We want to teach you everything you need to know about tractor configurations.
when the time is right.
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Introduction to Configurations
Tractors are generally classified by the number of axles or wheels.
The main configurations are two-wheel tractors (single-axle tractors) and four-wheel tractors (two-axle tractors). More axles are possible --- but rare.
Among four-wheel tractors (two-axle tractors) --- most are two-wheel drive (usually at the rear). Many are two-wheel drive with front-wheel assist, four-wheel drive (often with articulated steering), or track tractors (with steel or rubber tracks).
Classic Farm Tractor Configuration
The classic farm tractor is a simple open vehicle.
They have two very large driving wheels on an axle below and slightly behind a single seat (the seat and steering wheel consequently are in the center).
The engine is in front of the driver. Two steerable wheels are located below the engine compartment. This basic design has remained unchanged for years.
Enclosed cabs are fitted on almost all modern models for the operator’s safety and comfort.
Caterpillar “Crawler” Tractor Configuration
In areas with heavy or wet soils, notably in the Central Valley of California --- the "Caterpillar" or "crawler" type of tracked tractor became popular in the 1930s. This is due to the superior traction and flotation.
These tractors were usually maneuvered by turning the brake pedals and separate track clutches (operated by levers) rather than a steering wheel.
Four-wheel Drive Tractor Configuration
Four-wheel drive tractors began to appear in the 1960s.
Many four-wheel-drive tractors have the standard "two large - two small" configuration.
This is typical of smaller tractors --- while some have four large, powered wheels. The larger tractors are typically an articulated, center-hinged design steered by hydraulic cylinders that move the forward power unit --- while the trailing unit is not steered separately.
Multi-track Tractor Configuration
In the early 21st century, articulated or non-articulated, steerable multitrack tractors have largely supplanted the Caterpillar configuration for farm use.
Larger types of modern farm tractors include the articulated four-wheel or eight-wheel drive units.
They have one or two power units that are hinged in the middle. These units are steered by hydraulic clutches or pumps.
A relatively recent development is the replacement of wheels or steel crawler-type tracks with flexible, steel-reinforced rubber tracks. These are usually powered by hydrostatic or completely hydraulic driving mechanisms.
The configuration of these tractors bears little resemblance to the classic farm tractor design.
Hopefully, this brief article has helped you better understand tractor configurations.
If you need any further help or have any questions about equipment configurations, tractors, implements, or anything else equipment-related, please contact your dealer, local mechanic, or call us at 602-734-9944. Please ask about our current new and used tractor supply.
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