20 November 1998

Terra-Gator built for Europe

By Andy Collings

THEY are big, they are powerful – and they are expensive, yet the Terra-Gator continues to make its mark in the UK and Europe.

Until now the machines, long the favourite of the big acreage lime and slurry contractor, have been sourced from Minneapolis. But now Ag-Chem has introduced a model which has been designed in Europe, built in Europe and aimed at European contractors.

The 2104, made in Grubden-vorst, Holland, bears all the hallmarks of its US brothers – a long wheelbase, robust construction and powerful format. But it has what experienced Terra-Gator operators recognise as a more "western" feel.

First change to note is a new style of cab which is more spacious and provides a greater area of glass than before. Visibility is further enhanced through a shorter bonnet.

Staying with the cab, a carbon air filtration system combined with a pressurised atmosphere is designed to reduce contamination, an important feature for a machine whose future is likely to be involved in muck, sludge and lime spreading.

Power for the Terra-Gator 2104 is provided by a John Deere 8.1-litre, 6-cylinder turbo-charged engine which is electronically governed to provide a rated 250hp at 2200rpm.

The transmission comprises the Deere-sourced Terra-Shift unit offering eleven forward speeds and three reverse. A true powershift, a single joy stick is pushed forwards or rearwards to select direction and changes up or down the box, made by moving it to the left or right. The clutch pedal, as in many modern transmissions, is retained for safety and inching operations.

Included in the transmission specification is Select-Shift, a system which allows automatic shifting between pre-selected gear ranges. Depending on the job in hand, it might be that gears five to nine could be selected as the ratios required for the unit to work within.

Drive axles and brakes are also supplied by Deere, the former Teammate II series 1200 double reduction axles, and the brakes fully enclosed self-adjusting discs which are air-over hydraulic actuated.

The 2104 is an articulated vehicle and, as such is capable of the "dog walk", as Ag-Chem chooses to call it. Basically a crab steer mode of a rigid chassis machine, the articulation allows the front section to be straightened up in line with the rear axle, yet with the wheels running in separate tracks. The advantage of this system is that on wet ground, when, say, injecting slurry, no deep ruts are formed which could prevent the injector performing its task efficiently.

As with other Terra-Gator models, Ag-Chem is able to fit the 2104 with a variety of spreading attachments ranging from the Bredal sourced fertiliser/lime spreading unit to Ag-Chems own 12cu m slurry tankers.

Price of the basic chassis unit for the 2104 is about £120,000; when fully equipped, the price is likely to approach £150,000. &#42

Above: Deere Terra-Shift transmission allows single-lever selection of direction and gears.

Left: Terra-Gator 2104 is designed and built in Europe and aimed at European contractors.

In the US, Ag-Chem markets the Ro-Gator range of self-propelled sprayers – a range which the company claim holds a significant market share. Much as it would like to market such machines in Europe they have one major problem, they are too big. Not thwarted, Ag-Chem has looked to the UK for a helping hand, more particularly at Hydro-Chafer for it is this companys self propelled sprayer which is now being marketed by Ag-Chem throughout mainland Europe as the RG 618. Which presumably will be good news for Hydro-Chafer and could lead to greater co-operation between the two companies in the future.