A sound business model: machine replicas making a big impression
How a Tipperary man turned a passion for making models into a business.

Ciaran Dunne’s interest in model making comes from his own farming background. The Dunne farm near Thurles, Co Tipperary, consists of both dairy and beef enterprises. Ciaran had the usual assortment of farm models when growing up – toy tractors and machinery that most young children typically would have.

Often the shops wouldn’t have a model Ciaran wanted, so he decided to start building them himself. He further developed these skills as he got older and ultimately deciding on model making as a career.

Ciaran Dunne has turned his childhood hobby into a successful business.

After secondary school, Ciaran went to England to attend the Arts University College Bournemouth (AUCB). There, Ciaran spent three years doing a BA (Hons) model-making course with the ultimate goal of landing a job making architectural models.

In his final year, things took an agricultural turn. After plans to build a model of the Burj Khalifa, (Dubai’s tallest building) for his final year project fell through, Ciaran went back to the drawing board.

Having come across a model of a hedge cutter, he realised could build a much more detailed version. Hedge cutters are not common models due to the complexity of their design, especially if moving functionality is to be achieved. So Ciaran took this opportunity and produced a brass-built McConnell hedgecutter in 1:32 scale for his final-year project. This is where he honed and developed his skills, producing incredibly precise and detailed models.

The McConnell PA6500T. These particular models played a huge part in Ciaran's success.

Ciaran explained what he learned in college: “It showed me how to make pretty much anything out of anything, from plastic, metal, resin and fiberglass. On the computing side, there is 3D modelling, special effects for filming and also prototype building.”

Ciaran enjoys driving occasionally for local contractors in the summer season. This allows him to see machinery from a new perspective, leaving him with a fresh mind when back in the workshop, model building.

The beginning of Perfect 32

Ciaran started off in his family home making models of McHale bale handlers, OCE folding grass forks along with shear grabs. To date, the McHale bale handlers are the top-selling product, and take shy of two hours to build from start to finish.

The McHale bale hander is one of Ciaran's best sellers to date.

When the business, called Perfect 32, started expanding, he moved out to a workshop on the farm which he set up for the job. His tool-filled workshop feels like a man cave for a model or machinery enthusiast. The brass-laden counters catch the eye as almost all the models are made from some shape or form of brass.

The folding OCE grass forks were among Ciaran's first popular models.

Ciaran’s workshop contains all the tools and materials he would ever need. There are shelves stocked with lengths of brass ranging in shape and thickness, band saws, pillar drills, belt sanders, metal bending tools.

All parts are cut and bent individually, then solder is applied using a gas torch.

Moving out the back, he has a ventilated spray booth, where he preps and sprays each individual part with the exact paint of each machine’s manufacturer. They are then hung to dry in the warm workshop on a line.

Ciaran's purpose-built workshop.

The making of the models

Once drawings have been sourced from the manufacturer for a particular product, they are scaled back to 1:32. Ciaran then draws out all the components needed for assembly on the computer. The drawings are then sent to the UK to be laser-cut and acid-etched from sheet brass.

Redrock push off buckrake.

Once returned, Ciaran folds and solders together the intricate parts step by step, building multiple models at once. This idea of batch production speeds up the process. Once assembled, the individual parts are then unassembled and go for painting. Some parts may require 3D printing. This is done by a company in Dublin. Once painted and reassembled, the models are ready for stickers, giving them the finishing touch. All stickers are made locally by a woman who happens to have the right machine for the job.

Ciaran makes most of his models to order or limits production to a set number.

Where the magic happens and endless hours are put in.

McConnell hedge cutter

Upon completing his degree in 2010, Ciaran decided to drop a model of his PA6500T hedge cutter into a local McConnell dealer. McConnell later saw the model and approached him. Ciaran made a few small changes and McConnell then placed an order for 100 models, with models later ending up on show at Agritechnica.

Spread out are most of the components to build 15 hedgecutters

So Ciaran got to work, calling in help of a few friends and started building each individual hedge cutter. Each model requires a total of 15 hours to build.

After viewing a finished model, it’s easy to see where all the production hours went, from the swivel heads to small intricate parts, rotor detail, telescopic arm movement right through to the proper movement of all linkages, just as if it was the real machine. The completed PA6500T fetches a price of €320, which is fair considering the time and effort that goes into the building of the model. This is the model that really got Ciaran better known in the business.

Current projects

When we caught up with Ciaran, he was working on a number of Wilson Super Move 10-bale transporters. These bale transporters took four days to design and 20 hours each to build.

Each transporter contains roughly 28ft of brass and sells for €450.

Wilson Super Move 10 bale trailer

Ciaran produced 20 limited edition Armer Salmon Cheetah single-row beet harvesters, two weathered versions and one prototype model, after one month in the design process. Each take 48 hours to build. Parts are produced from acid etching, CNC laser cutting and 3D printing.

McConnell PA6500T surrounded by all its brass components

Every beet harvester sold comes with a plaque stating its production number. One of these models is rumoured to have recently been sold on an online auction site, fetching double what was paid for it new.

Following this, Ciaran wanted to make 30 limited twin-row Armer Salmon Beaver beet harvesters. This was one of the most detailed models made to date, according to Ciaran, with 20 made so far. Early 2019 sees plans for manufacture of the remaining 10, with all sold already apart from two and priced at €1,300 each.

Model modifications

Another part of Ciaran’s business is model modifications. This is where collectors will leave models with him to be modified, often to make them look more realistic. These modifications include respraying, adding of stickers, lights, number plates and new wheels.

Claas Jaguar 860 in for wider tyres, number plates and extra stickers

Recently, Ciaran had a Claas Arion tractor in for modifications which included bonnet and chassis shortening, to suit the dimensions of the real four-cylinder variant. Ciaran had a Claas Jaguar forage harvester in for wider wheels and number plates, while I was there.

From talking to him, you’d know straight away he loves what he does. “I feel I have turned an old hobby into a job that I now love and also incorporates my passion for machinery.”

Ciaran plans to keep building models with the hope to get his models more and more detailed. He will continue to focus on quality and detail rather than on big production numbers. Ciaran’s work will be on show next at the Carrickdale Model Toy Show on 24 February in the Carrickdale Hotel, Dundalk, Co Louth.

WIN a model tractor and two tickets to the FTMTA Farm Machinery Show

Answer the questions below correctly to be in with a chance of winning one of three 1:32 scale model tractors sponsored by Tinney Toys along with two tickets to the FTMTA Farm Machinery Show in Punchestown in February 2019. Entries close 15 January.

36m Horsch sprayer spreads its wings in Carlow
Peter Thomas Keaveney took a trip to Co Carlow to catch up with tillage farmer Kevin Nolan who recently purchased a new Horsch Leeb trailed sprayer.

Farming 1,400 acres in north Co Carlow, Kevin Nolan started off spraying at the tender age of 14 using a Hardi trailed sprayer with a 14m boom. After first switching to a Horsch Leeb trailed sprayer back in 2011 because of its boom stability. Kevin opted to stick with the brand and upgrade his sprayer to a Leeb 8 GS.

He noted that his decision to stick with Horsch was based on the low running costs of his previous sprayer. Kevin went from running a trailed sprayer with a 6,000 litre tank and 30m booms to an 8,000 litre tank with a 36m boom.

Kevin Nolans Horsch Leeb 8 GS 36m trailed sprayer. \ Adrian Leech Photography

Since taking the delivery of his new sprayer in December, Kevin has covered just under 800 acres with the machine.

BoomControl Pro Plus

The sprayer is kitted out with 36m triple-fold booms. Horsch’s BoomControl Pro Plus uses sensors positioned along the boom to allow each section to move up or down independently.

Horsch’s BoomControl Pro Plus uses sensors positioned along the boom enable it to independently move each section up or down.

This is in an attempt to maintain the desired boom height across the machine’s width.

The active boom control system allows the user to spray at a low target height. This helps to reduce drift. The boom can be equipped with four different nozzles at any one time, allowing for 12 different nozzle configurations.

The boom can be equipped with four different nozzles at any one time, allowing for twelve different nozzle configurations.

These nozzles can be either physically altered or altered from the cab.

Both the right and left booms are fitted with one LED light for night spraying. The brightness of this light can be adjusted from the display monitor. When working, the sprayer and the lights are on. At the end of each run fresh water is sprayed at the lights ensure they are kept clean.

When the booms are extended, a curtain sits down behind the wheels, meaning that if the ground is a little sticky, no muck will be splashed onto any of the nozzles.

Another nice feature is the deadlock lever. This locks the flow of oil to the booms and the steering axle, allowing for peace of mind while in transport.

The sprayer is equipped with a steering axle, which allows it to follow the tracks of the tractor via a gyroscope that’s mounted on the axle.

The tank is stainless steel rather than plastic. As a result, there is little fear of any residue sticking in the tank. As standard, an airline is fitted to the rear of the sprayer. If any nozzles get blocked they can be easily cleared.

Terminal

Kevin opted for the Horsch 1200 (12.1 inch) touchscreen display monitor over the option of running the sprayer through the Fendt’s Isobus terminal. This terminal is quite large and can be used in either portrait or landscape mode.

Kevin opted for the Horsch 1200 (12.1 inch) touchscreen display monitor over the option of running the sprayer through the Fendt’s IsoBus terminal.

Kevin explained that he opted for the terminal because there’s so much going on with the sprayer he likes to have the two screens.

Internal cab controls also feature a multifunction joystick. This joystick controls all important boom functions, including section control.

Internal cab controls also feature a multifunction joystick that controls all important boom functions including section control.

Kevin retrofitted a reversing camera at the rear of the machine to provide him with more visibility. The exterior panels are manufactured using plastic. All opening panels use gas struts and are kept shut using magnets.

However, Kevin noted that in his opinion this was one downfall, as he was afraid they could pop open some day while in transport on the road.

Induction hopper

The sprayer is equipped with 3in fittings, a stainless steel induction hopper, a 3in rotary pump with an output of 1,000 l/min as a spraying pump and an additional piston diaphragm pump as a suction aid for the continuous inside cleaning.

The area around the induction hopper has been redesigned and provides for a simple working environment.

The area around the induction hopper has been redesigned and provides for a simple working environment. The display monitor has three pages, each of which are easy to read and alter. Kevin said: “The area around the induction hopper provides for a really nice working environment. It has a tap with freshwater for washing your hands and an overhead LED light that lights up the area in the dark”.

When working the sprayer and the lights are on, at the end of each run fresh water is sprayed at the lights ensure they are constantly kept clean.

Cleaning

Kevin’s sprayer is kitted out with Horsch’s fully automated Continuous Cleaning System Pro (CCS Pro). This system uses displacement to clean out the machine. Initially the CCS Pro system blows out the sprayer internally using compressed air, pushing out any unwanted residual in the spray lines. Following this, a separate cleaning pump will feed fresh water into the main tank and wash it out. The main pump then kicks into action, circulating the washings around the rest of the system before pushing it out of the nozzle. Kevin said: “The cleaning system is the stuff of the future. It thoroughly cleans the sprayer using a little amount of water. I can go from spraying Roundup to spraying oilseed rape in 10 or a maximum of 15 minutes.”

Axle

The sprayer is equipped with a steering axle, which allows it to follow the tracks of the tractor via a gyroscope that’s mounted on the axle. The axle is also air-suspended with level regulation. The sprayer came on 620 tyres, however, Kevin plans to fit either 710s or 800s to the sprayer next autumn. Kevin explained: “When I was ordering the sprayer I would have liked to have put it on 650 tyres, but the option wasn’t there so he had to settle for 620s”.

The rims come as standard in a grey colour, however, Kevin opted to powder-coat the rims black to fit in with the colour scheme of his Fendt 828 tractor. The machine is 2.8m wide with the mudguards being the widest point. This means that booms are neatly tucked away.

Easy attaching

Kevin noted that the sprayer is very easy to attach or detach from the tractor. The sprayer has a hydraulically powered stand, which cuts out any winding up or down associated with typical stands.

The sprayer has a hydraulically powered stand, which cuts out any winding up or down associated with typical stands.

The stand folds up neatly, tucking itself away into the drawbar. After the stand only hydraulic hoses, an air brake line and the terminal cabling need coupling or decoupling.

Why go larger?

Kevin explained that he opted to move from a 30m boom to a 36m boom for two reasons. Firstly, the wider boom means that Kevin can run a wider tyre without losing grain and, secondly, the increased tank capacity means that overall time spent spraying will be reduced.

We posed the question to Kevin why didn’t he opt for a self-propelled machine. He explained that he had a third tractor in the yard and liked the idea of running three tractors over two. However, he wouldn’t rule it out.

This year Kevin expects to cover around 7,000 plus acres with the new sprayer. This includes applying somewhere between 100,000 to 140,000 litres of liquid nitrogen and a small bit of contract spraying.

Likes

  • Large split screen terminal showing full workings of sprayer.
  • Boom Pro Plus maintaining same boom height across the entire boom.
  • The sprayer is physically narrower than its predecessor.
  • Dislikes

  • Exterior plastic panels held shut using magnets.
  • No option of ordering with a 650 tyre.
    Polaris reveals new Ranger with ABS braking
    American recreational vehicle manufacturer Polaris recently launched its new Ranger XP 1000 EPS UTV with ABS braking.

    Polaris claims to have raised the bar with the addition of ABS brakes on its Ranger XP 1000 EPS.

    According to Rodrigo Lourenco, vice president of Polaris, this is the brand’s most refined and versatile product on the market, making it the ultimate utility workhorse.

    The new ABS brakes give Ranger the ability to steer while braking, minimising the risk of skidding.

    The addition of ABS also allows more controlled braking on all surface types, achieving shorter stopping distances.

    The Ranger XP 1000 produces 82hp from its ProStar 1000 twincylinder engine. With 61lbf-ft of torque, the Ranger boasts impressive towing capabilities of over 1,100kg.

    Over 33cm of ground clearance and full body skid plates offer 45% greater protection to the UTV.

    The new Ranger also sees more precise steering, larger front bumper and offers a tighter turning radius than before.

    The XP 1000 EPS ABS also features the refinements found on the other Ranger models.

    These optional extras include a four-inch LCD entertainment system with GPS, an overhead sound system and front and rear-view cameras.

    Top five tips for buying a used ATV
    Peter Thomas Keaveney talks to Noel Lambert from Lambert ATV sales in Roscommon who offers his expertise on what potential buyers should look out for when buying a used quad.

    Noel Lambert from Lambert ATV sales in Roscommon says it is very important that potential buyers should consider buying a recognised brand, with a proven track record.

    He noted that there are a lot of unproved brands of quads on the market. Such brands may have poor reliability and parts may not be readily available.

    1 General appearance

    The general condition of the machine will tell you a lot about how it has been looked after. The quad should start easily from cold and idle smoothly. A starter motor could cost from €200 to €350 including VAT. The tyres should be inspected. Depending on the brand and size, new tyres for a farm quad will vary from €75 to €110 each including VAT. The frame should be checked for cracks, welds or corrosion.

    2 Engine

    As previously mentioned, it is important that the engine should idle and run smoothly. The oil level should be inspected using the dipstick which is generally to the side of the engine.

    It’s important to note that there isn’t too much oil in the quad as this may indicate that there is fuel leaking into the oil.

    It is important to note if there is too much oil in the quad as this may indicate that there is fuel leaking into the oil. Too little oil can indicate engine wear. The air filter should be inspected. A blocked air filter may indicate the quad wasn’t regularly cared for.

    3 Steering, brakes and suspension

    It is important to check for play in the steering. The handlebars should not move without a response from the wheels. A little play is acceptable but anything beyond 5mm is deemed to be dangerous. This kind of play would suggest worn ball joints or worn track rod ends.

    Play in the steering would suggest worn ball joints or worn track rod ends, which is extremely dangerous.

    The wheel bearings should also be checked. This is done by rocking the wheels. When driving the quad, listen for any clicking or cracking sounds. This may indicate worn or damaged CV joints.

    The front and rear brakes should be assessed to ensure they are functioning and are not seized. The brake cables should be working freely.

    When weight is placed and released on the suspension system, it should return to its original position nice and slowly. If it springs up like a basketball, it may indicate all that is active is the spring and not the gas in the shocks. These shocks would cost around €150 each including VAT to replace.

    4 Transmission

    In the case of geared quads, it is important to check that each gear can be individually selected. This should be done by counting the gears as it selects them. If a gearbox is damaged it would not be unusual for a gear to be skipped.

    If the 4WD is not working on a quad, depending on what’s wrong, it could cost somewhere in the region of €500-€600 including VAT to repair it.

    On electronic gear models, check gears can be selected upwards and downwards and in reverse. A lazy gear selection can indicate problems.

    If looking at a used quad with a selectable 4WD, it is important that it works. If the 4WD is not working, it can be costly to repair. Depending on what is wrong, whether it be shafts, couplings or the 4WD shift motor, it could cost somewhere in the region of €500 to €600 including VAT to repair it.

    5 Is it stolen or still on finance?

    Over the past five years, financing of new and secondhand quads has become popular. It is estimated that 60% of new quads sold today are on finance. If buying a used quad, you should carry out a finance check to ensure there is no remaining debt.

    One of the biggest risks when buying a used quad is to ensure it hasn’t been stolen. The VIN should be inspected to ensure its not missing or altered.

    Noel explained that one of the biggest risks when buying a used quad is that it might have been stolen.

    He said in his 20 years of experience in the business he has declined to accept many trade-ins offered with missing or altered Vehicle Identification Numbers (VINs), more commonly known as chassis numbers.