It was the pesky slope in Dr. Nick Benton’s back yard that spawned his wind-up wheelbarrow. “I just thought if I could get a little help going up this hill it would be great,” says the Corvallis-based head and neck surgeon. Benton in 2002 approached Mike Gray, a toolmaker in Albany, to build a prototype around the spring-drive system Benton conceived. It works by winding up a spring drive with a side foot crank and then releasing the brake-trigger on the handle, which propels the Springbarrow forward. It improves “wheelbarrow ergonomics” by relieving lower-back pressure when pushing a full wheelbarrow, Benton says. Gray was skeptical, but now the two are business partners of Albany-based Spring Me, and all five prototypes (price: $250) they provided to the Coastal Farm and Ranch store in Albany were sold last year. Now Spring Me is looking for investors to come along for the ride.