Student Jamie's scaled down John Deere is a small wonder
In their final year of studying at the University of Limerick to become metalwork and tech graphics teachers, students are asked to complete a project that will demonstrate the skills and knowledge they have acquired during the course.
Young Waterford student Jamie Casey – by his own admission a sufferer of "heavy metal disease" – set out to achieve this through the design and construction of a fully automated scale model John Deere 7930 tractor, complete with a 530 John Deere trailed silage mower.
The tractor had to be fully autonomous, so the challenge for Jamie was to ensure it was driven by its own sensors and relayed information to a programmable microchip, which in turn controlled the tractor and mower.
The tractor was built in the scale of 1:16, a scale which is popular among collectors who traditionally add to their sets at this time of year.
"The model was designed to be built within a metalwork classroom, so I machined all the parts using a manual milling machine, a lathe, a pillar drill and a welder," explained Jamie.
"First, I made the chassis which would carry the drive motor, the differential, the rear half-shaft bearing housings, the pivoting front axle and the weight block.
"The drive system consists of a geared down DC motor coupled to a differential that I ripped out from a remote control car. The differential is feeding out to the two rear half-shafts, which are mounted in their own bearings. The wheels were then mounted directly onto the half-shafts."
According to Jamie, the front axle was one of the most difficult parts of the build. It consisted of an axle with a steerable hub at either side.