Reader Project of the Month: The Jet-Powered Lawn Tractor

A few years ago, R. Bruce McDonald figured it was time to do something unique with his 1966 Cub Cadet. The obvious solution was of course to remove the stock 12 HP Kohler engine and replace it with a Garrett GTP 30-67 gas turbine.

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R. Bruce McDannald is not new to tinkering with things. 60 years ago, when he was 12 years old he built a Go-Cart with an old cast-iron, hand-crank Briggs & Stratton motor. For his latest project, Bruce adapted the guts of a large generator to take 8,000 RPM off the turbine, and with the help of a multi-groove belt, reduced the RPM down to 3,600 on the input side of his original hydrostat drive. He had to make or design many parts including his custom exhaust. The project took him about 150 hours over three years.

After spending $4,000 on the engine and another $4,000 on other parts, it still has the same performance it did when he started. But having a gas turbine in your tractor that runs at 112 dB? Well, for the garage tinkerer, that is priceless.

Mr. McDonald will not be cutting grass with his baby but will take it to the Tractor Museum in Vista, CA and other "outdoor" shows. Listen for that turbine screaming.

Staff photographer John B. Carnett is no stranger to superfluous turbine projects. Check out more on his own insane jet-powered four-wheeler mod here.

She's a Beaut

Under the Hood

A Closer Look at the Turbine

Air Goes Here