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4-Tractor Hook-Up Predated Big 4-WD'S
"For about $4,000, we had the kind of horse-power you'd pay $70,000 or more for in a big 4-WD tractor today," says Bill Trosper about a four-tractor hook-up that he and his father Corwin put together in the 1950's.
FARM SHOW reader Norman Smuck of Burr Oak, Kan., told us about the unusual rig.
The men originally hooked together two 45 hp LP-powered 1940's Case LA tractors in 1957, using a hinged trailer-type hitch welded to the drawbar and running up under the lead tractor's wide front axle. The steering arm was removed from the rear tractor and replaced with a shorter, 2-ft. arm running from the front wheels to the trailer hitch on the drawbar of the lead tractor so they would turn together.
In 1959, the Trospers bought two more Case LA's and added them to "The Train", as it became known.
Along with hitching the tractors together and synchronizing steering, the men also had to find a way to get them to shift into gear together. To engage the tractor's hand clutches at the same time, the men ran a lever forward from each clutch to the front of the tractor, then a dog chain from the lever to the clutch on the tractor ahead of it. The operator on the lead tractor would push in its clutch and pull on the chain to get all the tractors rolling together.
To stop, they ran a rope from the opera-tor platform to the last tractor. It attached to a pulley mounted behind the clutch. A tug on the rope would disengage the rear tractor's clutch and the clutches on the two tractors in front of it.
The 50-ft. long rig packed about 200 hp, Trosper notes.
"We needed the power when our farm grew to 4,000 acres," he explains. "We planted 2,000 acres of winter wheat a year, pulling seven Dempster 8-row grain drills hooked together. We could plant half a section in a day. We'd burn 350 gal. of LP, which was 8 to 12 cents per gallon in those days, running 24 hours straight.
"We also pulled a 32-ft. chisel plow and three 20-ft. Deere F850 one-way disks hooked together.
"Turning wasn't a problem. You could turn as short, if not shorter, as you could with one tractor because the steering mechanism acted just like a 4-wheel trailer.
"It worked fantastic."
Nevertheless, there were a couple problems with the rig, he jokes.
"I hated greasing it and changing the oil," he says.
The "train" remains intact on Bill Trosper's farm but hasn't been used in years. His father passed away in 1987.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Bill Trosper, 14219 CR 34, Eads, Colo., 81036 (ph 719 438-5777).

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1996 - Volume #20, Issue #6