Amphibious C Series takes to the water18.02.2005
A specially equipped Valtra C150 cuts through the waves on a lake with a trailer in tow.
Amphibious Valtra C Series tractor and a boat on a lake.
From afar the tractor and trailer combination look totally normal. What makes it seem all so surreal is that a motorboat is keeping up alongside, meaning that the water there has to be pretty deep.
The guys at product development company Pekeija Ltd in Finland have years of experience of tractor work in peat bogs. Tractors are used to gather up the peat, which when dried can be used as fuel for power stations. A cultivated peat bog can easily carry a tractor equipped with dual wheels, but working on new bogs is a wet business. The bogs can be so wet that they cannot even carry the weight of a person. Nevertheless, drainage ditches have to be dug and the odd tree removed.
Pulling out a tractor that has sunk into a field or bog is not fun. The guys at Pekeija know this, so they decided to build a tractor that would, quite simply, be unsinkable.
“No one believed at first that a tractor could be driven on water, but we have proven it possible. We have already driven 60 hours of testing and demonstrations on waters with our specially built Valtra C Series. By the summer we hope to have a floating T Series as well,” says Eija Hiltunen, Managing Director of Pekeija Oy.
What is most remarkable about Pekeija’s floating Valtra is that the amphibious equipment does not affect the use of the tractor on dry land whatsoever. The pontoons that keep the tractor afloat are hidden in the rims of the dual wheels and between the chassis and tyres. In addition, all the air intakes, oil cooling ducts and other holes have been raised up. The electrical equipment has been fully insulated, as has the cab and other areas sensitive to water. Work safety regulations require that the cab be fitted with an escape hatch in the roof. In addition to standard road equipment, the floating tractor is also equipped with various maritime specifications, including a red light on the port side and a green light on the starboard side.
“The tractor is stable in the water. A big man could jump up and down on one of the double tyres, and it still would not rock the tractor,” claims Hiltunen.
The dimensions and ground clearance of the tractor remain standard despite the extra equipment. In the water, the tractor travels forward using either its tyres, which act like the paddles of a riverboat, or a special outboard propeller. This is attached to the front of the tractor and is powered by a hydraulic motor. It is controlled from the cab using a joystick. On dry land the propeller can be lifted upwards. The floating tractor is faster through the water with the propeller – and easier to drive – than with just the tyres alone.
“The Valtra C Series is the perfect base for floating tractors. It has an ideal weight distribution and quality components that are well situated. A tractor’s weight distribution and balance are very different in the water than on dry land, where it sits on four wheels,” Hiltunen explains.
Pekeija’s amazing floating tractor has already been featured in several international tractor magazines, which has aroused interest the world over. For example, the company has been contacted by a Canadian entrepreneur who harvests cloudberries and cranberries on bogs, by Nordic peat moss farmers, and by contractors who clear power lines. Many commentators have suggested military applications. Other potential users who have shown a lot of interest include contractors who drive on the ice in winter to clear roads for other vehicles; the floating tractor is an obvious safety factor should the ice break. Floating tractors would also be ideal for rescue work in flooded areas. Perhaps the biggest potential customer segment consists of farmers who cultivate land on islands – and there are many of these in the world!
“One of our floating tractors has been ordered by a contractor who clears the overgrowth of grass and sediment on the bottom of lakes and waterways. A special cutting implement will be attached to the tractor, along with a trailer and dredger. Suction dredging is also possible with the floating tractor. The sediment could then be transported to dry land on the trailer.”
Biodegradable and environmentally friendly fluids and oils are used in the tractor and implements, just in case any should leak into the water. The floating tractor can otherwise use implements normally, both in and out of the water. The PTO offers 150 horsepower, and the hydraulics produce 91 litres per minute – the same as on dry land.
“Our floating tractor has been patented and fulfils all EU requirements for vehicles and vessels. When people see the tractor floating on a lake, they are at first amazed and then amused. This is not a toy, however, but rather a versatile and powerful machine for work,” Hiltunen concludes.
Amphibious Valtra C Series tractor is ideal for working on a wet, new peat bog.