Utility Vehicles, Tractors, and vulnerability to Electromagnetic Pulse
Having just completed one of the many EMP event scenario/nothing runs novels, I decided to delve into my John Deere tractor and Kubota UTX. Both are diesel powered. I perform my own maintenance and shop manuals are part of the negotiation package when buying new equipment.
The maintenance manuals for the Kubota are very detailed and complete. I searched the electrical section in order to verify what the dealership told me regarding the lack of computerized engine control. I found a handful of relays (small rectangular boxes in the photo) control the engine and other vehicle functions. The voltage regulator resides inside the alternator, as do the rectification diodes. These assemblies are available separately from the complete alternator if desired. One other potential electrical weakness I found was the fuel stop solenoid. The dealership ordered a complete alternator, all relays, and a fuel stop solenoid for the UTX. These items I sealed in a .50 caliber ammunition box in the manner described in an earlier article. While I was at it, I asked for a fuel pump (engine driven, mechanical), fuel filters, alternator belt, a half dozen each of the oil and paired hydraulic fluid filters, cabin air filters, and engine air intake filter elements. Like the John Deere tractor, the Kubota has nested cylindrical air filters that provide a safety measure for the engine should the outer filter become damaged.
To my surprise, I discovered an almost identical arrangement was used on the John Deere 5200 series tractor, right down to the relays (see tractor photo). As with the Kubota, I ordered logical spares that were sealed in an ammunition box labeled “5200 John Deere.”
Electrical components for both vehicles with alternators being the most expensive individual component, and spare consumables (less fluids) for six oil changes and mechanical consumables such as fuel pumps altogether cost about a thousand dollars. Considering the value of these vehicles, this is very reasonable and cheap insurance against an event we all hope will never happen.
Even though an EMP event ‘might’ stop the engine in your modern gasoline or diesel powered car or truck, industrial engines powering tractors, utility vehicles, irrigation pumps, and many standby generators, should be highly resistant with EMP damage easily repaired. Farmers would still be able to plant and harvest crops and we would retain a measure of individual mobility, even if with utility vehicles. As an aside, engine spares for the military are mounted inside metal clamshells, securely bolted together. In this environment, the complete engine assemblies are highly resistant to an EMP event.
In summary, it would appear that tractors such as mine, and similar small utility vehicles are highly immune to the effects of EMP. Solid state battery charging regulation and diode rectification are likely the most susceptible components followed by relays and solenoids. Spares for these electrical components can be had for about a hundred dollars. I include the relays and solenoids due to the very small wire used in their coils. I strongly suspect starter relays and starting motors are highly resistant to EMP due to their high current design and thus larger wiring.
So buck up, many of those entertaining EMP event – end of the world novels, are just like fishing lures, designed not so much to catch fish but to catch that buck in your billfold.