How to choose a walk-behind tractor

Often the walk-behind tractor is lovingly called a “foot tractor”. And not without reason, because the range of tasks solved with its help is extensive. How to make an informed choice and not make mistakes when buying? What is a walk-behind tractor capable of? We answer these questions in this guide.

First of all, the walk-behind tractor is aimed at work on soil cultivation: weeding, cultivation, hilling, plowing, planting potatoes and harvesting, mowing grass, etc. But the functionality of the walk-behind tractor is not limited to this. It is used for transporting goods, removing garbage and snow, pumping out water.

It is important to understand that the walk-behind tractor itself is the basis for tillage, and the final functionality of the machine is determined by the availability and capabilities of attachments that are planned to be used during the operation of the unit. The functionality of the attachment is described in detail in this article .

Walk-behind tractor device
A walk-behind tractor is a unit, the heart of which is an internal combustion engine mounted on a frame. The torque from the engine shaft, through the transmission, is transmitted to the drive wheels and the power transmission device to the active attachment.

As a rule, the transmission consists of two units: a clutch and a gearbox, which in some models performs the functions of a gearbox.

Active attachments are driven by either a belt drive or connected to a power take-off shaft (PTO).

The controls of the walk-behind tractor are located on the steering wheel of the unit, which, in turn, can be adjustable in height and rotate 180 °, for the convenience of controlling the walk-behind tractor during work.

Characteristics of motoblocks
For ease of perception, all significant characteristics that, to one degree or another, determine the choice of a device, are grouped by functional belonging to a particular unit of the walk-behind tractor.

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Significant parameters of the power plant
Engine power is an important parameter that should be given special attention, since the performance of the unit and the range of tasks solved with its help depend on it.

In a simplified sense, the larger the area is supposed to be processed, the more power must be “laid down” in the walk-behind tractor.

To carry out work on processing a site with an area of ​​6-10 acres, a unit with a power plant with a capacity of 6-5 liters is quite enough. with.
For a plot with an area of ​​about 30 acres, an apparatus with a capacity of 8-9 liters will be required. with.
If it is planned to cultivate large land plots with an area of ​​several hectares, the power of the walk-behind tractor should be at least 10-15 liters. with.
It is important to understand that operating a walk-behind tractor on the verge of its capabilities is not the best solution, since it will lead to rapid engine wear.

It is advisable to always have 1-2 horsepower in stock.

An important external factor is the type of cultivated soil. Unplowed virgin land may be too tough for even the most powerful representatives of the motoblock family. For the normal processing of such land plots, initially it will be necessary to attract means of heavy mechanization for preliminary preparation of the soil for the capabilities of a foot tractor.

In the technical characteristics of some motoblocks, you can find an indication of the engine power in kW. For a quick conversion to the usual horsepower, you need to multiply the specified power value by a factor of 1.3596.

1kW = 1.3596 HP with.

Engine’s type. Motoblocks are divided into gasoline and diesel models. Diesel units are more durable, have more tractive effort and enviable efficiency. Their element is the professional processing of large areas of land plots. The disadvantages include the difficult start-up in cold weather, the large weight of the power plant, its complexity and the insufficient number of specialists who can professionally service it.

The vast majority of motoblocks for household needs are equipped with a gasoline four-stroke internal combustion engine. Such units are cheaper, less noisy, fairly easy to maintain, and provide easy starting even at subzero temperatures. Unlike their diesel “congeners”, they have less service life, efficiency and tractive effort.

Transmission parameters
Number of gears. A kind of standard that ensures comfortable work with a walk-behind tractor is the presence of at least two gears for moving forward, one for moving in reverse.

Recently, many manufacturers deviate from this postulate and equip their walk-behind tractors with gearboxes with a large number of shift steps, which gives the user the opportunity to more flexibly control the speed and traction on the driving axle of the walk-behind tractor. On sale you can find models with eight steps for moving forward and four for moving in reverse.

Reducer type. Through the gearbox, the torque is transmitted from the engine shaft to the drive axle and the active attachment of the walk-behind tractor. There are several types of gearbox designs:

Chain. The torque is transmitted from the engine to the drive axle by means of a chain drive. This is a cheap and fairly reliable way to implement a reducer. Its advantages include simplicity and relative reliability of the design. The disadvantages are the intolerance of excessive loads. When a high load is applied to the chain, it usually stretches and can break. In addition, in this type of gearbox, only one gear can be implemented for forward and backward movement.

Worm. The easiest and cheapest way to transfer the moment. Since there is nothing more in the system except the worm shaft and the gear driven by it, such a gearbox has a fairly high efficiency (98%). However, the resource of the unit is very limited and strongly depends on the operating conditions and the efforts applied to it. There is no gear change. The rotation speed of the wheels directly depends on the engine speed.

The gear-chain reducer has high reliability and service life. The moment from the main gear, as in the case of a chain gear, is transmitted to the drive axle by a chain, but the change in the gear ratio occurs by engaging certain pairs of gears. It is in this type of gearbox that the gear shifting mechanism is most easily implemented. The weak point is still the same – the chain drive as part of the gearbox.

Gear reducer. The most expensive and most reliable way of delivering torque to the drive axle. Possesses high reliability and resource. At the same time, this is the noisiest decision.

If you plan to use a walk-behind tractor in conjunction with active attachments, the best choice would be a model equipped with a gear-chain or gear reducer.

Clutch type. The clutch unit is an important element of the transmission of any walk-behind tractor. Its task is to transfer torque from the engine shaft to the primary shaft of the gearbox (gearbox). Moreover, not just a transmission, but the timely closing and opening of the mechanical connection between the motor and the gearbox at the user’s command. There are several types of clutch:

Most often, in the design of a walk-behind tractor, you can find either a belt or a disc type of clutch. The belt clutch is simple and straightforward. The motor shaft and the input shaft of the box are interconnected by a conventional groove or poly V-belt.

When the clutch lever is depressed, the belt is not tensioned and simply slips over the engine shaft pulley. When the lever is released, the belt tensioning mechanism is activated and rotation is transmitted to the gearbox shaft. Already from the description of the work, the weak points of this design are visible:

low efficiency, since a lot of rotational energy is spent on friction;
the impossibility of transmitting large torque, the belt will slip, heat up and ultimately simply break. For this reason, the belt clutch is not used in conjunction with a powerful power plant.
However, the belt clutch itself is very simple and incredibly maintainable. You only need to have a spare belt, and repairs can be carried out in the field. Buying spare parts will not “hit” your pocket either.

The situation is somewhat different with disc types of clutches. Their principle of operation is based on the ability to control friction forces. The driven disc is pressed against the driving disc with great force, as a result of which a strong mechanical connection is formed to transmit the torque. In multi-disc variations, there are several such pairs, and in the friction type, the clutch disc is pressed against the flywheel attached to the engine shaft.

The disc-type clutch is extremely reliable and, if used correctly, does not cause much trouble for the operator. The disadvantages include the high cost of construction and the inability to carry out repairs in the field.

Attachment parameters
The ability to install attachments. The full potential of the walk-behind tractor is revealed when using attachments, therefore, when choosing a foot tractor, it will be useful to study the possibilities of a potential candidate for the role of an irreplaceable assistant for compatibility with various types of attachments.

With regard to attachments such as a plow, potato digger, tiller, snow plow, etc., here you need to pay attention to the fastening system. It must be compatible with the mount of the walk-behind tractor.

As a rule, manufacturers indicate compatible accessories.

Transfer of power to active attachments. As for active attachments, it is important to understand the principle of transferring rotation to attachments for a particular walk-behind tractor model. It can be realized by means of a power take-off shaft (PTO) or by means of a belt drive.

In the first case, it is a special flange located on the gearbox of the unit for connecting active attachments.

In the second, a pulley is attached to the shaft and connected to the attachment by a belt.

In both cases, it is necessary to check the compatibility of the attachment with a specific model of the walk-behind tractor.

Parameters affecting the quality of soil cultivation
First of all, walk-behind tractors are purchased for plowing and cultivating the land, therefore, due attention should be paid to this group of parameters.

Cultivation width. This parameter characterizes the width of the processed strip of land in one pass with the walk-behind tractor. When choosing a machine, one should sensibly evaluate the configuration of the personal plot and, based on it, choose a suitable value for the cultivation width. Otherwise, you can get a situation that there is a walk-behind tractor on the farm, and you have to dig the earth with a shovel, since the foot tractor does not pass in width between buildings, trees, bushes and other obstacles.

The required engine power can be indirectly estimated from the cultivation width. It is believed that for processing a surface 20 cm wide, it takes about one horsepower of the power unit.

Depth of processing. It characterizes the level of burial penetration into the ground. The value of this parameter is dictated by the diameter of the cutters installed on the walk-behind tractor, and, as a rule, is equal to its half value.

Other parameters of the walk-behind tractor
Wheel diameter. Not all units are equipped with wheels, but with them the walk-behind tractor has great functionality and in its capabilities comes close to a mini-tractor. The larger the diameter of the wheels, the easier it is for the unit to overcome obstacles and the “softer” its stroke.

Track width. It characterizes the distance between the wheel hubs. The larger this parameter, the more stable the walk-behind tractor.

The weight. The higher the weight of the device, the better its adhesion to the surface, and, consequently, the easier it is to work the soil. For motoblocks weighing more than 100 kg, it is highly desirable to have a differential in the transmission. With it, turning and turning the foot tractor is much easier.

When choosing a walk-behind tractor, it is important to pay attention to the balance of masses relative to the wheel axle. Controlling a poorly balanced machine will require additional physical effort.

Travel speed. For cultivating the soil and performing most operations on foot, a speed of 3-4 km / h will be sufficient. If you plan to equip a walk-behind tractor with a trailer for transporting goods, you should take a closer look at models that develop a speed of 10-12 km / h.

Electric start. An additional option that automates the start of the power unit. It is especially useful for heavy motoblocks equipped with a powerful diesel engine. To start a gasoline engine in units of low and medium power, a manual mechanism is quite enough.

Options for choosing a walk-behind tractor
The choice of a walk-behind tractor must be approached responsibly, clearly outlining the conditions and scenarios for its operation, the range of tasks assigned to the unit. For example, for small household farms, walk- behind tractors with a capacity of 5–7 liters are best suited . with. equipped with a belt clutch and a chain-type gearbox.

For medium-sized areas (20-30 acres) – gasoline motoblocks with a capacity of 8-9 liters. with. with a disc or belt clutch and a gear-chain reducer. If the unit is supposed to be used not only for work in the field, but also for performing other tasks, it is imperative to connect active attachments.

In a small farm, the presence of a professional series walk-behind tractor with a high-power engine , a gearbox with several shifting stages and a multi-plate clutch is most appropriate .

For work in difficult conditions with a large load, the choice of a machine with a diesel engine and the ability to automatically start will be optimal .