Tractor cabs are quieter, smoother and more high-tech, yet having somewhere to store a toolbox or mobile phone often seems to be overlooked. James Cullimore put 11 tractors to the test
You have to sympathise with tractor cab designers. They are given a small steel cell, into which they have to shoehorn a seat, several displays, dozens of switches, knobs and levers, not to mention acres of plastic housing that hide boring stuff like wiring and cables.
So it’s probably no surprise that finding a spot for the driver’s phone comes pretty far down the list. Yet many drivers will spend 1000 or 1500 hours a year in the tractor, so the need for decent storage is definitely there.
So how do the different cabs score when it comes to finding a home for life’s little necessities? There was only one way to find out and that was to grab some typical driver gear – in this case a toolbox, Tupperware with lunch in, water bottle, iPod and mobile phone – and try to fit them in a variety of cabs.
In a rigorous test we did just that in 11 different tractors about the 150hp mark. We’ve ranked the first six in order of roominess and convenience. The rest weren’t awful – just trickier to find a place to put everything.
1st JCB 7170
Phone – Fits as comfortably as a calfskin glove on a duchess’s hand.
Toolbox – Loads of room for it plus extra space for the 24in adjustable you always think you’d better cart around.
Lunchbox – Enough room to feed a whole army (well, maybe just the silaging gang)
Water bottle – Space for several drinks. Gin and tonic, anyone?
iPod – Neat socket allows you to play your tunes through the tractor’s stereo. Well wicked.
Sum-up: The sheer width of the JCB cab gives plentiful storage space, but it’s the well-thought-out layout and clever compartments that really impress.
Phone – Handy cupholder makes an ideal phone slot. Careful you don’t drop it in your coffee, though.
Toolbox – A little tricky to get to, but well sited.
Lunchbox/iPod – Slots and straps hold bits and pieces in place.
Water bottle – Sizeable cooled compartment keeps those family-size pork pies cool.
Sum-up: MF cab is well thought out with a cooler and elastic cords to hold odd-shaped items like terriers and unruly children.
3rd John Deere 6930
Phone – Nicely to hand and fits most phone makes.
Toolbox – Oof! toolbox is a tight fit and a trip hazard.
Lunchbox – Hand-to-food in under two seconds. Can’t be bad if hunger hits
Water bottle – Clever compartment fits a range of bottle sizes.
Sum-up: Deere has decent-sized compartments to keep even the most gluttonous driver happy. Weigh Watchers won’t approve.
4th Claas Arion 640
Phone – Easy to grab, but unlikely to stay put if you’re bouncing along on a bumpy track.
Toolbox – Plenty of room and simple to retrieve.
Water bottle/lunchbox/iPod – enough slots for every shape and size.
Sum-up: Nice and accessible with a variety of slots classy place to stow your stuff.
5th New Holland 6080
Phone/iPod/lunchbox – Stays in one place, but likely to go walkabout if the going gets rough.
Water bottle – Good. Falls easily to hand.
Toolbox – Easy to get to, not so easy to get over.
Sum-up: Cupholders next to the key controls on the NH mean phone or water bottles are but a fingertip away.
Phone/iPod – Not sure where these go. Any ideas?
Toolbox – OK for space and easy to get to.
Lunchbox – M620 accommodates even the heftiest of luncbboxes.
Water bottle – Big holder will keep thirsty drivers hydrated through the long hot days of August. Not that we had any of those in 2008.
Sum-up: Though having a toolbox inside the cab is never ideal, the large floor area in the Deutz means it can be slotted in surprisingly conveniently.
Phone/iPod – A bit of a stretch, but plenty of space when you get there.
Toolbox – Easy to get the tools out in a hurry if a plough point breaks.
Lunchbox – Remote spot in front of the foot pedal discourages repeat snacking, so great if you’re trying to lose a few pounds.
Water bottle – Well located and big enough to accommodate a range of bottle sizes.
Sum-up: Not the most creative use of space, but the big floor area allows tools to be grabbed quickly.
Phone/iPod – Made to measure. Nice.
Toolbox – A little too snug.
Lunchbox – On a diet? This out-of-reach slot near the door could be ideal for you.
Water bottle – No chance of dehydration with this roomy compartment.
Sum-up: Space is limited in the Valtra cab, yet compartments are plentiful and items are generally easy to grab.
Phone/iPod/water bottle – Items fit into the slots like a jigsaw.
Toolbox – Try getting over that in one piece
Lunchbox – A bit too low for easy access to that six-pack of Tesco jam doughnuts that has your name on them.
Sum-up: Compartments fall easily to hand, but space isn’t the most generous.
Phone/iPod – Nowhere to put ’em, so let’s hope you’ve got good pockets.
Toolbox – Extra toolbox behind the seat helped.
Lunchbox/water bottle – Simple system, but does the job.
Sum-up: Extra tool box was great, but otherwise there are few easy-to-reach slots. Definitely one for the supple of limb.
Phone/iPod – Where do they go? Answers on a postcard please.
Toolbox – Cramped space means toolbox is very tight fit. Think camels and sandstorms.
Lunchbox – Stays on, but not for long.
Water bottle – You may need to ask a passing contortionist to retrieve it for you.
Sum-up: Limited compartments and room suggest provision of storage space wasn’t high on the designer’s priority list.
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