College Students Build a Half-pint Harvester

October 26, 2011 11:50 PM
College Students Build a Half-pint Harvester

Upon completion of their internship with Case New Holland, Pittsburg State University (PSU) Pittsburg, Kan., David Deters and Brandon Thompson went back to school to finish their senior year with a little unfinished business. Their mentor Kelly Burgess, product quality manager for CNH, asked the two college seniors to take on a “mini” project when they returned to school.

Each year CNH provides a unique item to donate to the U.S. Custom Harvesters, Inc., and the Association of Canadian Custom Harvesters, Inc. annual conventions. Often, the item in some way utilizes a real CNH part, or is custom-built by CNH employees. This time, it was up to Deters and Thompson to build the prize.
Since one of the events would be held in the same town as Case IH’s Axial-Flow combine assembly plant, Burgess and CNH colleagues, Andy Dozler, Chris Larson, Jason Schuster, Cy Werda and Mike Wetzel, wanted to fabricate a ¼ scale combine as the auction entry. The little harvester was dubbed the “Mini-88” after his big brother the Case IH 7088.
The fabrication was let mostly to Deters and Thompson. With computer design files and a rolling chassis provided by CNH, the students went back to campus and began fabrication while attending spring classes.
The Mini-88 has a 2-wheel hydrostatic drive, with a 13 ½ hp gas engine. The feeder-house and header can be raised and lowered but due to safety concerns does not have a working cutterbar. The movable batreel functions manually, while the unloading auger extends and retracts by an electrical actuator. All of these functions are controlled by the propulsion handle, which is the same type used on full-sized harvesters, that is mounted on a console next to the operator seat.
“All in all we didn’t have a lot of fabrication problems,” Deters says. “However, it was definitely a challenge as many of the parts were one-of-a-kind.”
The students used low-carbon steel and a water-jet cutting process to create several of the pieces for the “Mini-88”, as well as both MIG and TIG welding processes. Several of the components were hand-fabricated.
“We were given a lot of freedom in our manufacturing,” Thompson says, “which is evident by the use of exhaust tubing and elbows, as the simulated unloading auger.
The unit’s detachable header and the “essential” header-trailer can be hitched behind the combine for transport. Working field lights, as well as factory painting and decals completed the machine.
“Most impressive were the student’s ability to work quickly under a tight deadline,” Burgess says. “We had actually been working on mini-combines since 2008, and the interns approached me, wanting to accelerate this project. They took it back to school with them and brought back a working machine. I was really impressed.”

Watch a video about the mini machine:



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