Rural Survival



Electric Farm Tractor

Farm tractors are the handiest piece of equipment to have in a rural setting of more than a couple of acres.

Draft animals like horses and mules are viable solutions if one is set up with barns, fences, figured out how to feed them over the winter and is an expert in their health and welfare.

Sickle Mower
Inexpensive and simple sickle mower.
Farmall Tractor
Famall used for haying.

Old Farmall tractor.

In the past I have been trading to get heavy work like haying and snow plowing done.

Twenty years ago people would gladly come to mow and bale up hay for half the bales, ten years ago they wanted all the bales and now I have to pay more than the hay is worth.


Small self powered square baler. The tractor just needs to pull it.
Baler with Rake
Rake and a baler.

Hay Rake
Hay rake to make windrows for the baler after mowing.

The big question with a tractor is how to keep it running say ten years from now as oil becomes more and more expensive each year.

There are growing numbers of people who have successfully converted old gas engine tractors to electric. The engine is replaced with an electric motor that runs off on-board batteries which are charged with a plug in battery charger or augmented by solar panels. This cuts out the bulk of the hassles of maintaining a tractor. Mechanical issues that come with engines, ignition and fuel systems will be eliminated along with fuel, engine oil and filter expenses and potentially hundreds of mechanical parts that will wear and break in time.

The beauty of these conversions are that they are relatively simple. Requiring basically two main pieces to fabricate, an adapter to couple the electric motor shaft to the tractor transmission shaft and a bell housing plate. There is a machine shop in NY that specialize in these fabrications and have kits available.

Major parts for a conversion, electric motor, batteries, cables, charger and controllers are not cheap but not having to buy fuel, engine oil and the dramatic reduction in maintenance are big enough reasons for an electric tractor conversion.

Here is a great conversion example with illustrated instructions of an old Allis Chalmers Model G tractor converted to electric by Ron Khosla to work their organic vegetable farm in upstate New York.

John Howe's nifty Farmall Cub electric conversion to maintain his 175 acre spread.

The tractor should be big enough to do the work a team of two small horses or mules can do or close to it. For tractors to pull effectively, it needs weight for traction and stability.

A hydraulic system for implements, loader and a 3 point hitch system can be run off of a power take off hydraulic pump or a separate electric motor driven hydraulic pump system.

Old tractors with motor problems are relatively common and cheap. The trick is to find one with a good body. However on many old tractors the engine is part of the frame or rather the front axle and wheels are attached to the bottom of the engine and removing the engine would necessitate a work around for the front end and steering component support. Some like the Allis Chalmers model G or John Deere model L does not have this problem and are preferred tractors for a conversion.

Tractor pulling a manure spreader.

Family haying.
Farmall Tractor with Sickle Mower
Farmall with a sickle mower.

Some of the biggest vehicles today are hybrid systems that are run by electric motors. Freight train locomotives and submarines are diesel electric, a diesel engine providing the power to run electric motors that turn the wheels or propellers. Similarly nuclear submarines run on electric motors powered by a nuclear reactor.

Recent news of viable air propulsion has me wondering if that technology is adaptable for farm tractors because that would be a even better solution, no expensive batteries to buy. I can't see why not. Air powered underground mine ore cars were in use in the 1930s in Europe and air powered locomotives were in use here in the US.
Pneumatic Options Research Library



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