FARGO, N.D. — The benefits of installing rubber tracks on combines are well known. However, the big knock on aftermarket tracks is that they screw up your gearing and limit your road speed.
On many farms, the upside of rubber tracks in the field trounced the downside of reduced transit speed on the roads. Farmers just accepted that it takes longer to travel between fields with aftermarket tracks. But they don’t have to like it.
“Farmers with tracks have been quite vocal about wanting to get back to the original speed they had with tires. They were losing a lot of time moving from field to field,” said Mark Nowacki of Northern Plains Track, the Camso dealer for northern Minnesota. Camso, one of the biggest names in OEM and aftermarket tracks, had to resolve the issue or risk losing sales.
“Camso came up with these new tracks that have an integrated final drive gearbox built into the frame. It’s called the CTS High Speed and it’s a basic planetary system that lets (you) drive down the road at speeds up to 23 m.p.h.
“Installation is pretty simple. You remove the existing final drive from your combine. You don’t need that because you get an all new final drive with the system. You need to install a 400-millimetre axle extension and that’s all. No machining or welding or modification. You can put your tires back on at trade-in time. The equipment you have for changing tires will do the same job on tracks.”
Nowacki explains that there’s a nitrogen charged accumulator that applies hydraulic pressure to the tensioning system, thus providing optimum tension for the sprockets and lugs. Double oscillating bogie wheel keep the tracks in contact with the ground to help keep the header stable. The wheels run in an oil bath, so there’s no greasing or re-packing bearings.
The CTS tracks are 36 inches wide, offering a 70 percent reduction in ground pressure compared to tires. The flat plate area for a pair is 5,936 sq. inches. They are available only for John Deere combines, but Camso has been testing the kits on Case combines this fall and they are expected to be available next year. Nowacki concedes that tracks on a combine at 23 m.p.h. make for a squirrely ride.
“A lot of guys do it. Tracks on a combine are just like tracks on a tractor. Speed creates heat, on a paved surface or on gravel. It shortens their life span and it’s dangerous.”
The tracks carry a price tag of US$90,000.