14 April 2000

NEW MF BRINGS MORE POWER & DESIGN UPDATE

WHEN the Taylor familys new 185hp Massey Ferguson tractor arrived last year they welcomed the extra horsepower it brought and they also welcomed the design improvements.

The new MF8250 replaced a five-year-old 155hp MF3655 as the ploughing and heavy cultivations tractor on the Taylor familys Nottinghamshire farm. Extra power was needed for a change in the cultivations policy on part of the farm and the design improvements compared with the older tractor were a welcome bonus.

The family farming team consists of Robert Taylor plus his sons Charles and Oliver. They farm almost 365 ha (900 acres) of arable land at Cromwell House Farm, Cromwell, Newark, and they also do contract ploughing.

As Charles Taylor looks after the ploughing and heavy cultivations, the MF8250 is "his" tractor, and he has been at the controls for most of the 400 hours it has clocked up since it was delivered in September. The tractors main job is ploughing, but it also handled a 14ft set of discs plus the combination cultivator the Taylors moved alternative to the plough on some of their land.

The 3m wide cultivator consists of a Greenland power harrow on the rear hitch points of a second-hand McConnel Shakaerator with seven tines. The 155hp tractor handled the Shakaerator on its own, but not with the power harrow as well, which is why the Taylors moved up a power band when they replaced their previous tractor.

"The extra power is certainly an advantage," said Charles. "We wanted it for the Shakaerator and power harrow combination, which allows us to cut down the amount of ploughing we do, but having more horsepower has also improved the ploughing rate.

"We use a five-furrow Dowdeswell plough, and in the past I always set the furrow width at 14in, but with the new tractor I have increased the width to 16in and I plough about half a mile an hour faster as well."

But the extra power and output arent the only reasons why Charles welcomed the new tractor. He also likes the design improvements, starting with a bigger fuel tank. The tank on the MF3655 was not big enough for a long day on a job such as ploughing, but the MF8250 will keep going for 14 hours without a top-up.

Servicing access is also improved. The rear-hinged hood lifts to give excellent access to the engine check points, which are all on the same side of the 7.4 litre Valmet power unit. The battery is also more accessible in its new location under the right hand set of steps into the cab, where it swings out for checking.

Accessible battery

"The battery is much more accessible now, and that means it is more likely to be checked regularly," says Charles. "They have also improved the cab access. I thought the old one was quite good, but they redesigned the steps on both sides, and I think the doors are wider as well, and the access is really easy."

Full marks also for improving the forward visibility. The exhaust stack is moved to the side where it cant cause a blind spot, and the new sloping bonnet line also increases the drivers field of vision. Hitching-up is also easier on the new tractor thanks to a hydraulic ram which pushes the drawbar out to the rear where it is easier to see from the drivers seat. Two sets of external controls for the linkage, instead of one previously, is another way to make the operators life easier.

The Taylors chose the powershift transmission option for their new Massey, and this is another feature which earns high praise, and Charles particularly likes the easy access to the controls mounted on the armrest. Not having to use the clutch pedal to make forward/reverse changes is also an advantage, particularly during headland turns.

Finding the 8250s good points was easy, but there are also some criticisms. Charles was disappointed to discover that the flat shelf at the bottom of the rear window in the previous tractor no longer exists. It was ideal for carrying his lunch bag, but on the new tractor the shelf has become a slope which will not carry anything.

Small toolbox

The toolbox is much too small – but that is a fault with all tractors according to Charles. The designers, he says, simply dont realise how much space a tractor driver needs for tools and all the other essentials. To overcome the problem his brother, Oliver, welded an additional toolbox on the side of the front weight frame of the new tractor.

The MF8250 designers should also take another look at the design of the front fenders, he says. They are not quite wide enough to trap all the spray thrown up when the wider front tyres are fitted, and the way the fenders are mounted limits the steering angle of the front wheels and the result is a bigger turning radius.

"But the faults are certainly not enough to spoil a superb tractor," insists Charles Taylor. &#42

MASSEY FERGUSON MF8250

Engine: 7.4 litre Valmet turbo developing 185hp

Transmission: 18-speed powershift standard or 32-speed optional

Hydraulics: 110 l/min flow rate standard or 150 l/min optional

Weight (with full tank): 8620kg

Price: from £65,600

Left: Service access to the big Valmet engine wins praise from the Taylor family.

Below: All the main servicing parts are conveniently

to hand.

Above: The redesign steps make cab access easy says Charles Taylor. Below: The original toolbox on the MF 8250 has been supplemented by a second box mounted on the weight frame.

Above: The battery swings out to make checking a simple, straightforward operation.