Tracks over traditional
Andrew Tulloch received one of the first Challenger MT700 Series agricultural tractors delivered by Goughs back in August 2003. Two years later the Masterton-based contractor is very pleased he decided to invest in the MT755 – and says he would never go back to a traditional wheeled tractor.
Owner of Andrew Tulloch Contracts Ltd, Andrew Tulloch runs an agricultural contracting operation that works both flat and hill country throughout the Wairarapa. The company specialises in cultivation, hay and grain harvesting, silage and baleage.
The Challenger MT755 was delivered by Goughs in August 2003 and is the first tracked Challenger tractor Andrew Tulloch has owned since he began agricultural contracting in 1988.
Built on the compaction-reducing foundation of Mobil-trac technology, the tracked MT755 model has 235 (175kW) PTO horsepower and 290 engine horsepower.
Tulloch primarily uses the Challenger on rolling hill country, tilling ground in preparation to plant fodder crops and regrassing. The MT755 operates discs, a cultivator and a roller with levelling boards.
A number of features have impressed Tulloch since receiving the MT755 two years ago. In that time the unit has done just over 2000 hours.
"It has great traction, excellent power to the ground, great stability on rolling hill country and a good ride, which means more comfort for the operator," Tulloch says. "The low ground pressure of the MT755 creates much less compaction than does a wheeled tractor.
"I’m really happy with the Challenger’s performance. It has lifted my productivity and provided me with more working days because of its ability to work in wet conditions. It’s able to open up and aerate the ground with discs in country that would be damaged by rutting with a wheeled tractor."
The key to working in these adverse conditions is the Mobil-trac system undercarriage featuring a track wheelbase that provides low ground pressure for even greater flotation and less compaction, without having to use a wider belt. Suspended midwheels also improve traction in uneven field and road conditions.
The performance of the undercarriage has been good over the two years, says Tulloch. "When I bought the Challenger we budgeted for 4000 hours until undercarriage replacement. Taking into account the wear to date and the high amount of roadwork done, I now expect the tracks to do at least 4000 hours, maybe 5000. The belt will probably last longer, while the pivoting mid wheels have been awesome."
A Caterpillar C-9 engine powers the MT745. This provides plenty of horsepower with 8.8 litres of displacement, 52 percent torque rise and superior fuel efficiency. The C-9 harnesses more power to lug through tough spots without having to downshift or raise the implement.
Tulloch says the fuel efficiency of the MT745 has been a pleasant surprise.
"When compared to our wheeled tractor of a comparable horsepower, the Challenger is more fuel efficient. And with the price of fuel going through the roof in NZ at the moment, fuel efficiency is very important."
Tulloch’s operators have also had to make an adjustment from the traditional wheeled tractor.
"You need a different driving technique for the MT745. Adjustments need to be made when turning on hills or working on a paddock. Most operators pick this up easily, but it’s definitely an important parameter to be aware of.
"Taking into account the rough ground the Challenger operates in, the tracks offer a much smoother ride by bridging the bumps and knobs. At the end of each day the operator fatigue level is definitely less than a wheeled tractor. Obviously that results in better productivity."
The backup from Goughs has been an important factor in the overall performance of the Challenger since delivery.
"The support from Goughs has been very good," Tulloch says. "We have their service guys based at the Masterton branch when we need them, and any required parts are sourced as quickly as possible."
Tulloch’s customers love the Challenger because they can see the benefits it provides.
"It ensures cultivation is done on time by us, regardless of wet weather, and this enables them to get their crops planted on time.
"For me, happy and satisfied customers are the best result for my business, and the Challenger tractor is an important contributor to that."
For more information contact your local Goughs branch, or visit www.GoughsCat.co.nz
PTO Horsepower @ rated 2100rpm 235hp (175kW)
Gross Engine HP 290hp (216kW)
Engine Caterpillar C9
Engine Displacement 8.8 L
Drawbar HP 226hp (169kW)
Top Speed 39kph