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2000 - Volume #24, Issue #6, Page #37
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"Super Chain Trencher" Digs 8 Ft. Deep

For years, Merle Vig wanted a trencher capable of covering a lot of ground, but he could never justify the $200,000 to $300,000 it was going to take to buy one.
  Finally, the Faith, South Dakota cattleman and construction company owner decided to build one. Now, after years of trial and error building, tearing down, reinforcing and rebuilding, he finally has what he says is a state-of-the-art machine. He spent a total of about $50,000. "I had two different shops turning out parts for me at one time," he says.
  "On the average, we can trench 600 to 700 ft. an hour with this," he says. "In harder ground, it's a little slower, but in soft ground, we're covering 15 to 18 ft. per minute, or 900 to 1,100 ft. per hour."
  The original frame and axles for his trencher came from an old highway department snowplow truck. The frame has been modified, lengthened, and reinforced so much it barely resembles what he started with.
  The 300 hp Cummins engine was salvaged from an old truck. He equipped the trencher with a hydrostatic transmission coupled to a standard 5-speed transmission, so he can maintain full power to the trencher while creeping forward. "We travel at speeds from 60 to 1500 ft. per hour while trenching. On the road, it will run about 11 miles per hour," he says.
  The cutting chain runs off an 18-in. sprocket, driven by the final drive salvaged from an old TD-18 IH crawler tractor. The 22-ft. cutting chain itself has a breaking strength of 160,000 lbs. "We started out using 12 rubber belts to power the trencher drive, but later switched to Kevlar belts, which last longer," he says.
  Merle's trencher digs down to 8 ft. deep. "We're often laying water lines at 7 ft. or deeper because the frost goes so deep here," he says. He can lay anything from waterlines of 1.5 in. dia. up to large field tile mains.
  At 63, Merle is approaching retirement, but says he'd be happy to advise or work with anyone who'd like to build a similar machine. "I've spent a lot of hours in the shop in my life, and I've built a number of other machines I use in our construction business," he says.
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Merle Vig, Box 115, Faith, S. Dak. 57626 (ph 605 967-2357).
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2000 - Volume #24, Issue #6