Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Grain Drill

You may recall that on November 8th I promised I'd tell you more about the Grain Drill that Pete showed me. True to my word, here is what I learned about Pete's John Deere FB-B grain drill.

The grain drill is the green, rusty, John Deere device to the right of Pete. He's telling me about how he purchased it at an auction Upstate, made a thankfully uneventful journey to retrieve it, and then waited until Ian diligently refurbished it. Now he's ready to start using it.

Actually, I'm glossing over quite a bit of details! I can't repeat all of them here but suffice it to say that Pete carefully chose an especially quiet travel day to put this monster-large piece of equipment in the back of a pickup truck. It was so large that he and Ian had to build an extension to the bed of the pickup truck so it would be supported and not simply flop out of the back of the bed. The tongue was laying over the side of the pickup...and it was stuck out a bit more than one would prefer!

Pete maneuvered the loaded pickup truck onto I-87 and made it back to the famous Exit 18. Apparently, the toll booth operator was left speechless after seeing what was in the truck bed. Pete paid his toll as rapidly as possible and stepped on the gas! He tells this story better than me; you will have to talk to him to get the complete details.

Looking from the tractor side. You can see many moving mechanical parts.
Once back at the farm the drill waited for Ian to put his hand to refurbishing it. You see, it takes about 3 passes with the tractor over the same piece of land to do what the grain drill can do in 1 pass. A huge time saver! And using the grain drill probably makes Ian's backside feel much better since he would only have to sit in the tractor seat for 1/3 of the time. So, Ian was motivated to get it working just right.

Let me attempt to explain how the drill works:

You'll add seed to the seed hopper. There is also a smaller hopper that can hold fertilizer.
Looking at the seed hopper from the back side.

The seed hopper currently is holding rye seed. Pete will use it to prepare some fields with a winter cover crop.

The seeds will fall down from the hopper through these black flexi-tubes and into the metal shafts running behind the cutter blades. You can see the cutter blades at the bottom half of the photo below. They look rusty, but hey, this is a refurbished grain drill! The flexi-tubes are hooked into a little tunnel that is running right in front of the cutter. We're actually looking from the rear-direction, so when the grain drill is in motion, the cutters cut through the ground and make a row at the correct depth for the seed. Once the row is created, the seed drops down right behind the cutter.

In the photo below, you can see a close up of the seeds coming from the hopper, flowing into a green chute and then into the same black flexi-tubes from the photo above.

Here we see a view looking down on the cutters. We're viewing the cutters from the tractor side now.

After the cutter opens the ground and the seeds fall from the hopper through the green chute and the flexi-tube and into the furrow made by the cutter, the last step is to cover the seed. The seed is covered effectively by the chains that are being dragged by the device. I did not get a good photo...the chains are hand-made with various odds-and-ends weighing the end of the chain. The net effect is for the dirt to be gathered back over the seed.

The red hydraulic tube you may have noticed in the very first picture was something that Ian added. It gives extra power for pushing the cutters into the dirt. So, you hook this thing up to the tractor, load it with all your grain and/or fertilizer, then arrange yourself onto the field you want to sow. You use the hydraulic to push the cutters into the soil, then you start moving. The mechanics of the grain drill does the furrowing, sowing, and covering of the seed. A huge time savings!

Other Grain Drills on the Web

I tried very hard to find some information about this John Deere model FB-B grain drill. I was only able to find a few things:

I believe a similar, modern grain drill is the John Deere model BD11.
Another similar, modern grain drill is the John Deere model 8300.

A "large size" grain drill might look like this John Deere model 455.

If you're dying to buy a grain drill of your own, I found one on ebay.
If you're dying to buy a toy for the child in your life, or for your inner child, or your own adult collection, I found this one on ebay.
A little disclaimer: I do not endorse these ebay ads and have no association with the sellers. The links are meant only for education and entertainment. Thank you.

Well, that's what I learned about the grain drill with Pete 2 weeks ago. I wanted to get a video of the drill in action, but it was sprinkling rain and Pete wasn't ready to go to the field while I was there. So, I will have to wait another time to get some video. I hope you've enjoyed learning about this equipment as much as I did!

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