THE four-wheel drive 7341 tractor Nigel Bates bought last year is the latest in a series of Zetors he and his father have used on their 80ha (200 acres) farm at Beggars Bridge, Coates, Cambs, and it is also in their opinion the best Zetor they have owned.
Their first Zetor arrived in 1966 and delivered about 35hp – the 7341 is their tenth tractor of the same make and has an 84hp engine. Mr Bates, who runs the farm plus a further 80ha (200 acres) of contract and share farmed land in a family partnership, also runs two Valmet tractors of 105hp and 120hp and a 100hp Same.
"We have owned various makes of tractor, but we have always had at least one Zetor which we used as a back-up tractor to handle the trailer work and to do the lighter jobs such as fertiliser spreading and sugar beet drilling," he says. "They are good value for money for that sort of work, which is why we continue to buy them.
"I also like the fact that service and repair work is easier than on most of the other makes we have tried. If a Zetor needs a new clutch we can fit it on the farm, and this is one reason why I prefer to use a Zetor for our loader work. They also have features which are not included on most of the more expensive tractors, such as an air compressor which I think is very useful. They have also included a switchable dual-speed pto on Zetors for as long as I can remember."
Because of the lower prices and other advantages, Mr Bates has been willing to overlook small differences in quality between Zetors and other tractor makes, particularly in terms of reliability.
"Major breakdowns have never been a problem on our Zetors, but the difference is showed up in small things such as minor faults in the electrical wiring or faulty seals. Quality on the old Zetors was never 100%, but there seems to be a big improvement on the new models.
"They are still very attractively priced, but they seem to have got the quality right – and that could be a result of the John Deere influence," says Mr Bates.
His 7341 tractor has been trouble-free after nearly 200 hours, and Mr Bates is also impressed by the design improvements introduced on the UR1 series.
The brakes are now hydraulically operated wet discs, with additional hub brakes included on the front wheels of 4WD versions, and the result is a big improvement in stopping power, which he considered to be a weak point on earlier models.
Other improvements include a bigger fuel tank capacity to allow a longer interval between refills, and visibility from the new cab is much better than on previous models, particularly the forward view helped by the sharply sloping bonnet line.
"Zetor seems to have gone right through the tractor and dealt with the quality control problems and the design faults we used to put up with," says Mr Bates. "Its a big improvement all round. I particularly welcome the improved braking system because it is much safer with the heavier trailers most farmers are using these days."
Mr Bates is also impressed by the work capacity of his new Zetor. Although it was not bought as a ploughing tractor, he has tried it on a three-furrow plough and it performed well.
And in its main role as a transport tractor it handled the 10t beet trailers without a problem in some of the wettest field conditions Mr Bates can remember.
Like his previous Zetors, the 7341 is equipped with an air compressor, and Mr Bates has modified this to provide a second outlet at the rear of the tractor.
He can borrow the air line from his workshop compressor for use on the rear outlet – this has the advantage of a built-in pressure gauge and is used as a mobile air supply for topping up tyre pressures and for pumping up the air suspension on his trailers. The simple air-line supplied with the tractor is carried in the cab, and this can be used for emergencies in the field.
The compressor also has sufficient capacity to operate small air tools, and Mr Bates also uses it to clean the screens in his combine harvester. It is a feature some of the more expensive tractors should copy, he said.
Mr Bates policy of choosing Zetors for the back-up jobs because of their low prices, but relying on more prestigious makes for the main working tractors could be due for a change. The reliability and performance of the new Zetor during its first six months has impressed him to the extent that he would consider buying a more powerful UR1 series model as his main ploughing tractor.
"At this stage the 7341 is the most powerful model in the UR1 series, but if Zetor bring in a 120hp version with a six cylinder engine I would seriously consider it," he says.
• A spokesman for Motokov UK, the Zetor distributor, said additional models now being developed will take the UR1 series well above the 100hp level, but he was unable to say when the new models will be available. *
Zetor announced the new UR1 series tractors 12
months ago – one of the early results of a technical
and financial link with John Deere. Michael Williams
talked to one of the first customers to see if his
tractor has lived up to expectations
Model: Zetor 7341 Super Turbo.
Engine: 3922cc four-cylinder Zetor turbo engine developing 84hp.
Transmission: Manual gearbox with five forward speeds in high and low ratios. 40km/hr top gear is standard on the 4WD 7341 and optional on the 2WD version.
Hydraulics: Pump output is 50l/min and the lifting force is 39.9KN.
Brakes: Hydraulically operated wet disc. Tractors with 40km/hr gears have four-wheel braking.