1988 - Volume #12, Issue #4, Page #21[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
Homemade Articulated Mini 4WD Tractor
The "first-of-its-kind" tractor, which rides on four 14.9 by 26 combine tires, is designed to push 8-row toolbar implements. A Stanhoist front-end loader, widened and braced for heavy duty use, clamps onto the implement's toolbar.
"The tractor's long 15-ft. frame, made of 4 by 12 in. rectangular tubing, provides plenty of leverage for the loader to pick up field implements," says Roger, who has used the rig to plant, cultivate, and drag fields. An add-on two-stage hydraulic cylinder gives the loader extra lifting capacity and height.
"It's much smaller than most 4-WD tractors and weighs no more than a 4-WD pickup, but it can really pull. Also, it's light enough to reduce soil compaction. Narrow tires keep what compaction there is away from the row."
The Montags, who built the tractor last summer, use it mainly to cultivate. At the same time, they apply herbicides or deep-band fertilizer.
"During first-time cultivation, we use spray nozzles inside canopy shields. The nozzles deliver a 4-in. wide band which costs us only $2 per acre," says Dan. "Because we have this tractor, on 80 percent of our corn and soybeans we'll apply only the 4-in. post-emergence herbicide band, with no other herbicides at all."
Because the loader is part of the frame, the front-mounted cultivator remains rigid. "When you turn the wheel, the cultivator immediately moves. There's no side play, so you can set shovels very close to the rows and center the 4-in. wide band over them," says Dan, who adds that the tractor would make an ideal ridge cultivator.
To build the tractor, the Montags separated the twin screw rear ends from an old tandem axle cement truck, mounting one rear end on each end of the tractor's frame and lengthening the original drive shaft between them. Each twin screw rear end has its own differential. An air piston locks a third differential so both rear ends always drive positive.
They mounted the in-line, 65 hp gas engine, borrowed from an International Harvester 101 combine, midway between the wheels. The engine faces "backward" with the fan and radiator toward the rear.
The transmission, borrowed from a 1958 International truck, is equipped with high-low range to provide 8 forward and 2 reverse speeds. The pivot point is set at a 65:35 ratio, with 65% of the tractor's length in front of the pivot point to improve steering control. "It steers a little slower than a regular 4-WD, but with more accuracy," notes Roger."
The tractor is equipped with 3 pto shafts, 1 in front and 2 at the rear. One pto runs off the transmission at a steady speed, one pto runs off the transfer case according to ground speed, and the other pip runs according to motor speed. So far, the Montags have used only the motor-driven pto. It powers a hydraulic sprayer pump, delivering chemicals from the rear-mounted 200-gal. spray tank to the cultivator.
"The ground speed pto might be useful for implements which are countershaft-driven, such as an air planter or fertilizer applicator," notes Roger.
Last summer, the Montags used the tractor as an 8-row bean rider. The driver sprayed the two inside rows, while two other riders sprayed the three outside rows.
This summer they may use the tractor to mow grass on diverted CRP acres, pushing a 12-ft. mower.
The Montags say they plan to make a few changes on the tractor. They may replace the gas engine with a more powerful diesel engine and install a rear hitch to pull a rotary hoe or other implement. "We're toying with the idea of mounting a New Idea Uni-System corn picker, " says Roger. "Also, we may add another front axle and carry a planter between the front two axles, somewhat like a road grader. By doing this, we might gain the extra traction and stability needed to push a 12-row planter."
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