The TRAG : History of the 2-3 Wheel Workhorse

#1
After stumbling upon the photo of the bike below I added it to my Freaks/Oddballs/ Kustoms thread…but after reading up on the “TRAG” I found the story behind it to be quite interesting and decided to create a thread for it in hopes that others on here might find it interesting too. Maybe some folks can add to the info…who knows, maybe one of our members even has one of these jobs stashed away. :thumbsup:



The guy on the bike is Earl Miner...here's a little more info:


The TRAG is a quarter-ton mini-truck designed for transportation and agriculture in developing nations. Based on work done by Earl Miner since 1960 on front-wheel drive modular motorcycles, the TRAG was as simple an engine-powered vehicle as possible. It proved to be highly practical, efficient and durable when working under rough conditions. It could be quickly converted from a pick-up truck into a cultivator tractor, and from a 2 wheeler capable of being ridden on trails to a 3 wheeler. The TRAG was designed to be built even with low capital investment and unskilled labor, and fabrication centers were set up in the mid 1980's, in Rhodesia by Earl Miner, and in Peru by Rod Miner. TRAGs can be found in over 40 countries world-wide.


The TRAG (TRansportation-AGriculture) is a three-wheeled vehicle powered by an industrial 8 HP Briggs/Stratton engine, with a built-in six to one speed reduction. Kerosene and diesel engines have also been used. Power is transferred to the front driving wheel by simple 'V'-belt mechanism. By the use of a quick change (by hand) drive chain, a total of six speeds are available.


The midwest farm family could scarcely imagine itself without the versatile half-ton pick-up truck. The 'pick-up' hauls grain, fertilizer, livestock, supplies, and the farm family itself. It is used for money-making and recreational activities. But around the world in most agricultural areas of what has come to be called the 'Third World', transportation is limited to the feet of the farm family. Even the picturesque and efficient ox-cart is not as common as our postcards would have us believe. Water, wood, fruit, grain, lumber, etc. are all carried great distances on the heads of women and the backs of men. Children start at a very early age to carry awesome loads, often at the expense of schooling.
A simple machine, being produced by The United Methodist Church in Missouri, can change all of this, according to its designer, Mr. Earl Miner. A couple of years ago Mr. Miner heard a native pastor from Zimbabwe (Rhodesia) speak at a church meeting. The pastor, Mr. Arthur Kononuhwa, spoke of the great need for simple transportation in his native land. It so happened that Mr. Miner, a United Methodist layman and a professional inventor/ product designer, had already built and tested a simple machine he felt would meet that need. In consultation with Mr. Kononuhwa and with Bishop Dodge, from Africa, Mr. Miner built a machine and sent it to Africa for the Kononuhwas to test. By this time the project was an official project of the Office of Creative Ministries of the United Methodist Churches of Missouri.

The front drive unit disconnects from the two-wheeled trailer by simply pulling a pin, thus allowing for a great variety of pulled appliances. The speed of the unit ranges from a slow crawl to 30 mph. The unit has no shock absorbers or springs. A relatively smooth ride is obtained by using a low-pressure in the tires (6 to 8 lbs.). The unit has a friction brake on the drive unit and simple 'scrub' brakes on the rear wheels.
Every effort has been made to keep the unit simple, realizing the lack of mechanical sophistication in many areas. The electric and recoil starter possibilities have been discarded in favor of the simple rope start. Lights run off the generator, so no battery is necessary. The air-cooled engine is 'up front' where maintenance is easy, and where dirt will not collect.
 
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#2
After stumbling upon the photo of the bike below I added it to my Freaks/Oddballs/ Kustoms thread…but after reading up on the “TRAG” I found the story behind it to be quite interesting and decided to create a thread for it in hopes that others on here might find it interesting too. Maybe some folks can add to the info…who knows, maybe one of our members even has one of these jobs stashed away. :thumbsup:



The guy on the bike is Earl Miner...here's a little more info:


The TRAG is a quarter-ton mini-truck designed for transportation and agriculture in developing nations. Based on work done by Earl Miner since 1960 on front-wheel drive modular motorcycles, the TRAG was as simple an engine-powered vehicle as possible. It proved to be highly practical, efficient and durable when working under rough conditions. It could be quickly converted from a pick-up truck into a cultivator tractor, and from a 2 wheeler capable of being ridden on trails to a 3 wheeler. The TRAG was designed to be built even with low capital investment and unskilled labor, and fabrication centers were set up in the mid 1980's, in Rhodesia by Earl Miner, and in Peru by Rod Miner. TRAGs can be found in over 40 countries world-wide.


The TRAG (TRansportation-AGriculture) is a three-wheeled vehicle powered by an industrial 8 HP Briggs/Stratton engine, with a built-in six to one speed reduction. Kerosene and diesel engines have also been used. Power is transferred to the front driving wheel by simple 'V'-belt mechanism. By the use of a quick change (by hand) drive chain, a total of six speeds are available.


The midwest farm family could scarcely imagine itself without the versatile half-ton pick-up truck. The 'pick-up' hauls grain, fertilizer, livestock, supplies, and the farm family itself. It is used for money-making and recreational activities. But around the world in most agricultural areas of what has come to be called the 'Third World', transportation is limited to the feet of the farm family. Even the picturesque and efficient ox-cart is not as common as our postcards would have us believe. Water, wood, fruit, grain, lumber, etc. are all carried great distances on the heads of women and the backs of men. Children start at a very early age to carry awesome loads, often at the expense of schooling.
A simple machine, being produced by The United Methodist Church in Missouri, can change all of this, according to its designer, Mr. Earl Miner. A couple of years ago Mr. Miner heard a native pastor from Zimbabwe (Rhodesia) speak at a church meeting. The pastor, Mr. Arthur Kononuhwa, spoke of the great need for simple transportation in his native land. It so happened that Mr. Miner, a United Methodist layman and a professional inventor/ product designer, had already built and tested a simple machine he felt would meet that need. In consultation with Mr. Kononuhwa and with Bishop Dodge, from Africa, Mr. Miner built a machine and sent it to Africa for the Kononuhwas to test. By this time the project was an official project of the Office of Creative Ministries of the United Methodist Churches of Missouri.

The front drive unit disconnects from the two-wheeled trailer by simply pulling a pin, thus allowing for a great variety of pulled appliances. The speed of the unit ranges from a slow crawl to 30 mph. The unit has no shock absorbers or springs. A relatively smooth ride is obtained by using a low-pressure in the tires (6 to 8 lbs.). The unit has a friction brake on the drive unit and simple 'scrub' brakes on the rear wheels.
Every effort has been made to keep the unit simple, realizing the lack of mechanical sophistication in many areas. The electric and recoil starter possibilities have been discarded in favor of the simple rope start. Lights run off the generator, so no battery is necessary. The air-cooled engine is 'up front' where maintenance is easy, and where dirt will not collect.
I stumbled upon one of these and now have it. It seems to be in great shape and will give it an operational test this week. It is identical to the red one posted here. I understand there may be few if any still in the US. If anyone has any info, it would be appreciated. Thanks, Bryan 314-397-4538
 

WLB

New Member
#3
Interesting vehicle. Looks like the two wheeled version would be difficult to ride with so much weight up high over the front wheel but I guess if you have been carrying 5 gallons of water balanced on your head since you were a child the bike would be a piece of cake:smile:

Some pictures of the drive arrangement would be nice.
 
#4
Great thread Gerry, I've learned some more. :thumbsup: There is actually a 1940's/50's era town setup about an hour south of me, actually where my dad bought his '52 Case tractor from, but they have a unit that looks like the TRAG in the 3rd photo. It is in rougher shape but I believe that's what it is. This summer I will snap a pic if I remember. :thumbsup:
 
#12
TRAG Picture

I have all the wood for the bed (not pictured) that I believe is original. Don't think the seat and pedestal are though. Runs great but needs some thought when stopping coming down a hill. Gotta get the drive of and get on the tire friction hand brake and consider the negative pressure on the throttle which then engages the flywheel friction brake.. So far a lot of fun!!
 
#17
Just found the posts on the TRAG. I have one I'm selling for a friend who collects strange things. Please check out my website. I have several pictures posted there. We (the owner) and I think this may be a prototype. The welding and construction is "make-shift". The gear system is really interesting. It is simple and uses a series of pulleys and a centrical clutch. The owner restored it and in the process actually talked to Minor on the phone. Sadly, he now has alzheimers and can't fill in much of the details about it. My website is www.fortunacollection.com. Take a look (im not sure how to include pictures here), it is a neat vehicle. Dave
 
#19
Just picked up two of these things yesterday. They were in a neighbors yard and when I saw them I just had to have them. The wood is mostly gone but otherwise all there and in good shape for sitting outside for so many years. I got one fired up yesterday and had a ball riding it around the yard. Very different than anything else I've ever operated. I know nothing about these things except for what I have read on this site. If anybody out there has any info or literature on the trag it would be greatly appreciated. I will try to get some pictures up soon.
 
#20
Just picked up two of these things yesterday. They were in a neighbors yard and when I saw them I just had to have them. The wood is mostly gone but otherwise all there and in good shape for sitting outside for so many years. I got one fired up yesterday and had a ball riding it around the yard. Very different than anything else I've ever operated. I know nothing about these things except for what I have read on this site. If anybody out there has any info or literature on the trag it would be greatly appreciated. I will try to get some pictures up soon.
Hello Odysseyracer...welcome to the OMB.

Great find !!... wow two at a time.

Yes, please post pictures when you can...these are very interesting machines, with so many possible configurations... I love looking at them.

I've seen only one in person...just after Windber this year, over at Bill place (the scoutmaster from Windber) Coral Caverns in Mann's Choice PA. When I saw it, I could not believe the cool simplicity and rugged build quality.

Again, welcome, and have fun with them.
 
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