Bakewell-based hill farmer Chris Beever is the latest to give Farmers Weekly a tour around his largely red machinery fleet.
How loyal are you to individual brands?
My dad had a couple of old Internationals in the late 1980s, but we’ve been loyal to Massey Ferguson ever since.
They’ve been pretty good as a whole, but we have had a couple of troublesome ones. We’ve chopped and changed between plenty of implement manufacturers, though.
B&B tractors at Tideswell. We’ve dealt with the guys there ever since they started and they’ve always been good. We also deal with ICP at Stoke for Kramer stuff and get quite a bit from Wardmans at Matlock – a nice family company.
Favourite piece of kit?
I’ve got a few Masseys that I like, but the 2004, 6475 is my favourite. It was about a year old when I bought it from Startin Tractors and it came from an arable farm in North Yorkshire.
They’d clearly looked after as it was like new. It’s done about 3,500 hours and hadn’t given us any problems until last year when we had to have the synchromesh sorted on first and second gear.
I’m also a fan of the four-speed powershift as you control the range changes. With the current Dyna-4 it does it for you, which is seriously dangerous on some of our banks. It’s also on 650 tyres, so looks the business.
One of the early 6170s. Thankfully we don’t have it anymore as it was a complete disaster.
It was one of the first MFs to have a semi-auto forward reverse shuttle and it would only work it the oil was hot. In the winter we had to leave it revving in the yard for ages before we could get it to go anywhere.
It also chewed up the hydraulic pump and the cab seemed to shake and vibrate. Horrible.
We’ve just got a new 6615 Dyna VT. It is a good tractor, but there are a few things I wish MF would sort out.
After 15 years, it has finally managed to get a decent foot throttle, but the brake and clutch pedals are now far too close together – jab at the brakes in a hurry and its far to easy to catch the clutch.
The toolbox is also terrible – it’s small and wedged under the steps where it gets completely caked in muck.
You also have to use the ignition key to open it. On the plus side it’s got plenty of grunt and grip considering the size and weight.
Oldest machine still at work?
We’re still using an old Fiona box drill that’s been around since the early 1970s. It does a tidy job and we often get better results with that than we do with the Moore Unidrill. We’ve also got an old MF 35 scraper tractor that’s basically the best bits of three old tractors shoved together.
How long do you keep your machines?
There are no hard-and-fast rules. Sometimes we’ll get rid of something if it’s unreliable and sometimes we just fancy a change.
I have a soft spot for the 6475 so that will stay around longer than most. I do like to keep a couple of newish tractors on the fleet, though.
What’s next on your wishlist?
I’ve got a front linkage and pto on the 6615, so fancy a front mower. At the moment I’ve got a Lely 320 offset mower on the rear and will probably go for a Lely or Kuhn on the front.
We spent quite a bit last year on the 6615 and Hi Spec feeder wagon, so I’d better not get too carried away.
Most embarrassing mistake?
J&C Beever, Harthill Moor Farm, Bakewell
- 220-acre tenant farm on the Stanton estate
- Milking 140 pure British Friesians
- Fatten all dairy bulls indoors on beef nuts
- Staff – Chris and dad, Jack and Nathan most of time
I clipped a curb going round a roundabout with a full load of straw and tipped the whole lot over.
The police were behind me at the time, but thankfully they got a call to split up a fight in Chesterfield so I got away with it.
I demolished a lady’s garden wall, but the tractor and trailer were OK and I only had two burst bales.
I also rolled an MF 3120 while spreading muck on one of our steeper fields – that’s what happens when you get a bit overconfident.
Most awkward grease nipple?
The ram on the MF/Hesston baler has to be the toughest. You have to lock the ram at half stroke, open the inspection hatch, stand on the ram arms and you can just about get to them.
I’m not a big inventor, but do a lot of my own repairs and maintenance. I don’t think my welding is up to building any big bits of kit.
What couldn’t you live without in the workshop?
- Tractors Massey Ferguson 6615 Dyna VT, 6480, 6475, 6455, 35 on scraper
- Drills Fiona box drill and Moore Unidrill
- Plough Kuhn four-furrow with hydraulic auto-reset
- Handlers Kramer 750T and 312 SL, and Bobcat 463
- ATVs John Deere Gator diesel and Honda Foreman 300
- Mixer wagon Hi Spec V12
- Straw bedder McHale C460
- Baler Massey Ferguson/Hesston 185
- Fertiliser spreader Amazone ZAX
- Muckspreader K-Two Duo 600
- Sprayer Westmac 12m
- Mower Lely 320 MC
- Powerharrow Amazone 3m
- Discs Sima 2B
- Trailer Bailey 25ft bale trailer
The little inverter arc welder – you can tuck it under your arm and take it exactly where you need it. It will cut out eventually, but you have to give it a lot of grief.
Do you buy second-hand?
I have bought quite a bit of second-hand stuff over the years, but I only go for machines that are in fairly good condition. I often buy tractors that are a couple of years old, but the last one was new.
If baling wasn’t so dusty that would probably be my favourite. When you have to climb out of the air-conditioned cab to sort a problem it quickly becomes less fun. If we didn’t have such rocky ground, ploughing would be up there too.
Least favourite job?
Aerating – it’s mind-numbingly dull and you can’t even see what you’ve done.
I have a Nissan Navara 2.5Di. They don’t have a great reputation, but it’s never given me any problems.
It has done 120,000 miles and the only thing it has had other than routine maintenance is a set of brake lines.
Best tractor you’ve ever had?
We had a 6270 that was brilliant, particularly when you compare it with the 6170 it replaced. We were doing a lot of contracting at the time and it clocked up about 5,000 hours in four years.
Other than a slight fault on the hydraulic system it gave us no problems. I think the late 62- and early 64-series tractors were some of the best Massey has made.
Biggest machinery bargain?
I bought a 10t Salop/Marsden grain trailer for £4,000. It was about 10 years old, but had had so little use it still had most all the paint inside. It is a very nicely made trailer and runs on super singles.
What would you buy if you won the lottery?
A big mixed farm. I would like to do some more arable farming, but I’d still have to hang on to my stock.
Any machinery toys/classics in the shed?
We’ve got two diesel T20s and couple of 135s. My brother is also doing up a grey-and-gold 35, which is one of the last models before they became Massey Ferguson.