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Muck and Mire: Tractor Extraction

September 25, 2013
By: Jen Russell, Managing Editor google + 
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It’s important to know the strength of the hitch pin connecting the tractor and grain cart, as well as the strength of the grain cart’s frame and its pin.   

There’s more to extraction than hooking and pulling

There’s probably nothing more frustrating than seeing a key piece of equipment buried up to its axles in mud. After this year’s wet planting season—and with harvest upon us—that frustration is fresh in farmers’ minds.

However, there’s more to equipment extraction than just hooking up the chains and pulling. That’s the message Fred Whitford of Purdue University conveyed to farmers at all of the 2013 Corn College sessions.

"All too often, the sense of urgency keeps us from thinking about the consequences of what could happen if we don’t take the proper precautions," Whitford said. "Extracting equipment is anything but routine, and farmers need to understand that using a cut towing strap, an undersized clevis or chain, or a weak attachment point can lead to expensive machinery repairs, injuries or worse."

Before you start pulling, first consider your environment. For instance, be aware of power lines. Make sure your actions won’t upset nearby waterways. If there are spray tanks or other components that might leak, take precautionary measures to keep everything contained.

Next, think through the four "zones" of equipment extraction.

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A low-grade hook like this one will meet its match and break.   

The stuck zone. As the name suggests, the stuck zone is the area immediately surrounding the equipment.

"Your first goal is to determine how much weight you need to move," Whitford advised. "Consider the total gross weight of what is stuck, including the vehicle, trailer and payload that you will need to pull."

Don’t forget to account for how deep the equipment is buried and the resistance that the stuck vehicle will encounter as it is pulled out. Mud can create its own suction, making it difficult to

extract equipment. If the machine is really entrenched, you might have to dig out around the tires and remove the ridge of soil to break the suction and allow the wheels to be lifted up and over.

The tow zone. The size of the towing vehicle depends on the weight of what’s stuck and how deep it is buried.

"It takes bulk to move hulk," Whitford said. "It’s surprising how much force it takes to unstick stuff. A good rule of thumb is that the towing vehicle needs to be of equal weight to the stuck vehicle."

Position the towing vehicle on higher ground, if possible, and make sure that vehicle is positioned to have better traction, Whitford added.

The danger zone. "It’s safe to say that there is great potential for danger anywhere around an extraction site," Whitford said, citing the common mistakes people make when extracting equipment, such as standing too close to the vehicle or using towing devices that aren’t strong enough.

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FEATURED IN: Farm Journal - October 2013

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COMMENTS (1 Comments)

farmideas - WHITLAND
Hi Jen. You've given some really useful advice for the farmers out there. But there's more again which I would like to mention as I wrote a feature on it some years ago, having been with a guy whose business is recovering tractors and trailers from wet land in England using a wire cable winch. This kit is used by the military and has huge power, and massive spades which dig in to the solid ground.

His advice was as follows: You can damage the tractor/trailer or whatever you're pulling out by fixing the chain or wire to the part closest to the tow. Far better to attach it to the further part which means the pull is not trying to rip the trailer apart. He liked to pull at an angle of around 20 degrees, not a straight pull, as the wheels have the chance of riding onto some firmer land.

He's seen trailer chassis pulled out of true by incorrect rescue work, and that trailer will never work again. is the link to the issue - it's out of print but we have digital copies.
12:34 PM Oct 4th



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