Excerpted from the Two Spruce Farm blog, written by Northland apprentices Daniel Grover and Scott Hoffman. Read the whole post here.
The Quadractor, manufactured in the 1970s and 1980s by Traction, Inc. in Vermont. The quadractor has a vertical shaft gear train originally developed by William Spence for using in aircraft landing gear, who designer of the Quadractor and founder of Traction, Inc. The tractor operates through four identical vertical drives to the wheels, and is therefore continuously in four wheel drive. This drive design allows for the lightweight Quadractor (around 500 lbs) to pull loads up to two tons.
Spence wanted to create a tractor that was lower cost and that used less fuel than conventional tractors with comparable workloads, and be highly dynamic (also that had really good traction, hence the company name he came up with). Though the tractor been used most extensively for logging, it can be used with cultivating, rototilling and plowing implements that are attached underneath the tractor rather than behind, the weight of which are distributed to all four wheels.
Though the quadractor is no longer being manufactured, there is a community of users restoring, retrofitting and using the quadractor for their small farming operations, homestead and woodlots. These users can exchange and dialogue on the tractor, modifications and implements through a user Forum, hosted by the resource site Quadractor.com.
Read a more detailed account of the quadractor and its manufacture in this 1979 Mother Earth News article by Bill Rowan. Also check out the Quadractor site to access information, videos, and the user forum.
Collectors and preservationists in organizations such as the International Harvester Collector Club acquire old tractors, keeping the machines in working order and preserving the knowledge of how to do so. What if farmers actually started using these tractors? In her blog History at the Table , Cathy Stanton points out the untapped potential of these skilled mechanics. Instead of looking at old tractors as only a demonstration of past technologies and ways of living, we could be using the valuable tools and knowledge demonstrated at these shows for practical use.
Lots of other great posts in Cathy’s blog of relevance to Farm Hackers!
Local Roots Farm in Washington State has come up with a design for a bed shaper attachment for their rototiller, to allow one-pass bed making on their vegetable farm.
As of their blog post on the tool, they hadn’t yet tried it out in the field. But it sure looks like they’re on to something.
Check out their tool– we hope they will put up drawings and reports on the Farm Hack Tools Wiki!
Summary: The Allis Chalmers G tractor was built in the late 1940′s to be a cultivating tractor, using a relatively low horespower gasoline engine that is bolted to the back of the tractor’s frame to allow the operator a clear view of the implements mounted on the belly of the tractor. It’s a great tractor for cultivating, but over time the engines can fall further and further out of good repair.
Farmer (and inventor!) Ron Khosla came up with instructions to convert these tractors to run on an electric motor and heavy duty batteries, giving you a fully functional, easy-to-maintain, quiet, no-emissions tractor. These electric G’s work great for cultivating, seeding, and some tinkerers have even rigged them up to do tillage and mowing.
Skills needed: Simple metalworking (welding steel, or finding someone who can); also available commercially with an Allis G belly mount from Roeter’s Farm Equipment, but their version may not be optimized for your application.
Summary: Tine weeders, like those built by Lely or Kovar, are often used on vegetable farms for cultivation of transplanted crops or sturdy direct seeded crops like corn and beans. Usually they are used “blind” (see video), raked over a crop while being pulled behind a tractor, and therefore their use is limited to those crops that can tolerate the “raking” action of the thin, flexible tines, spaced 1.5″ apart.
This project creates a version of the tine weeder that can be belly-mounted to a cultivating tractor, so that individual tines can be lifted up so as not to engage the soil. This allows the tool to be used in between rows of crops that cannot stand the raking, such as just-germinated small seeded crops like carrots, beets and greens.
This is a good tool for a smaller farm that cannot afford many different types of cultivators; it can be used for many different crops, however by itself it is not an ideal cultivator for all crops, since it is not aggressive enough to kill more tenuous weeds such as perennial grasses, velvetleaf, bindweed, or weeds that have established beyond a “white thread” stage. Horsepower requirements are very low.