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  1. #1

    Join Date
    Jan 2001
    Posts
    9
    Location
    South Florida
    Tractor
    1975 Ford 3000

    Default Suicide Knob

    Hey there!

    The thread about the 3PH vs pull type brush hog mentioned something that inspired me to post about an attachment that has proven invaluable to me. The statements concerned steering with the left hand while controlling height of implements with the right hand, all while looking over your shoulder.

    Last year, I was driving my brother's tractor, which had a "suicide knob", or steering wheel spinner. I fell in love with it, because it made steering with one hand a breeze. I've had one on IMBY for about 5 months now, and I don't know how I lived without it.

    The one-handed steering is nice if you want to look like the Marlboro Man or use the other hand for keeping your drink cup from falling off the tractor [img]/w3tcompact/icons/blush.gif[/img], but the best feature is that you always know where straight ahead is. I mounted mine at 8 o'clock, if you can picture the steering wheel as a clock face. After a few minutes of use, "muscle memory" kicks in and you don't have to worry about which way the wheels are turned. You just know, without turning your head or waiting to see which way he 3PH implement is moving after a correction in direction.

    This may sound complicated, but it's just another way to get input into the reflexes that control the way your limbs operate the machine. Sorta like the way your ears can tell you about load on the engine without your eyes having to look at the tach.

    Having spent a couple of hours today mowing one of my pastures that has boocoo pines trees on it, I can say that I'd sooner give up my power steering than my suicide knob. And the knob was only ten bucks. [img]/w3tcompact/icons/cool.gif[/img]

    But seeing as how this is a discussion forum, maybe others have some input on the use of this way cool tool. Good, bad, undecided? I'll put it on my "must have" list, and see if I have any company out there.

    TTYL.

    The Sub Dude

    I'm gonna live forever....So far, so good....
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Suicide Knob-5-47350-spinner-jpg  

  2. #2
    Epic Contributor Bird's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2000
    Posts
    39,420
    Location
    Texas

    Default Re: Suicide Knob

    Sub_Dude, I had one of those knobs on a car when I was a teenager, and thought a little bit about whether to put one on a tractor. Do they still make the model that folds down out of the way when you don't want to use it? I have mixed feelings about them. They can be very handy for certain "routine" driving, but on cars, they're downright dangerous in emergency situations, high speed maneuvering, or stunt driving. Probably not so dangerous on a tractor, especially with power steering, but without power steering if you don't have hold of the knob and hit something with a front tire that spins the wheel and that knob hits your thumb or finger, that's when you take it off and throw it away.[img]/w3tcompact/icons/laugh.gif[/img] And some of the ones years ago have been known to break, the knob comes off in your hand, and the steering wheel does . . . well, whatever it wants to do; most exciting. At any rate, I don't want one on any of my vehicles again, but admittedly it's been well over 40 years since I used one, so maybe they've been improved. They don't call them suicide knobs for nothing.[img]/w3tcompact/icons/laugh.gif[/img]

    Bird

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Apr 2001
    Posts
    65
    Location
    Nashville, Tennessee, USA

    Default Re: Suicide Knob

    Hey Dude, I agree with you! The Suicide knob is a must have on a tractor. I have them on all of my tractors for several years and in tight quarters they really do make a difference. You can really spin that wheel and still maintain very good control. As you said, it also gives you an reference point when you are steering.
    I have never tried one on a car and I don't think it would be a good idea because it seems like at greater speed things would get squirrelly.


  4. #4

    Join Date
    Jan 2001
    Posts
    9
    Location
    South Florida
    Tractor
    1975 Ford 3000

    Default Re: Suicide Knob

    Hey there, Bird!

    First of all, thanks for the input. Glad you found time to discuss something that might make tractoring easier on all of us. [img]/w3tcompact/icons/laugh.gif[/img]

    S'far as I know, they don't make one that folds out of the way. But if you mount it towards the center of the steering wheel, it will be below the plane of your arm travel when you grab the wheel in the normal manner, but still useable. Hope this makes sense. To help out with this description, think of the steering wheel as a bowl. The suicide knob is a spoon that you can grab, but if your arms were a knife, they can scrape across the lip of the bowl without digging into the oatmeal. Got it? [img]/w3tcompact/icons/tongue.gif[/img] That should keep your fingers and other fragile bones out of the way when you use it. And when it starts turning into a fan blade from a bad horror movie, your reflexes will get your hand out of the way. That's the way natural selection works. [img]/w3tcompact/icons/shocked.gif[/img] In other words, you can still use the steering wheel exactly the way you do now, with your driving hands horizontal, your elbows out in the breeze, and no feedback about where you are except by results of your motions.

    As for not breaking and letting the tractor run amok, I don't think anybody not affiliated with the American Bar Association can guarantee that. I can say that mine has two 1/4-20 bolts hooking it to the spoke in the steering wheel, and they anchor into a 1/8" chromed steel mounting plate. From the middle of that, there is a 3/8 stud that has ball bearings allowing the part your hand grabs to spin freely. I guess you could break off a 3/8 stud with your bare hands, even if the 1/4 inch bolts X2 lost their grasp on reality. But I suspect the spoke they are all attached to (which probably is some plastic surrounding a 1/4" wire frame) would go first. But that's not fatal. If it fell off the tractor while you weren't looking, you would still be left with whatever you had before you wasted 10 dollars and a training curve on how to do things better.

    The steering wheel spinner isn't a universal panacea. It's not an autopilot, nor a gyro-referenced stabilizer. It's another place to grab hold of and let you point the machine in the direction your mind has decided is the best way to go. I find it more convenient to have my driving hand in a vertical position that is repeatable and known than to grab some part of the 360 degrees of the steering wheel and have to hang on lest I lose my reference. YMMV.

    If you think it might be dangerous, don't use it. But consider its uses. It's handy for mowing where the trees are thick. If you are going too fast to recover from a fatal flaw in the concept, you may hit a tree and damage it or your tractor. I contend that I, on a given day, am less likely to hit a tree with it than without it and am willing to take a chance on its failure, because that will be payday for all the times I didn't hit a tree because I was using it. I brought it up in reference to riding gain on a 3PH. If it fails, your tractor will move in the wrong direction. How far it moves in that wrong direction is dependent on how fast you're going and how much attention you're paying to what you're doing. If you are paying attention, hopefully you'll have a foot on the brake and a foot on the throttle while your left arm is disabled. Just like when you're using the steering wheel by its loneself. Then you simply grab the wheel and take over, and nobody gets hurt. I hope.

    I can't make any comments about using them in a car, except to say that near-ubiquitous power steering has made them superfluous. They were given the name "suicide knobs" because the folks who bought them were predisposed to drive fast and die young, despite whatever they used to aim the front wheels of their vehicles. And because I'm almost always looking forward when I'm driving a car or truck, I can't imagine why I would need one on something that spends most of its time moving 90 feet per second. But if you're moving less than 9 feet per second, and watching where you've been while you do it, maybe knowing which way your wheels are pointing without turning your head to see would be less of a risk than the suicide knob exploding it your hand.

    I'm no salesman ( my parents were married[img]/w3tcompact/icons/shocked.gif[/img]), but if I was and you walked into my shop with these arguments, I'd tell you to go with what you know. If I were a good salesman (if that isn't an oxymoron [img]/w3tcompact/icons/smile.gif[/img]), I'd try to convince you that what didn't work on cars 40 years ago might work on tractors today. But unlike a salesman, I have nothing to gain whether you buy one or not.

    So if you're set in your ways and what you've got works for you, go with it. I'll use my little cheater, and think of you while I'm getting a stiff neck looking at where my tractor is going. [img]/w3tcompact/icons/crazy.gif[/img] Sorta like the I think about the HST users when my left knee gives out before my left arm does. I still drive a stick in my pickup, because I don't trust those new-fangled automatic shifters. [img]/w3tcompact/icons/smile.gif[/img]

    Happy tractoring. TTYL.

    The Sub Dude


    I'm gonna live forever....So far, so good....

  5. #5
    Epic Contributor Bird's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2000
    Posts
    39,420
    Location
    Texas

    Default Re: Suicide Knob

    Well, you ought to be a good salesman if you ever try it, Sub_Dude.[img]/w3tcompact/icons/laugh.gif[/img][img]/w3tcompact/icons/laugh.gif[/img] Like I said, I thought about using one of the knobs on the tractor; be much safer than on a car, and of course, when I had one on a car, there wasn't any power steering.[img]/w3tcompact/icons/laugh.gif[/img] And I'm all for anything that makes life easier; we even have automatic transmissions in the car and pickup now.[img]/w3tcompact/icons/laugh.gif[/img]

    Bird

  6. #6
    Platinum Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2000
    Posts
    658
    Location
    Central Wisconsin
    Tractor
    1986 Ford 1910 with 770B (FORD) loader, 4 MFWD; 1986 Bolens G214,back hoe,loader,MFWD (Iseki) 21 hp)

    Default Re: Suicide Knob

    I've noticed 2 things using a spinner knob that worry me. I've had a regular buttoned cuff shirt get caught around the spinner knob (between the button and the proximal end of the slit) and briefly imped the use of that hand. Several buttons have been ripped off. Secondly, I have a hip length lined work coat, i/D Wear brand with a nice leather collar and plenty of pockets. The juncture of the lining and the shell at the lower front opening is overlapped and opened in such a way that the spinner knob can get in there with you moving around the tractor platform and restrict you and the steering unexpectently. I've had to stop and untangle myself several times. There is no flimsy button to rip out in this situation.

    RCH

  7. #7
    Epic Contributor
    R.I.P.
    jinman's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2001
    Posts
    21,014
    Location
    Texas - Wise County - Sunset
    Tractor
    NHTC45D, NH LB75B, Ford Jubilee

    Default Re: Suicide Knob

    Hey Sub_Dude, I think your idea of the "spinner" knob is good. I always put those lace-on steering wheel covers on all my tractors and lawn tractors too. Why? The cover is cheaper to replace than the steering wheel when it becomes cracked and sun-dried. It also adds padding to my old Ford Jubilee steering wheel. I probably would not put the spinner on the Jubilee, because I've really had the wheel severely jerked around in my hands, but I think the spinner is probably a good idea for my NH TC45D because of the power steering. I may get one and give it a try.

    Thanks for reminding me of a "retro-fix" that any 60s teenager would not have been without. As I remember, it was just part of being "cool" to have one because you had to do everything with one hand. The other arm/hand was permanently fixed around that cute little girl sitting next to you.[img]/w3tcompact/icons/cool.gif[/img]


    JimI

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Jun 2000
    Posts
    532
    Location
    SE Michigan - between Pontiac and Flint
    Tractor
    Kubota B7100 HST - 1995

    Default Re: Suicide Knob

    I've used steering wheel spinners on tractors forever. Have one now on my B7100 (no power steering) and it's a handy assist when manuvering around stuff. I've had it yanked out of my hand a couple of times bush hogging when I dropped a front tire into a hole, but I wouldn't give it up.

    Bob Pence

  9. #9
    Gold Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2000
    Posts
    350
    Location
    Henrietta, NY, USA
    Tractor
    790 John Deere, 2000

    Default Re: Suicide Knob

    I thought (briefly) about one, but the power steering on my JD790 is so good that I "palm-spin" the wheel very easily. That thought of catching either my knuckles or my clothes on it has also bothered me.

    mark

  10. #10
    New Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Posts
    0

    Default Re: Suicide Knob

    Let us consider one of the advantages of the spinner/suicide knob: An index so your "muscle memory" knows where the the steering wheel is. On sailing craft (OK, OK and on some stink pots as well) the king post of the ships wheel is often marked with some small line wrapped around it so you can distinguish it in the dark or without looking. Serves the same purpose, in this case, as the suicide knob but will not hang in your sleve, bust a thumb, break leaving sharp debris, or anything else but indicate where the wheel's positioned. I personally have power steering that is EXTREMELY easy to turn (new Grand L 4610) and can spin the wheel lock to lock by sticking a finger beside a spoke and twirling it B U T when going for neutral/straight ahead, I need an index mark I can feel instead of looking at the wheel and noting whether the word "kubota" is tilted, upside down, or whatever. Answer: wrap one spoke near left hand when wheel is straight ahead with small line, say 1/4 inch. Spinning the Kubota steering wheel is easy with B U T not on the finger(s) doing it so I wear gloves. Wearing gloves requires the wrapping line to be large enough to feel reliably. Note: I said nothing bad about having a spinner/suicide knob, just that I don't need one with my easy steering. I do need the tactile feedback so I know wheel positiion while looking over shoulder (L4610 has great mirrors but I haven't adapted to them yet so I crane my neck around and sit in the seat crooked) Why don't tractor seats pivot slightly clockwise to assist in the rearward stance or mount them a few degreel out of allignment??????

    Patrick


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