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Amazing 1/10th-Scale 4-WD Tractor Purrs Like A Kitten
As a high school student in the early 1970’s, Gerald Wells became enamored with a miniature V-8 engine that worked just like the real thing. One idea led to another, and after more than 22,000 hrs. spent building intricate parts, Wells completed his incredible miniature V-8-powered, 4-WD model tractor in 2009.
  Wells says “I had no idea it would require 37 years to build, and if I did in the beginning, I probably wouldn’t have started.” Wells learned machining after high school that helped him design and build nearly 900 parts for the tractor, about 494 of them for the engine alone. The finished machine is 28 in. long, 17 in. wide and 17 in. tall, and it runs like a real tractor, with several remote controlled operations.
  “There was plenty of trial and error along the way,” Wells says with a smile. “A lot of machining requires modifications before everything really works.” Over the years, working mostly during winter months, averaging about 700 to 800 hrs. a year, Wells hand-crafted parts ranging from the engine block, pistons and crankshaft to the transmission, distributor, gaskets, working LED lights and the cab. He wasn’t able to make the gauges and alternator, but after trial and error he fashioned a custom distributor. His first attempt was using a fiberglas resin and a metal mould, which he machined out and then installed the electrode ends. That didn’t work to his liking, so he eventually built a larger one that handles the 12-volt electrical system with ease.
  Acquiring 8 tires for his 1/10th scale tractor involved more than a trip to tire retailers or scanning the internet. Not a single manufacturer made tires the size he needed, but Wells remembered a local retailer who used to sell glass ashtrays encircled with automobile or tractor tires. Those tractor tires were about the right size, so he made rims and wheels to fit the tires. When the tires turned out too soft to support the tractor, he filled each tire with insulation to support the vehicle’s 172 lbs.
  The 2.65 cu. in. V-8 engine, which is rated at 1/4 to 1/3 horsepower, has a 3,200 rpm governor. Spark plugs were acquired from a retailer in the U.S. who said they were designed for igniters in the oil field and sometimes used on model engines. Wells installed them and they worked fine. The tractor has an electric start that fires up the engine just like a smooth-running automobile. The tiny gas tank holds just 1 cup of premium gas.
  The power train consists of a 3-speed transmission with a 2-speed power shift and reverse. It uses 5-30W motor oil in an open-center hydraulic system that raises and lowers the hitch and has one auxiliary remote.
  Displaying the tractor at shows and events garners Wells a lot of attention, especially when he uses a hand-held remote to control the throttle, the clutch, 2nd gear, reverse, the power shift, steering hydraulics and the horn. “People just find it hard to believe this wasn’t made in a factory,” says Wells.
  After taking a break for a year, Wells next built a functional 43-shovel field cultivator to pull behind his custom tractor. It has the framing, wheels, shanks and shovels that match a life-size machine, including a cable lift system that raises the wings. Behind the cultivator are 3 ranks of tine harrows that also look like the real thing. After that project, Wells completed a 48-in. pto-driven grain auger which the tractor operates. He plans on building a few grain bins and a machine shed to round out his farming collection.
  Wells says building the equipment has been a labor of love and really not any different than someone who builds furniture, works on metal, or paints in their spare time. “I’ve enjoyed this every step of the way and never once thought it was a challenge or work. The joy has been in doing all phases of design, building and then seeing it all work in the end.”
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Gerald Wells, 15-3018 56 Ave., Lloydminster, Alberta Canada T9V 1Z7 (ph 780 875-1355)

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2017 - Volume #41, Issue #4