Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering

Growing Oklahoma

Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering

Growing Oklahoma

senior design team logoditch witch logo


Self-Moving FX-30 Vacuum Excavator

James Collingsworth, Colten Leach, Konner Kay, Skyler Sheperd, Trey Minton



        Ditch WitchTM is an innovative company with a focus on the development of machinery that enable their customers to work more efficiently. Ditch WitchTM produces various types of equipment such as: trenchers, directional drills, skid steers, and vacuum excavators. In addition, Ditch WitchTM is always striving to further develop and improve their existing products.

         The Senior Design Team was tasked to develop an innovative way to move the FX-30 excavator trailer at a slow speed of approximately (1 mph) on hard pavement, (as specified by Ditch WitchTM) without the use of a standard motorized vehicle. The vacuum excavators are used in many applications such as: exposing buried utility lines, cleaning out storm drains, directional drilling site cleanup, water leak repair, valve box cleanout, utility vault cleanout, commercial and residential debris cleanup and landscaping, and posthole digging. The team researched methods for towing large objects such as: airplanes, boats, trailers, etc. The most common method for moving large objects without the use of a truck is by way of a trailer tug. However, after meeting with our client, a trailer tug is not a viable solution. The client specified product must enable their trailers to move independently and not be restricted to movement only by a vehicle. The team brainstormed possible alternatives to move the trailer. The final design will consist of adding a lift axle on the front of the trailer and another behind the rear axle.

         The lift axle attached on the front of the trailer will be used for steering and the back-rear axle will be the drive. By modifying the trailer and installing a drivable and steerable lift axle, the trailer can move freely without a standard motorized vehicle. Currently, the team is further developing the design to ensure exceedance of Ditch WitchTM’s expectations. By implementing these modifications to Ditch WitchTM’s existing products, Ditch WitchTM will generate more income, because the product is convenient for the consumers.



Problem Statement

        The overall objective of this project is to improve the FX-30 Vacuum Trailer by allowing it to move without a vehicle.

Scope of Work

        This project will consist of designing and fabricating a system that will maneuver the FX-30 Vacuum Trailer on hard pavement at a slow speed (1 – 1 ¼ mph). The FX-30 Trailer that the team are designing for will be provided to Oklahoma State University by Charles Machine Works (Ditch WitchTM). The students will perform the testing of their design on the trailer at Oklahoma State University. The fabrication for the design will be done at OSU and at Ditch WitchTM as needed. The data that will be collected through testing will measure the amount of HP needed to move the trailer, how much torque produced, max gradient the trailer can climb, effectiveness on different terrain and which design performs better (hydraulics, ratcheting, electric motor).



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