2015 - Volume #39, Issue #3, Page #23[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
Scaled Down Versatile Looks Factory-Built
“I built a couple of tractors 30 years ago or so and decided to do another one,” says Huber. “I had my eye on a few I would see at shows and decided to do a Versatile articulated tractor. I called it an 824 because of the 24 hp. engine I used.”
First featured in Lawn & Garden Tractor magazine (www.lagtmag.com), the 4-WD tractor is complete with fully functioning (if downsized) hydraulics and 3-pt. hitch.
He started with a sketch and some specifications out of old Versatile brochures. He also tapped into a lot of salvaged materials and work experience. In addition to farming, Huber spent much of his life fabricating equipment for companies. He made parts and systems for everything from pile driving cranes to asphalt and concrete equipment and more. Along the way he got comfortable making sketches to explain to engineers where their plans needed changes.
Parts included rear ends from 2 Case garden tractors and 2 by 2-in. 1/4-in. thick tubing salvaged from an asphalt paver. The tubing extended the frame on the front axle to mount the engine. He also used it with ball sockets (also salvaged from asphalt paver rebuilds) to fabricate the isolating and articulating joint with hydraulic cylinder for steering. The steering system was salvaged from a golf course mower and the steering pump from a Case tractor.
Huber estimated engine and radiator placement and the width of the hood and wheelbase, sketching things out as he went. The grill was made from 3 lawn tractor grills, cut up and reassembled to size.
The hydraulic system with pump and a tank repurposed from a Kohler engine gas tank were mounted on one side of the front axle/drive unit. The diesel fuel tank, battery and wiring harness were mounted to the other side.
The hydrostatic drives were set up with a control valve for forward and reverse. When he shifts, oil is drawn through one axle to the other. It returns to the valve through an oil cooler and filter to the tank.
“When I took it out for a drive after setting it all up, it would surge,” says Huber. “When I looked in the reservoir, the oil was real foamy. I realized there were baffles in the tank that slowed the returning oil. Once I removed them, it cured the surge.”
Huber fabricated dummy outdoor planetary hubs complete with bolts to simulate the original Versatile design. He even drilled and plugged holes to match the oil level checks found on Versatile hubs. A second set of wheels, with centers removed for use as duals, were mounted with spacers to the drive wheels.
Huber mounted a working 3-pt. hitch from a Massey Ferguson and hydraulic outlets on the rear. The tractor dash is complete with working transmission pressure gauge, traction pressure gauge, switches to shift in and out for high and low range, a lever for the 3-pt. and valves for hydraulics.
Huber topped the wheels off with front fenders from an Ingersoll garden tractor and rear fenders from a Case.
One of the last additions was one of the few that required new parts. “The wheels all had knobby tires on them,” says Huber. “I waited till everything was in place and working before investing in agricultural tires. I ordered 8 of them with inner tubes from Taylor Tire out of Litchfield, Ill.”
When he was all done, the scale model was 9 1/2 ft. long and 5 1/2 ft. wide with a 50-in. wheelbase. It weighs in at 1,900 lbs. and is painted with New Holland red and Cat yellow and black.
Huber is now working on a winged John Deere disk to go with the Versatile. It will operate with hydraulic controls on the tractor. Once complete, it will join the tractor as Huber drives it in parades and takes it to shows.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Ted Huber, P.O. Box 490, Hamel, Ill. 62046 (ph 618 520-1424).
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