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July 19, 2008

Unique mower

<b>Lucerne native builds “xtreme machine” lawn mower</b>

LUCERNE — Wayne Hardy was told he could never build the “extreme” lawn mower he got an idea from through a Web site devoted to the hobby that’s becoming popular nationwide.

On the Internet, several YouTube videos are devoted to extreme lawn mowers, along with a Web site, www.xtrememowermayhem.com.

“I saw these lawn tractors jacked up with truck-size tires and thought, ‘Wow!’” Hardy said. “I began to do some more research and tossed around the idea of what it would take to build one myself.”

Hardy, who lives in Lucerne, said he got interested in antique lawn mowers from his brother in-law, Ronny Beebout. The two men have been attending antique lawn mower shows for three years. Beebout works on old mowers that no one wants — mowers that people think can’t be fixed.

One day, after looking at “extreme mowers” people had built in Wisconsin, Hardy decided he wanted to build one.

He then enlisted Beebout to help him. The Twelve Mile native was reluctant at first.

“Ronny said, ‘You probably wouldn’t get it done, and it would cost you too much,’” Hardy said.

But Hardy was determined.

Beebout had several old lawn mowers sitting in his backyard, and Hardy picked out a 1986 Ranch King. He started building the mower in March 2006.

Hardy spent the next couple of months cleaning it up and stripping it down, which was about the time Beebout started to get positive about the project.

“It seemed like it would never get much further, but Ronny stepped up and said ‘Wayne, I think we can do this,’” Hardy said.

Hardy then began designing the front axle and had it welded.

By the summer of 2007, the extensions were welded and rear axle and tires were mounted. Hardy tried to build an engine for the machine, but the first one didn’t work out. He ended up using a Briggs 15-horse motor.

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