Ingenious invention: Header trailer turned into harvest rig

Hywel Phillips’ harvest trailer took third place in the complex category of the Farmers Weekly Inventions Competition 2020.

The centrepiece of Hywel Phillips’ final-year university project was a multi-purpose trailer built for Essex farm MJ & SC Collins, where he had previously worked during harvest.

He decided to do something about the tedious process of loading/unloading and strapping down two telehandler buckets, a grain pusher, man basket and a pair of weigh beams to lowloader trailers as the gang shifted between three different storage sites.

His all-in-one load carrier started life as a Claas header trailer, which the farm had lying around after an accident with the combine.

See also: Driver’s view: Nick Brown’s John Deere S790i combine

The biggest challenge was arranging the layout, taking into account the centre of gravity and effect of G-forces when cornering.

He decided to fit the heaviest item – the 5cu m bucket – above the trailer’s rear axle to reduce bounce.

After extensive CAD work, he settled on the rest of the layout (2cu m bucket, 6m grain pusher, Griffith Elder weigh beams plus small ramps and electrical bits) and sent the details to a laser-cutting and metal-folding firm in Coventry.

The pieces, made predominantly from 6mm plate, were cleverly designed to self-jig using tabs and slots to speed up the job of welding it together, which took about four days in the farm’s workshop.

One of the most useful parts of the design, says Mr Phillips, is the self-locating tapers that make it easy to load everything in the right place.

Buckets are pinned in position, which takes seconds, and the weigh beams and pusher are ratcheted down with cut-to-size straps. It also means each item can be accessed without moving others first.

The trailer is pulled by the farm’s Claas Scorpion loader, which also carries a lifting platform. Conveniently, the fully loaded weight doesn’t exceed that of the original header, so Mr Phillips decided not to add extra brakes.