26 May 1995

Comfy, quiet & a hard worker worth its salt

Massey Ferguson updated its 80-200hp tractors earlier this year, when it introduced the 6100 and 8100 ranges. From the outside they appear similar to what went before – a closer look reveals several significant changes.

Andy Collings climbs into the drivers seat.

QUIET and comfortable. That is the first impression when climbing aboard one of the new range of Massey Ferguson tractors.

Introduced at the Paris Show in February, the MF6100 and the larger MF8100 series replace models in the 3000, 3100 and 3600 ranges. Built in Beauvais, France, they offer a power band spanning from 80hp to 200hp in 12 models. Features include a new cab design, electro-hydraulic shuttle transmission and a 55í steer 4WD front axle.

For a "first-drive" opportunity MF provided a 4WD model from each of the two ranges – a 120hp 6180 and a 155hp 8130. But before turning the ignition key a look round from the outside.

First item to catch the eye is the positioning of the exhaust pot, now routed up the right-hand corner of the cab to leave the bonnet lines clean and an unimpaired forward view.

The new front axle is certainly beefier and is now claimed to be capable of supporting 45% more static weight than its predecessor. And with 5í extra turn angle and an extra two wheel studs – a total of 10 – it looks as if MF has this part of the tractor in hand.

Power for both these models is provided by a Perkins 1006 series, 6-cylinder turbo driving through an oil-cooled clutch and a 32×32 "Dynashift" powershift transmission.

But it is the cab with its larger glass area, smaller pillars and larger space which draws most attention. Access is wide and safe and, once in the seat, the all-round vision is a significant improvement, although the mandatory placing of HSE decals in the lower-centre of the windscreen tends to nullify the efforts designers have made in this department.

The "Datatronic" display is now larger and can be programmed to supply an even greater amount of information – the cost of a specific operation, for example, can now be determined once the cost of fuel, labour and depreciation is loaded in.

So what are these new tractors like to drive?

The 6180 was hooked up to a five-furrow plough and, with a fourth-low gear selection and first powershift, was lowered into work by pressing a toggle switch. Required draft response and lift height had been preset by simply turning two knobs on the console.

For one used to setting engine speed by the amount of noise generated it was a surprise to note it was necessary to look at the rpm counter to achieve the required 1800rpm. Moving the powershift through each of its four positions caused the engine to labour only slightly. More impressive was the way it kept pulling even after engine speed had been reduced to a cruel 1000rpm, a credit to the lugging characteristics of the Perkins power plant.

Pre-selector system

With the headland approaching it was time to come to terms with the 6180s pre-select shuttle system. A button on the end of the powershift stem is pressed to activate the system so the next time the clutch is depressed and raised again a change of direction is made. It is a system which recognises an operator has only two hands at a time, when at least three are required, and allows him to concentrate on such matters as plough turning and steering without having to change gear.

Back into work, it is was pleasing to note, unlike some designs, the 6180s mudguards did not prevent a comfortable view of the front wheel running in the furrow or, one could assume, running on a guide mark when drilling. And with everything taking care of itself there was time to look at the Datatronic readout which was set to display fuel consumption. By juggling engine speed and gear ratios it was possible to discover the most economic operating combination.

Off the 6180 and on to the 8130, which was equipped with a five-tine subsoiler. The main difference here was the tractors manual shuttle lever positioned to the right of the main gear lever, although, rather teasingly, a redundant button is still located on the powershift stem.

As with the 6180, quiet and comfortable operation combined with an almost unnerving ability to pull at a wide range of engine speeds was the overriding impression.

Without the chance to assess performance of a pto-powered implement it was impossible to draw conclusions concerning this department. But all the indications are that the tractors would have performed well.

Overall, one is drawn to the opinion that the MF 6100 series and 8100 series tractors could be an attractive option for farmers looking for a workhorse capable of high, economical output.

First drive tractor details

MF 6180

Engine: 120hp Perkins 1006 turbocharged

Transmission: 32 x 32 – 8 gears + 4 powershift

pre-select shuttle

Price: from £43,100

MF 8130

Engine: 155hp Perkins 1006 turbocharged

Transmission: 32 x 32 – 8 gears + 4 powershift

manual shuttle

Price: from £58,250

The 155hp 8130, along with all other 8100 models, is fitted with a side-mounted exhaust stack. This improves the drivers forward visibility.

Keypad technology. Datatronic display has been increased in size and made more user-friendly.

The 120hp MF6180 is the flagship model in the 6100 range. It replaces the popular 120hp 3120 and 125hp 3125 tractors in the now discontinued 3100 series line-up. The 6180 is priced from £43,100.