1982 - Volume #6, Issue #4, Page #24[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
Pieper Half Tracks For Tractors
Take a look at half-tracks. They spread out the combine's weight and let you glide over the top of mud, or go through deep snow to salvage a valuable crop.
No question that they work! Drawbacks include high initial cost, and they can be hard to get when you and a lot of your neighbors are suddenly up against a gigantic mud or snow problem. .
Here's a round-up of "who makes what" and comments from farmers who've either built or bought half-tracks for their combines and, in some cases, even their tractors:
Loegering Mfg., Casselton, N.D. makes and sells tracks for combines, tractors, trucks, skid-steer loaders, jeeps and a variety of other vehicles and machines. Marvin Haugen, sales manager, told FARM SHOW that Loegering combine tracks are available to fit almost any make or model of combine, and have been sold throughout the world.
Three years ago, North Dakota farmer Tom Hoepfner, Fargo, adapted a set of Loegering tracks and snow skis to fit his Deere 4400 combine. (FARM SHOW ran a photo and story on the set-up in our Sept.-Oct., 1978 issue.)
"They worked super, just super!" reports Hoepfner. "The tracks and skis more than paid for themselves the first season."
Hoepfner's out-of-pocket cost was about $10,000 but he harvested $100,000 worth of his own sunflowers, operating in mud and snow. Also, Hoepfner says he worked all winter ("clear into April") doing custom work.
"We got telephone calls from all over the country after your article appeared," Hoepfner told FARM SHOW two weeks ago. "Altogether, I'd say we got 300 long-distance calls, some from as far away as Texas and the southeastern states, wanting us to come and combine for them."
Hoepfner and a crew kept the combine rolling 24 hours a day. "We harvested about 3,000 acres of snow-drifted sunflowers using the tracks, at $40 an acre just for the combining itself ù no hauling. "We grossed $120,000 and it was quite profitable," Hoepfner comments. "But it got pretty tiresome combining sunflowers all winter long! The only real problem we had was getting the combined sunflower seed out of the snow-bound field ù some trucks couldn't make it."
Weather conditions haven't repeated since that first year, Hoepfner says, but he still has the tracks and skis and feels he could modify them to fit a recently-purchased combine, if necessary.
Gilbert & Riplo Tracks
Last year was a record sales year for Gilbert and Riplo, Ravenna, Mich., manufacturers of combine half-tracks. "We sold 37 sets, our best sales year in the last decade," Fred Riplo told FARM SHOW.
Gilbert and Riplo tracks are actually bulldozer-type carriage systems ù the original combine wheels are removed. It takes about two hours to install the 30-in. wide tracks, says Riplo, and only 15 minutes to take them off and re-install the original tires. He claims the tracks reduce fuel use "as much as 20%".
His firm doesn't offer track systems for trucks or tractors. Gilbert and Riplo combine tracks are available for all models of combines except older John Deere machines, such as the 95 or 105, and except Massey combines. Price is right at $12,000 per set.
"They really saved the day for us last fall," says Dave Mayer, a. Wisconsin farmer-implement dealer who, in partnership with his brother John, operates Pansiewood Implement in Oshkosh. The Mayers, who sell Gilbert and Riplo tracks, also used the tracks on their own combine last fall to harvest about 500 acres of rain-drenched soybean fields.
"The big advantage was that the combine header stayed level in spite of wet fields; we could get down low and get practically all the beans. And, we didn't leave deep ruts in our fields to cause problems next spring," says Dave. "Driving with the tracks on is like driving the combine down a road. It's easy to operate and the tracks aren't hard on the combine drive train. We harvested right through spots where, if you stepped down off the combine onto the ground, you'd sink down in mud over your ankles. The combine floated right over the top. We even combined right
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