12 January 1996

Compact to counter Japanese imports

THE Sutcliff Mini-Trak has been developed by a father-and-son team in Worcestershire to provide a British-built challenge to the compact tractors imported from Japan and America.

Ken Ree, and his son, Keith, based their 29.5hp tractor on a mix of old and new components. The old components, including castings from elderly TE series Ferguson tractors plus a reconditioned Leyland four-cylinder diesel engine, keep the production cost and selling price down, while the new parts developed for the Mini-Trak help to uprate the performance to power the latest machinery.

Fergies inheritance

Parts inherited from dismantled "little grey Fergie" tractors include the back axle casting, the gearbox and the steering box. These are fully refurbished and fitted with new bolts and seals before starting a second life in the Sutcliff tractor. The gearbox is also equipped with uprated bearings to cope with the increased power from the 25hp Ferguson.

The Leyland engine, which has liquid cooling and direct injection, is a popular power unit for vehicles and industrial equipment, and it is derated to bring the power below 30hp for its new role in the Mini-Trak.

The Ferguson hydraulic system and pto drive were both considered to be too out-of-date for the Mini-Trak, and have been replaced.

The hydraulic system now has a modern engine-mounted pump delivering 2000psi pressure and a 3.1gal/min oil flow, and the category 1 linkage lifts 453kg. An override clutch has been included in the pto drive, and the output shaft is a modern six-spline design.

Also new are the front and rear wheels, and the front axle has been redesigned to eliminate the Fergusons tie rods. The bodywork is an all-new design in glass-reinforced plastic, incorporating a sloping bonnet line to improve forward visibility.

Sutcliff options include a downswept exhaust, a reduction box to double the number of standard gear ratios to eight forward/two reverse, and road lighting and a roll bar are also available.

Production is scheduled to start at the Ree familys Sutcliff Grass Management company in Evesham at the end of this month. Mr Ree and his son are hoping to establish a dealer network to sell and service the tractors. Prices start at £5750 and cover a 12-month warranty and free first service. &#42

Pre-production version of the Sutcliff Mini-Track compact tractor.