AMES, Iowa - Last year, Iowa State University's ¼ scale tractor pull team had its high hopes dashed when they finished much lower than expected in their annual competition.
With this year's entry, named Cy's Revenge, the ISU Power Pullers are set to roar back to the top, where they believe they belong.
"We need to go into the competition and get our name back [as a quality team], and get back to a top five spot," said Kent Thoreson, a junior in agricultural engineering and president-elect of the Power Puller's club. "That is where we need to be and where we always are."
Thoreson and the rest of the Power Pullers will see how they measure up at the 14th Annual International ¼ Scale Tractor Student Design Competition, to be held June 2 to 5 in Peoria, Ill. The competition is sponsored by the American Society for Agricultural and Biological Engineers, a professional organization dedicated to engineering for agricultural, food, and biological systems.
While the competition attracts teams from all over the United States and Canada, this year will be especially difficult for the ISU club with only one returning senior.
"It has been a challenging year for us because we are all young and hadn't had any design experience," said Thoreson. "So we sort of just jumped into it."
With so little team experience, the Power Pullers were not simply making improvements on a previous tractor design, they were really starting over.
"We pretty much had to build it from scratch, so that's what we did," he said.
Complicating this year's competition even more were the new rules about weight (there is a new, lower limit of 800 lbs. total) and the number of engines (one 31-horsepower, or two 16-horsepower only).
Pulling is a major criterion for judging, but other aspects of the tractors are also scrutinized.
They are also judged on a written design report submitted prior to the competition, an oral presentation, tractor maneuverability and overall design which includes manufacturability, serviceability, safety, ergonomics and loudness.
Cy's Revenge is being presented as a utility tractor for a small hobby farmer, so much effort was concentrated on ease of use, design of the operator station and a powershift drivetrain that allows the operator to shift from high gear to low gear to while the tractor is moving.
The judging is done by industry professionals from major corporations. Many of the Power Pullers are able to interact with and get job leads from representatives of the companies.
For right now, however, Thoreson and the Power Pullers are focusing on the competition and getting Cy's Revenge to pull them to a top finish.
"Hopefully, we'll score well on the pulls," said Thoreson. "I think we have a really good design for that. You've got to make sure you've got a tractor that can pull. If it doesn't pull, you don't win competitions."
This year's Power Puller president is Peter Horne, a junior in agricultural engineering.
Thoreson said the Power Pullers rely on corporate funding to enable the team to compete.
"Without the strong support provided by our sponsors, it would be impossible for our team to compete in this important competition," said Thoreson. "The Cyclone Pullers really appreciate the great support they have received from their many sponsors."
This year's sponsors are: ADM, Ag Leader Technology, AGCO Hesston Corporation, Alpha Copies, Ames Outdoor Power Equipment, LLC., Auto-Jet Muffler Corporation, Bauer Built Manufacturing, Central Iowa Building Supply, CNH Mt. Joy, Creative Werks, Cedar Industries, Cummins Central Power, Curry-Wille and Associates, DPS Engineering, DeJong Manufacturing, Iowa State University; Engineering Student Council, Farm Progress Show, Farmers Cooperative Company, Force America, Flowmaster Inc., Interstate All Battery Center, ISU ASABE Club, Iowa Nebraska Equipment Dealers Association, Jerry Carney and Sons Inc., John Deere Ottumwa Works, John Deere Waterloo, Kinze Manufacturing, Kuhn Knight Inc., Ladd Industries, Lovejoy Inc., Lundell Plastics Corporation, Martin Gear, New Ulm Precision Tool, Mid American Expositions Inc., Quality Manufacturing Corporation, Reliable Machine and Manufacturing Co., Sauer Danfoss Inc., Solidworks Corporation, Standard Bearings Co., Triumph of Ag Expo., Vermeer Manufacturing Company, Vet Provisions Inc., Vosberg Enterprises Inc., Dr. and Mrs. Ramesh Kanwar, Patrick and Nicole Eckstein, Walnut Creek Fertilizer, John and Dawn Fredrickson, Nissen Family, Clint Recker, Dr. Stuart Birrell, Morgan Fredrickson Photography, Sandvik Coromat, Seco Tool, Snell Family, Timken, Van Wall Power Sports, Weasler Engineering, KMJ Performance, Wilwood Brakes, Kenny and Gyl, Bryce VanGenderen and Specialty Exhaust Design