Allen Custom Drill P-D 6000
Jaiden Drought managed to find a break in Canterbury’s winter weather to test Allen Custom Drills’ new P-D 6000 drill. This simplistic southern-made drill did plenty to impress this northern boy.
It was my second trip to Canterbury in a month and as yet, the weather hasn't let me down. While I was down there I checked out some tough southern-made machinery. These South Islanders must have a chequered history of breaking machinery as everything I test down there these days seems to be built to last a lifetime and then some. It's little wonder they send them up north because if they didn't they'd go broke. They only need to sell one to a customer and it lasts them forever.
For those of you following my exploits (unlikely, but plausible) you'll know that on every trip to Canterbury I learn something new about the locals and this trip was no different. In particular I learnt that there is something different and appealing about staunch Case IH men, particularly those with Magnum 245s.
The Clarks in Canterbury own Magnums and likewise do the Grays from Hawkes Bay, who I had the pleasure of meeting a few months back. Both run father and son arable operations, and both are some of the nicest people I have had the pleasure of meeting.
But it wasn't the Clarks' Magnum 245 that I came to Canterbury to see; instead it was their new Allen Custom Drill P-D 6000. The P-D (Packer Drill) series is available in 3 and 3.5m rigid formats with 4, 5, 6 and 8 metre sowing widths all folding for a 3m transport width. The machine tested was the 6m (which didn't need that much power to pull by the way), but because they are essentially built to order, if you wanted a 12m drill I'm sure Craig Allen and his team would whip you up one without too many dramas.
Build and size
The P-D 6000 drill is the latest offering from Allen Custom Drills, which is targeted (but not strictly) towards the broad acre arable guys. The Clark's bought the drill mainly because of its simplicity and build quality. Having traded up from a 3m drill, which had given them good service, they were looking for a simple drill with few wearing parts that covered the ground quickly and with the Allen Custom Drill that's exactly what they got. It is fair to say they think this drill is Christmas and not just because it is twice as wide as their old one.
This drill really follows the blueprint of the Allen Custom Drills way of engineering; build it strong and if it takes as much steel as a railway bridge so the clients won't break it, so be it.
Obviously a slight exaggeration, but believe you me, this thing is nothing but mild steel (and lots of it), a hopper, some discs, press wheels and tyres, it is literally that simple.
The machine looks like a stretch limo on first impression because of the loading space for the hopper, but being so spread out makes everything easy to get at and daily maintenance is a breeze.
When I say that the drill has been built for arable farmers, this is due to its suitability for larger operations with its long drawbar and a clear unobstructed hopper, allowing easy, safe loading with a standard loader tractor for 500kg or one tonne bags.
Because of this design, loading can be done safely without the wings obstructing visibility and access from the side, and if the wings were folded down it would be a job solely for a telehandler. Loading convenience and safety is a pitfall on many European drills due to their compact design. This is no issue on the Allen Custom Drill which has ample room, rails and grating up around the bin to make it a less risky experience than the sky walk over the Auckland Harbour Bridge.
The only slight concern with the overall length of the machine is the weight of the coulters making it tail heavy. The remedy for this is some weight blocks at the front of the drill when it is empty, but once there is seed in the hopper it sorts itself out.
In the paddock the drill is very agile for its size due to the press wheels being in front of the coulters which lift at the rear. This means when you lift at the headland, the whole drill stays on the ground not placing all the stress through the frame lifting onto the transport wheels.
Another positive of this rear left feature is that the weight of the drill is distributed over the 20 packer wheels rather than just two, meaning you don't get scuffing or groves left by lifting onto the transport wheels. The fold down wings have active down pressure on them, which runs from the fan through to the damper and back to the dump on the tractor. This ensures there is constant ground pressure. The damper then allows oil to flow out of one side if it encounters rough terrain then back to level again for effective contour following for the machine width.
Metering and calibration
Like all other Allen Custom Drills, the P-D features the Accord metering and distribution system. Additionally the RDS Artemis electronic rate control is fitted which gives the machine the auto calibration feature as well as being able to vary the seed rate on the move. The calibration is as simple as placing the bin under the hopper, selecting the seed type and sowing rate, then waiting for the machine to do the rest. David Gray found this a particularly useful feature as he can calibrate in the shed where there is no risk of it being compromised by the weather. This also means he can calibrate and leave the machine in the shed, finish the other jobs and then go drilling in the dark if he is pushing a tight weather window.
The digital controller in the cab has a large, easy to read screen with an easy and uncomplicated menu and a keypad for typing all of your info in. Main features include covering fan rpm, ground speed, sowing rate and hectares drilled, as well as a cumulative total.
This is the one of the simplest yet effective systems I have seen. Other Allen Custom drills are available with a more complicated spring parallelogram system. However, sticking to the P-D series' uncompromising simplicity they have opted for discs which are mounted on four rubber blocks. Because the roller is in front of the discs, the contour following of the machine is taken care of, so the ability for large amounts of travel for each coulter is unnecessary. By eliminating the additional moving parts of the parallelogram reduces the ongoing maintenance costs of the machine and this was something that appealed to David Clark when he initially saw it.
The only real issue with the entire drill is the individual coulter height is a little fiddly. The hydraulic depth adjustment is easy with blocks placed on the ram but for individual coulter adjustment a pin is placed through a series of holes for the desired depth. Adjustment is a pain, but positively speaking, it is very rigid, which hopefully means it only needs setting once.
The actual transfer of the seed to the coulters comes from the main hose to the high rear tower where air and gravity work together. This allows the seed, fert and/or bait to free fall to the coulters eliminating the risk of any shelving in the lines.
For a kiwi-made product these drills can really compete with the large European manufacturers that spend millions every year on research and development. The thing that constantly impresses me with machines from Allen Custom Drills is the build strength and with this particular drill, its simplicity is a credit to the team.
As the name suggests, the company's ability to customise your machine is almost guaranteed. They are too busy to make machines that simply sit outside the factory waiting to be sold, in fact I imagine the paint is barely dry on some when they are trucked away.
This machine is nothing like other cultivation drills on the market, it is so simple, yet packed with clever features. Trust me, it's no fluke that this drill sells itself.
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