The invention of tractors in the early 19th century was one of the major milestones in the journey to the modern world. It helped humans to take a giant leap to a more balanced and prosperous world and take better control of their surroundings through technology. Farming and construction industry greatly benefited from the invention of tractors, and the equipment became an integral part of various industries – in different forms.
While the initial tractor was simple and semi-portable equipment, today you can find heavy and extremely powerful tractors with advanced features. Different types of tractors are available with specific capabilities for various industries. Every year, tractor manufacturers come up with new models and versions with modern technological innovations and features.
If you have a farmland or into the construction industry, you should know some of the technologies that made tractors popular across the globe. 4-wheel drive, also known as a 4WD, is one of the primary techniques that changed the way tractors perceived forever. It advanced the capabilities of tractors and made it widely acceptable.
What Are 4 Wheel Drive Tractors?
In general, 4 wheel drive tractors come with a design that transmits power to all the four wheels. Compared to 2-wheel drive tractors, 4-wheel drives ensure better control and improved traction in various terrains and land conditions.
The 2-wheel drive tractors only give power to rear tyres or front tyres, not both, and the vehicles show reduced control. You will experience the real difference of both vehicles when you want to work in muddy or bumpy farmlands or construction sites.
When the “powered wheels” of the 2-wheel driver tractors get stuck in mud or sand, the other wheels can’t move on the vehicle due to the lack of power transmission. In 4 wheel drive tractors, the operators will find the other wheels pulling the vehicle forward even if the rear or front wheels get stuck in the mud.
The History of 4 Wheel Drive Tractors
In 1910, John Fitch, an American inventor, came up with the idea of powering all the four wheels of tractors to increase the traction. In 1915, Fitch built his first 4-wheel drive tractor by using driveshafts to deliver power to both front and rear wheels. The first practical 4-wheel drive tractor was born that year.
Fitch established a company called The Four Drive Tractor Company and continued in the business until 1930. The 4-wheel drive concept for tractors got great acceptance from farmers, and it helped Fitch to produce eight different 4-wheel drive models.
Several tractors makers stepped into the 4-wheel drive battlefield and introduced numerous models in later years. Fitch’s company staged a field test stunt in 1918 that saw its model Four-Drive 20-35 ploughing for 88 hours through a rainstorm that resulted tilling 100 acres of farmland. It made big headlines in major newspapers and increased the demand for 4 wheel drive tractors.
Since the 1950s, 4 wheel drive tractors went through major transformations and gained more popularity across the globe thanks to the efforts of the major tractor makers. The industry saw the first 4-wheel drive articulated steering tractors.
The tractors also became available in four large wheels, in addition to the standard “two large, two small” tire design.
The larger tractors featured a centre-hinged design powered by hydraulic cylinders. The hydraulic cylinders move the forward power unit and the trailing unit together.
In the early 21st century, there were major technological developments for 4 wheel drive tractors, such as eight-wheel units with one or two power units.
Current Market Condition
Today, hundreds of farm equipment manufacturers around the globe produce 4 wheel drive tractors. Different tractor makers adopt different technologies to provide powerful, advanced tractors according to the requirements of the agricultural and construction industries.
Most 4-drive tractors feature an articulated steering system to ride the vehicles. In the system, both the rear and the front halves are connected by a vertical hinge. Also, both the rear and front halves are connected with one or more hydraulic cylinders. These cylinders change and adjust the angle between the rear and front halves.
For most 4 wheel drive tractors, the vertical hinge is placed between the two axles to avoid the requirement of a central differential. This also ensures that both the front and rear wheels follow the same path. It also maintains the same speed and is a great choice for tractors as it is designed for excellent off-road performance.
Modern 4-wheel driver tractors are known for their maneuverability – the primary characteristic of all the tractors.
4 wheel drive tractors are one of the leading segments of tractors in recent decades due to the need for more power, better performance, and increased capabilities. It prompted all the major tractor manufacturers to come up with new and advanced 4-wheel drive tractor models.
The 4-wheel drive is not only the preferred choice for the farming industry, but other industries also demand the advanced system for their equipment as well. These days, you can find 4-wheel drive technology for even lawnmowers as well.
The system helps lawn tractors to ensure unmatched stability and control while mowing lawns. It’s highly useful when people want to mow steep slopes and want to ride on areas with sand or mud.
Many of these 4-wheel drive lawn tractors have the front frame that oscillates independently from the rear frame. This ensures all the four wheels of these tractors make contact with the ground even while moving on the roughest terrain. It ensures better traction and stable performance on slopes and bumpy terrain.
Benefits Of Using A 4-Wheel Drive Tractor
Do you know that 4-wheel drive lawn tractors produce efficient trimming compared to other lawn mowers? Since the rear wheels follow the front wheels exactly, it can turn at the edges comfortably and ensure better trimming throughout your yard, especially at the edges and in between the trees and shrubs.
Since 4 wheel drive tractors are known for extra power and performance for various tasks compared to 2-wheel drive tractors, it becomes more compatible with various accessories and attachments. It means that you can enhance the capabilities of your 4 wheel drive tractors easily compared to other tractors.
4 wheel drive tractors are the ideal choice when you want to pull heavy loads, especially at slow speeds. The additional power/torque of the 4-wheel system helps you to accomplish your task. The tractors also showcase highly reliable performance when you want to incline or decline on rocks.
With the help of an articulated steering system, the rear wheels of the 4-wheel driver tractor exactly follow the rear wheels. It ensures minimal and light footprints of the mowers on the lawn. The technology that enables you to stay in your own lanes helps you to make significant savings on fuel, money, and environment.
It is especially important when it comes to snow ploughing route. While traditional tractors take additional hours, resources, and effort to complete the tasks, 4 wheel drive tractors with articulated steering system complete the job in fewer hours with more accurate results.
Who Should Choose A 4-Wheel Drive Tractor?
For this question, the answer lies in your requirements at your farmland, construction site, or industrial plant.
Note that a 4-wheel drive tractor is ideal for you if you want to work on rough terrain, wet or muddy soil, snow, sand, steep slopes, and other conditions. Whenever you need great traction for you to complete the job, a 4-wheel drive tractor can be your best choice.
Importantly, 4 wheel drive tractors offer safer operations in steep slopes compared to 2-wheel drive tractors or zero-turn tractors. Did you know that many tractor-related fatalities are due to tractor rollovers?
An analysis published by Safe Work Australia in 2011 confirmed that 65 people died in the country due to tractor accidents during the period 2004-07. Out of those fatalities, 17 deaths reported due to rollover issues. Among the 17, nine deaths reported due to tractors being used along the ridges or on steep slopes.
It means that the traction of your tractor can give you enhanced safety while working on various terrains.
You can also select 4-wheel drive lawn tractors if you want to trim around trees, edges, and near fences. It minimises the uncut areas and gives you efficient cutting results. It is also the best choice for minimizing any turf damage to your lawns.
4 wheel drive tractors are also the option if you want to mount some accessories and need excellent results.
However, if your job and the farmland or construction site do not demand these tasks, you can choose 2-wheel drive tractors as you will find it to be cheaper than 4-wheel drivetractors. You may also find 4 wheel drive tractors demand higher maintenance, compared to other versions.
Note that 2-wheel drive tractors are a great choice if you want to work only on dry and fairly level grounds.