On the fence? Tractor Wheel Spacers vs Engineered Axles
Modifying your tractor for CTF - what are the choices?:
1. A simple "cotton reel" wheel-spacer or hub adapter that brings your wheel track out to the desired width by bolting directly to the hub. They are fairly cheap to buy and easy to fit and remove. They will work with beam and independent suspension axles.
2. An engineered axle that is permanent on beam axles. Independent type axles (IFS/ILS) and older "3 piece" John Deere axles can use our bolt-in kits.
So why would anyone spend extra money on an engineered axle if they can simply use cotton reel spacers?
Wheel spacers put huge stress on your axle, leading to increased maintenance costs and higher risk of failure.
Farmers should know they are taking a gamble on the strength, handling and reliability of their machine. It can cost more to fix a damaged axle than it does to upgrade your tractor properly.
Wheel spacers can be an excellent way to trial CTF but are not recommended as a long-term solution. Anyone telling you otherwise is not giving you all the facts. We have manufactured tractor wheel spacers for more than 20 years and found they cause problems:
Steering and suspension problems: When you use wheel spacers, the vertical steering axis (kingpin) stays where it is but now the wheel turns around an arc of up to 550mm radius which puts stress on steering components and leads to more 'bump steer'. This can easily damage steering components. It can also affect GPS steering, causing over-correction and loss of fine control - a problem when you are trying to keep neat tramlines.
Leaking seals: Wheel spacers increase the stress on the front axle and steering components due to leverage. This has been known to drastically reduce service life and has caused failures requiring replacement of the entire front axle assembly. The cost of an engineered axle extension is roughly equal to the cost of replacing the damaged planetary hub... on one side. If you are using spacers and you notice leaking seals, stop driving and contact your dealer immediately before you do serious damage. We can fix seals, bearings, damaged axles, kingpins and housings, but damaged planetaries will usually require a factory replacement and aren't cheap.
Risk: We have seen service life reduced to hundreds of hours in some cases. This is not only costly, but dangerous - a collapsed axle is not something to take lightly. The initial savings from using wheel spacers can be quickly eaten up by repair costs and downtime. It is not unusual for farmers to try wheel spacers for a season or two and then spend the extra money getting an engineered axle.
Cost: Long-term CTF farmers usually realize it is costing them more to run wheel spacers because of the increased maintenance and downtime. Engineered axles might be more expensive initially but pay themselves off with factory reliability and maintenance schedules. We have heard some horror stories about missed planting or harvest windows because of machinery break-down.
Long-term testing of engineered axles has shown no adverse effect on reliability or usability
How much did your tractor cost new?
It's a substantial investment and worth more when you consider potentially lost production due to downtime. Because of the risks associated with cotton reel spacers, Widetract have developed better solutions for axle extensions that suit your individual circumstances and protect your investment.
A properly engineered axle extension will not suffer from increased stress on bearings, planetary hubs or steering components and won't affect factory warranty on the rest of the tractor. This allows the safe fitting of front-mount implements such as loaders, air seeders and spray tanks.
Service and warranty
We warrant our products because we believe in them. Widetract is a trusted name around Australia due to our high-quality manufacturing and friendly service. We could make more money by cutting corners but instead we give farmers the best possible product and service. Farmers have to think long-term so we do too.
Pros and Cons
Tractor Wheel Spacers
|Inexpensive||Reduces service life of steering components|
|Easy to adapt to 3m||Reduces service life of king pin assemblies|
|Quick to return to original||Reduces service life of hub bearings and planetary gears|
|Not suitable for carrying front mounted implements|
|Carrying front-mounted weights not recommended|
|Wheel now turns through arc which reduces turning circle and can create bump-steer|
|Upsets suspension geometry on IFS tractors|
|Can upset GPS system tracking|
|Mud guards in wrong location|
Engineered Axle Extension
|Maintains original geometry so no extra load on front axle or steering components||More expensive than spacers|
|Axle carrying capacity remains standard||Tractor is out of action for longer while converting (2-4 weeks plus dealer fitting for beam axles. ILS Kits can be fitted in 1-2 days)|
|Readily adapted for GPS steering||Difficult to convert tractor to original format on beam axles|
|Tighter turning circle than standard|
|Easy maintenance access|
|Mud guards stay in the correct location|