Published: 6/5/2009

When we brought home our used Peg Perego tractor (from a yard sale), we had a number of cracks in the chassis that needed to be fixed At first I just tried to fix the cracks with epoxy, but the front and rear ends of the chassis were clearly too weak as designed.

Broken front end

A quick and simple solution I came up with was to build a subframe for the tractor. In order to provide maximum strength with minimum weight, I decided to go with 3/4″ PVC. In order to avoid sacrificing too much ground clearance, I bent the PVC rather than using a bunch of elbows.

I started by flipping the tractor over and coming up with a shape for the rails. Luckily, the design of this toy was conducive to two parallel rails. I’d like to say I used complex modeling and engineering, but all I did was wing it for the first rail, then make a copy of it by laying it out of the floor.

PVC rails

A heat gun is plenty hot to soften PVC for bending, but if you don’t take further precautions, the pipe will kink when you try to bend it. The trick is to fill the tube with sand and cap both ends before you try to bend it. I was surprised by how easy it was.

After the PVC rails were made, all I had to do was make them into a rectangle and attach them to the underside of the existing chassis. Rather than risk weakening the existing chassis, I mostly used zip ties to hold the PVC on. I figure that way the frame will add strength without transferring impacts on the PVC straight into the existing chassis. I was mostly able to use existing holes rather than drill new ones. In the front I put small screws through the existing front “bumper” into the PVC since the fit was perfect.

Subframe installed

When it was all complete, the PVC fixed the broken front and rear ends of the tractor, provided a new trailer hitch, and served as a skid plate. As you can see, Evan likes towing anything he can find behind his tractor, and now when he drives over the landscape timbers bordering the playground, he doesn’t get high centered. 

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