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Row Finder For Corn Picker
"It automatically keeps my corn picker on the row. Cost almost nothing to make and would probably work just as well on a forage chopper," says Dave Peterson, Lake Mills, Iowa, about the home-built "row finder" guidance system he added to his 1964 New Idea 324 2-row row pull-type picker.
A row-finding finger mounts on either side of the picker's middle snout. When hit by stalks, they send a signal to a hydraulic cylinder mounted on the picker's hinged tongue, which then adjusts the position of the picker so it stays on the center of the row.
"It keeps the picker from slipping off the row and eliminates the stress of always having to look back, even on curved rows or hillsides," says Peterson. "The tongue automatically moves as much as 24 in. from side to side. It really comes in handy because I pick corn at a fast 5 mph and farm on ridges. I don't want to drive over the ridges, but on slopes it's hard to keep the picker tires off them, especially with a heavy wagon load on back. I've come to like my automatic guidance system so much that if it ever quits working, I'll go home and repair it before I'll pick any more corn."
The heart of the "row finder" system is a single spool, mechanically-activated hydraulic valve mounted under the center of the snout. A pair of 8-in. long steel rod "fingers" on each side of the snout connect to the valve. As corn stalks press against the rods, the valve is actuated and sends oil through a pair of hydraulic hoses to a power steering pump (salvaged from a 1979 Chevrolet car) that Peterson mounted on the picker frame. The pump, belt-driven off the corn picker's fan, is connected by another pair of hydraulic hoses to the 21/2 by 8-in. cylinder mounted on the picker's hinged tongue. Cylinder then automatically moves the picker back on the center of the row.
"I used the picker's fan to drive the power steering pump because it was the only shaft on the picker with enough speed to operate . it," says Peterson. "I replaced the fan's single pulley with a double pulley and also mounted a smaller pulley on the power steering pump in order to increase the pump rpm's. The power steering pump didn't hold enough oil to operate the cylinder so I left a 2-ft. long section of filler hose on top of the pump reservoir. It adds an extra pint of oil capacity. The only thing I'd change would be to install an electric valve instead of a mechanical one so that I could use a toggle switch to control movement of the corn picker from the tractor cab."
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Dave Peterson, Box 84A, Lake Mills, Iowa 50450 (ph 515 592-9262).

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1992 - Volume #16, Issue #4