On right track for trailers
ONE of the more innovative exhibits at this years Smithfield show was to be found on the Richard Larrington stand – a track unit which can be fitted to a trailer as a direct replacement for its existing tandem wheel assembly.
Designed and constructed as a complete assembly, the track unit comprises a strong rubber inner belt section to which U-shaped metal slats are bolted across its width. Within the well of these slats are rubber cleats which not only provide the primary grip but also allow the tracks to be operated on the road.
"The reduction in ground pressure provided by tracks, and the advantage they can offer when operating on wet land is pretty obvious," explains Richard Larrington. "What is new about our system is that the tracks can be fitted to the trailer when having to operate in tough conditions, and then replaced with conventional wheel assemblies when required.
Fitting the tracks once the trailer wheels have been removed is a simple matter of bolting the wheel hubs to the track unit.
Clearly, the space between the front and rear hubs is critical – Mr Larrington claims that his existing model will fit any trailers equipped with commercial suspension, for which there is a standard distance. "Future builds could include hub attachments that can be moved laterally to accommodate different measurements," he says.
Mr Larrington also believes his track units could be fitted to potato harvesters. With the addition of hydraulic motors, that could result in a self-propelled unit.
"The tracks can be driven from either of the two hub connection points by friction on to the inside of the track belt. It would be a fairly simple job to add a hydraulic motor to provide tractive power."
Included in the design are moulded cleats which prevent the tracks being lost when sharp turns are made and, unlike many track systems which have rollers running on their outer edges, the Larrington tracks have central rollers. This, claims Mr Larrington, prevents soil and stones becoming trapped between the belt and its friction drive.
Still in its prototype format, Mr Larrington is confident his tracks-on/tracks-off format will find favour with root crop growers who frequently find themselves struggling with difficult ground conditions.
Prices start at £12,500 for a pair of tracks having a 354mm (14in) width, with versions up to 700mm (27.5in) wide being available.