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Square Tractor Wheels
As you tour farm shows this fall, don't be surprised if you see tractors equipped with square wheels. Built by GKN Sankey, one of the largest tractor wheel manufacturers in the world, the unusual-looking wheels are likely to take over the market, as we found out on a recent trip to Britain where nearly every tractor manufacturer including Deere, IH, Massey Ferguson, Case and Ford had square-wheeled tractors on display.
As tractors get heavier and more powerful, torque loads have increased and demand has risen for higher performance wheels. The new design uses square discs fixed to the rims by close-coupled lugs. "Wheels won't creak and groan the way they have in the past when under load. Since we introduced these wheels in the U.K. 18 months ago we've virtually eliminated warranty problems due to cracked and broken hubs," says John Lodge, GKN sales manager.
The new wheel, has been approved by all UK tractor manufacturers and will begin showing up at U.S. and Canadian dealerships this fall. Ford is the first tractor manufacturer to begin fitting the square disc wheels to their U.S. tractors, but Case, Massey Ferguson, and others will be importing them from their European manufacturing plants. Deere and IH are looking at the wheel for domestic markets. According to Lodge, U.S. tractor manufacturers are moving ahead cautiously because of the way farmers react to the new design.
"The wheels are stronger than the conventional design, which has been around for 30 years or more. But, because the square disc design uses less material and looks different, farmers are somewhat leery of the design at first," says Lodge, noting that British farmers, use their tractors for more chores than American farmers, who rely more on trucks and pickups, and had been looking for a stronger wheel.
The new wheel contacts the hub at just four places, as opposed to the eight mounts on an old-style wheel, but there are two bolts at each mount instead of one. The fact that the wheel is held by two close-coupled bolts at each mounting location is the reason the tire is stronger, according to Ted Williams, chief testing and design engineer at GKN Sankey.
In addition to the fact that they're stronger, square disc wheels cost less to manufacture which should help to keep the cost of tractors in line, according to Lodge.

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1984 - Volume #8, Issue #5