REVIEW: Allen Custom Drills C-D 4000 seed drill

By: Brent Lilley, Photography by: Brent Lilley

Presented by

Allen Custom Drills construction The C-D 4000 is a hefty, well-built, 4m-wide, triple-disc drill that has proven itself in the harsh conditions of the Maniototo Basin. Allen Custom Drills construction
Allen Custom Drills hiab crane The ability for the operator to load the drill with the Hiab crane mounted on the side is a huge advantage. Allen Custom Drills hiab crane
Allen Custom Drills 3 Floating wings are hydraulically folded to keep the drill’s transport width to 3m. Allen Custom Drills 3
Allen Custom Drills 4 At the front, leading turbo discs ensure the following openers can cut into even the hardest ground while creating tilth for the seed. Allen Custom Drills 4
Allen Custom Drills 5 A solid heavy-duty hitch allows movement for the drill to follow undulating contours. Allen Custom Drills 5
Allen Custom Drills 9 A clever heat exchanger on the fan ensures warm air is blown through the lines. Allen Custom Drills 9
Allen Custom Drills 10 Controls for the Hiab crane mounted on the side of the drill make it easy for one man to load the drill. Allen Custom Drills 10
Allen Custom Drills RDS Artemis monitor A familiar RDS Artemis monitor in the cab is simple and easy to use. Allen Custom Drills RDS Artemis monitor
Allen Custom Drills 6 Separate accord metering units on the bottom of the seed and fertiliser bins provide accurate and reliable metering. Allen Custom Drills 6
Allen Custom Drills 8 Allen Custom Drills 8

The Allen Custom Drills C-D 4000 seed drill is proving its worth in the toughest conditions. Brent Lilley tested it in New Zealand.

The C-D 4000 drill is a 4m, triple-disc drill, built by Ashburton-based Allen Custom Drills and owned by Maniototo Contracting, which operates from Ranfurly and provides a full range of contracting services in Central Otago.

Owner Ian Hore purchased the drill in September 2013 to replace an older Duncan Enviro drill, and since then it has clocked up more than 2,000 hectares, with operator Rikki Patterson at the wheel for much of the time.







Metering and calibration




Allen Custom Drills C-D 4000 Construction

Allen _Custom _Drills _construction

Up at the front of the drill is a solid-looking, two-point linkage hitch arrangement on the lower arms of the tractor, allowing for plenty of movement in all directions on undulating terrain and tighter turns than a conventional drawbar on the headlands.

Category three pins are used in extra wide openings for the plough arms that will also accommodate the larger American-style quick-hitch.

Allen Custom Drills believes you need plenty of weight in a drill to keep the openers in the ground, so you might as well build the machine heavy from the start. This shows throughout, with hefty 9mm thick box section beams making up the chassis of the drill, and heavy duty plates and gussets used to strengthen every join and any other conceivable weak spot. This gives it an unladen weight of around 7 tonnes.

To obtain a working width of 4m, two folding wings are used each side of the central section. These are as well built as the chassis itself, with heavy duty hydraulic rams to fold them.

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Allen Custom Drills C-D 4000 Hopper

A large, slim hopper is mounted down the centre of the machine, leaving room for the wings to fold.

It is split into two bins — one 800-litre bin for seed capable of taking a half-tonne bag of most seeds and a 1,300-litre bin for fertiliser able to take around two half-tonne bags.

A dust- and rain-proof tarpaulin cover rolls clear of the top of the bins, while a ladder from the left-hand side to the platform gives safe and stable access for the operator.

Inside the hopper, removable steel mesh prevents larger objects from entering the metering mechanism, and an adjustable level sensor is located low under the mesh to allow drilling to continue down to a very low level, before letting the operator know the bin is nearly empty.

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Allen Custom Drills C-D 4000 crane

Allen _Custom _Drills _2

It might just be me, but there’s something about Hiab cranes that just make you want to play with them — and indeed I did.

While it might seem a little excessive to have a crane mounted on the side of the drill, the owner and operator both maintain this is pretty much the greatest thing since sliced bread.

It can lift around a tonne and they’ve found it’s able to reach over fence lines and into sheds to retrieve half-tonne bags of seed and fertiliser without having to rely on others to be around with machines to help load the drill — thus speeding up the whole process considerably.

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Allen Custom Drills C-D 4000 Fan

A fan mounted out of dust’s reach, at the front of the machine, is hydraulically driven directly through the remote valve on the tractor, so the speed can be changed by adjusting the oil flow out of the tractor.

The fan speed is displayed on the monitor, making it easy to set and keep an eye on. Bolted onto the side of the fan is another clever idea — a heat exchanger, which is basically an oil cooler radiator through which the fan draws the air in.

A split vein valve directs the air through separate tubes under the seed and fertiliser metering units. As this valve is adjustable, the air flow to each unit can be changed, depending on what is required.

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Allen Custom Drills C-D 4000 Metering and Calibration

Allen _Custom _Drills _7

Allen Custom Drills has used proven and widely available Accord metering units, which can deliver seed rates from 1kg per hectare to 400kg per hectare.

Maniototo Contracting has tested this range, sowing swedes several times, at around 1kg per hectare and cereals over 300kg per hectare, and can confirm the metering proved accurate and reliable.

This metering system is combined with electronic drive, a ground speed radar, and the RDS Artemis monitor in the cab, which makes calibration incredibly straightforward.

To calibrate, simply open the flap at the base of the metering unit, press prime to run some seed through, and then place a container under the unit.

My experiences with the RDS Artemis monitor have all been positive. It uses a black and white display, with buttons corresponding to icons on the screen and a keypad that makes it easy to enter rates.

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Allen Custom Drills C-D 4000 Openers

The Allen C-D 4000 uses a triple-disc set-up, and its overall heavy nature to ensure good ground penetration.

Up front are the leading turbo discs, mounted in pairs to form a row on a hefty box section beam, with adjustable height. 

Following these are two plain discs set in a ‘V’ formation on each coulter to open up a slot. Seed and fertiliser is fed out of separate hoses to ensure accurate placement and are dropped between the two discs.

Finally, a press wheel closes the slot and firms the soil around the seed for improved germination.

Coulters mount to the frame via a parallel linkage set-up that allows each one to move independently while maintaining a constant down pressure.

An adjustable spring in this linkage also allows for the downforce on each coulter to be varied from 70kg to as low as 50kg in soft, cultivated soil. 

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The Verdict

It’s no secret I’m a big fan of NZ-based equipment manufacturers, but I’m an even bigger fan when the machinery can hold its own against international models — and that is exactly my opinion of Allen Custom Drills equipment.

The construction stands out above all else for me — it is ‘built like a tank’, which is highly important both here in NZ and in Australia.

The hefty build quality also comes in handy, adding much needed weight to keep the openers in the ground in dry conditions. The simplicity that comes with electronic drive and monitoring is another standout that does away with almost all of the human error involved with calibrating a drill.

Overall, this is a great simple machine to operate. It’s built to last in even the harshest conditions and I, for one, am keen to see more of the Allen line-up in the future.

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You can read the full test report in New Farm Machinery magazine issue 17, on-sale December 29. Subscribe to the magazine to receive the issues at your doorstep. 

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