15 October 1999

Looking back to

the future?

Whatever the shape

or form, versatility is

still the priority with

dedicated or tractor-

mounted loaders. In

this special feature,

we look at tackle to

suit a range of

applications, kicking

off with a report on

bi-directional

tractors

THEUK launch of New Hollands TV140 tractor with a reversible driving position is expected next year, and materials handling performance will be high on the list of sales features, says the company.

Reverse drive or bi-directional tractors have a drivers seat and controls which swivel through 180deg to give the operator a rearward view. Its an idea which has been available for more than 20 years, but so far it has attracted little interest in this country.

There is a small market for tractors to power forage and sugar beet harvesters specifically designed for reverse drive operation. These are used mainly by contractors, but for other field jobs, such as mowing, a tractor with front linkage and pto can give most of the benefits of reverse drive at a lower cost.

The brightest future for tractors with a reversible driving position may be working as versatile loaders. With the seat facing forwards the tractor does all the usual jobs such as ploughing, trailer work or driving pto-operated equipment. Turn the seat and controls to the reverse drive position, add an industrial-type loader and the tractor becomes a heavy duty materials handler

This was the concept behind the Moffett MFT – Multi Function Tractor – designed and built in Ireland. Production began in 1991 with a 90hp Massey Ferguson skid unit, followed in 1995 by a new version using a New Holland Series 40 tractor unit with a 100hp engine.

Mounting the loader on the rear of a reverse drive tractor offers some important benefits, as the Moffett tractor showed. The weight of the loader is over the rear axle where the maximum strength is concentrated, and the rear-facing seat puts the driver closer to the loading action with a good view of the complete lift-and-load sequence.

Another advantage is more precise load positioning for jobs such as stacking bales or boxes. This is because reversing the driving position puts the steered wheels at the rear of the tractor making it easier to manoeuvre the loader.

The loader performance and versatility of the Moffett tractor helped to push the sales total to almost 500, according to one estimate, before the company was sold and the tractor project came to what some considered a premature end.

New Hollands TV140 is the latest in a long line of bi-directional tractors built at the companys Canadian factory, but it will also be the first one to be marketed in the UK.

The Canadian specification includes a six-cylinder engine producing 105hp at the pto, and the transmission is a three-speed hydrostatic with four-wheel drive through equal size front and rear wheels. Steering is articulated through a central hinge point, giving a 3.62m turning radius.

Principal controls are on a console which turns through 180deg with the seat, and the loader designed for reverse drive operation exerts a 2.7t break-out force and has a 4.21m lift height measured at the pin.

Details of UK availability and pricing for the TV140 have not been announced.

Graham Vicary ordered his Moffett MFTwith the torque converter option to avoid clutch problems.

Reversing the driving position on the Moffett MFTis a 10-second job, according to Graham Vicary.

In reverse position…

mowing is one of many easier operations performed by New Hollands TV140 bi-directional tractor.