10 July 1998

Roles sought for a

novel tractor

Its predecessor is popular in North America and the

new model is a lot better. But will New Hollands

TV140 push-me, pull-you tractor find a role in Europe?

Peter Hill drives the machine to find out

What jobs might the TV140 Bidirectional tractor be given on an arable farm? Or a dairy unit? Or in the hands of a contractor? New Holland is open to suggestions as it evaluates the machine before deciding whether to put it on sale here.

Alistair Walshaw, from the companys European tractor marketing department, has his own ideas, but he reckons farmers and contractors are best placed to spot where the machine scores over existing tractors. That is why two of the Canadian-built tractors are being touted around Europe over the next few months.

The TV140 is an unusual beast – a 135hp articulated vehicle designed to fulfil the contrasting roles of materials handler and field tractor. It is big and bulky but decently manoeuvrable and has a neat reverse drive arrangement that keeps all major controls where they need to be, whichever way the operator drives the machine.

It also has the novelty of hydrostatic transmission for rapid forward/reverse shuttling and variable speed control. This is no super-techno system, though, so it cannot deliver buckets of power and torque like the Fendt Vario or Steyr S-Matic.

That, and the lack of draft traction control, compromises the tractors abilities with heavy soil-engaged implements.

But look beyond such activities, suggests Mr Walshaw, and the tractors hydrostatic speed control characteristics, prodigious hydraulics resources, generous ground clearance and two-way working capability, suggest a number of applications where the TV140 might score.

"We have already had interest from farmers operating potato and other root crop harvesting machinery who reckon the variable and smooth speed adjustment would be a real advantage, especially when running manned equipment," he says.

On silage clamps, climbing ability is reckoned to be pretty impressive, thanks to the low speed torque generated at the wheels by the three-speed hydrostatic drive. The large diameter tyres and ground clearance of 510mm (20in) or more would also help in its role as a clamp filler.

Other applications that come to mind include crop spraying – the TV140 has tracking wheels and can run on 54in row-crop tyres – maize harvesting, silage mowing and indeed any operations where good visibility of the work is a particular advantage.

Going forwards (engine first), visibility past the big front wheels and over the long bonnet is not so bright. Theres a hefty six-cylinder motor preventing any further trimming of the bonnet line and the power unit is pushed farther from the driver than usual because of the large articulation joint at the centre of the tractor.

Go backwards (cab first), though, and visibility is as clear as it possibly could be. It is in this direction that the Bidirectional takes on its loader role.

In North America it is used as an alternative to the big tractors and big fore-end loaders on which the beef lots and dairy farms largely rely for handling feed, straw and yard manure.

Loader controls reflect this emphasis – three larger rocker pedals to lift and lower the jibs, tip and crowd the attachment, and to open and close a grab. It allows the driver to keep one hand on the steering wheel and the other on the transmission control lever. Conventional hand controls are also provided for applications when running in reverse.

The loader itself is a beefy affair, with parallel lift and a wide span to fit the quick-attach frame mounts positioned inside the rear wheels.

Maximum lift capacity is 50kg short of 2t, according to New Holland, and the design gives heaps of break-out force.

There is also enough forward reach – 1.4m (55in) at maximum height – to clear stockyard barriers when handling bales or to load into the centre of big trucks and farm trailers. Maximum lift height (to the pivot pins) is 4.26m (14ft).

But could the TV140 wean UK farmers off their telehandlers? They offer more reach, lift height and lift capacity, and all in a more compact package. It is also quite a bit bulkier than the conventional tractor/loader combinations still commonly used on UK stock units.

As a loader, most interest is likely to come from silage contractors looking for a competent clamp machine.

As a field tractor, the TV140 has its limitations. Hydrostatic drive and steering that gives tight turns and tracking wheels are in its favour but only for selected operations.

Though designed as a multi-purpose tractor, the TV140s likely European role is as a specialist machine for applications where its particular characteristics offer sufficient advantages to out-point the compromises.

Potential users will ultimately decide its future here.

NEWHOLLANDTV140

Engine: 7.5 litre 6cyl turbo – 135hp

Drive: Hydrostatic with three-speed transfer gearbox

Steering: Articulated chassis

Lift linkage: Rear and optional front systems with electronic operation; position control only; rear 2.94t, front 2.26t

Power take-off: Rear standard, front optional – 540/1000rpm

Hydraulics: Variable displacement piston pump – 114 litre/min; optional hydraulic power pack – 129 litre/min

Tyres: To be confirmed. 28in-54in diameter

Is it a loader capable of field work; or a field tractor capable of loading? In loader configuration, the TV140 digs hard and offers heaps of forward reach to clear cattle yard barriers and truck sides.

Turnabout reverse-drive arrangement is a masterpiece with wrap-around steering wheel mount and controls that go with the seat. Cab interior generally is workmanlike and appealing.