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"World's First" All-Electric Combine
One of the most exciting new trends in farm equipment is the advent of tractors with on-board electric generators that eliminate the need for a hydraulic system. Deere, AGCO and Belarus already have diesel-electric tractors on the market in Europe.
    Now you can add an electric-operated combine to the list. Malcolm Lucas of Kangaroo Flat, South Australia, recently converted an East German-built Fortschritt 5160 combine model to electronic power with off-the-shelf, 3-phase electric motors.
    “I’ve used this all-electric combine for 3 years with excellent results. It has about 1,500 hrs. on it,” says Lucas. “There are no mechanical drives on the machine, and it’s compact and easy to operate.”
    Lucas bought 9 Fortschritt combines from Horwood Bagshaw Limited of Mile End, South Australia, which had been toying with the idea of becoming a distributor for the rugged green machines. However, the company went through a management crisis and Lucas was able to buy the brand new machines for just $100,000. Then he and an avionics engineer set about converting one of the combines to electric drive.
    They replaced the original engine with a Cummins 330 hp, diesel engine, which is direct-coupled to a 300 KVA 3-phase, 415-volt generator. Power controllers distribute electricity to no less than 25 3-phase electric motors. The electric motors are fitted into the combine from head to tail and are even used to power the working parts on a chaff cart that trails behind the combine.
    “The chaff cart is designed to capture chaff coming out the back of the combine for use as livestock bedding, and at the same time dispose of weed seeds gathered by the combine,” says Lucas. “Three of the electric motors are equipped with cab-controlled, variable speed drive controllers that are used to drive the combine’s thresher, fan and reel.”
    Besides owning an electric-drive combine, Lucas has also built a manure spreader that’s operated by electric motors.
    Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Dr. Grame Quick, Engineering For Agriculture, 83 Morrisons Rd., Peachester Qld 4519 Australia (g.quick@bigpond.com).

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2012 - Volume #36, Issue #3