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Pedal to the metal

Webster County entrepreneurs design Deere decelerator units

-Messenger photo by Darcy Dougherty Maulsby
Curt Messerly of Fort Dodge helps the Olson family farm in Webster and Wright counties, plus he's a certified electronic technician who helps build the electronic deceleration systems from MODDCO Dynamics.

When Duane Olson got a John Deere 9430T tractor about a year ago, it was a switch from the CAT Challenger tractors he was used to driving. There was one component that he just couldn’t get used to — the deceleration switch.

“After the first night of ripping with the new-to-us 9430T, we discovered how much we disliked the deceleration switch on the floor,” said Olson, a third-generation farmer who farms in Webster County and Wright County. “It was such an abrupt change in engine RPM. If your foot slipped off the button in the middle of a turn, off you went in whatever direction you were pointed. It was a somewhat minor inconvenience, but we could do better.”

Ever since that night, the idea of a proportional electronic deceleration system for John Deere tractors was born. It’s now a reality, thanks to the teamwork, vision, technical expertise and entrepreneurial spirit of Olson, his son, Dan, 41, and their friend Curt Messerly of Fort Dodge,

who helps them farm. “Combined, we have more than 80 years of farming and mechanical experience,” Olson said.

The trio formed MODDCO Dynamics (which takes its name from the three men’s initials) to create a user-friendly, proportional electronic deceleration system for John Deere tractors. “We wanted to see if we could create a pedal on the floor to replace the deceleration button,” Duane Olson said.

-Messenger photo by Darcy Dougherty Maulsby
After one night of ripping with a John Deere 9430T, Duane Olson discovered how much he disliked the deceleration switch on the floor. He teamed up with his son Dan and family friend Curt Messerly to design a foot pedal to operate the electronic deceleration system.

It helped that Dan Olson had the ability to reverse-engineer the system, thanks in part to his college degree in mechanical engineering. He also wrote a computer program to create a practical, easy-to-use electronic deceleration system operated by a foot pedal.

MODDCO Dynamics invested in a couple 3-D printers to create some of the components, plus they draw heavily on Messerly’s experience, since he’s a certified electronic technician.

The trio tested the add-on pedal with their own farm equipment. They also had some of their farmer friends give the unit a try, too.

“We made a few tweaks, based on their feedback,” said Duane Olson, whose son, Kyle, an owner/broker of EXIT Realty Frontier and EXIT Country Realty, also helps his family farm.

MODDCO Dynamics currently offers decelerator systems for John Deere tractors ranging from the 9000 series all the way to current tractors, but are willing to look into other makes and models. Theoretically, the deceleration module should be able to be added to any electronically controlled diesel engine, Dan Olson said. Each unit features plug-and-play installation, with no wires to cut or tap into. The entire installation takes less than an hour, and the pedal looks like a factory unit once it’s installed.

-Messenger photo by Darcy Dougherty Maulsby
MODDCO Dynamics of Fort Dodge includes, from left, Dan Olson, his father, Duane Olson, and their friend Curt Messerly of Fort Dodge, who helps them farm.

“There has been a lot of interest in this technology, and we’ve sold quite a few units already,” said Duane Olson, who noted that the price of each unit is as low as $1,250.

MODDCO Dynamics’ electronic deceleration systems can be especially useful when farming hilly land. There’s no need to reprogram the pedal system the next time you start the tractor, Duane Olson added. “It will always start up the exact same setting you had it the day before when you start the tractor again the next morning.”

Technology becomes a lifeline

While MODDCO Dynamics’ electronic deceleration systems started as a way to get rid of the button in John Deere tractors, developing this technology became more than a job for Dan Olson.

This past summer, he contracted a life-threatening staph infection that led to sepsis. At one point, his mobility was limited to a wheelchair when he was receiving treatment at University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics in Iowa City.

-Messenger photo by Darcy Dougherty Maulsby
MODDCO Dynamics invested in a couple 3-D printers to create some of the components to manufacture its electronic deceleration systems.

“Getting back to the farm to work on this project motivated me to get well,” Dan Olson said.

This can-do spirit defines both MODDCO Dynamics and the innovators behind this technology. “Dan just keeps pushing hard, and we’re so proud of him,” Duane Olson said.

To learn more about MODDCO Dynamics’ electronic deceleration systems, visit https://moddcodynamics.com.

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