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Anatomy of a Puller

So how do you build a Puller?

Well, not like this that's for certain...

Belgian Fendt

Belgian Fendt, again

Sascha Mecking tells me this was the result of a heavy landing. The Puller just broke in half. Just look where the steering wheel finished up... This occured at Itegem in Belgium on 1st September, 2013.

Italian Puller Blow-up

On the very same day this happened in Italy. The highlighted areas show the dust kicked up by the shrapnel hurled out by the failed clutch/flywheel which cut the Puller in two. No frame to support the back axle/gearbox/engine, etc., no shielding around the clutch... Click this link to view the video. Reports say 8 sectators, 3 of them children, were injured and the Puller has been impounded by the Police investigating the incident.

Click here for details of cast v steel flywheels.

Epic Fail!

This is the reason you now need to build or fit a sub-chassis! In case you're interested, here are a few more reasons why safety has to come first! Look at the first video. This is what happens when the flywheel fails... This video is a lot closer to home, being Graeme Simpson's 'Big Smoke' at Knockhill before being fitted with Tie Bars...

Sub Frame Assembly

Sub Frame Assembly

These two images show Stuart Mack's Puller clearly showing how the entire tractor sits on a sub-frame or sub chassis so in the event of a catastrophic component or casting failure the whole thing stays in one piece...


Giles Moston's 'G-Force' showing a alternative design for the sub-chassis. Note the big steel plate over the clutch/flywheel assembly to protect spectators and track staff if something happens to let go in a big way.

Well, if you are looking to build an 'Independent' Puller i.e. not running under BTPA or PPA rules, based on a 'traditional' agricultural tractor, you have a number of options. The most common version we call Type A.

Type A Puller

Fordson Diesel MajorYou start with a Fordson Major from any source you can think of (tucked away in the corner of a farm yard, rusting in a hedge or bramble-patch, from a agricultural machinery dealer, etc.).

You get the tractor home and start doing some major (sorry no pun intended) stripping down of the gearbox and back axle. Fortunately the Fordson Major and it's offspring the Super Major and Power Major have incredibly 'over engineered' gearboxes and back axles i.e. they can take far more power input than they were ever intended to take! When you've got the 'back-end' suitably renovated, the next step is to find a new engine.

Major DisasterYour next port of call is a commercial vehicle scrap yard or reclaimers to find yourself a Ford 'D' series or Ford Cargo truck engine. Thanks to Ford's desire to standardize, all the 'D' and 'Cargo' engines share the same bell-housing and spline-shaft as the Fordson Major family of tractors. Your best bet (if you can find one) is a Ford 380T Cargo engine (6.2-litre straight-6 turbo charged unit).

If the engine runs at more than 2,700 rpm replace the original cast flywheel with a steel one to prevent the flywheel shattering at high revs. Click here for details of cast v steel flywheels.

The Chassis side-rails will need to be extended to accommodate the longer engine and provide support for the entire engine and back-end (you do know someone who is good with a welding torch don't you?).

Once you have mated the engine, transmission and sub-chassis together you can either fit a Shatter Blanket (Transmission Blanket) or 10mm steel shielding around the clutch/flywheel assembly. Even if you are running a steel flywheel, a catastrophic clutch failure will still cause the bellhousing to go off like a fragmentation grenade... You have been warned!

Unless you know someone wh really understands them the original Simms injector pump should be replaced with a Bosch unit (if you can find one that fits and you can afford it). You then need to find someone who knows all about injection systems and can (fully) open up the injector pump. If you can find a nice big Holset turbocharger, so much the better. This should be shielded to protect others from flying debris when the Turbo self-destructs (which at some point in time it almost certainly will).

Replace the original exhaust with a nice chromed or stainless straight pipe pointing vertically, firmly fixed to the manifold and with four long bolts set at 45° to each other (to stop the turbo impeller from shooting out of the pipe when the turbo blows, because I can assure you, it will!).

Water injection helps increase air density and prevent the pistons from melting but this is a rather specialized field. You need someone who really knows what they are doing! The guys at Aquamist seem to know what they're doing so if you're thinking of going down this route, have a look at their web site. The other alternative is to go to either a charge cooler or intercooler but this is once again a specialised field.

Apart from a coat of paint, a roll-cage or roll-bar are essential, as is a pair of wheelie bars (or 'chicken-bars') to stop the Puller from trying to flip on it's back if the torquing gets to much (the nasty habit Pullers have or rearing up the front wheels into the air if they can't move forward but the rear wheels are still gripping). If you're not too confident fabricating the Sledge hitch, then find someone who is. Have a look at the Specialised Links page...

You need to fit (at the very least) a lap-belt and preferably a full harness to make sure you are held firmly in your seat if something goes pear-shaped. A good racing-style seat is also a great investment as it will give you some degree of neck support and combined with a full harness makes sure you stay put!

Assuming the Puller is a diesel you will need to fit a kill-flap fitted with a cable that terminates at the back of the tractor. This allows the Sledge Operator to stop you engine if something goes wrong on the track. Please don't forget the engine shields to keep the bits of a blown engine under the bonnet and not flying across the track.

Last but by no means least is at least a quarter of a tonne of ballast weight in front of the rear wheels and right at the front of the Puller. This helps keep the front wheels on the ground, after all you do want to be able to steer, don't you (unless your name is Martin Eady of course). Please don't tell me that's what the independent rear wheel brakes are for. I know that but it does require a high level of co-ordination and a lot of practice...

♣ Note: Probably the most useful source of advice and information I can suggest is the UKTP Board, particularly the 'Workshop' and 'Ask the Experts' forums. These Pullers are the people who know and are only too happy to pass on their advice an knowledge. You have to register (using your real Christian and Surname) before you can post a question... You should also have a look at the Specialised Links page which will give you some pointers on where to buy things.

There are two other pages you may find useful: -

To summarise the safety features you need: -

Remember Murphy's Law; if it can go wrong sooner or later it will go wrong. Think safe and be safe!

Have a look at the Peak Vale Tractor Pulling Club rules which is a great starting point...

The Type B Puller will be documented when someone can let me have some pictures of a build, anyone? I live in hope that Steve Knight will let me have some pictures and info on the 'Old Holland'...