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Tracked Tractor Is Ultimate Floater
"It practically eliminates compaction and walks right through even the muddiest fields," says Gary Kelderman, Kelderman Mfg., Oskaloosa, Iowa, who converted a conventional Ford 976 4-WD tractor to run on four sets of belted rubber tracks.
Kelderman's prototype, unveiled at the recent Farm Progress Show in Illinois, got lots of close looks from farmers and others who foresee exciting applications for this first-of-its-kind track conversion system. The tractor's original drive axles are used to power the tracks and the tractor frame was lengthened 5 ft. for mounting a tank or hopper on top.
"The 360 hp tractor has a 12-speed powershift transmission and articulated steering. The four tracks provide almost twice as much flotation as two tracks," says Kelderman. "They work great for moving big loads through wet spots without getting stuck and without tearing up the field. The tracks are 35 in. wide and 12 ft. long and exert just 2.8 lbs. per sq. ft., which is 3 to 5 times less than any conventional floater applicator on the market and only about half the pressure exerted by Caterpillar's Challenger."
Kelderman's first use for the new belted tractor will be to mount a 24-ton lime spreading box on the extended rear frame. He says the four-track conversion system is less expensive than mounting a spreader tank on a separate belted trailer and pulling it be-hind a rubber tired tractor. It also works better. "There's less compaction from the large tow tractor, and the center of gravity is over the center of the tractor instead of behind it on a trailer. Vehicle weight is evenly distributed on all 4 tracks. Tracks also drive easier than wheels which means less fuel consumption."
Another advantage of the 4-tracked de-sign is that with articulated steering the tractor has a short turning radius that makes it easier to maneuver in the field.
Kelderman removed the tractor's original dual wheels and built his own 6-ft. high drive wheels, bolting them on in place of the original wheels. He also built his own center idler wheel. He obtains the rubber track itself, as well as the rear rubber-tired idler wheel, from Caterpillar. "The 6-ft. high idler wheels are the same size as the tractor's original 20.8 by 42 tires so ground speed remains the same in any given gear," notes Kelderman.
Each set of tracks is fitted with an air bag suspension system to maintain even ground pressure along the entire length of the track.
Kelderman says that in the future a wide variety of equipment could be mounted on the tractor, such as a 4,000 to 6,000-gal. spray tank, liquid fertilizer tank, or liquid manure tank. It could also be used to pull tillage equipment.
In a year or two he hopes to have kits available which farmers can buy to "belt" existing tractors.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Keldennan Mfg., Inc., 2686 Hwy. 92, Oskaloosa, Iowa 52577-9685 (ph 515 673-0468).

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1991 - Volume #15, Issue #6