17 November 2000

NO-FRILLS BUTCAPABLETRACTOR

With a "keep it simple" approach, Renault introduced

its budget-priced Temis tractors earlier this year to

compete in the 97-147hp sector. Geoff Ashcroft took

the 105hp 610X for a workout

IN AN age dominated by computer-controlled gadgets, electronically managed hydraulic systems and automatic powershift transmissions, Renault has not forgotten the need for no-frills horsepower with its Temis tractor range.

Developed to replace the companys popular TX/TZ tractors, the Temis range has four models – the 550X uses a four-cylinder 97hp DPS Powertech engine, while the 105hp 610X, 124hp 630X and 147hp 650X get six-cylinder Iveco engines.

Renault has been cautious in its development of Temis, however. Everything from the clutch housing back was taken from the previous range (although the rear end is the beefier version used on previous TX models), while the new engines have allowed the front end of the tractor to adopt Renaults family styling of the larger Ares and Atles models.

In base specification, the Temis range offers a 16 x 16 mechanical transmission and unsuspended cab. Both are taken from the previous range, although the latter has had cosmetic changes. And all are "mechanical" tractors, with levers rather than push buttons as the preferred method of control.

Found wanting

But for those operators found wanting, the firm does offer a Z-spec cab with hydrostable suspension, Tractonic transmission with a clutchless forward/reverse shuttle and push-button, three-speed hydraulic splitter, air-conditioning and electronic linkage control – all extra-cost options that detract from the Temis no-frills budget price philosophy.

So whats the Temis like to operate? FARMERS WEEKLY travelled to Church House Farm, Clifton-upon-Teme, Worcestershire, to put the 105hp 610Z through its paces – a basic spec machine but with the addition of cab suspension, it retails at £30,770.

Its an easy climb into the cab of the Temis, which has wide doors that swing open through 180í and can then be locked open. Once you are seated in the flat-floor cab, a cable release mechanism frees the door to enable it to be shut from the seat without reaching or stretching.

First impressions of the cab are that it is uncluttered and simple. Theres plenty of headroom and a good view from the seat, and a lower glass panel behind the seat provides an easy view to the pickup hitch.

This cab feels like something is missing – but its all here. It is just a complete contrast to the more expensive, push-button, electronically burdened machines we have come to expect once horsepower passes the 100hp barrier.

Without needing to reach for an operators handbook to work out engine starting sequence, gear positions, hydraulic linkage and spool valve functions, I feel completely at home surrounded by a handful of colour-coded levers. Red levers are for the transmission and throttle, yellow levers are for pto functions, and green levers are for the hydraulic linkage and spool valves.

A twist of the ignition key and the 105hp straight-six Iveco engine comes immediately to life. To gain familiarisation with the machine, I embark on a short road journey to put the transmission to the test. The 16-speed box has four primary gears on one lever, a high and low range on a second lever, and a third lever splits each gear in two. To the left of the steering column is a mechanical shuttle control for shifting between forward and reverse. Nothing complex here.

On the open road, a quick shuffle of the main gear lever sees me reach maximum travel speed with a keen, free-revving engine pushing 2600rpm. In-cab noise is surprisingly high, though the Iveco engine does emit a coarse engine note on full chat.

The Temis suspended cab helps to take the harshness out of an uneven B road, though Im not ready for the ultra-light feeling of the power steering and drift round a couple of corners before adjusting to the steerings weight. This is not a machine for those who want to point the tractor in the right direction and just stand on the throttle – like a good sports car, it needs plenty of driver involvement.

I return to the farm in search of a plough and, with a four-furrow fully-mounted reversible quickly hung on the rear, head for the stubbles.

Rear linkage

Setting the rear linkage for ploughing is a simple affair. A good mix between draft and position control proves a suitable choice for the land were ploughing, then its simply a matter of pushing the main raise/lower lever all the way to the bottom of its quadrant to drop the plough to the required working depth.

With no change-on-the-move facility, gear choice will be crucial. Too low and productivity will suffer; too high, and well run out of horsepower as soon as we get going. Selecting fourth gear in low range offers a speed range of up to 10kph and should be a good choice for pulling four 14in bodies at a depth of 8in. And so it proves, at a leisurely 1600rpm.

Mid-way down the field, theres a tough spot and the motor loses 200rpm but hangs on extremely well. Without a button to press to select the next lower gear, Im preparing to execute a lightning fast gear-change, but its not needed. The Iveco engine wont give up – it just barks more as revs fall.

With the nose of the tractor about to disappear into the hedge on the headland, I simultaneously raise the plough, dip the clutch and pull the shuttle lever effortlessly into reverse. While executing a reverse loop to prepare for the return journey up the furrow, a firm push on the spool lever spins the plough over. Then its back on the clutch to select forward and were away, but with a few more revs in readiness for that tough spot.

Without the comfort and convenience of electronic push-button controls, the Temis driver will be thinking of that next manoeuvre and will rarely suffer from boredom. With its back-to-basics approach, there will be plenty of driving activity to do from behind the wheel of this very capable, yet budget-priced tractor. &#42

Renaults 105hp Temis 610X – no-frills horsepower in a range that spans 97-147hp.