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   from the issue of September 6, 2007

Tractor test laboratory finishes track upgrade


The University of Nebraska Tractor Test Laboratory's test track has received a face lift.

NEW OVAL - The new Tractor Test Laboratory test track is wider and thicker, allowing the East Campus facility to more...
NEW OVAL - The new Tractor Test Laboratory test track is wider and thicker, allowing the East Campus facility to more effectively test larger, heavier tractors. Photo by Brett Hampton/IANR News Service.

The lab's new track is 22 feet wide and 9 inches thick - 7 feet wider and 2 inches thicker than the old track. It allows for today's larger and heavier tractors, said Roger Hoy, director of the Nebraska Tractor Test Laboratory.

"About a quarter of an inch of concrete had worn off," said Dave Morgan, assistant director of the tractor test laboratory. "Large tractors with triple tires are as wide as the old track."

The new track was poured in one day.

HWS, a Lincoln engineering firm, designed the new track. HWS also designed the first test track in 1956, Morgan said. Lincoln's TCW Construction is the general contractor.

"The new track should last another 50 years," Hoy said. "The new track is also flat which aids in collecting data for test reports."

The old track had banked ends because tractors in 1956 tractors used leaded gasoline. If the tractor ran at a constant power, the lead would separate from the fuel and the tractor would lose power. The change in elevation allowed for a change in power preventing lead deposits from forming.

The new test track cost $700,000, and is funded from testing premiums, off-season testing and the lab's operating budget. No taxpayer dollars will be used to fund the project, Hoy said.

After excavating the old track, workers removed subsoil and added a sub-surface drainage system. This protects the track from damage due to soil movement, Hoy said. The new track is on a base of gravel and crushed rock. It also has out-board banks which allow for higher speed testing.

In addition to tractors, the lab tests other equipment and implements, such as graders, loaders, bulldozers, crawlers and biofuel mixes and propane irrigation engines.

The Nebraska Tractor Test Lab was founded in 1920, spurred by state legislation requiring any tractor sold in Nebraska to be tested to prove the manufacturer's claims. The lab's importance grew as tractors made in other countries also began to be tested there. In the 1980s, the lab's profile and prominence elevated it as an official testing station for the Paris-based international Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

The Nebraska Tractor Test Laboratory is the only tractor test lab in the Western Hemisphere.

During the 2006-2007 academic year, the lab tested 25 tractor models.



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