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Jeep Raking: Only Way To Go For Idaho Farmer
After four seasons, neighbors are getting used to Luke Fuller raking hay with his 1990 Jeep Wrangler. The Twin Falls, Idaho, custom hay producer can be seen talking on his cell phone while raking hay at 14 mph or transporting the rake down the highway traveling up to 45 mph – all thanks to the Jeep.
    With clients as far as 35 miles away in one direction and 15 in another, Fuller says he was spending a lot of nights hauling the rake to the next field with a tractor.
    “It would be a 3-hr. trip in the middle of the night, and then I had to have someone come and get me,” Fuller says. Something had to change, so he bought a Jeep – a vehicle that was commonly used for farming after WWII.
    He made two modifications.
    In Idaho, some land is irrigated with 6-in. wide shallow trenches every 30 in., and turning around on the ends requires driving over them. The Jeep went too fast, so Fuller replaced the rear end gears with a slower gear ratio.
    The second modification was adding hydraulics. Because he uses a Darf rake, which is driven by contact with the hay, it doesn’t need hydraulics for raking. But hydraulics are needed to lift (and lower) the rake around the ends and for transporting.
    Fuller removed the Jeep’s air conditioning compressor and replaced it with a pump that runs off the serpentine belt. It connects to hoses that run underneath the Jeep to the back. Fuller welded fittings to turn a metal 5-gal. Jerry can into a hydraulic reservoir with hoses that connect to the rake. He wired a switch located between the seats to operate it.
    “The Jerry can is a good look for the Jeep,” Fuller says. “It rides like a Cadillac out there,” he adds with a laugh. He doesn’t have air conditioning, but he often turns on the heat when he rakes in the early morning or at night. He drives in 2-WD when he rakes two swathed windrows together, and only shifts into 4-WD when needed.
    “It sure made me more efficient,” Fuller says of the Jeep. Besides transporting the rake faster, he can unhook the Jeep to go home at night, or to head to the gas station to fill up. It’s more economical to run and leaves his tractors free for ground work.
    Over four years he’s raked about 12,000 acres with the Jeep, and off-season he uses it for personal and farm business.
    Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Luke Fuller, 3028 N. 3000 E., Twin Falls, Idaho 83301 (ph 208 731-0307).

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2012 - Volume #36, Issue #6