Buying a used semi

I enjoyed your article on buying used tractor-trailer rigs very much [“Great deals on used rigs,” May/June 2002, page 12], but I felt you should have given a little more attention to drive train specifications, especially in the area of transmissions. While a 9- or 10-speed transmission is generally adequate, it is important to get the right 9 or 10 speed. Some of these transmissions don't have a good low gear ratio, which is very important starting heavy loads in field conditions or pulling on to axle scales commonly used in farm operation. A good rule of thumb is to multiply the “low” gear ratio of the transmission by the gear ratio of the rear axle. An overall ratio of 45 should be considered a minimum and high is better. A good example would be a “B” ratio 9 speed or a “C” ratio 10 speed, which have a low ratio of about 12.6 and a 3.91 rear axle, which gives you an overall ratio of 49.3. Transmissions that don't have ratios this low require lower (higher number) ratio rear axles, which reduce road speed when longer distance hauling is a consideration.

Another important consideration is the engine. Generally big block engines (3406 Cat, 12.7 Detroit, N-14 Cummins) have almost twice the life of a smaller block engine (3176 Cat, L10 or M11 Cummins). A big block engine with 600,000 miles may be a better buy than a smaller block engine with 500,000 miles (about ready for an overhaul). Having the right truck for the job is very important. It can be the difference between success and failure.
Ron Sager
via e-mail

Farm accounting software

Some time ago you had a very good article about computer farm accounting programs [“Software to count on,” March 2002, page 50]. I am looking for a farm accounting program to use on a Macintosh computer and have not been able to find one. Can you help me? I have an old accounting program that I still use on an old Apple IIe computer, but would prefer to get something more up to date.
Keith Henderson
Malvern, IA

We do not know of any farm accounting program for a Macintosh. However, you may be able to run a Windows-based accounting program through a program called Virtual PC, from Connectix (www.connectix.com). This program makes a Mac think it is a Windows machine. The latest version of Virtual PC requires a Macintosh with a G3 or G4 processor to run under OS9 and a minimum 400 MHz G3 or G4 machine to run under OS X.

Some farm accounting software companies offer a free 30-day trial of their programs. Trying a program for 30 days will allow you to find out if it works on your Macintosh under Virtual PC. You also may want to ask farm accounting software companies if they have experience running their software under Virtual PC.

V-subsoiler

I need new points for a Howard Rotavator five-shank V-subsoiler. My late father called this by many names, so I don't know its correct name.
Landen Schooler
Palmyra, IA

Howard Rotavator merged with Kongskilde Ltd., 231 Thames Rd. E., Exeter, Ontario, Canada N0M 1S3, 519/235-0840, www.kongskilde.com. Some parts for Rotavator are still available from H.R. Parts, 10 S. Jefferson St., Harvard, IL 60033, 815/943-5401.

How to reach us

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