During the 2015 spring semester, University of Wisconsin-River Falls students Garret Pearson and Miles Erickson were presented with the task of designing a removable set of axles that when added would convert a single-axle small square baler into a tandem axle. The assembly was designed to be mounted onto a John Deere 338 or 348 model baler. The project was sponsored by former UWRF students Corey Williams and Brian Hogemark from Trout Creek Ranch in Cody, Wyoming, who needed the tandem axle to smoothly ride over the 3 inch irrigation channels in the hay fields. While this was an irregular request, the two Agricultural Engineering Technology students gathered the necessary specifications and measurements.
Garret and Miles used the Engineering Design Process to design the tandem axle assembly as well as computer-aided design (CAD) drawings of all of the assembly components. By using CAD drawings, they could get the exact dimensions of the assembly and exact measurements for the prototype.
Once the drawings were created and the design was approved, the two students applied those plans to engineer a prototype of the assembly. As with any project, minor adjustments were made throughout the production process of the axle. One of the more challenging aspects of the project was designing the bearings on the pivot points of the axle so that they would stay properly lubricated. The team worked with other members of the Agricultural Engineering Technology department to fine tune the pivot point, since keeping the pivots lubricated was essential.
The tandem axle assembly was mounted onto a John Deere 338 model for testing at UWRF and then onto a model 348 at the ranch in Wyoming. The resulting modified assembly was used during the 2015 haying season and performed very well throughout the summer.