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They "Stretch" Tractors To Boost Performance
To improve performance of utility tractors, Penrose Manufacturing in Pueblo, Colorado, "stretches" tractor frames by as much as 14 in. to lengthen the wheelbase. They also pump fluid into tires. The two changes increase stability and traction.
"Moving the front axle forward transfers axle weight from front to rear by 1,000 lbs., greatly reducing stress on that front axle," says Joe Kahnke, owner. "How much we can stretch the wheelbase depends on the tractor. We may only go 6 in. on a small compact or up to 14 in. on a larger unit. Most 35 to 40 hp tractors get extended about 10 in."
Kahnke says operators note an immediate improvement in handling, especially when doing bucket work.
"Not every tractor can be extended. For example, cast iron frames can't," he says. "With some, when you move the front axle, you have to reinforce the frame. This isn't a fix that most people should try at home. It takes an experienced eye to look at a frame and decide if it can be done and how to do it."
Kahnke, who is also a compact tractor dealer, has extended frames on more than 75 Branson, Kioti and TYM compact tractors. With his approach, there is no cutting of the frame. He moves the mounts forward and extends the driveshaft and the power steering hoses.
"Everything has to be lined up just right," he says. "If you don't get it straight, it will wear out the splines on the end."
Filling rear tires with fluid is another important tactic for improving handling, adds Kahnke. Fluid lowers the center of gravity and improves stability, especially when using a loader or other front-end equipment. He uses Rimguard liquid tire ballast. The fluid is 30 percent heavier than water, non-corrosive, non-toxic and biodegradable.
"It's made from sugar beet juice and won't freeze down to 35 degrees below," says Kahnke. "A 30 hp tractor takes about 55 gal. to fill the two tires, while an industrial type R4 tire holds about 75 gal. or nearly 1,000 lbs."
Kahnke charges $5/gal. for adding fluid. His wheelbase extension runs $750 on average. Neither alteration is intended to increase lifting capacity, stresses Kahnke.
"These tractors aren't intended to pick up a heavier load than recommended," he says.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Penrose Manufacturing, Inc., 45 10th St., Penrose, Colo. (ph 719 372-3428 or 800 748-2513; Penrosetractor_joe@yahoo.com; www.penrosetractor.com).

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2009 - Volume #33, Issue #3