Brothers Noel and Ger Hickey from Waterford displayed their clever hydraulic drive system and mounting assembly for slurry tankers at LAMMA.
The system does away with the need for a PTO shaft, but also has other advantages apart from safety.
Noel is an agricultural technician with Case IH dealer Kill Agri Ltd in Waterford and Ger has his own engineering business.
Combining their engineering and mechanical skills, the pair developed the SafeShaft drive system, which currently has a patent pending on its design. An oil-flow requirement of 40L per minute is needed for the new system, which means it can be powered by almost any tractor regardless of age or specification.
"New tankers do offer a hydraulic system, but it is recommended that the oil flow is at 80L per minute. Our system is more efficient as it allows the operator the option to also use macerators or trailing shoes at the same time," said Noel.
Results have yet to show if the new hydraulic system is more economical and fuel efficient, but it is definitely no worse than traditional systems, he said. To install the SafeShaft system, a 10mm thick baseplate is bolted between the existing vacuum pump and tanker chassis, which provides a mounting platform for the new hydraulic drive system and its components.
The key to the new system is the hydraulic motor, which provides the necessary rotational force required to replace the original mechanical PTO drive. Meanwhile, hydraulic plumbing and valve work is designed to provide soft-start and stop functions to protect the vacuum pump and gearbox.
The same system was also developed to protect the motor and vacuum pump from being driven in the wrong direction.
In order to install the new system, the mechanical PTO drive shaft has to be removed completely and one half of a special drive is fitted over the existing vacuum pump's PTO splines.
Meanwhile, the other half of the drive coupling is fixed to the hydraulic motor. Bolting the motor in place, both couplings interconnect and the new drive system is in place.
The mounting plate of the SafeShaft system also moves the vacuum pump and its new drive system rearwards, which provides clearance for the tractor's lift arms.
Due to the SafeShaft system being hydraulic based, the manoeuvrability of the tractor and tanker combination is also improved.
"Safety is the main aspect we are focusing on, but the system does have other benefits such as being able to fill at an angle or the ability to spread while turning" said Ger.