4 June 1999

Grafter has power to spare

A year has passed since

Massey Ferguson

introduced its first full

powershift tractor in the

guise of the 230hp MF8170.

Geoff Ashcroft spoke to

one of the first users about

its progress

WHEN your most powerful tractor, a 160hp MF8130 just isnt enough for heavy draft work, the logical answer is to take a step up the horsepower ladder.

Beckingham, Lincs-based DiFuria Contractors missed a few rungs and opted for Massey Fergusons 230hp MF8170. The business, run by Gaetano DiFuria and his sons Gino, Tony and Sandy, has been moving more towards whole farm contract work and minimal cultivations, with the emphasis placed squarely on using more horsepower to cover the ground faster.

At 230hp, the MF8170 represented a previously-unseen level of horsepower for DiFuria Contractors. And since joining the DiFuria tractor fleet in the summer of 98, the tractor has covered about 800 hours of hard autumn labour and the firm is pleased with its purchase.

"We geared up to a more minimal approach to cultivations for some of our whole farm contract jobs using a set of Dowdeswell 4m discs in combination with a 4.5m Simba double press roll, but it was just too much for the smaller MF8130," says Gino DiFuria. "We needed much more horsepower."

"The MF8170 fits the bill and has proved to be the boss of its jobs," says Mr DiFuria, citing subsoiling with a Simba five-leg Flatliner as a good example of a power-sapping task which the 230hp tractor takes in its stride.

"And shod on 650/85 R38s at the rear and 600/70 R28s up front, it does not need duals either, but then it does weigh close to 10t so finding traction is not really an issue," he says.

Operator Keith Turner has much praise for the Beauvais-built tractor. "The cab is roomy compared to other MF models and it is nice to have an uncluttered flat floor," he says. Key to the MF8170s productivity lies with its Funk 18-forward, eight-reverse full powershift transmission, the first of its kind to find its way into MFs tractor range. Transmission control is via a stubby armrest-mounted gear lever which needs pulsing fore and aft to instigate gear changes.

"After driving with this powershift, a tractor which requires a clutch and positive gear lever movements is just hard work," says Mr Turner.

"Gear changing in the 8170 is easy. Once forward or reverse is selected, I just pulse the lever forwards to go faster and pulse back to go slower. It is a simple system which requires little effort from my point of view. All other controls are grouped together on the right-hand side of the cab and compared to other MFs I have driven, there is less to fiddle with in the 8170," he says.

That aside, keeping the 230hp brute supplied with fuel is something of a contentious issue when studied as part of the 8170s design.

"Filling the fuel tank is by far the tractors worst point and is something we are assured that MF engineers are working on," adds Mr DiFuria. Not that the DiFurias object to the tractors thirst for fuel, it is getting diesel into the tank which is the problem.

"The filler point runs up the side of the cab by the near-side door, which is good for access," he says. "But the tractors auxiliary fuel tank is located high above the rear linkage and it is fed from the same filling point. Diesel struggles to push its way up and around to the rear of the tractor.

"We have to fill the neck of the diesel tank then wait for fuel to displace itself into the auxiliary tank, before filling the neck again. It is painfully slow," he says. "We have been caught out many a time and spilled gallons of fuel."

Keith Turner agrees. "Filling up can take over half an hour and we have to make sure the cab door is closed because a spill can splash into the cab, then you are sitting in diesel fumes all day long."

But one age-old problem still persists and it seems MF designers, like others, have in the 8170, over-looked the lunch box and flask storage requirements of todays tractor drivers. "There is still nowhere to put my grub," he says. "I have already broken a couple of flasks by putting them behind the seat." &#42