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A Puller is born
'Wandering Deere'

This Puller is the brainchild of one Dave Williams, sometime resident of Suffolk, creator of the original 'Westcountry Wanderer' and is, to put it mildly, a little different on several counts. Before looking at the tractor in detail I must point out that Dave was aided and abetted by the long-suffering Steve Bailey.

Tub grinding Detroit V8Firstly the tractor was built because there were very few JD's on the Independent Pulling circuit, secondly to look good, thirdly to be light enough for a 7.5-tonne truck and would you believe it all started with an engine. Oh, not just any old engine but a Detroit 8V71T (9.3-litre 2-stroke V8) which was originally removed from a Lowestoft fishing boat to be used in a Tub Grinder at Country Mulch and was then presented to Mr Williams. So, armed with a power plant Dave headed off to Nick Young Tractor Parts near Caistor in Lincolnshire to see what he could find. The plan was to hunt for parts which had no commercial value, either in this country or in Africa where many of Nick tractor finish up...

A trailer load of bits...Dave already knew 1970's vintage JD back ends were robust and since funds wouldn't stretch to a 40-series he settled on a 3130, along with a pair of wings (720 or 180), a 3040 bonnet, 2140 nose cone, the instrument panel from a JD which came back to this country from a Zambian Sugar Cane Plantation, etc., etc. I'm sure you are starting to get the picture. A Puller built from a widely mismatched collection of bits!

 

 

The Chassis RailsSo how to get this collection of bits to hang together? Answer, side rails but not just any old side rails. To provide the necessary strength whilst keeping the weight down to a minimum and in the process paying homage to the 6000 side rails (tapering down from the back to the front) Dave set to work with AutoCad! The frame rails were Plasma Cut by A N Fabrications working from the DXF files David supplied them.

Now there is one little matter I would like you to bear in mind while I continue to document the build; a V8 engine in two whole cylinders shorter than a straight-6 diesel...

The new cowlingThe cowling was one of the first items to be fabricated with the tin work being rubbed down and finished off to provide Dave and Steve with a solid reference and perspective point to work from to ensure everything would retain the correct proportions.

To keep the proportions of the tractor correct Dave briefly toyed with the idea of using a dummy Bellhousing coupled with a layshaft to lengthen the whole engine and drive train to fit the chassis but in the end decided to use the original Detroit Bellhousing which has a 14" twin-plate clutch. A 10 mm steel plate across the back of the bellhousing located everything firmly into place and kept the drive train in line (click here to see the image). For various reasons this part of the build wasn't completed until three weeks prior to Bakewell in 2011!

The relocated turbo.Before the power plant was fitted into the chassis the Steering was relocated to provide a better angle on the wheel. Fitting the engine into the chassis was easy, but getting the V8 to fit inside the JD tin work proved to be something of a challenge! Bits were poking out left, right and centre, some of which called for drastic measures to preserve the clean lines of the green tin...

The Detroit Oil Cooler had to be discarded because it fouled one of the side rails. The water pump (replaced with an electric version from a bus) and two thermostats went the same way because the got in the way of bits of tin work but by far the most drastic change was moving the turbo! The original location was on top of the engine (click here to see) but as this would have resulted in a rather serious 'power bulge' in the bonnet line which, in Mr. Williams eyes, was of course totally unacceptable!

NH Front AxleFortunately, the turbo relocation proved to be less problematic that originally anticipated and the build progressed quite quickly (in relative terms), minus the final assembly of the drive-train. One component which was conspicuous by its absence was the front axle and was eventually resolved by using the back axle from a HN 104 Clayson Combine Harvester which Neil Green just happened to have lying around (Dave did a swap with Neil, axle for a hydraulic top cover). As you can see in this photo, the axle is the wrong way round but not for long... All the tin work was thoroughly rubbed down in preparation for painting.

Rear hitch To assist with the steering a Land Rover V8 Steering Pump was fitted, belt driven off the crank. Unfortunately the original pump proved to be too small, resulting in very slow steering. Either there was not enough oil flow or too much back pressure. In actuality, this is the only rubber belt on the Puller as there is no alternator!

The rear hitch, part of which came from a L120 Loading Shovel is rather ingenious, in that it can be 'flipped-over' to give a 50mm spacing of hitch positions ensuring you can achieve a perfect balance, based on hitch height.

The Puller was now taken to pieces so all the components could be painted prior to final assembly. Whilst the whole machine was in bits, most of the contents of the gearbox considered to be superfluous to requirements was unceremoniously dumped onto the floor. Out went: -

After paintingWith the Puller re-assembled after painting, it was finally time to get all the pieces of the drive train linked together. I suspect Dave and Steve had been putting this moment off for a long as possible. Because of the difference between the original length of the engine/clutch/gearbox/back axle combination and the now much shorter version (remember the two missing cylinders?) somehow the gap needed to be filled!

The input shaft befoe assembly882mm of custom input shaft proved to be the answer! On one end is a Fuller 1¾" 10-spline shaft and on the other a 1¼" JD input shaft (from a 4-cylinder) which fits the gearbox. The gap between the two is filled by a 45mm bright bar. Jointing this assembly was interesting. The holes drilled in the bar were bored 0.1mm undersized, the metal heated so the components would assemble then the joint MIG welded as quickly as possible.

 

The back endWith this shaft complete, it took three attempts to align the Clutch on the shaft. The 14" clutch itself comprises of a ceramic cover plate and two non-sprung organic drive plates. Trevor Hanson at ACS in Yorkshire was extremely helpful in getting all the components required. The concentric slave cylinder for the clutch was eventually fixed to a box section welded to the 10mm plate.

 

 

The Puller was now assembled and it was finally time to test the drive train. It didn't work! Panic phone calls were made to Neil in Derbyshire who had a spare back end if needed. The Puller had to be split three times before they finally located the problem, a broken pin on the gear selector.

With this fixed and probably very much to their surprise, the transmission worked! 'Wandering Deere' ran and finally moved under it's own power! You have to admit, it looks damn good and Dave Williams and Steve Bailey should feel thoroughly proud of themselves. As you can see, the attention to detail, even down to the custom decals, is impressive. It had to look right, and by golly, it certainly does!

The Wandering Deere

 

Click here to seen the making of 'Major Aggro'...