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Turned Around Tractor Self-Propels His Swather
Arlen Foster of Fulton, S.D., wanted the convenience of a self-propelled swather, but he didn't want the high price tag. So, with a few adaptations to his 4430 Deere tractor, he built his own.
Essentially, Foster "turned" the tractor around so the rear becomes the front. An offset model 2400 Versatile swather header provides a 24 ft. cutting table. The tractor's pto powers the sickle while the reel and canvases are hydraulically driven.
Foster reversed the seat with special homemade brackets so he could see out the back of the cab. He teed the steering line and put in an extra valve so he could steer the tractor in reverse. An extra steering wheel in the cab is mounted in front of the turned-around seat. Mechanical linkages for the clutch and brakes permit normal operation of these controls with hand-operated levers.
The 4430 has a Quad-Range transmission which permits the wide variety of reverse speeds he needs while cutting hay or grain. Since both sides of the drive gears in the transmission are hard-surfaced, there is no over-heating or excessive wear problems with constant operation in reverse. Foster cautions that this could be a problem with other brands of tractors.
Cost for the Versatile header and all adaptations was under $5,000, according to Foster. "I get all the advantages of a self-propelled swather for 1/3 to 1/4 the cost," he notes. "I've used it on 1,000 acres of hay and grain in two seasons with good results. The only problem I've had is getting through some of my gates, but I can usually squeeze through."

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1981 - Volume #5, Issue #4