Fuel cell prototype

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George Willer
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Fuel cell prototype

Postby George Willer » Tue Jan 25, 2005 11:08 pm

This is in response to a thread on "other tractors and machinery" titled 'Off topic Allis Chalmers'. I'm posting it here because I think it is of more general interest. It was a photo Bigdog took that took the thread in this direction...


This is the lengthy, interesting and informative private response from Larry Goss, the designer:

George, Darrell, Rudi -- LOL! I didn't see anything obvious about how
to enter into the thread without becoming a member. It may be there,
but I didn't see it.

Let me reply to you, George, and you can forward the comments to the
farmallcub list.

I did that design during the school year of 1959-60 at Illinois Tech.
It was my senior thesis (except that we didn't have that sort of label
for the all-consuming design project that each of us in the class
pursued for a whole year.) I had access to the design and engineering
departments at IHC, but I didn't have access (for proprietary reasons)
to their long-range goals and their marketing. I was told in general
terms to design a "tractor" of approximately the same horsepower as the
Cub. My background was from the small farm. We had owned and I had
worked with the John Deere L and Allis-Chalmers G. I was not tuned in
to the rising market of suburbia, and as a result I completely missed
the mark in designing something that would fit that niche.

I took the needs of truck farming and subsistence general farming very
seriously. As a result, the tractor I designed (and that Big Dog and
George are talking to you about was designed to make use of all the
attachments that were available for the Farmall Cub. I knew of the
problems with limited PTO capabilities, so I replaced the serpentine
belt systems with a flexible drive shaft for front and mid-mount
equipment. I left the rear PTO in the same relative location as the
original except for switching the direction that it is offset from the
centerline of the tractor. My faculty advisor was unimpressed with my
first efforts. He said I had to have some more specific reasons for the
design. So I added an additional concept for it -- mechanizing third
world countries as they transition from nomadic to agrarian life styles.
So I contacted my father (a design engineer with General Electric) about
the fossil fuel problem in such countries and he gave me some
fundamental information about fuel cells as a power source. The library
at Illinois Tech is a very good repository for materials on a number of
topics including energy, power, and gas. I spent nearly a month doing
research on alternative power sources and came up with hydrogen-oxygen
fuel cells as an appropriate alternative to fossil fuels. Part of the
thinking was, if a country is going to become agrarian, they have to
have water. Electrolysis can be used to get the fuel for powering an
electric motor. The stack of fuel cells to produce around 10 horsepower
needed to be approximately 20 inches long. "Under the hood" over the
rear axle and under the driver's seat are a stack of fuel cells, a
humongous DC motor, and two fuel tanks for oxygen and hydrogen. The DC
controller and other controls for the fuel cells are located to the
operator's right side.

My faculty advisor was still upset by my lack of practicality concerning
the fuel cell concept and refused to approve my design. I was furious.
By now, half of the school year was gone and I was starting to see the
timeframe for the remainder of the design starting to cause me problems.
I was dating the daughter of the plant engineer at IHC in Fort Wayne, so
over the Christmas break I told him of my problems. He brought me a
recent copy of Design Engineering News which featured the Allis-Chalmers
fuel cell tractor prototype. I took that back with me to Chicago and
showed it to my faculty advisor. All of a sudden, my ideas were
practical, level-headed, showed promise, and a bunch of other rhetoric
that told me I had simply caught the whole design school faculty
flat-footed in their technical ignorance.

I completed the design, but I never took the concept back to IHC. There
were two reasons for that. One, I did some additional research about
the environmental implications of plowing up the savanna of sub-Sahara
Africa. The prognosis for that action was pretty bleak and I didn't
want to be any part of it. Two, the one thing I didn't tell anybody at
the school was that the fuel cells operate at around 700 degrees
Fahrenheit. I located them barely two inches behind the driver's knees!

The photograph is one of several I have of the 1/4 size model I built of
the final design. It's mostly of wood, but there are some formed
aluminum and brass parts on it and the seat was vacuum formed with a
semi-closed mold. The steering gear and entire front axle is identical
to the Cub, and there are other details that are obviously the same
parts as the "parent" tractor -- final drives, hitch, transmission, etc.
The operator's area on the prototype has been modified extensively from
the original Cub to make it conform to good practice in Human Factors.
So, the seat is closer to the ground, the foot platform is a grid so you
can see through it, controls are positioned to favor right-handedness,
and so on. But all of the equipment attachment points and the location
of the hydraulic lift are identical to the Cub. (Except that the
primary and secondary attachment points on the lift are mirrored from
left to right.)

What they didn't tell me, of course, was that IHC had plans for a
physically much smaller tractor in mind. If I had gone that route, I
might have come up with something closer to the concept of the Cub


-----Original Message-----
From: George Willer [mailto:gwill@toast.net]
Sent: Tuesday, January 25, 2005 7:17 PM
To: Larry Goss
Cc: darrell Rattliff; R.H. "Rudi" Saueracker
Subject: Fuel cell proototype


Your project showed up on the farmallcub.com list. Maybe you'd be
interested in responding to this thread? I'm sure any response you'd
to make would be well received.

http://www.farmallcub.com/phpBB2/viewto ... t=5109#top

This is a great bunch of guys.

George Willer

"Lord, the money we do spend on government and it's not one bit
better than the government we got for one-third the money twenty
years ago." --Will Rogers
George Willer

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Postby Cubnut » Tue Jan 25, 2005 11:22 pm

700 degrees? WOW!

I'll bet the guys pushing snow this winter would like THAT tractor!
These cubs never grow up

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Postby johnbron » Wed Jan 26, 2005 12:47 am

:P Very interesting, Thanks for posting that straight from the horses mouth interesting artical George. Just think what might-have could-have almost been. I sort of recall another hydrogen powered Cub prototype that never came to be. :?:
Then came Bronson

Donny M
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Postby Donny M » Wed Jan 26, 2005 3:38 pm

Thanks Mr. GW and company :!: :!:
This gives great insight into the design criteria of a lot of products. Much thought goes into a product before it's ever produced...or not :!: 8) 8)

Great post :!: :!: 8) 8) 8) very 8)

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Postby Jack Donovan » Wed Jan 26, 2005 10:01 pm

Thanks George, That was great: By the way, Did you get my E-Mail? "Jack"

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Postby artc » Thu Jan 27, 2005 5:19 pm

reminded me immediately of this rear engine rider. Simplicity Wonderboy


only 'small problem with this unit....if you eased up to a wall and tried to release the joystick forward to disengage the drive... the handle hit the wall prior to the point of release of the drive....it just kept on going :!: :!:

great article. thanks for sharing it.
'If they're tappin', they're not burnin'

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Postby Rudi » Thu Jan 27, 2005 9:18 pm


I thought it was a very interesting email and one that I have read a number of times already.

I have sent Larry a private response, and I hope he knows how much I appreciated his email
Confusion breeds Discussion which breeds Knowledge which breeds Confidence which breeds Friendship

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