Self-Propelled “Power Plant” Runs Grain Augers

Today’s grain augers are so big – up to 16 in. in dia. and 100 ft. long – that it often requires a 150 to 170 hp tractor to operate them. Often, the tractor’s pto can’t handle the job, which can result in an expensive pto failure.

To solve the problem Don Perrion of Ipswich, S. Dak., recently finished building a self-propelled, 2-WD “pto power plant” that eliminates the need for a tractor.

“It’s designed to operate big grain augers and to drive down the road to the next farm, but it could also be used to operate hay grinders and other farm implements that normally require a big tractor equipped with pto,” says Perrion.

The 2-WD rig is powered by a 170 hp Cat diesel engine hooked up to a large twin disc clutch that drives a 540 and 1,000 rpm gearbox. There’s a pto shaft and drawbar on front, allowing Perrion to push an auger up to the bin, raise or lower it, and operate it. Hydraulic outlets located next to the pto shaft can be used to operate a belt conveyor. Hydraulics are used to operate the machine’s power steering, raise and lower the auger, and drive the rear wheels. The rig is even equipped with lights for unloading grain at night.

There’s no seat. The operator stands on a platform behind the steering wheel. To go down the road, he stands on one side of the steering wheel and turns the other way, then puts the transmission in reverse. The machine’s starter, throttle, and clutch are located next to the steering wheel, while the pto and hydraulic controls mount on a panel box on one side of the machine.

“I don’t have a lot of experience with it yet because I just finished building it last fall, but I think it has a lot of advantages,” says Perrion. “As I steer the auger I have a good view of the top of the grain bin. It works better than sitting inside a tractor cab and looking back all the time. I figured I don’t need a seat because I won’t spend much time there anyway. It’s built with very strong components. The engine, steering system, and hydraulics are all off a New Holland twin rotor combine, while the gearbox is off a Case 4-WD tractor.”

He started with a Ford 1-ton ambulance, which he bought at a salvage yard equipped with a 4-speed transmission and positraction rear end. He stripped the vehicle down to the frame keeping the springs, differential, and rear wheels. He had a machine shop make a driveshaft to connect the engine and differential. The ambulance had been in an accident and didn’t have a front axle, so he installed the front axle off a Dodge 1 1/2-ton pickup.

He plans to build another self-propelled power plant this winter and mount a forklift on it. “I’ll use the forklift to handle corn and soybean seed containers that farmers use to fill planters and drills,” says Perrion. “These containers often contain 200 bu. of seed corn and are too heavy to handle with some skid loaders. I’m in the grain cleaning business, and last spring I got several phone calls from people who wanted me to clean up spilled seed after their containers had tipped over. My self-propelled rig has a much longer wheelbase than a skid loader and will be able to handle seed containers much more safely.”