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Home-Built Tractors Feature Sleeper Cabs
Brian Simonson of Plentywood, Mont., finished an extra-large "made it myself" project this winter. He built a "hybrid" tractor using a combination of parts from a 1970 International semi-truck and an industrial scraper. It's unique among tractors in that it features a sleeper compartment for extra long workdays and room in the cab for two people to ride in comfort.
Simonson got the idea for the king-size tractor-truck when he saw photos of a semi-truck tractor in North Dakota built by Earl Laufer who farms near Hettinger. Laufer operates three truck-tractors and has helped neighbors build their own, too.
Simonson, who's just 22 years old, was intrigued with the idea and went searching for the right combination of machinery. He found the International truck equipped with a rebuilt engine at a salvage company in Billings. He bought a 70,500-lb. industrial scraper rear-end in Great Falls (it's the same rear end used in Big Bud tractors). A local welder constructed a custom-made drive shaft for the tractor. He's worked on the tractor since last spring, with help from his father Barney, and used it in a test run on 70 acres last fall. This winter he put on the finishing touches and hopes to use it full time this spring.
Simonson says that at a total cost of about $16,000, the homemade sleeper-tractor cost less than a similar-size tractor, is easier to fix, rides smoother, and has the added advantage of extra room. "It rides unbelievably well. You almost can't believe you're in the field," he says.
The semi frame and industrial rear-end were joined together with 1-in. plate steel. Simonson designed and installed electrically controlled air over hydraulic brakes with switches to control each side independently in the cab so he can use the brakes to help steer the tractor when needed.
To counter potential problems due to the tractor's lighter weight, Simonson added 10,000 lbs. in the form of fenders, a 210-gal. fuel tank, a 25-gal. hydraulic oil tank, plus a set of 7,000-lb. oil field pump weights. Powered by a 318 Detroit diesel, with a 13-speed transmission, the tractor has a top road speed of 32 mph. He installed regular tractor wheels and tires on industrial tractor wheel hubs. A heavy-duty truck power steering pump provides hydraulics. He built a rear drawbar out of 1 by 5-in. steel.
For more information, contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Brian Simonson, P.O. Box 193, Antelope, Mont. 59211 (ph 406 286-5220).

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1986 - Volume #10, Issue #2