Through the power of the Internet and social media, many farmers have heard about the “Tribine.” When I learned that the Tribine was located in Kansas, I jumped at the chance to see it in person.
Indiana farmer Bob Dillon brought the Tribine – a unique combine that has the threshing capacity of a Class VII combine and the grain-holding capacity of a 1,000 bushel grain cart – to Kansas to be close to two major partners: AGCO and Crustbuster/Speed King.
Dillon has spent the last 15 years working on what is now the Tribine. A former businessman who returned to the farm after retirement, he recalls sitting in a tractor during harvest, waiting for the combine to dump on the grain cart.
“This is terribly inefficient,” he said at the time; and he went to work building concept combines that featured additional storage capacity. “Conventional combine architecture is maxed out at 400 to 450 bushels,” says Dillon, who farms near Deer Creek, Indiana and brought the machine to Kansas for refinement. “Handling 15 billion bushels of corn produced in the United States alone is a tremendous logistics problem.”
The Rear Module
What makes the Tribine revolutionary is the rear half, called a “module,” designed by Dillon and built to his exacting specifications by Crustbuster/Speed King. The rear module features 1,000 bushels of grain storage capacity, with an unloading auger capable of filling a semi truck in two minutes. To accomplish that, “the rear module has some cool engineering,” says Rhein Herrman, an engineer with Crustbuster/Speed King.
The 22-inch diameter unloading auger, located at the machine’s rear, has 23-foot reach, allowing the Tribine to be equipped with a 12-row cornhead or 35-foot grain platform. The auger is designed in two pieces; the bottom auger is mounted at a less than 45-degree angle from horizontal, which improves grain flow speed. A sealed joint between the lower and upper augers prevents grain loss; meanwhile, the upper auger can pivot fore and aft, up and down to enable operators to fill an entire semi with a minimum of movements.
“We used a lot of engineering know-how on the auger system,” Herrman says.
Clean grain is transferred from the threshing module to the rear module via 12-inch auger. Inside the tank, the drag auger stretches from one corner of the cart to the other, whereas most grain carts use an auger fixed to the center. This improves unloading speed and capacity.
Chaff comes out of the front module, and is distributed via two hydraulic fans situated on the second module.
The front module of the Tribine is essentially a Gleaner model S77 combine, with the grain tank removed and replaced with the combine’s 370 horsepower engine. The only modification to the engine is the addition of three hydraulic pumps, used to power the machine’s all-wheel-drive, four-wheel steering cylinders and massive unloading auger.
Similar to an articulated four-wheel-drive tractor, the Tribine is articulated and can turn 30 degrees either side of center. In addition, the rear axle can either turn conventionally, or crab steer, enabling operators to fine-tune the machine’s movements. The rear module can get 3.5-feet closer to a truck or grain cart than the front module. The machine has an extremely sharp turning radius, and in the field, makes just two tracks, limiting compaction. Steering functions are controlled in the cab.
The Internet has been abuzz with farmers interested in seeing the Tribine in person. It will be on display at AgConnect Expo in Kansas City in a few weeks, and Dillon hopes to gain input from grain farmers. He had the machine working on his farm in December, harvesting corn he had saved from fall harvest. It performed as expected, he says.
“We’ve generated a lot of interest on the Internet and have been able to reach people all over the globe instantly,” Dillon says. “Conceptually, the Tribine is right on the money. We want to see the Tribine in the field with lots of farmers. And then, I need to find a production partner.”