Hi Lu and everyone,
I very much appreciate being a part of that. First of all it was a great time and I finally met some people I had been wanting to meet. Second, the solution to the bad fit between the channel and the square tube was the best teamwork I've seen in some time: it was a frustrating problem and the job couldn't have been done without that fix. Very interesting, too, that a gigantic steel cutting circular saw happened to be on site.
So, the cost for a tractor triangle and 6 implement triangles came to $2100 with some unknowns, let's say for estimation purposes it was $4200 or $600 per triangle. When the farmers get the system down and the growing season is underway and the time and safety benefits kick in, I think $600 pays for itself pretty quickly - two years? - though I have to stress the safety part, as Lu does. Also, if you look at the Adabio pictures, their channel is the same shape as ours; the welder near me who's from Germany says the metric sizes allow for that nice fit and our standard sizes always frustrate him. Any solution to this problem that gets around the cutting will greatly reduce the cost. And, with all respect to Market Farm, there are many other equipment sources that can greatly reduce cost, for instance if 2 farms around here each needed a 3 shank chisel plow, they could share the cost of a used 7 shank from Wenger's, and the cost of adapting triangles like these. They would save a fair amount of money and end up with better and more rugged plows.
See you all at the next one,
I'm thinking y'all did a fair amount of work after I left Saturday. All the detail of individual implement triangles. And I didn't remember that the top link on the implements took so much either. Thanks for finishing all that.
I see that the final tractor triangle has the threaded lock-on, so I assume there are nuts on the tops of the implement triangles that are out of sight in the photos?
Did you end up slitting and narrowing the tractor triangle in its final form?
Very impressive output.
Hello, the triangles are all welded up and ready to test. Below is an attempt at accounting for the materials and labor costs so far. i did not include any of the labor that went into design, just the labor for making the parts, however, i assume there would be less labor in the next one; less head scratching...
Steel: Used at about $.50/# $138
new at about $1.00/# $170
welding rod $23
welding wire $12
oxy acteylene gas $50
band saw blade $20
tractor bushings $52
nuts and bolts (most of which turned out too short) $123
So that is about $600. There was about $100 of steel left over, however, several pieces of steel were also used from the shop stockpile, and it's always necessary to get more than needed. Foolishly, i ordered bolts that were too short, so almost none of the ones i ordered will get used, but other longer ones will need to be bought. The nuts and washers can be used. Despite a few mistakes, the amount and sizes of everything was very good for a job of this type. In a factory there might be less waste, on a jobsite much more...
Getting steel 3hrs
cutting stock, grinding, welding 50.5 hrs
fitting brackets to implements at farm 8hrs
clean up, recycle, refill bottles, etc 4 hrs
So that's about 65.5 hours, or about $1500 worth of shop time. That does not include tumbling or filing the sharp edges of parts, chipping slag off welds, grinding welding bee bees off metal, or any of that stuff (i've been known to leave that for the customer anyway...) . It was difficult to estimate the actual amount of work that got done by everyone at the workshop weekend. All of the work and talking was incredibly helpful, valuable, and fun, however, i only credited actual material progress on this set of triangles 12 person hours.
What's left: So now there is a category one male triangle, and six implement triangles: 1.TOOLBAR 2. FLAIL MOWER 3. DISC HARROW 4. PERFECTA CULTIVATOR 5. POTATO HARVESTER 6. FERTILIZER SPREADER
The farmers will spend an afternoon hooking up the implements. THen, next Spring, they can start using them and see how they work. Modifications will need to be made, probably a couple of days worth. One potential modification that the French instructions didn't mention is the necessity of "hanging" the PTO shaft on the implement triangle so that when the tractor picks up the implement, the shaft gets routed through the tractor triangle. We therefore may need to make a chain and hook for each PTO shaft (this will have the perk that then the PTO shaft doesn't lie in the mud) THen, when we are happy with the way it's all working, all the parts will need to be cleaned up, blasted or rust converted, and painted; another couple hundred in parts and labor.
So all told, this may be a good tool, but it is not a cheap tool. i think it is a very good build for farmer-craftspeople. It is simple, requires few tools , and there is a lot of labor. Also there is a benefit to doing the work near the implements. It is necessary to fit the implement triangles to the implements on site--each implement is unique and requires it's own solution to the question of how to attach the implement triangle.
One contribution people made at the build weekend is the technique of slitting the square tubing on the tractor triangle and then clamping and rewelding it so instead of square tubing it becomes slightly trapezoidal. Then it nests in the c-channel very nicely. A second contribution of the weekend is making a spring loaded catch that engages the implement triangle from the tractor triangle. Then, assuming the implement does not have a PTO, the implement can be used without the operator getting off the tractor.
One thing i did notice when we were picking up and setting down implements at the farm is that it is possible for the implement triangle to not jiggle fully onto the tractor triangle. This means that the operator needs to check carefully that the two parts are fully engaged before installing the t-bolt, connecting the PTO, etc. Otherwise the parts might slip the last quarter inch and bite someone's finger. i guess that a similar warning is necessary for the moving parts on the implements that articulate (the flail mower and disc harrow): the articulating parts can suddenly move an pinch if they are under strain. Probably still safer than a three point hitch though...
ONce again, thank you to everyone who participated in the build weekend. We succeeded in bringing this tool from France to America! As the great french war-engineer Sebastien Le prestre de Vauban said, "Toujour la bon guerre" ! lu
(copied from e-mail exchange to forums)