A tractor’s exhaust has been designed with safety in mind to ensure that any poisonous gases produced by the engine are removed from the engine bay avoiding the cab area. However, if any parts on the system break and aren’t replaced or repaired straight away then it could result in a dangerous situation for the tractor driver/operator as the harmful gases could enter the cabin and cause the driver serious harm.
Basic Tractor Exhaust System
Although not as complex as a modern car set-up there are a few key components that make up an a standard exhaust for a tractor. The very basics of a typical system starts with the last stroke in a four-stroke engine pushing out engine exhaust gases and toxins which will need to be safely removed from the tractor using the exhaust system. Starting from the engine block you'll find the exhaust manifold which is a block assembly with pipes designed to collect the gases from the cylinders and divert them into a single pipe ready for the next stage. Manifolds are often made of robust materials such as cast iron, or stainless steel. The weakest point of the exhaust manifold is the gasket used to seal the gap between the manifold and the engine block. These gaskets are multi layered and composed of a variety of materials designed to obtain the best seal possible between the two components.
(Exhaust Parts - Manifold and gasket)
Once the gases leave the manifold they will need to be directed away from the engine to exit the vehicle via a purpose built silencer, or muffler. To accommodate the tight bends for this connection to work an elbow joint is used. This joint is machine specific and can add a bend up to 180 degrees from the manifold.
(Exhaust Parts - Elbow Joints)
The exhaust of a tractor is normally directed upwards rather than downwards compared to a car’s exhaust. The main reasons for this are:
- To stop the gases being discharged directly onto crops causing plant contamination.
- A vertical system helps to keep muck and other farm debris away from entering the engine.
- Exhaust pipes often get very hot, by turning these away from the ground it helps to prevent any dry crops touching the hot metal and possibly catching fire.
The final stage of the exhaust system is the silencer section. The aim of this component is as the name suggests, it reduces, or silences, the noise of the gases escaping from the engine. On top of the silencer you may need to fit a weather cap. This has a flat piece of metal that covers the silencer tube to stop any water or debris falling into the system. The metal disc is attached to the top of the pipe via a pivot that allows the exhaust gas to push it open when the engine is running but automatically closes when the engine is not forcing any gases up and out to keep it open.
(Exhaust Parts - Silencer and weather cap)
Trouble shooting an exhaust system
Excessive noise from the engine bay
- The manifold gasket is the weakest part of the exhaust system and can disintegrate over time. If there is excessive noise coming from the engine manifold then a worn gasket could be the reason. This should be replaced with a model specific quality replacement gasket.
Loss of power, acceleration or fuel efficiency
- If you find that your tractor is losing power or acceleration performance has changed then the reason could be a fault in your exhaust system. The main culprit for this is an exhaust leak either from a whole in the exhaust, or more likely, a defective gasket on the manifold.
Burning aroma coming from the engine
- Exhaust gases exit the engine at extremely high temperatures. If there is a leak in the exhaust system then the escaped gases could cause adjacent components, (especially if they are made of plastic), to burn up and give off an unpleasant burning smell in the tractor cab. If such a smell is detected then the engine should be stopped straight away and the source investigated and rectified before the engine is run again. Otherwise continuous use could cause the engine to catch fire with the potential to destroy the whole tractor as well as harming the driver. If a burning smell is detected then the first place to check for a leak would be the exhaust gasket.
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