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Stationary Engine from retired tractor  RSS feed

 
gardener
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Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
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Before most farms had a tractor with a power take-off, many had a stationary engine. These were fitted with belts to power many operations such as milling, threshing, water pumping, rock crushing, firewood cutting etc. The advent of rural electrification and tractor power made these machines obsolete. But many good old machines still exist and are available from collectors and boneyards. For the serious off-gridder these units might be the ticket. Not the latest greatest but still several steps beyond the stone-age.

In searching out old tractors I've discovered that many "parts tractors" have a good engine and transmission but are not economic to fix up completely. Some have sustained steering damage, some have lost their body metal and many go cheap because they have bad rubber. A decent running Ford 8n in my area goes for $2500 with attachments. But a perfectly good unit with bad rubber and no toys goes for $500. This is much less than I would expect to pay for a 20+ hp stationary engine. I could see mounting an old tractor on concrete piers and using not only the power take-off but also utilizing the suspended rear wheels as power sources. The wheels would be suspended a foot off the ground with the front anchored in concrete as well.

I want a large drum paddle mixer powerfull enough to mix cob. This could be accomplished by affixing paddles to one of the rear rims with the rubber removed. It would look something like the steel wheels on an old Farmall tractor.The drum would sit on the ground while only the paddle wheel is supported by the tractor rim. ------------- I would also like to have a good sized trommel so the other rim could be the base for that. A Unicorn or Hy Crack type screw wood splitter could run from one of the hubs. ------------ This still leaves the PTO available to power a multitude of impluments ( buzz saw,generator, water pump, etc. ) ----------- A PTO powered hydraulic pump would supply enough power to run a portable sawmill and any other hydraulic tools!

All of this and more can be accomplished using a good old "parts tractor" as a stationary engine.

I don't imagine that this will eliminate my need for a tractor. It would instead handle operations that don't require mobility. 3 different items could be hooked up and ready for use at any time. This increases to 4 if the tractor has hydraulics since a splitter or other device could be left attached. The unit would need plenty of work space around it. For me that would be a central location in the parking area behind the house.-------------- Lack of use is one of the main causes of deterioration with old equipment. With all of these functions built around one machine, this is unlikely to be a problem.

Please submit other ideas on what you would do with this sort of power source.
 
pollinator
Posts: 320
Location: North Olympic Peninsula
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My neighbor dug a HUGE pond using a "donkey" and a drag bucket. He had the engine on skids, and dug in one spot for a month or two, then he would use it to pull itself to the new location. He moved SO MUCH earth with this setup, it's sort of unbelievable. It was also in a location that a tracked digging machine would have had a hard time getting in and out of, without totally destroying the surrounding environment. It's an old way of doing things, but it made a lot of sense to me.

I've thought a lot about the PTO powered solution for lots of things, since I have a small diesel tractor and I find it much easier to maintain one engine rather than having a separate powerhead for each tool. There's a million things you can do with one, a couple useful ones for me are running a generator head, and, like you said, a hydraulic pump.
 
Dale Hodgins
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I have a big slop bucket on a crane which could be used in a similar fashion.And I don't have to muscle the empty bucket into position like you do with a donkey.

One big advantage to a single stationary engine is that some of these items will be immune to theft. Who is going to steal a giant mixer made from a scrap steel oil tank that needs a tractor wheel insert to make it operational? A 10 hp honda power unit with water pump is a hot item on the "hot market" as are many other stand alone tools. Built items powered by an imobile tractor make poor targets. With some things like the sawmill, theives are likely to steal only the power source which is usually easilly detachable. The only highly stealable item I've mentioned here is the PTO driven hydraulic pump. I'd keep that locked up if I go away.
 
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There is a PTO on my '51 Farmall. The biggest problem so far has been finding PTO drive attachments. It even has a belt drive pulley attached to the frame that may come in handy at some point. I was fortunate to be needing a tractor when an older couple got out of farming. The deal was great and it has sure come in handy.

Your idea has a lot of merit, Dale. There are advantages to thinking outside the box.

Two years ago I purchased an old RV. Too late I discovered that the wheel assemblies are shot. I decided that a 30 year old unit wasn't worth the investment to make it road worthy and have been using it for storage. The location is not the best, so sometime soon (if the ground ever freezes?) it will be shifted to another area where it will become a semi-permanent living spot at the farm. However, there is nothing at all wrong with the 350 Dodge engine and drive train. We have been making plans on how to utilize the mechanical systems to run a drop line for basic machining equipment.

We will be off grid and I hate the thought of how much power it would take to run a small shop using solar and wind with battery back-up. I learned my trade before the computer did all the work for you, so hand cranking to move a table won't bother me any.
 
Dale Hodgins
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You could probably leave the engine in the RV and mount either a generator or hydraulic pump beneath the unit and attach to the driveshaft. Some sort of throttle control and exhaust extension and you're in business. Overheating can be an issue when vehicles are stationary. It might be possible to mount a giant radiator within the unit for winter heat and put it outside in summer.In optimal conditions a gas engine is about 27% efficient. The rest is lost as heat. If you can use this to heat the space and hot water you'll be miles ahead of most stand alone generators.

If the wheels were left to rotate they could be used in much the same way as your belt drive on the Farmall.

The driveshaft could be extended to the rear of the vehicle to create a PTO.
 
Lolly Knowles
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We have plans to use the cab as home to a Rocket Heater. The mass will be situated so that the unit can be pulled overtop. That is, unless they decide it's easier to lift the unit, build the heater, then lower it back into place.

Yes, that does sound like a lot of work, doesn't it? But I am sensitive to many things in my environment. I will can not live in a structure that has that much iron in it. By putting the engine and drive train (about 1000 pounds, don't you think) in a shop of it's own I can visit as needed, but won't be as exposed as if it were under foot and sleeping space. That sensitivity is another reason to look for pre-computer era machines. I can't spend much time near that many servo motors at once. Messes with my blood pressure.
 
                        
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Dale Hodgins wrote: In searching out old tractors I've discovered that many "parts tractors" have a good engine and transmission but are not economic to fix up completely. Some have sustained steering damage, some have lost their body metal and many go cheap because they have bad rubber. A decent running Ford 8n in my area goes for $2500 with attachments. But a perfectly good unit with bad rubber and no toys goes for $500. This is much less than I would expect to pay for a 20+ hp stationary engine. I could see mounting an old tractor on concrete piers and using not only the power take-off but also utilizing the suspended rear wheels as power sources. The wheels would be suspended a foot off the ground with the front anchored in concrete as well.

All of this and more can be accomplished using a good old "parts tractor" as a stationary engine.

Please submit other ideas on what you would do with this sort of power source.



This is an excellent way to source parts through unconventional means so thanks for sharing.

Here's my spin on this issue:

I was planning on buying a 20+ HP engine to power a home built bandsaw lumbermill and also a home built well drilling unit. The lumbermill to be used to process timber to build a house, barn, fences, and ancillary buildings, the well drilling unit to drill for water and to drill a number of vertical shafts for a ground sourced heat pump. I live in the same city as you and the local drillers are charging about $20 a foot for their services.

My idea is to invest money in equipment that would otherwise be spent on labor for the services provided by other people - pay for lumber or pay for equipment and get the lumber for free, pay $20,000 for well drilling or pay $4,000 for equipment and drill multiple wells (water and GSHP). I'll be using the lumbermill more frequently than the drilling unit, so why not design the units so that the engine can be swapped between them - that way I don't have a dedicated engine on each unit not being used to its fullest extent.

The parts value of the dilapidated tractor likely exceeds the standing value of the tractor. Pick up such a unit, strip it, maybe even use parts of the tractor frame in the build of the lumber mill and drilling unit.
 
steward
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Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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I would like to remind you that when setting up your stationary plant, you should install a big, heavy duty (65 amps or more) alternator.
Since it is running anyway, you may as well be topping off all of your batteries.
 
Posts: 211
Location: Pennsylvania
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Around here it is not uncommon to see shops and businesses run off of smaller stationary engines in the Amish community. I went to a farm / business to buy some metal roofing and in the wood shop they had a 24 hp engine out side in a shed and running the width of the shop was a concrete trench that had a line shaft the width of the shop. The trench was covered with boards except where there was space left for flat belts that ran equipment. Things like the planner, band saw, table saw and air compresser were all located over this trench and when needed they would shift a belt onto a pulley. The best example of this is a harness shop where the owner has a 3 hp honda outside and runs a belt through a wall to run a jack shaft. Off of the overhead shaft all the sewing machine are belt driven. I am a member of an antique steam and gas engine group and we have a working machine shop that is run off of this 15 hp hit or miss gas engine.

kent
 
Lolly Knowles
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Kent, you make me wish it were the season for traveling. I love checking out places like that. Are you or the Amish shop open for tours during the spring ~ fall season?
 
Dale Hodgins
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Kent, I believe that's a hit and miss engine. Has to do with the firing. Hit or miss makes it sound unreliable.

With an old tractor the hub could be weighted and fitted with pulleys for belt driven tools.

I was in a shop powered by a waterwheel which employed a rotating shaft beneath the floor. They made harnesses and saddles. I imagine it would be important to keep shoes tied and to not leave stringy crap on the floor.
 
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Alan Attaboy wrote:

Dale Hodgins wrote: In searching out old tractors I've discovered that many "parts tractors" have a good engine and transmission but are not economic to fix up completely. Some have sustained steering damage, some have lost their body metal and many go cheap because they have bad rubber. A decent running Ford 8n in my area goes for $2500 with attachments. But a perfectly good unit with bad rubber and no toys goes for $500. This is much less than I would expect to pay for a 20+ hp stationary engine. I could see mounting old tractor paint on concrete piers and using not only the power take-off but also utilizing the suspended rear wheels as power sources. The wheels would be suspended a foot off the ground with the front anchored in concrete as well.

All of this and more can be accomplished using a good old "parts tractor" as a stationary engine.

Please submit other ideas on what you would do with this sort of power source.



This is an excellent way to source parts through unconventional means so thanks for sharing.

Here's my spin on this issue:

I was planning on buying a 20+ HP engine to power a home built bandsaw lumbermill and also a home built well drilling unit. The lumbermill to be used to process timber to build a house, barn, fences, and ancillary buildings, the well drilling unit to drill for water and to drill a number of vertical shafts for a ground sourced heat pump. I live in the same city as you and the local drillers are charging about $20 a foot for their services.

My idea is to invest money in equipment that would otherwise be spent on labor for the services provided by other people - pay for lumber or pay for equipment and get the lumber for free, pay $20,000 for well drilling or pay $4,000 for equipment and drill multiple wells (water and GSHP). I'll be using the lumbermill more frequently than the drilling unit, so why not design the units so that the engine can be swapped between them - that way I don't have a dedicated engine on each unit not being used to its fullest extent.

The parts value of the dilapidated tractor likely exceeds the standing value of the tractor. Pick up such a unit, strip it, maybe even use parts of the tractor frame in the build of the lumber mill and drilling unit.



A lot of people don't realize just how much value a tractor holds in just it's parts. I would recommend grabbing an older nonfunctional one as well.
 
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