Get some red in your shed
This month, Jaiden Drought went to magpie country where he met up with some very loyal Case IH men who have nothing but praise for their tractors and the backup support they have received from Stevenson & Taylor Ltd
Since the first 7100-series was launched back in 1987, Case IH Magnum tractors have continued to prove themselves as solid workhorses all around the globe, particularly because of their durable engine and reliable, basic powershift transmission. Today, the Magnum series is considerably larger in terms of horsepower output, due to technological advances mostly in the engine department, but a lot of the ideas and principals that have made the Magnum so successful are still evident in the new series.
The Gray family of Hawkes Bay have a 864ha 50:50 cropping plus sheep and beef operation on the Ruataniwha plains, which the family has farmed for 105 years. Since 1935, the Grays have been using Case IH tractors and have been loyal to Stevenson and Taylor Ltd – the Waipukurau Case IH agent – for more than 50 years.
On the cropping side, Leicester and his son Callum have just completed their fourth centre pivot irrigator, which gives them 320ha under irrigation. They have contracts with McCain's, growing peas, sweet corn and beans. They also grow maize for seed and silage and dabble in some grass silage if a surplus arises.
With more of this large farm now under pivot, there is greater need for bigger gear to cope with the cropping demands. The Grays have discs, six-metre power harrows, numerous drills and a six-furrow reversible wagon plough, as well as a recently-acquired Alpego four-metre super cracker set of rippers, which need some serious grunt to pull. That's where the Case IH tractors come in: first is the 1998 MX110 with over 8500hrs on the clock and still going strong; they also have a Puma 210, bought 18 months ago; and their most recent purchase was the test Magnum 245 for the real heavy tillage work.
Although the 245 is probably not even half the size of the biggest tractor in the country, it still takes a commanding stance in the paddock, particularly with the long wheel base and front and rear duals. And in my opinion, anything that has five steps to up to the cab is a big tractor!
So for the test, we hooked the four-metre Alpego rippers up so we could see what the big Case could do.
The six-cylinder high-pressure common rail Cummins engine sounds as sweet as the old MX Cummins, with that low-down throaty sound, but apart from the fact that it sounds cool, it doesn't perform bad either.
To give you an idea of the pulling power with the four-metre nine-leg set of rippers (500mm in the ground), the comfortable maximum speed in ploughed ground was 8kph with fuel usage in the 45 litres per hour range. In the non-ploughed ground, the speed dropped back to 6kph, with fuel usage around the 37 litres per hour mark.
This is produced by the 8.3-litre (505 cubic inch) turbocharged, intercooled engine in the 245, delivering up to 53 percent PTO torque rise and up to 40 PTO hp power growth, allowing you to run bigger implements or, in the case of the Alpego rippers, work deeper knowing there is still plenty of torque in the power reserves. So the boosted PTO output is around the 240hp mark, while the boosted engine output is over 275hp – more than ample for what the Grays need.
The cross-flow head design, positioning the intake and exhaust manifolds on opposite sides of the engine, allows cooler air to be utilised, along with four valves per cylinder and wastegate turbocharging that creates greater efficiency and improves low-end lugging ability.
Access to all the major components for daily maintenance is helped by the large one-piece bonnet, which lifts up and forward in one motion with plenty of room thanks to the long wheel base, so you can easily navigate your way around.
As a side note, all Magnums can be run on 20 percent bio fuel. For the Grays, this may be an important feature 12 years into the future if this tractor proves to be as reliable as the old MX.
As I mentioned earlier about the history of reliability dating back to the original 7100-series, the Magnum's standard 18-speed full powershift transmission is a modern version of that exact transmission which is known for its long, dependable service life.
The 18x4 powershift transmission has eight gears in the 4.9 to 12.9kph working range, where most of the field work is done. You can program the transmission to start up in any gear you choose (1 through 12) for quicker start-ups, as well as auto-field and road modes.
Auto-field and road modes allow you to concentrate on giving the tractor more or less revs and the transmission does the rest. In field mode, it changes gears for optimum efficiency in the working range mentioned above, and as the name suggests, road mode allows you to concentrate on the traffic and hazards associated with some of the drivers in this country, (particularly with duals all round and 50km box).
For the ripping, auto shifting would be a bit of a pain as the tractor would be changing gears all the time as the soil characteristics constantly change. I found it was better to let the engine lug down a bit more as the torque reserves always pulled through.
The test tractor was specced with the optional 19th gear in the 50km version, which has full engine rpm for road transport, although the same 19th gear is available as a 40km eco option, where engine revs are bought back to 1800rpm.
Cab and controls
The first thing you will notice when you climb into the cab is the sweet red leather seat (which is very comfortable) and the overall roominess, particularly behind the seat. Once seated, the view is impressive, something helped by the fact that the tractor was on 50-inch bar-axle duals. But the large glass area and the curvature of the glass make you feel like you're in a bubble, offering excellent all-round visibility. The one-piece glass door on the right doesn't open, but that's no biggie: I'm glad they have stuck to a smaller left-hand glass door rather than the full glass doors some manufacturers are going to – they seem very cumbersome to open and close and I bet very expensive to replace.
The majority of the functions are on the right-hand armrest as you would expect with 17 different functions at your fingertips, although the recently revamped models have the more modern "multicontroller", which is the same armrest as the CVT Puma's that has no less than 32 functions on it so you are spoilt for choice. All the dials and gauges are mounted on the "A" pillar. This seems a little strange to start with as you are looking behind the steering wheel and all you can see is a big red bonnet, but this is the exact reason why they have done it. The design allows for excellent forward visibility, thanks to the V-shaped bonnet; visibility between the bonnet and the wheels is superb, too. The shape of the bonnet and the chassis also allows for what Case IH claims to be an industry-leading turning circle. I can't comment on this, but given the front duals and the general size of the tractor I thought the turning circle wasn't bad.
The gear lever (as on most Case's) also doubles as the hand throttle. This is particularly handy for ripping as you can be changing up/down gears and giving it less/more revs all with one hand, making it very easy to hop in and operate. Optional constant engine RPM switches allow you to choose your desired maximum engine speed. When used in conjunction with the autoshifting feature, these allow the tractor to be driven in a "cruise control" type fashion.
Automatic temperature control allows for a climate controlled environment, and as I mentioned earlier not only does the leather seat look cool but the "Positive Response Suspension" system automatically adjusts the seat shock absorber up to 500 times per second, and when coupled with the new suspended front axle (providing 112mm of travel and 6 degrees of oscillation) it makes the ride very comfortable.
Drawbar, linkage and PTO
A new CAT IV heavy-duty drawbar with two-inch hitch pin is available for vertical loads up to 5 tonnes and a heavy-duty CAT IV linkage with 8.6-tonne lift capacity takes care of heavy linkage mounted implements.
The hitch comes standard with electronic draft control and hitch ride control which reduces bouncing during transport with mounted implements.
The heavy-duty rear linkage didn't have stabiliser arms, which I thought was strange given the fact that the heavy implements on the rear will tend to move, particularly at 50kph on the road. This could be a safety issue if the tractor is set-up for stack work if all that weight swings to one side.
The hydraulics have a PFC (pressure flow compensated) design with up to six electro-hydraulic remote valves with a maximum output of 223 litres per minute – this should prove more than ample for any implement in the country. The five remotes are all controlled on the right-hand armrest, all equipped with timers and your run-of-the-mill float and lock features.
The PTO comes standard with 1000 only, although the 540/1000 option is available. However, I would have thought a 1000 eco option would have been a good feature for lighter soil conditions. One good feature is that the PTO shaft can be rotated for easy coupling of implements.
These American-built tractors have a proud history of good looks and rugged reliability, and this series of Magnums is no different. The surround frame mounts the engine independent of the transmission, reducing vibration and stress on components. The very effective front suspension and "positive response seat" (adjusting up to 500 times per second) allows large-scale operators the comfort and user-friendliness of a Magnum coupled with the mechanical piece of mind given by historical models – a win, win in my view, so why don't you get some red in your shed?
Comfortable leather seat
Very effective front suspension
Right-hand armrest for all major functions
Plenty of room in the cab
Large one-piece bonnet with easy access
Gear lever couples as the hand throttle
No stabiliser arms on rear linkage