Do it Your­self— a first-timer's guide to build­ing a flat­pack trac­tor

He­len Noble finds out how

BBC Wildlife Magazine - - THE DIRECTORY -

One Mon­day morn­ing the Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor of Siromer trac­tors walks into the of­fice with a smile and hands me a pair of red over­alls. Louise Howard de­clares that it is time that I built my first trac­tor. I am more prac­tised in han­dling the busy stream of phone calls than build­ing a corn pact trac­tor, but I ac­cepted the chal­lenge. The trac­tor in ques­tion is a 254, 25hp 3 cylin­der trac­tor. I was en­cour­aged by the fact that no one has ever not been able to build a Siromer flat­pack trac­tor. I have been on the re­ceiv­ing end of manyvic­to­ri­ous phone calls from Siromer cus­tomers who have com­pleted the task and are keen to let us know about their ex­pe­ri­ence and their com­ple­tion time. Farmer Fred Shar­man of Rep ps in Nor­folk cur­rently holds the record at an im­pres­sive 4 and a half hours. Know­ing the team of me­chan­ics that would be help­ing me also made the whole process feel more man­age­able, but I was amazed at how easy the build was. I have heard many times the sale line of 'You can see it, build it, re­pair it and ser­vice it' and it was great to see how ac­cu­rate this is. The es­ti­mated build time for a Siromer com­pact trac­tor isio hours and 10 steps, but with the prac­tised hands and knowl­edge of the me­chan­ics we knew it would be much quicker. A com­pre­hen­sive man­ual is sup­plied to all Siromer cus­tomers along with a ba­sic tool box. The chaps in the work­shop work fast as you'd imag­ine with all the ex­pe­ri­ence they have, but slowed down to ex­plain the parts and the pro­cesses they fly through or­di­nar­ily. They reg­u­larly build the crated trac­tors for the cus­tomers that would rather the trac­tor be built in our work­shops and de­liv­ered ready to use. The first­step was to un­pack the crate and lay out the 3o dif­fer­ent com­po­nents in­clud­ing the main skid, ex­haust, wheels, bat­tery, roll bar. With it all laid out It was hard to imag­ine that in a few hours this would be a shiny new trac­tor that I could drive out of the work­shop. The main skid was lifted out of the crate us­ing a fork­lift but trol­ley jacks and axle stands can han­dle this task. It is worth re­mem­ber­ing that the trac­tors have al­ready been as­sem­bled once in the fac­tory north of Shang­hai, run, tested and then dis­as­sem­bled and crated for ship­ment to Siromer HQ, Once the wheels have been bolted on the rolling chas­sis is low­ered down to the floor, it is al­ready start­ing to look like the trac­tors I know. We then got to work with the body work, the rear mud guards, the roll bar, the bon­net and en­gine cowl­ing are all then fit­ted. I can see how log­i­cal the as­sem­bly is, each part fit­ted seems to lead to the next and although the guys on the team have had lots of prac­tise I can see how, with the help of the con­struc­tion man­ual and an ex­tra pair of hands a novice like my­self can put this to­gether. With the trac­tor re­ally tak­ing shape now it was time for a break where I saw that Siromer trac­tors are built on fuel made from bacon sand­wiches and cups of tea! The electrics are tack­led after a short break, at­tach­ing the rear lights and then the 8 elec­tri­cal ca­bles, the me­chan­ics showed me the di­a­grams of these and again, a log­i­cal vis­ual is given to help with the process. The three-point link­age is the last of the main con­struc­tion el­e­ments. This is the point when I will get an oc­ca­sional call in the of­fice from a cus­tomer mid build. They are al­ways able to speak with a me­chanic and talk through any queries. The trac­tor is now ready to be greased. Lu­bri­cants and coolants are added, and the diesel tank is filled up. The me­chan­ics then tighten every nut and bolt, es­pe­cially the ones I had fit­ted! Once the bat­tery is con­nected and the injection pump primed the me­chan­ics gra­ciously gave me the keys for the first start up. Such a sense of achieve­ment hear­ing the trac­tor that be­gan life in a crate roar into ac­tion! After all the pre-de­liv­ery in­spec­tion checks were car­ried out and the pa­per­work com­pleted for me to take back to the of­fice I was able to drive the trac­tor out of the work­shop. I can see why so many peo­ple choose to build their own trac­tor, it gives you such a great work­ing knowl­edge of the ma­chine and this is surely why Siromer have made it com­pany pol­icy for all staff mem­bers to get the chance to com­plete a build. But also, the task of con­struc­tion and the achieve­ment of putting a trac­tor to work that you built your­self is in­cred­i­bly en­joy­able. The chal­lenge to con­struct this durable and ver­sa­tile trac­tor is there for you if you wish, but our com­pe­tent me­chan­ics are on hand if you would rather re­ceive the trac­tor fully built, of­fer­ing the best of both worlds.

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