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3-Wheel Tractor Floats Over Fields
While most tractor manufacturers around the world work on new rubber track systems for row crop tractors, one British farmer says he's come up with a different solution - a 3-wheel tractor that "floats" over fields like an ATV.
James Atkinson, who farms near Stillingfleet, Yorkshire, mounted Terra tires on the rear of his Massey Ferguson 690. Then he replaced the front axle with a bolt-on single wheel assembly designed to be fitted with a third flotation tire.
He made the conversion because of problems he and his father, Norman, were having on some of their heavy clay ground, which they have been converting to minimum tillage. Trash tended to stay on top of the ground and soil "puffed up" around wheel tracks as the tractor passed. That uneven ground caused problems when drilling crops.
Atkinson first considered fining the tractor with a set of rollers that would flatten the soil across the width of the tractor but decided it made more sense to let the tractor do the work. In the process, he ended up with a machine that goes virtually anywhere and causes minimal compaction. He made the conversion without any permanent modification to the tractor. He can convert back to the standard axle at any time.
He found a large sheet of 5/8-in. steel plate at a scrap yard to make the front assembly. Side plates bolt to either side of the frame. A vertical kingpin (made out of a tractor axle shaft - a machine shop made a sleeve fitted with bearings) mounts between them over a large steering fork that carries the wheel.
Steering is controlled by a pair of hydraulic cylinders that mount on either side of the kingpin and are plumbed into the tractor's original hydraulic-controlled steering. Atkinson says the tractor steers nearly the same as before the conversion. The front axle came off a potato harvester. Lights mount above the front wheel.
Total expense to make the conversion was about $2,500, not including the second hand Terra tires. According to Atkinson, the tractor's 78 hp. easily handles the larger tires although he added a heavy-duty clutch to be on the safe side. The tires provide a solid "footprint" across the width of the tractor except for two 4-in. strips missed on either side of the front wheel, which he flattens out by dragging a length of heavy angle iron just ahead of his drill. "GerminaĦtion is now very even and we have lost the tendency for early emergence in the wheel tracks," he says.
Contact FARM SHOW Followup, James & Norman Atkinson, Stillingfleet, York-shire, England.
Reprinted courtesy Farmer's Weekly Magazine.


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1993 - Volume #17, Issue #6