“For real mountain goat country, SOTA offers a range of tractors with dual wheels. Duals make for a seriously stable machine…”
Often, a great hobby farm has slopes and hills. A lifestyle farm might be covered in eucalypts, native flora and fauna, and contain a fern gully with a babbling brook. To many, this is hobby farm heaven!
If your farm slopes significantly, chances are that at some stage, it was subdivided from a larger farm, having been viewed as not commercially productive…
Depending on the severity of the slope, a set of dual wheels can be a prudent investment.
Safety and Dual Wheels
Exerpted from Mark’s Farm Tips – read the full article here
“For real mountain goat country, we have fitted rear, dual-wheel (duals) setups, using the standard R1 Ag tyres. This makes for a seriously stable machine.
Duals probably originate from the power farming machines of the early sixties, where the development of 100+ horsepower tractors began exceeding what could be delivered to the ground, at the drawbar. Culminating in the eighties, before zero-till caught on, some seriously big tractors with massive tyre configurations operated on these shores.
Almost without exception, at the 35hp/45hp end of the market, duals are particularly useful for taking on steep areas. So, for the soft, muddy hillside example, the duals would minimise slippage because of the more aggressive tread while still having the benefits of a wide stance.
When setting up duals at SOTA, we like to have the inside tyre on its narrowest bias. Why? It is to do with the levering action that is exerted on the axle bearing for every inch you increase the track. The narrow inside bias counteracts this to some degree because it distributes some of the weight behind the aforementioned bearing.
We have seen some folk reverse or bias outwards the front rims for a wider track. You’d probably get away with it if there wasn’t a loader, but the stresses of a loader on the smaller front axle bearing makes it a no-no for most applications. It is a serious trade-off to consider as loaders are such a handy feature.
Front End Loaders and Slopes
The popularity of front end loaders (FEL) adds an extra dimension to safely operating tractors on gradients. As they are raised above the front axle, the centre of gravity of the tractor also rises, exacerbating the potential for a roll-over. FELs can also block vision, increasing the risk of encountering depressions, pot holes and stumps.
Water ballast is very useful for increasing stability. The trade-off here is that it is less than ideal for road travel speeds and can cause more soil disturbance. Water ballasting would also need regular checking to make sure weight is roughly even between the tyres. Uneven weight distribution can exacerbate the propensity for slippage or rollover. It would also unsettle FEL operation.
Ballast will further bias weight to the rear of the machine. Hence, always go down hills forwards. The same principle applies to traversing up hills. If in doubt, reverse the tractor up the hill. If control of the tractor is lost, the danger of rolling or flipping the tractor is minimised. (Flips can occur if you roll backwards and suddenly brake or let out the clutch). The added traction and added front end weight of FWA tractors certainly improves safety.
To have full control of the machine, you need to be familiar with its operation and mechanical soundness. Always make sure the skid brakes are locked together. Uneven brake pressure at can literally force a tractor to slip or roll over. It is also important to use low gear, allowing the engine to brake the tractor when going down steep hills. It is counterintuitive, but tractors need to be driven down hills. Reducing power (or worse, freewheeling) to the transmission and relying on brakes have some very real risks.
Likewise, going uphill: plan ahead! Again, you are in low gear. Gear changes, once the climb is started should not be necessary and are dangerous. If the clutch is engaged during ascent (or descent for that matter), you only have miss a gear to freewheel a couple of feet and the tractor’s speed will be more than the gear’s theoretical limit. This will cause the wheels to lock up and the tractor to slip/slide/lose control when the clutch is released. Engage 4wd and lock the diff to maximise traction.
A Safe Gradient?
I don’t like the idea of prescribing a safe gradient for operating a tractor. Once an operator believes he or she is safe, operating a tractor on steep country, there is potential for danger. Being in control of the tractor is the number one priority. Avoid crossing steep slopes. If you are traversing across a hill and you begin to slip or even feel unsafe, always turn downhill.”
If you are interested in discussing the benefits of a tractor and our dual wheel options, please contact SOTA Tractors
Rear Weight Increases Stability
“The basic factor influencing tractor stability is the rigid rear axle, hence the dual rear wheels. This is because the front axle is articulated and provides limited stability. To make the most of the rear axle’s stability, the use of a rear weight or heavy implement such as a slasher is recommended, especially with a load in the FEL. This moves the centre of gravity towards the back axle, increasing stability.”
Bruce Cooper – Technical Director, SOTA Tractors.
Apollo 554R with Dual Wheels
Kubota L2201DT with Dual Wheels
Pricing for Optional Dual Wheels
|Brand & Model||Price Inc. GST*|
|APOLLO 304, 30hp||$4,500|
|APOLLO 354, 35hp||$4,500|
|APOLLO 454, 45hp||$4,500|
|APOLLO 554R, 55hp||$4,500|
|APOLLO 554, 55hp A/C Cabin||$4,500|
|Kubota L2201DT, 25hp||$3,500|
|Kubota L2202DT, 26hp||$3,500|
“I haven’t touched base for a while, but the 554 is going really well. It has 60 hours on it now and hasn’t missed a beat. So glad we did the dual wheels because it safely handles the property inclines.”
“Just a quick note to say how happy I am with my dual wheel 454 tractor. I am in the hills north of Melbourne and the dual wheels are fantastic. The increased stability ensures added safety in using my 454. I would recommend anyone contemplating using a tractor on hilly country consider getting dual wheels.”