Tractors around the 150hp mark should be easy to find. After all, they’re pretty commonplace nowadays.

But digging out a good one that won’t mean a begging visit to the bank manager is harder than you might think. And, of course, selecting the right one is going depend completely on what you want it to do.

With the help of second-hand machinery dealer and tractor exporter Mark Hellier, we’ve picked out three machines that we reckon offer good value for money and are nicely run in at between 3000 and 4500 hours.

All three differ in transmission choice. The Case swoops in with its trademark Steyr stepless CVT, while the bigger, heftier Deutz offers a straightforward manual six-shifter and four-speed powershift.

The Valtra also comes down on the simple side of the fence with no-nonsense three-range, four-speed manual box with three-step splitter. All three offer power-shuttles as you might expect.

It might all be different on the gearbox front, but both the T150 and the CVX share the same power plant. Built by Valtra subsidiary SisuDiesel in the heart of Finland, the 6.6-litre electronically-governed engine rarely gives trouble and is widely recognised as being one of the best for low-end grunt.

The Agrotron’s “.7” designation indicates a 7.1-litre Deutz lump lurks under the hood.

 

CASE IH CVX 1155 – £27,500

Case IH

Stepless CVT gearbox makes this an ideal choice for spud-growers where bed preparation and harvesting work is speed critical. Hot-shot operators will be able to work their magic with the transmission to make sure the tractor is always working at its optimum.

But be aware that power losses are greater and the extra you spend on a CVT needs to be recouped somehow. That is likely to prove difficult if this is to be a fleet tractor that anyone will drive.

The Steyr-developed hydro-mechanical hybrid transmission rarely throws a tantrum, but once the wrong side of 10,000 hours it can start to get sloppy. Scottish CVX specialists ???? recommend a refurb at this age if it’s to be kept running at tip-top levels.

Case IH

Surprisingly, the strip-down is not as time-consuming as you’d think thanks to the fact that the workings are contained within a slot-in “cassette”. Expect it to take a couple of days.

If the box has aged prematurely the tractor will be sluggish to pull away. If it feels lethargic, then it’s likely the hydrostatic side of the unit is losing pressure – that’s when you need to factor in a refurb cost.

CVXs are fitted with independently-suspended Carraro wishbone-type front axles with a multitude of pivot-points. Pre-2003 versions lacked greasers and were not bushed, consequently these tended to wear. Even later versions fitted with nipples and bushes can be neglected.

You won’t feel or hear any noticeable clonks on the road, thanks to the suspension damping, but wear will show up around the pins. Expect to pay between £1500 and £2000 for a rebuild.

Mark’s view:

“The CVX is a good tractor for jobs where control is of the essence and it will cost considerably less than its Fendt or Deere counterparts second-hand.

“This one’s showing its age because the cab has not been particularly well looked after. Control-box mounting screwholes and dirty trim quickly make a tractor look tired.”

 

VALTRA T150 – £24,000

Deutz

Straightforward, no-nonsense mechanical gearbox makes the T150 a true “jump-on-and-drive” machine that just about anyone can master within minutes.

That said, it isn’t unsophisticated. A flip-down panel below the electronic hydraulic controls reveals an aircraft-style array of dials to set up spool-valve flow-rate and timing – four to twiddle for each valve.

It’s light and small making it an ideal topwork tractor and general farm worker.

Like most Scandinavians it has a reputation for reliability. Its truck-type air-bag front suspension rates highly with operators for comfort and is unlikely to give grief.

Valtra

Mark’s view:

“You’d struggle to find a cleaner tractor on these hours. It’s almost in showroom condition.

“This would be my tractor of choice. It’s bomb-proof and won’t start showing its age until way beyond 10,000 hours.”

 

DEUTZ FAHR AGROTRON 165.7 – £31,000

Deutz

This one is Deutz’s top-spec “Profi-line” version. That means it has almost every available extra including air-brakes, cab and front axle suspension, front linkage and pto.

All six manual gear changes are made via one long-throw lever. The four powershift steps can be notched up either by the stubby arm-rest lever or by buttons on the main stick.

Check everything up in the cab works. Like the others, look out for electrical faults. Most niggles are likely to be down to sensors on the blink, but diagnosing where and what they are is going to take a visit from a service engineer and his laptop, so factor that in when you are haggling.

Earlier Agrotrons got a bad name for themselves because they could give back-end trouble particularly with the pto gearing. This was usually attributed to heat build up, so later Mark 3 machines got a bigger cooling pack and “shark-nose” to accommodate it.

Deutz

Mark’s View:

“This is a contractor’s tractor. It’s fully-loaded suspension all-round makes it a good haulage machine, but it will be equally at home with some heavy fieldwork.”

“It’s got a big lazy lump under the bonnet and its price reflects that, at 3000 hours, it’s just about run in.”

 

Mark Hellier’s Top Tips for Buying Used Kit

  • Go with your instincts something that looks abused probably has been.
  • Don’t necessarily write off anything that looks like it might need some work. Cost it out properly and use the niggles as a negotiating tool.
  • Some wear and tear is inevitable. Be realistic, but don’t let blacked-up tyres fool you.
  • Before doing the deal always check front-axle oil levels. A steam-cleaner might make leaks disappear, but bone-dry hubs can be common and always mean trouble.
  • Drive the tractor and listen out for whines and clonks. The former are likely to come from the transmission and driveline while the source of clonks can be anything from engine and axle mounts to cab cladding. Identify the source before worrying what’s up.
  • Obvious – but easily overlooked – things can start to cost you dear. For example, worn, sloppy linkage parts are not cheap and need to be priced up.
  • If the tractor is fitted with a tired cantilever-type pick-up hitch, consider replacing with a telescopic Dromone unit. At £800 a pop, it’s expensive, but money well spent.
  • Tractors with a conventional manual gearbox can eventually begin to lose their synchromesh. Park the tractor on level ground with the engine running. Engage a range and then gently – without the clutch – try to ease the main lever into 1st gear. It won’t actually go in, but if there’s a graunching sound then that indicates the synchros on that gear are on the way out. Repeat for all ratios.

 

Vital statistics

Model

Case IH CVX 1155

Valtra T150

Deutz-Fahr Agrotron 165.7

Power

155hp

155hp

160hp

Hours

4400

4500

3100

Year

2004

2004

2005

Gearbox

Stepless CVT

36F x 36R (3-step splitter)

24F x 24R (4-step power-shift)

Tyres

F – 65%, R – 25%

F – 25%, R – 25%

F – 60%, R – 60%

Price

£27,500

£24,000

£31,000

Extras

Front linkage, front axle suspension

Front suspension

Front linkage and pto, air-brakes, 50kph, cab and front axle suspension.