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Amphibious Tractor
You've never seen anything like this "trac¡tor boat" built by Illinois farmer Kim Bick¡ett and his brothers, Tim and Ed, which they say might be the first amphibious tractor ever built.
Kim says they needed a way to get around their farm, which is mostly river bottom land, in the spring when it's usually flooded. "There can be anywhere from a few inches of water to several feet. Sometimes it requires a boat, sometimes a tractor, but we had nothing to get around in until we built this go-anywhere machine."The 30-ft. long tractor-boat can cruise down the road at 50 mph, claw through muck halfway up its 38-in. tires, climb over 6-ft. tall embankments, or navigate in 16-ft. deep water. When fields on the southern Illinois farm- are separated by bodies of water, the huge 9 1/2 ft. wide machine often runs through heavy mud one minute and deep water the next. Even though it weighs 16,000 lbs., "The Ultimate", as the Bicketts call it, never gets stuck. Components from several military ve¡hicles were used on the home-built tractor which is 4-WD, 4-wheel steer and has 24 gears. It's powered by a 454 Chevrolet engine. The front and rear axles were salvaged from a 10-ton Mack truck, and they're steered hydraulically. There's two transmissions - one automatic and the other a 4-speed - as well as a 2-speed transfer case. Tires are 18.4 by 38 in. with rice treads, mounted backwards for better action in the water. "We've carried 10 men on it at once in the water and it would carry more," says Kim. The tractor goes 3 to 4 mph in water, float¡ing on the boat-shaped center body of the machine. Kim says he may add propellers for faster speed in water. He still doesn't know what the long-term effects of water will be on the newly-built machine but as a precaution he greases liberally and frequently checks oil in the gearboxes.The Bicketts use the tractor to move irri¡gation pipe, check levies, transport equip¡ment, and to pull other vehicles out of the mud. It has enough power to pull out tractors sunk into mud up to their frames, as it recently did for a neighbor.Eventually Bicket plans to enclose the passenger and driver areas with a cab and install fenders to protect riders from getting .a mud bath.The tractor has both a straight hitch and ball hitch on back. Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Kim Bickett, Rt. 1, Box 78, Ridgway, Ill. 62979 (ph 618 272-7546).

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1990 - Volume #14, Issue #3