While tractors and machinery increasingly rely on high-tech electronics, GPS guidance from space satellites and robotics, there is still a need for the do-it-yourself approach that uses workshop skills to develop problem-solving equipment.
The annual shop window for some of the latest ideas from farm workshops in the eastern counties is the Inventive Farmer Competition at the Suffolk Show, Ipswich. Most of the entries are made from recycled bits and pieces, but a few of the award winners from previous years have attracted the interest of manufacturers and have become production machines.
This year’s winning entry in the ‘Gadgets’ section of the competition was a portable lifting platform that Michael Beckett made for removing and replacing the engine on the Fordson Dexta tractor he uses at Claydon, Ipswich.
He mounted the platform on a small, hand-operated pallet truck to take the weight of the engine and allow precise positioning, and the platform can also be tilted to simplify the removal and replacement process.
Mr Beckett, who has produced winning entries in previous Suffolk Show inventions competitions, made the lifting unit last year when he needed to replace the engine in his Dexta. As well as making the job easier, using the home-made platform also improved safety, reducing the risk of a mishap causing injury or damaging the engine.
The runner-up in the ‘Gadgets’ category came from the workshop on Chris Templeman’s Red House Farm at Witnesham, Ipswich. He recycled some scrap metal to make a special stand to hold the clamps for his Stocks dual wheels. Previously the clamps were stored in a heap, but using the stand keeps them tidy and also reduces damage risks.
James Shipp’s ‘New Equipment’ award winner is a simple self-cleaning modification to remove waste grain from the wheels on the Richard Western trailer he uses on his farm at Henly, Suffolk.
Each time the trailer is unloaded, grain builds up on the inner surface of the four wheel rims, and this falls off on the return journey to the field.
Mr Shipp solved the problem by welding two small metal strips on the surface of each wheel rim where the grain collects, and these shed all the grain on the floor of the storage building as soon as the trailer starts to move.
The top award in this year’s ‘Modifications’ category went to a special drawbar made by Robert Foster at his Red Barn Farm, at Badingham, Woodbridge. The drawbar is designed for use on his car trailer, increasing its versatility by allowing it to be pulled by an ATV or compact tractor.