Test Plots Tap Truck Power

October 1, 2009 07:00 PM

A farm truck's job is never done. For the past two years, the Farm Journal Test Plot crew has used the Ultimate Farm Truck throughout the seasons of field work. Built on a Dodge Ram 4500 Chassis Cab, this truck was customized and upfitted to match the demands of many farm chores.

The inline-six turbocharged Cummins diesel engine provides 305 hp and is compatible with B5 biodiesel blends.

Designed for an easy upfit, the truck was matched with a customized all-aluminum flatbed with hinged sides. With the truck's 50,000 psi–rated steel frame and 16,000-lb. gross vehicle weight rating, the test plot crew could haul the inputs and tools they needed to get the next field planted.

"We loaded the truck with pallets of seed, row cleaners and starter attachments needed at the plots,” says Isaac Ferrie, who works in the test plot program. "The truck was powerful enough to have a full load on the bed and tow an ATV trailer or pull the starter nurse tank. The aluminum was resistant to corrosion, especially with chemicals.”

After harvest, the truck was helpful in transporting tillage tools between fields.

"Moving tillage tools with this truck worked out pretty nice,” Ferrie says. "It could handle tillage equipment on the road, and when you braked, the truck stayed steady and didn't get pushed around.”
The antilock four-wheel disk brakes made towing heavy equipment safe. Compared with moving the tillage equipment with a tractor, the truck saved the crew time.

"The best part of having the truck in the fall to move tillage equipment is that once you unload the equipment, you can drive 55 mph all the way back. It's faster than using a tractor both ways,” Ferrie says.

Heavy hauler. For unpredictable and unforeseen fixes, the truck houses many tools. "Something is bound to break,” Ferrie says. "It's nice to have tools right on the truck.”

Those tools include a Miller Electric Manufacturing Bobcat 250 welder/generator, a Hobart AirForce plasma cutter and a Ramsey Patriot Series front-mount winch.

The Bobcat 250 features an 11,000-watt generator and provides stick, MIG, flux-cored and AC/DC TIG welding capabilities. For added durability, the Bobcat 250 includes high-impact protective armor over the machine's front as well as the edges of the front panel. Pairing the welder/generator with a plasma cutter further enhanced the truck's utility. The AirForce 250ci can cut 1⁄8" mild steel and sever ¼" steel. The unit allows cutting with an arc up to 3⁄16" long to improve results when cutting freehand. The AirForce 250ci plasma cutter features a built-in air compressor and inverter power supply.

"We used both tools when putting up the tower at the office for our stationary weather station,” Ferrie says.

The front-mount winch came to the rescue at least once. A member of the test plot crew got his pickup jimmied in a ditch, and the Ultimate Farm Truck pulled it back onto the road. The winch has also been used to place heavy equipment onto transport trailers.

The utility of the truck is complemented by creature comforts. The crew appreciated the Sirius satellite radio for long days at the edge of the field and on the road.

You can e-mail Margy Fischer at mfischer@farmjournal.com.

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