution. Briggs built the foam marker. There's also a fresh-water rinse tank.
A monitor controls the spray rate.
Briggs sprays from 8 mph in first gear to 14 mph in second gear, depending on the nozzles. He runs the machine over 2,500 to 3,000 acres per year.
Even acknowledging the sprayer was built 12 years ago, the cost is remarkable: $1,175 for everything except the steel, hydraulic and sprayer components and tires.
Briggs' son Brad was so impressed with his dad's sprayer that he made a video of the machine skimming over the field to the tune of "Born to Be Wild.” You can watch it at

You can email Darrell Smith at

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