Rope Tow

    The idea to build a rope tow first came about after an evening spent skiing at a local hill.  The hill lacked a chairlift, so my friends and I were forced to trudge through two feet of snow in our ski boots with our skis on our backs all the way back up the hill.  We had a blast skiing but by the end of the day, we were exhausted and all agreed that a ski lift was in order.  That nigh, I googled "home made rope tow," not expecting to find anything that I could feasibly build given my financial resources.  I found, however, an assortment of different articles and videos that people had posted about homemade rope tows that they had built.  Some designs were as basic as an old jacked up garden tractor with a rope looped around one of the wheels, while other people had built full scale rope tows designed to pull people up back mountain slopes in the Rockies.  Out of all of the different designs that I saw, one appealed to me the most.  A man in Pennsylvania had bolted an 11hp Honda engine and an old junk yard transmission to a 2" metal bar, which he had slid into his car's tailor hitch.  I decided that this was the best design because it was simple to build, and, because it fit in a car's tailor hitch, it was conveniently portable.
    Although my rope tow looks  different from the one it was inspired by, it is very similar in its concept.  A small engine drives a transmission as a means of reducing speed and increasing torque, and then the transmission turns an old bicycle wheel which drives the tow rope.
    My rope tow cost around $200 to build, which is pretty cheap considering that kits to build your own rope tow online state at over $1000.  I acquired the engine for free, after no one in my school's engineering class could get it to run.  By adding a new ignition module, fuel filter,  air filter, and cleaning out and tuning the carburetor, I was able to get the engine running like new again.  the transmission I salvaged from a snow blower chassis I found on craigslist.org for 60$.  Rope turned out to be the most expensive part of the project, costing $96 for two 600ft. spools.


Allowing the rope tow to pull me over the ice in my driveway

    I would consider my rope tow to be a huge success.  I  learned a great deal from the project.  I learned about trouble shooting old engines and I was able to hone my skills with a welder.  I am proud of it because it shows how I was able to identify a problem, do research, and then design and create a solution using the skills and resources that I had. 

The rope tow consists of a Ariens snow blower transmission and a 1963 Briggs and Stratton engine, which I restored

A view up the tow line
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