Homemade Combine Flotation Tracks
How about building a set of floatation tracks for your combine as a shop project this winter? Agricultural engineers with the Alberta Department of Agriculture in Edmonton, Albert, Canada, have drafted a complete set of do-it-yourself plans for single or twin bogie systems.
They estimate that building a set of floating tracks takes about 100 man hours and costs about $1,000 for materials. The plans include specs for building the track itself with channel iron. Used track from industrial-type tracked vehicles has been successfully used, with the popular size measuring 33 in. wide. It consists of growser bars spaces 3 in. on center, bolted to two 12 in. wide by 3/8 in. thick belts.
Alberta engineers recommend that two bogie wheels be installed (one in front and one behind the drive wheel) if there's enough room for twin bogies. Although not as effective as two bogies, a single bogie system must be used where there isn't sufficient clearance between the header and drive wheel for a second bogie.
In the two-bogie system, the bogie wheels run about 3 to 4 in. above the ground. This allows the track to be laid over the mud before the weight is applied. Displaced mud is then forced out the sides of the track rather than in front of it.
In the single bogie system, the weight is applied as soon as the track is laid. This causes the mud to be displaced in front of the tractor, rather than to the sides. In soft spots, this mud will roll up in front of the tracks until the combine is stuck. However, with the bogie wheel behind the drive wheel, it's generally possible to back out of this situation. This system, however, does add considerable flotation to the machine, the engineers point out.
Bogie wheels should be at least 12 in. in dia. On the single bogie system, a front spindle, rim, and tire from a car can be used. The spindle can be aligned and welded directly to the plate on the end of the spindle carrier.
A Kansas wheat farmer says a set of used flotation tracks he bought three years ago was a "life saver" this past season. "Bought them on a neighbor's auction sale, three years ago and, at the time, they looked like a pile of junk iron. They didn't cost hardly anything and, at the time, I took a lot of ribbing for buying a pile of junk," Ed Gunter, of Morganville, told FARM SHOW.
That "piece of junk" save the day this past season when rains made it impossible to keep combines rolling. "When the rains started coming, I dug out the tracks to see if I could get them on. Found out later they're made by Arps (New Holstein, Wis.) Took me 1 1/2 days of steady work to install them on a 1959 Gleaner. Hardest job was to get the idlers on and adjusted. I also dualed the rear wheels to get more flotation. Now that I've used them and know what they'll do, I wouldn't be without them. Takes me about 45 min. to put them on, and about 20 min. to take them off."

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1977 - Volume #1, Issue #6