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Forage Harvester Fitted With Rubber Cat Tracks
Mason Dixon Farms, Gettysburg, Penn., mounted Caterpillar's rubber-tracked chive system on a home-built 6-row 500 hp silage chopper. They've also mounted Caterpillar tracks onto two 39-ft. long custom-built semi-trailers.
The chopper loads silage into the semi-trailers which have "walking" floors that rear-unload silage into 12 trench silos.
"The tracks on the chopper are 30 in. wide and 14 ft. long and are driven by hydraulic motors. We used Caterpillar's Mobile Track system, which is the track system they sell for use on combines and other powered equipment. The non-driven tracks on the trailers are 2 ft. wide and 12 ft. long. We built our own mounting system for them, using truck wheels for idlers and the same rubber track used on Caterpillar's Challenger tractor," says a farm spokesman.
"We like the reduced compaction and ability to harvest in adverse conditions. Rubber tracks pay for themselves in in-creased yields due to lower compaction. The yield difference was particularly noticeable this year because of wet weather. Even where we use high flotation tires our ground is compacted quite a bit. Rubber tracks provide added flotation for moving big loads through wet spots without getting stuck and without tearing up the field. The result is more timely harvest. They pull easier than wheels which means less fuel consumption and greater efficiency in trans-port from field to silo. Because the trailers pull easier we were able to lengthen them from 28 to 32 ft. Each trailer now holds 32 tons."
Mason Dixon Farms has built three sets of mounting systems for non-driven rubber tracks so far. Two of them are mounted on their semi-trailers. Gehl Co. has been demonstrating the third set of tracks on one of its manure spreaders this year. Mason Dixon Farms plans to manufacture the track system for sale in the future on various farm implements. The tracks are expected to cost about one third more than high flotation tires.
Caterpillar has conducted compaction studies in cooperation with Iowa State University for the past six years. Track-equipped tractors have demonstrated up to a 5% yield advantage over wheel-tractors, according to James Gee, Caterpillar engineer. "Those tests have only compared the effects of spring tillage work. When we start using tracks on combines and grain wagons at harvest, we may see considerably more than a 5% yield increase," he adds.
For more information, contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Mason Dixon Farms, 1800 Mason Dixon Road, Gettysburg, Penn. 17325 (ph 717 334-4056).

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1990 - Volume #14, Issue #6