9 April 1999

Rubber-tracked Cat production switches to US

By Peter Hill

US agricultural and construction equipment giant Caterpillar has moved production of its three smaller Challenger rubber track tractors to its own plant in the US.

Since the mid-size tractor was launched in 1994, the Challenger 35, 45 and 55 (now sold in Europe in Claas colours) have been assembled under contract at New Hollands Versatile factory in Winnipeg, Canada. This was a logical arrangement, given the extent to which major components are shared with New Hollands G/70 series tractors.

But the "little Cats" are now being put together at Caterpillars DeKalb, Illinois, facility where the larger Challengers have been assembled for more than four years.

The US plant also makes Caterpillars VFS (Versatile Flotation System) tracked trailers and "chaser bins", so the move concentrates the companys current farm tractor activities in one location, and saves shipping built-up Mobil-trac undercarriage assemblies to Winnipeg.

Since the company will continue to source components from New Holland (principally the cab and transmission/hydraulics assemblies), few changes result from the move, although Caterpillar has taken the opportunity to upgrade the specification of models now coming off its own assembly line.

Chief among these is a 38% increase in hydraulics oil flow from 120 to 163 litres/min (26 to 36 gal/ min), with an accompanying boost in maximum system pressure from 189 to 200 bar (2750 to 2900psi).

The model 55 benefits from increased maximum power output and greater torque back-up and an improved 60 degree chevron pattern for the drive wheel.

Shortening the rear hitch brings implements 100mm (4in) closer to improve balance and increase effective lift a touch, while revised front weights (similar to E series Challengers) are said to provide a simpler but more efficient counter-weight arrangement. &#42

Caterpillar has moved production of its smaller three Challenger models (sold in Europe under the Claas name) from New Hollands Winnipeg plant in Canada to its own facility at DeKalb, Illinois, USA.

Spotted at Spains Fima Show… Japanese manufacturer Maruyama is testing the European market with its low-cost, four-wheel drive self-propelled sprayer. Power is provided by a 9.5hp, four-cylinder air-cooled engine. A 400 litre (88 gal) tank sits behind the driver while the 8m (26ft) hydraulically-folded boom can be front or rear-mounted. For full Fima Show report, turn to page 66.

Wash sprayer exteriors

ON-BOARD systems to wash down the inside of sprayer tanks are now pretty common place, but a system which can be used to wash down the outside of sprayers is perhaps not so.

This could all now change after the introduction of new groundwater regulations (Mar 31) relating to the control and disposal of pesticide and the contents of sheep dips.

According to sprayer maker Allman, arable farmers can avoid most of the licence requirements by washing the sprayer inside and out while in the field, with the dilute residue of agri-chemical being sprayed on to the crop, in accordance with label requirements.

Allman now offers an exterior washdown kit comprising a 100 litres tank, attached to the sprayer frame, a 12 litres/min pump driven from the tractors battery, a delivery hose and washdown lance.

Price of the kit is £350. &#42

Going to grounds…

RENAULT has increased its presence in the grounds care sector with the introduction of the three-strong Groundsman range.

The 52hp Groundsman 210 and 67hp 230 come in two and four-wheel drive variants, the 76hp 240 is available in 4WD only. All are powered by air-cooled direct injection engines driving through a 12 forward/12 reverse transmission, with a dashboard-mounted reverser.

Cab specification includes an adjustable steering wheel, cloth covered seat, full ventilation/heating and opening front and rear windows, and a large area of tinted glass with a glazed section in the roof for increased visibility during loader work.

Dashboard instrumentation provides a digital readout on which the operator can, by means of touchpads, select engine speed, theoretical forward speed, pto speed, or the number of hours worked.

The ability to quickly take readings for the various pto speeds – proportional, 540, 540E or 1000 according to model – and forward speed simplifies calibration and will ensure the operator can maintain the required speed when on operations such as spraying and fertiliser spreading, says Renault.

At the rear end, the tractors boast a lift capacity of 357kg, to handle the larger implements now being used in this sector. A mechanical system with top link draft sensing comes as standard, but the tractors can be fitted with Renaults TCE5 electronic system, where touchpads on the console allow the linkage to be raised, lowered or locked to separately preset positions.

The system also has a rapid eng-agement facility, position or draught control and a transport lock, while external controls on the rear fenders allow the linkage to be operated in 10cm (4in) steps, for safety.

Standard specification for the Groundsman range includes one single and one double acting spool valve and Cat I/II ball ends. An automatic pick-up hitch, air conditioning and a selection of tyres. &#42


Model Hp Price (£)

2wd 4wd

210 52 16,200 18,780

230 67 17,465 20,120

240 76 – 21,500