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A Puller is born

A Puller is born

'One Trick Pony'

This is the story of the building of Rob Uphill's 'The Huntsman' replacement, 'One Trick Pony' with was built in 2009-10 and had it's first run in Europe at Ahoy (The Netherlands) in March 2011. On the 27th July, 2014 Rob Uphill and 'One Trick Pony' became the Eurocup Prostock champions at the final Prostock Eurocup round of 2014 at the Brande Pulling Arena in Denmark. Click here to read the full story...

'One Trick Pony' in the workshop

Rob Uphill with a couple of Deutz tractors in his yard.

Rob Uphill with a couple of new Deutz-Fahr tractors in his yard... Just in case you don't know, the team responsible for 'One Trick Pony' comprises Rob Uphill, Andrew House, Jim Wheeler, Long Hillman, Andrew Harper aided and abetted by Richard Chappell...

Apart from Deutz-Fahr, Rob is also a JCB and Kverneland dealer near Chewton Mendip up on top of the Mendip Hills.

Just a few images of 'One Trick Pony' before it was stripped down at the end of the 2012 season...

One Trick Pony One Trick Pony One Trick Pony
One Trick Pony One Trick Pony One Trick Pony
One Trick Pony One Trick Pony One Trick Pony
One Trick Pony One Trick Pony One Trick Pony
One Trick Pony   One Trick Pony

♣ Note: Apart from the images you can see there is a large collection you can't but if you click on the hyperlinks scattered amongst the text you can view these additional photos. Click on your Internet Browsers 'Back' button to return to the article.

The first question which needs answering is why did Rob and his team build a new Puller when he already had a very successful ProStock machine in the shape of 'The Huntsman'? The answer to that lies in a visit by three men from the McCormick factory looking to acquire a Tractor Puller and following some negotiation a deal was struck. 'The Huntsman' departed for pastures new (now called 'McCormick Red Fox', run by the Argo Team and the Moretti brothers in Italy) and Rob was left with the task of building a replacement.

40ft Shipping ContainerYou have to understand a 40-ft Container shipped from Baltimore, Maryland to Southampton is a crucial element of the 'One Trick Pony' build. Another point to bear in mind is Rob's very sensible attitude when it comes to custom components. Everything that worked was duplicated so there were two of it which meant he already had a large pile if 'bits' from 'The Huntsman', including a gearbox and bell housing which formerly belonged to Peter Clarke's 'Red Fever' and a large stock of engine components.

Apart from a collection of vintage tractors and 7 or 8 sets of wheels the container cargo included: -

Profab GearboxThe basic chassis started with the 5-metre frame rails which were folded in the States, held in place with a jig made up on the workshop floor. The Rockwell Axle was subject to a 'cut'n shut' to reduce the width and fitted with custom made half shafts and the Franklin Planetary Gears. The American Profab Gearbox (3 forward & 1 reverse) was fastened to the chassis at the rear. This unit from Profab in Baldwin, Wisconsin is specifically made for Tractor Pulling.

The engine plate was next to be fitted, designed so the engine could be lifted out of the Puller without disturbing the drive train. As you can see in the engine plate photo, the engine mounts were also fabricated and fixed onto the chassis rails.

Front AxleThe Front Axle, Hubs and Kingpins were made by Rob in the workshop followed by fitting the Dashboard in order to set the location of both the driver (or rather his seat) and the Roll Cage.

Because Chrome Molybdenum tube is so thin-walled and hard normal pipe bending equipment would only succeed in kinking the pipe. Several local firms tried and failed miserably! Rob and his neighbour, armed only with a PC and Solidworks set about designing the Cage. The tube was cut to length in the workshop then shipped off to a specialist bending company in Oxfordshire, along with the CAD files, which are really useful to get the angles right and the bends in the right places.

The bent and formed pipe work (without a kink in sight) came back to the workshop to be welded together prior to being located at the back of the Puller. With the chassis nearly complete Rob set about designing and fabricating the towing hitch. The last stage was to take the chassis outside to be sprayed by Wessex Bodyworks using two-pack, which as you can see from the photo is quite noxious to work with!

Inlet Flange PlateWith the chassis complete it was time to get started on the engine. The head was gas-flowed and ported with 2½" inlet valves. The alloy inlet flange plate was machines to give a smooth transition from square to round to avoid any risk of turbulence occurring. This photo shows the flange plate prior to final machining and gas-flowing.

An International 466 engine block was sourced from Robert Coles in Shaftesbury, bored out to 505 cu. inch and fitted with spare American wet liners from 'The Huntsman'. The standard 436 crank was fully balanced and just to give you an inkling of the stresses involved inside the engine, the Con Rod bolts are torqued up to 300 ft/lbs! The reason the 436 crank was used is because it has ½" less stroke (5") than the 466 allowing the engine capacity to be increased to 8.3-litres (505 cu. in.), the maximum allowed in the rules.

Inlet sytem and exhaust flangeA lot of thought was put into the inlet system which was designed and built from scratch by Rob and the team. The exhaust flange plate was fabricated by Rob (seen here prior to being gas-flowed) however the exhaust system was built by A.N. Other (Rob is rather secretive on this point). This photograph shows the exhaust system after two seasons of Pulling.

The Holset HX32 (this link is to the Service Repair Manual in PDF format, but it is a rather large file) is the same unit fitted to 'The Huntsman' and was purchased from Peter Clarke up in Buckinghamshire. Originally the inlet port to the compressor chamber was 4.6" however this has subsequently been increased to 4.8".

Completed Charge Cooler assemblyNext on the list was the Charge Cooler (similar to an Intercooler) which was, once again, designed and built in-house. Located below the cooler assembly is a bulk tank, with the main Charge Cooler heat exchanger fitted on top of it. Behind the cooler you can clearly see the pulley fitted to the end on the crank which drives the oil pumps via a 40mm belt. This photo was taken in July, 2010 with most of the pipe work in place.

The deep 30-litre Sump is very similar in design to that of 'The Huntsman' with three pumps (two for the engine and one for the turbocharger) which are driven via a 40mm belt off the front of the crank. The oil is filtered by a Holly and Van der Waal units.

Once the engine had been installed in the chassis, the water-only injection system was fitted, custom designed and built around a Simpson valve driven by a vane pump.

How to get all this power from the International 466 to the Profab Gearbox? With the aid of another of Mr. Uphill's bits of custom work, in this instance a hybrid Crower and Van der Waal clutch assembly.

With all the plumbing and electrical wiring complete Rob and the Team tested the engine, which unsurprisingly worked really rather well!

Ready for a paint job...To hide the fire-breathing monster of an engine Rob covered it in a unused second-hand Binderlite bonnet built by Ted and Tony Dibble in Corydon, Indiana. The one-pice alloy structure was fitted with a strengthening frame built by Rob and Co. The entire assembly hinges on two gas struts...




The base coatDetailingBy now is was mid August and the Puller was ready for a coat of paint, or rather coats (plural).

Once the base layer was dry, the detailing began in earnest and the now-familiar decals were very carefully applied to the nice fresh paintwork, not forgetting the all-important McCormick transfer along the top of the bonnet side-panel. Unfortunately these GIF images (used to save web site space) don't really do the paintwork justice!

Axle flange weldingDid the Team encounter any problems? Yes! The first failure was of the stub axle while the tractor was being towed around the yard. The welds were fine but the steel fractured due to delamination of the metal so a new set of MkII flanges were made, which incidentally failed at Great Eccleston. MkIII flanges were fitted at the end of 2011.

The injector sleeves developed a habit of blowing out of the head, particularly in the EuroCup event in Herning.

In the first season 'One Trick Pony' managed to get through 2 or 3 Starter Motors. One was changed at Ahoy because when Rob went to run up in the pits the Starter broke.

So, how did the Puller go in the first season of Pulling in the ETPC EuroCup series? Well you can judge for yourselves: -

This Puller is less of a Pony and more a raging Stallion. What do you use to show off your shiny new Puller? Why a pretty young lady of course!

Beauty and the Beast 1 Beauty and the Beast 2 Beauty and the Beast 3

Now, there was a young lady from Mendip who stood on Rob's Tractor...

Does Rob have any plans for the future? Well, apart the current improvement program for the 'One Trick Pony' yes he certainly has but, for the time being anyway, my lips are sealed!

And finally, for no better reason than the fact that Rob included this photo, I give you Harper and Holset! No I've no idea what Andy Harper was up to either... Maybe he was telling Rob he wanted one of those as well!

Harper and Holset


Rob's towing hitch completed...

Finished - Rob's custom Pulling Hitch

Chassis Re-paint, Spring 2013

Rob felt the original grey chassis colour looked too much like a 'factory look' so just after the Puller was stripped down at the end of 2012 (just after my visit to Uphill & Son) the preparation from the re-paint started.

After the old paintwork had been sandblasted, modifications were made to the front end to accommodate re-located weights. You can clearly see the reinforcement plates (highlighted) in the second photograph. As with the original grey, the new colour is a two-pack which give a great finish and high durability but is a devil to work with.

It's so nice to be able to see the BIG Holset HX32 without it shielding...

Modified Chassis before painting A painted Chassis...
Rear of the re-painted Chassis The big Holset Turbo
2013 - Re-build complete Late 2012, before the re-build
Contrast these two photo's (after & before) and you can clearly see the changes made to the location of the front weights. A much neater and cleaner arrangement I'm sure you'll agree!
'One Trick Pony' Pulling in 2013 'One Trick Pony' in action...

My thanks go to not only Rob Uphill for all his help and photographs of the build but also to the whole 'One Trick Pony' Team for all their hard work and for producing such an awesome Pulling machine.

Related Links One Trick Pony web site
  Uphill and Son Limited
  One Trick Pony Facebook page