Innovation at its best: ISRO engineer turns old car into mini-excavator

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Ben, following a feasibility study, worked on the design and redesigned the car with a functional digger.

Ben Jacob, an ISRO engineer, has altered his old car into a backhoe or mini-excavator, instead of replacing it with a new one. Ben, who hails from Choozhattukotta village near Nemom, wants to create other useful innovations such as wind turbines using renewable energy.

During the pandemic and the lockdown, Ben — an engineer in the Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre (LPSC) of ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation) — got a lot of time to work on the car.

“A 1998-model Daewoo Matiz car, which I had purchased for my wife Jeeja years ago, was lying in the garage. I considered redesigning it into a useful machine. Since I was always fascinated by excavators since my childhood, I thought of utilising my free time to transform the old vehicle into a mini-excavator,” The New Indian Express quoted Ben as saying.

Ben, following a feasibility study, worked on the design and redesigned the car with a functional digger. “As the innovation works on the hydraulics principle, I had to procure some spare parts from Gujarat while a few were available in Thiruvananthapuram. Although I started working on the design in May, I could only complete it in August due to the delay in obtaining the spare parts,” he said.

Explaining the redesign, Ben said, “The car-turned-mini-excavator consists of a metal arm along with a digging bucket at the end which extends like a small crane. It was not an easy task to transform this car. I took some help from a nearby workshop for punching 44mm holes for the hinges.”

The mini-excavator, which weighs about 1.1 tonnes, can be extended both vertically and horizontally to 14- feet. The total lifting capacity of the backhoe is 500 kg. It can exert a digging force of six tonnes.

It cost Ben `70,000 while the commercial excavators in the market cost close to `25 lakh for the entire modification. 

“The multipurpose machine can be used in farms and is cost- effective,” Ben, who has already started working on appliances using wind and solar energy, said.

Ben procured some spare parts from Gujarat while a few were available in Thiruvananthapuram. Due to a delay in obtaining the spare parts, he could complete the project only in August, although he had started working on it in May last year.

The mini-excavator consists of a metal arm along with a digging bucket at the end, which extends like a small crane. Ben had to punch 44 mm holes on the hinges, for which he took help from a nearby workshop.

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