Articulated Action

March 9, 2013 01:47 PM
Articulated Action

Harvester prototype can capture 1-mile’s worth of corn

When the conditions are ripe for harvest, there’s no time to stop. Tackling 1-mile stretches with a 12-row header, the articulated Tribine designed by Indiana farmer Ben Dillon couples a commercially available combine with a 1,000-bu. custom-made grain tank to keep harvest moving.

Powered by a 375-hp to 400-hp engine, the Tribine is a Class 7 combine in terms of threshing. It weighs about the same as a conventional Class 8 combine but at 35' is a few feet shorter than traditional machines.

Its articulated design features a pivoting rear axle that allows for shorter turns and crab steering. That means the front module can continue moving forward in a straight line while the grain cart shifts closer to the semi, extending the reach of the auger.

Two minutes flat. The 22" rear-mounted unloading auger can empty the 1,000-bu. grain tank at 500 bu. per minute. The custom-built grain tank is manufactured by Crust Buster based in Kansas.

Dillon says the Tribine system requires less overall diesel fuel and labor because a tractor and grain cart aren’t necessary during harvest.

Bigger tires create less compaction and a symmetrical design leaves only two tracks

The articulated design also allows for bigger tires that create less compaction. The Tribine’s symmetrical design means there are only two tracks left in the field.

"The Tribine’s design addresses all of the major trends in worldwide agriculture—higher yields, bigger fields, a better understanding of compaction, higher machinery costs, higher labor costs, qualified labor harder to find and controlled traffic," Dillon says.

The Tribine was assembled at a shop Dillon rents in Mound Ridge, Kan. Limited testing at his farm in 2012 assessed the basic functionality of the machine. Changes, such as improving the direction in which the chaff spreaders throw, are needed. Testing will continue, including farmer input.

Dillon holds 28 patents on harvester technology, which he has been developing since 1997. The current Tribine prototype represents the fourth generation he has built.

His first prototype included attaching a grain cart to a standard combine, a model that was ineffective. Working with two family members—a son who is an electronic engineer and a son-in-law who is a mechanical engineer—he designed a grain cart that was powered and steered.

The third generation was a large machine on tracks that carried 1,000 bu. of grain. Dillon used it during harvest on his farm for four years.

Today, he cash rents his north-central Indiana farm and is focusing his efforts on the Tribine. His goal is to find a production partner with the facilities and resources to produce a machine like the Tribine. For now, the prototype isn’t far along enough to say when the Tribine will be commercially available or how much it will cost, Dillon says.

You can e-mail Nate Birt at

To watch a video interview with Tribine inventor Ben Dillon, who showcased the harvester at the 2013 Ag Connect Expo & Summit, visit

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