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Power Assist For Pull Type Equipment
Ontario grape farmer Creston Ferrier says he and his sons came up with a way to add power to wheels on their pull-type grape harvester that may be of interest to any farmer with pull-type equipment that needs a power boost.
"We used to get butterflies in our stomachs whenever it started to rain during harvest. We knew that our 5-ton pull-type harvester would create havoc with posts in the trellis if it slipped sideways. Often the wheels would just dig in and get buried. Even large 4-WD tractors could not handle the harvester under wet conditions," says Ferrier.
"We decided to solve the problem by adding power to the harvester's wheels. The problem was that, unlike a pull-type combine or corn picker, grape harvesters don't have straight-through axles since they straddle the row and have independent suspension on each side. We decided to go with independent hydraulic motors on each side.
"Bull gears were salvaged from an old Deere self-propelled combine. Most combine bull gears have short stub axles with couplings close to the housing, so they're ideal for this type of application. We salvaged the gear, couplings, and a piece of the box frame axle from each side, including the flange to which the bull gears are bolted. We were able to buy all these parts, which became our main drive components, for $150 and picked up an extra set for spares.
"We cut off the end of the old axles on the grape harvester, replacing the ends with the box axles from the Deere combine. Then we made a bracket for each drive motor to allow them to be easily disconnected for road travel. A local machine shop used the old Deere couplings to make a solid coupling to connect the stub axle to the drive motor.
"A fairly high volume gear pump, reservoir and a lot of hydraulic fittings were salvaged from an old concrete boom truck. The rest of the system consisted of hose, valving and filters. Off-the-shelf, simple valves were used for variable speed and directional control. A simple ball valve was added to allow full flow bypass for free wheeling when needed. Flow dividers were not used since they would pre-vent easy turning. The way it's setup, the extra flow automatically goes to the out-side wheel when the tractor starts spinning which tends to keep the harvester straight on the row.
"Speed is sychonized by controlling flow until pressure starts to show on the gauge on the tractor. When the tractor starts to spin, this pressure comes up and the harvester drive wheels take over."
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Robert Ferrier, 1 Second Street South, Stoney, Creek, Ontario L8G 1R4 Canada (ph 416 662-8175).

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1992 - Volume #16, Issue #3