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Military Aircraft Tug Makes A Rugged 40-WD
"It took some imagination to figure out the conversion but I'm very happy with the results," says Joel Anderson, Finley, N. Dak., about the military surplus aircraft tug he converted into a 4-WD, 4-wheel steer sprayer that's equipped with a 500-gal. spray tank and 60-ft. self-leveling boom.
The rig comes complete with a 30-gal. chemical injection tank and dual nozzles for applying broadleaf and grass herbicides separately or together.
"It has three things going for it - low cost, high capacity, and a rugged build," says Anderson, who made the conversion two years ago. "I bought the tug at a surplus auction for $700 and spent about $1,500 for new sprayer components. My total cost was about $3,500. Used 4-WD 3/4-ton pickups sell for $2,500 to $4,000 but aren't built nearly as heavy as my rig."
The tug had been used at the Grand Forks (N. Dak.) Air Force base to tow airplanes and ammunition trailers. It came with a Chrysler industrial V-8 318 cu. in. gas engine and an Allison 4-speed automatic transmission and with steering axles on both ends supported by 1100 by 20 military tires. It originally had an 86-in. long wheelbase which he lengthened to 126 in. by adding onto the frame. He also lengthened the driveshaft and installed longer springs, rated at 1 1/2 tons, on the front axle to soften the ride.
The tank and 60-ft. boom mount directly behind the cab, with the tank mounted on a homemade subframe. He used 3/4 to 1 1/2-in. sq. steel tubing to build the 6-section, triple-fold boom which is supported by a mid-mounted floating suspension system. The boom is equipped with two sets of nozzles - one that applies 10 gpa and the other 5 gpa - that are turned on or off by electronic boom controls. A 30-gal. chemical injection tank mounts next to the 500-gal. tank.
"It works much like a conventional pickup sprayer, but very few pickups can haul 500 gal. at a time," says Anderson. "I use it to spray wheat, barley, and edible beans. It works great for spraying chemicals on edible beans which require up to 20 gpa. It looks somewhat like a truck except for the way the engine sticks out from the cab. Being a military truck it has low mileage on it, and the engine is new. With 4-wheel steering it can turn in a short 30-ft. diameter. Top speed is 28 mph. One nice feature is that the wheels are exactly 60 in. apart, compared to the 64 to 68-in. spacing on pickups. It really works well in my 30-in. rows. The wheels are about as wide as fat pickup tires but they're taller so they roll easier and don't leave ruts. They only need about 20 lbs. pressure which helps with flotation. The rig originally had 6,000-lb. cast iron weights on front and back which I removed to reduce compaction.
"I really like the steps on back that lead up to the deck because they provide safe and easy access to the tank. The deck goes around both sides of the tank and has railings on it.
"The two sets of nozzles give me a lot of options for applying broadleaf and grass chemicals. I can spray one chemical in the 10 gpa nozzles and another kind in the 5-gpa nozzles. To apply 15 gpa I turn on both sets of nozzles. If I'm applying broadleaf herbicides and come to an area with a lot of grass weeds I just turn one set of nozzles on and the other off. I mounted the transparent chemical injection hose next to the side window so that I can make sure the Dos-A-Tron chemical injection pump I use is operating properly. This simple, trouble-free pump is made in France. I bought mine from a local supplier. I like it a lot because it automatically adjusts the amount of chemical pumped out of the chemical injection tank according to the flow of water going to the boom. As a result I can shut off part of the boom without worrying that the spray mixture is too concentrated.
"I adjust the boom height mechanically. However, I plan to use the rig's air compressor - which was originally used to operate the ammunition trailer's brakes - to raise or lower the booms."
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Joel Anderson, Rt. 1, Box 119, Finley, N. Dak. 58230 (ph 701 524-1499).

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1997 - Volume #21, Issue #6