21 May 1999

Gold for cultivator

GOLD medal in the 1999 RASE Machinery Awards goes to Knight Farm Machinery for its triple press cultivator, giving the company the distinction of winning the prestigious gold award two years in a row.

The gold medal is the top prize in the Lloyds-TSB sponsored machinery scheme and is awarded to the outstanding entry selected from the years silver medal winners. Last year it was Knights Laser crop sprayer agitation system which won the judges gold medal vote.

Knight developed the triple press cultivator to follow a plough or discs. A special feature is a set of "Revolver" press rings in two inter-meshing rows. Each ring is in three sections bolted around a steel spoke plate to make repairs easier, and the plates are welded to a central tube.

The press rings have a cutting edge, plus a broad shoulder for extra consolidation and to keep the ring at the correct depth in soft soil. Weights can be added, and levelling boards and rigid or spring tines can be mounted in front of the press rings.

Users interviewed by the judges were impressed with the performance of the triple press in a variety of soils. Output and resistance to blocking attracted favourable comment, and one user said it was the best machine he had bought.

Another special award winner was the Collinson electronic cattle feeder. It won a silver medal and was selected for the recently introduced Lloyds-TSB award for equipment deemed to be making an outstanding contribution to efficiency and productivity. The feeder is computer controlled and allows 24-hour access, with the concentrate rationed by signals from ear-tag transponders.

The feeders can be static or mobile, and users reported gains in yield and herd health after switching to the Collinson system.

Widest mower in UK?

A 3.2m front-mounted disc mower introduced by Kverneland Taarup is claimed to be the widest unit of its kind available in the UK. Intended for use in combination with rear-mounted or trailed mowers, the 328F is aimed at the contractor or large scale farmer market.

The eight-disc machine is equipped with a heavy duty spring-compensated floating suspension system designed to allow the cutterbar to follow ground contours, yet negotiate stones or other obstacles normally encountered during mowing operations.

Features include use of a reversible gearbox to allow the mower to be used by a number of different tractor types.

The specification also includes a conditioning unit comprising eight rows of rubber buffer-mounted steel Y-shaped tines working in conjunction with an adjustable concave plate.

Price of the 328F is £9250

Design twists make Canadian bike a big hit in America

By Peter Hill

A NEW quad bike that discards many conventions of current ATV design is causing a stir in North American all terrain vehicle circles.

The Traxter, built by Canadian snow-mobile and jet-ski maker Bombardier, has already won accolades for its innovative design which, says the companys Alain Brunelle, results from intensive user research.

"In the early stages of the project, more than three years ago, we listened to ATV users whose needs and expectations have evolved and who are looking at new ways to use and benefit from their ATV," he says.

Outwardly, the four-wheel drive Traxter looks much the same as any other quad – except for the "walk-through" design. That makes it easier to get on and off the machine, says Bombardier, especially when an implement or load on the back of the quad prevents the usual leg-over style of getting on board.

This is made possible by fitting the 500cc single-cylinder Rotax engine beneath the seat and moving the fuel tank lower and further forward than usual. The arrangement also gives good engine access for service and maintenance, according to the manufacturer.

The liquid-cooled motor itself is installed "in-line" for smooth running and easy power transfer to the front and rear wheels, and features two spark plugs to improve low-speed torque characteristics.

More differences from the quad bike norm include a rear-mounted radiator, fed through vents in the rear mudguards. Apart from keeping warm air away from the rider – which may be missed on a chilly morning – this arrangement leaves room up front for a storage compartment large enough to carry a number of tools and other items.

The Traxters 10-speed transmission also differs from familiar practice by providing five-speed hydraulic powershift using a single rocker switch. A transmission "park" lock is included as a safety feature and engine start is possible in any gear.

Shafts take drive to the front and rear wheels, with a novel differential design progressively locking drive to the front wheels when extra traction is needed. The system is said to prevent one wheel from spinning fruitlessly.

At present, Bombardier is concentrating on the enormous north American market for ATVs where, last year, the use of quads as recreational as well as work vehicles racked up sales of 470,000.

The company is officially planning a European launch some time next year – but private import arrangements may see the intriguing machine arrive here sooner.