28 August 1998

Farm role for agile 4000 – and its driver-friendly too

Top model in John Deeres

new 4000 range of compact

tractors is the 4600.

Compact designation aside,

its 43hp engine and 24-

speed shuttle gearbox

option could find it earning

its keep as a farm

runabout or a yard tractor.

Mike Williams reports

THERE are six tractors in the 4000 series offering power outputs from 20hp to 43hp. Smaller models are designed for amenity-type work in parks and sports grounds, but the 4500 and 4600 tractors are in different moulds.

Both are based on bigger, heavier chassis than other models and with outputs of 39hp and 43hp they have a dual-purpose role, filling the power gap between the John Deere 5000 series and the smaller compacts.

The 4000 series tractors are all new and, apart from the 20hp model from Japan, are all built in America. Power comes from Yanmar direct injection diesels, and all models are available with the option of hydrostatic or mechanical drive.

At this end of the power and price scale, conditions for the driver can be spartan, which is why a hands-on session with the 4600 proved to be a pleasant surprise. Other models in the 4000 series will be available with cab and roll bar options, but the 4600 and 4500 will be cab-only models in the UK, and the cab on the 4600 is more comfortable and more spacious than some of its rivals.

It is a two-door cab, with doors wide enough to allow easy access or exit, and the floor is almost flat with a slight hump for the transmission. There is an easy-clean rubber floor mat, and pendant type foot pedals help to leave the floor area uncluttered.

The seat on the test drive tractor was comfortable with scissor-type suspension plus adjustment for height and the drivers weight as well as the usual fore and aft movement.

John Deere sales manager, Graham Williams, says some of the final specification details for the new tractors have not been decided, and this includes the choice of seat for the 4600.

All-round visibility from the drivers seat is another of the plus points, and this is important because the 4600 is not a tractor for the wide open spaces. It is much more likely to spend its working life in yards, buildings and passageways where space is limited. Visibility is helped by the large window area and fully glazed doors, and forward visibility for loader work is improved by the sloping bonnet with no exhaust stack to cause a blind spot.

Another feature to make life easier for those who drive small tractors is good manoeuvrability, and with a 62-deg steering angle on the powered front axle, the 4600 is an agile performer with a 2.6m minimum turning radius. The steering is power assisted using a separate hydraulic pump to operate the cylinder.

Air conditioning is not available for the 4600 cab, but the front windscreen can be fully opened to provide extra ventilation.

Transmission options include hydrostatic drive with cruise control to maintain a constant forward speed, but the 4600 used for the hands-on test was equipped with the 24-speed version of JDs PowrReverser transmission.

Based on a four-speed gearbox with three ranges, plus a shuttle control to the left of the instrument panel for forward/reverse changes, this gives 12 speeds each way on the standard PowrReverser, but the number of gears goes up to 24 when the optional creeper box is added.

Creeper gears bring the bottom ratio speed down to 0.15 mph at the rated engine speed, suitable for operating transplanters and other slow-speed equipment.

Although the PowrReverser is no match for some of the latest big tractor transmissions with push-button shifting, it is convenient to use. The big plus feature is that shuttle changes are made on the move without using the clutch pedal, which is handy for jobs such as loader work with frequent forward/reverse changes.

The open centre hydraulic system has a 2500 psi operating pressure and provides a fairly average 1135kg maximum lift capacity on the rear linkage, measured at the ball ends. A front-end loader and a factory-fit front linkage kit are also available.

Access for maintenance is easy. The rear-hinged bonnet is unlatched by pressing a push-button release over the deer emblem on the front of the tractor, and there are quick-release catches to allow the radiator grille to hinge forwards and to release the side panels – all without using tools – and the four-cylinder engine has all the routine check points on one side.

First of the new 4000 series tractors will be available during the autumn, and the price of the 4600 model complete with four-wheel-drive and PowrReverser transmission is £18,872.

Finding favour on the farm?John Deeres compact range-topping 4600 is powered by a 43hp Yanmar diesel engine.