TTSO 2017: Claas Axion 930

By: Mark Fouhy


TTSO 2017: Claas Axion 930 TTSO 2017: Claas Axion 930
TTSO 2017: Claas Axion 930 TTSO 2017: Claas Axion 930
TTSO 2017: Claas Axion 930 TTSO 2017: Claas Axion 930
TTSO 2017: Claas Axion 930 TTSO 2017: Claas Axion 930
TTSO 2017: Claas Axion 930 TTSO 2017: Claas Axion 930
TTSO 2017: Claas Axion 930 TTSO 2017: Claas Axion 930
TTSO 2017: Claas Axion 930 TTSO 2017: Claas Axion 930
TTSO 2017: Claas Axion 930 TTSO 2017: Claas Axion 930

When it came to the Top Tractor Shoot Out lineup, one tractor stood head and shoulders above the rest – the impressive Claas Axion 930

While the Claas certainly outclassed its opposition in many aspects, when it came down to our mathematical equation to work out the dollars per horsepower sum, it ended up at the far end of the field – by no means a reflection of the calibre of this machine but simply how things worked out with our final tally up.

With such a complex machine equipped with the latest technology and plenty of bells and whistles, we were fortunate to receive a thorough run-through of features by Claas Tractors product manager Dave Knowles and Claas Poland product specialist Dr Barbara Raba.

Initial standout features for the judges were the tractor's power and stability. Hooked up to a 21-tonne Herron trailer and 3.5-metre Sumo Trio, this machine was equally at home working in the paddocks with heavy tillage equipment as hauling heavy silage loads and transport work.

To make the most of its capabilities, we probably needed to put it on silage stack duty with plenty of bins on a short draw or send it to an outback property with our Australian judge Tom Dickson and some extra-large broad acre tillage equipment to see what it is capable of.

Serviceability

A tractor with well-laid-out service points is always appreciated. Time spent checking your machine before start-up is important, so if you can be efficient with this time, so much the better. We scored the Claas top of all the tractors in this area.
All service points are accessible from the ground.

The electronic oil dipstick offered in Claas is a feature not seen in most other brands. Service intervals are at 600 for engine hours and 1200 for transmission, in line with what other manufacturers are offering. For further piece of mind, Claas offers a two-year, 2000-hour warranty with the Axion tractors.

Given the high oil flow requirements of implements this machine will be pulling, the transmission and hydraulic oil are in the same resevoir to give a larger volume of
usable oil. The easy lift bonnet allows access to the cooling pack, which pivots up to allow cleaning when required.

A toolbox is built into the steps on the left-hand side with battery on the other side. Claas has located the isolator switch in the cab, which is handy should you forget to switch it on.

Engine

Claas is not in the engine manufacturing business, choosing to source the power plants for its tractors from those who are recognised as having the best.
For the Axion 930, Claas has chosen to go with a Fiat Powertrain Technologies 8.7-litre Tier II. Although Tier II engines are not the latest technology, they are still available in certain markets, such as New Zealand and Australia, with less stringent emission regulations than the EU where Tier 4 engines are required.

What this does mean for the Claas Axion 930 is that you get plenty of horsepower without the extra cost of that technology, bringing it in at $988 per hp. While the total price ($320,000) is quite a bit more than most of the other brands at the Top Tractor Shoot Out, so is the horsepower you are getting (350hp).

Our independent dyno test by DPS ran the Claas Axion 930, showing a flat power curve producing 324hp at the benchmark of 1000rpm used for the test. This power is available from 900 to 1100, designed by FPT to be a low revving engine, keeping fuel consumption down. Maximum fuel usage was measured at 66 litres per hour.

Like the rest of its figures, this measured about double as the other tractors,
in line with its horsepower and torque results. Efficiencies in the engine and transmission led to a better result than some of the other tractors tested, requiring around two litres/hp/hr. Along with this is the Viscotronic fan system uses variable speed to to help cool the engine as required; another fuel-saving feature.

Being an FPT engine, service intervals sit at 600 hours. As well as the normal dipstick on the right-hand side of the engine, there is an electronic unit with display in the cab – a handy feature.

Claas -Axion --3

Transmission

Claas calls its CVT transmission Cmatic. Based on a ZF transmission, there are three ranges for which you can set the speed range. The range you are operating in moves forward on the screen, becoming larger than the other two ranges.

One of the main features of the Claas Cmatic variable transmission is the system being able to adjust between mechanical and hydraulic. This mechanical gear system is more efficient at putting power to the ground, with less power loss over a 100% hydraulic system. Three modes of operation – manual, auto, and drive stick – can be selected by using the mode button.

Claas uses the universal orange colour for transmission functions like most other brands. This proved helpful for the judges, who were operating a number of different machines in a short space of time. Forward and reverse functions can be controlled by either the hand shuttle on the steering column or by using direction buttons on the Cmatic controller if the shuttle is in the centre position.

Headland management systems can be selected to disengage diff and 4wd locks with turn of the wheels past 15 degrees. Quick access to the monitor allows for easy adjustment of current transmission functions. Droop control dial can be set to allow a drop in revs to maintain forward speed at lower revs, thus maintaining productivity.

Like all technology, it takes a little bit to get used to all the features of the Cmatic transmission in order to get the best out of it, but the initial response from the judges
was positive.

Cab

Being the biggest tractor (by far) in our Top Tractor Shoot Out lineup, it makes sense that the Claas had the biggest cab, but how would the Farm Trader team measure this? By the number of people we could fit in the cab, of course. The four judges managed sit in there and there was still space for Dr Barbara to almost stand upright.

A cooler box and other cubbyholes are located around the cab for storage. Climate control air-conditioning and radio help keep operators comfortable and relaxed.
The judges found seating, including the passenger seat, to be extremely comfortable. The adjustable armrest is well laid out with major functions that aren't on the Cmotion (hand controller) located within easy reach.

The Cmotion unit can control transmission functions, depending on which of the three options you choose to operate (manual, auto, or Cmotion). With the amount of time spent operating the tractor with the Cmotion controller, Claas has incorporated a cooling unit into it, which is a smart innovation.

Claas -Axion --4

Monitor

With such a useable armrest, it's not a big issue to not have an upgraded touchscreen monitor. Once you get used to it, the push button dial system to scroll around the monitor is efficient and works well. Allocating different remotes to different buttons or hydraulic flow rates felt intuitive and straightforward. The tractor comes with power beyond, ISOBUS connection, and guidance ready.

Hydraulics

The impressive rear linkage lift capacity of nearly 11 tonnes was ample. Made to operate bigger implements, the Claas Axion 930 is the only machine to feature Cat4 linkage. It can also be specified with Cat3. Fitted with four rear remotes, plus power beyond, the pump is rated at 220 litres per minute. Our DPS test measured the flow rate at 110 litres per minute (from one spool), but given the size of the pump, you could achieve this output from two spools simultaneously.

The pressure relief valves were a plus, as well as the flexibility offered within the control monitor to assign remote functions to either the colour-coded controls on the armrest or onto the buttons on the Cmotion controller.

Fender and front block mounted guards for linkage, PTO, and one remote are a handy feature for hooking up implements or clearing baler blockages if you have to get out of the cab.

Test

As one of the first tractors hooked up to the 3.5m Sumo Trio and the 21-tonne Herron trailer, the judges may have originally underestimated the Claas Axion 930. Over the next couple of days, despite some impressive tractors, nothing else measured up performance-wise to the same level. Weighing in at 12.8 tonnes on the weighbridge, the Claas can be loaded up to 18 tonnes to operate at 50km/hr if required. As the heaviest tractor, the fully loaded Herron trailer did not push the Class around; the higher hitching point and large pin may have helped.

This particular tractor had been running a large ball hitch for operation of a loader wagon, which is also a good option to decrease wear on both the tractor and the implement. The weight is split 50:50 front and rear, before adding implements, for balance and traction. The long wheelbase frame has large scallops on either side at the front to help with steering angles. As the biggest tractor, the Claas was expected to be on the larger side of things when it came to our turning circle test, so no surprises there to find it measured a 17.4m diameter.

Another standout feature was ride quality. The four-corner mechanical cab suspension offered by Claas, with soft/med/hard settings, isolates the cab from the bumps felt by the tractor. Hydraulic front suspension, front linkage suspension, comfort air ride seat, and large tyres fitted correctly ensure operator comfort.

Operation of the Sumo Trio cultivator only requires two of the available rear remotes, one to raise and lower the implement and the other to alter how much or little the front legs are in the ground. Pressure relief valves on the remotes are a handy feature of the Claas and not found on all comparable machines.

Options

The Axion 930 comes with a variable transmission to make operation and drive functions efficient for a wide variety of tasks. You can customise your Claas tractor, ticking as many or few options as you require.

In standard from, the tyre package offered, lighting, and cab and front axle suspension are all top-line equipment. Depending on planned usage, it may be worth looking at uprated front linkage, hydraulic pump, and extra hydraulic spool remotes. If you were to down spec to 40k transmission, you get independent rear brakes, which would only be a feature I'd look at if it was purchased as a tractor to use on one farm, not contracting with road work.

Verdict

As the biggest tractor in the Top Tractor Shoot Out, there were high expectations from the judges for the Claas Axion 930 to excel in the field work testing, and we weren't disappointed.

At almost double the power and weight of some of the tractors, admittedly it is difficult to compare, but it's safe to say that the Claas was streets ahead, justifying its price tag. While field testing was just a part of our criteria, it didn't disappoint in most of the other areas scored as well, such as serviceability, build quality, operator comfort, ride quality, function, and usability.

The judges unanimously agreed that of all the tractors tested, the Claas Axion 930 would be their pick for heavy tillage applications and jobs requiring raw PTO power.

Top features

  • Overall best performance with the Sumo Trio and Herron trailer
  • Greatest hydraulic capacity, front and rear
  • Best tyre package offered, Michelin Axobib
  • Excellent serviceability. Points easily accessible with electronic oil dipstick.

For complete specifications, check out the latest issue (#243) of Farm Trader

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