Old Abe is Still Making Hay|
by Jeremy Sweeten
Things have changed a bit since my last article. I am now almost finished graduate school at Purdue University. I am still in Agronomy, but specializing in hay and forages. My wife has survived two years of marriage to a part-time farmer. The equipment line up has changed a bit too. The DC has retired to tractor pulling in southern Florida and the SC has been replaced with a Case 530 diesel. The 401 has also undergone a few mechanical and cosmetic changes as well. There is even a narrow front 401 for raking hay.
First off, when I sold the DC, I got a Case adjustable wide front end to add to the 401 as a partial trade to fit it. I wanted to replace the Schwartz front end because it was awful lightweight for a 6500-pound tractor. While I had the front end off, I also added power steering onto the 401 (for my wife). While I was doing the steering, I also pulled the front timing cover and replace all of the gaskets and the front main seal. Once that was completed, I decided to pull the oil pan and check the bottom end of the engine. The crankshaft and bearings were all in good shape. The only thing required was a new relief spring and adjustments to the oil pump. Now the 401 does not create an oil slick every time it is parked. All of that work was done in the spring of 2001. I used the 401 all year making four cuttings on 30 acres of hay. Plus, I used it to run two mower-conditioners for my Master's degree research project. The only problem I had was one hydraulic leak that just required tightening a hose. It is a pretty good performance record for a 1955 tractor to log over 150 hours in five months. I was sure happy with it.
This spring (2002) I decided to improve my 401 even more. Over the past couple of years I have been developing the idea of turbocharging the 401 with a M&W kit designed for an 830 Case. I was able to trade some parts for a used M&W exhaust manifold and turbocharger. First of all, the exhaust ports in an 830 heads are slightly larger than those of a 400. So, I had to make new ferrules to line up the exhaust manifold with the heads. For the oil feed I removed the pipe plug from the right side of the block, near the dipstick, and hooked into the oil galley with a 1/4" hydraulic line. For the oil return, I removed the oil pan and brazed in a ninety-degree elbow and made a return line to run from the turbo to the oil pan. I made a new flange to bolt the intake manifold and then used 2.5" exhaust tubing to go to the outlet side of the turbo. To go from the air cleaner to the compressor side of the turbocharger, I used pieces from an old exhaust system from a Cummins powered Dodge truck. It is stainless steel and mandrel bent and worked out very well. I also installed a M&W pyrometer to help keep an eye on the exhaust gas temperature. I am planning to turn the fuel up until I reach a maximum EGT of 1150 F. Aluminum pistons start to melt at 1300 F, so I want to leave myself some room for error. I also got a junk hood from Rusty Acre in Minnesota to cut up and fit around the turbo. Plans are to repaint the whole tractor next year. To top off the turbo setup, I put a 3.5" stainless steel straight pipe on. This summer the turbo survived and really helped the 401 out. I baled 36 acres of straw with it and a Hesston 4570 baler in a day and a half.
I plan to keep use the 400 on the farm. I doubt I will pull it with the turbo. I just wanted something a bit different. I did leave everything so I could return it to its original condition. I also decided to make on more modification to the 400. I got a Case 1030 hydraulic pump and have altered it to fit the 400. Externally it looks just like the 400's original pump, but it operates at a much higher pressure and has a higher flow rate. It sure helps with the smaller diameter, high pressure hydraulic cylinders that are on newer equipment. I had to use parts from the 400 and the 1030 pumps to make it all work. There was a bit of machine work involved, but it only cost me $15 to make the change. It was $8 for bearings and $7 for a new gasket.
As far as new implements go, I now have a Case 7' sickle-bar mower, a Case L grain drill (pictured above), and Case 3-14" BEH plow for the 400, and a Case 230 hay baler. The L grain drill hadn't been used in 15 years, but all it needed was oiled and greased. I air up the tires and seeded 20 acres with it. The sickle-bar mower and the baler need some help before they are field ready, but I hope to get them moving soon. I replaced the old sidewinder side delivery hay rake with a New Idea 404 5-wheel hay rake. It sure makes a difference on drying time and hay quality. Just recently, I bought a 401 Diesel with a narrow front for running a hay rake and tedder. It needs serviced and the seat fixed. It has 3200 actual hours on it. It seems to be a real good tractor. I also have a 33-foot long gooseneck to haul tractors and hay.
Next spring upon graduation, I am planning on starting my own consulting and custom harvesting business. I will also be selling alfalfa seed. I will be working with producers raising alfalfa for some of the large dairy farms in the area. I will be custom harvesting hay for neighbors and cash cropping horse hay. It should keep me busy, but I am really excited to try it. The old Cases will not be able to retire yet because I am depending on them to help out with the income.
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