Reviews

Shuttle Power

With tractors from 70hp to100hp, the New Holland TLA range is designed for medium-sized farm operations, and perhaps as a second tractor for larger farms. Terry Stevenson takes a ride on a TL90A.

By Terry Stevenson

The first thing I noticed when I climbed on board the New Holland TL90A was how quiet it was. That set the tone for the test really and, while every new tractor I drive has its own unique character, generally speaking I’m finding the standards are now quite high for new tractors and the TL90A is no different.

Ohaupo dairy farmers Peter and Judith Graham provided our test TL90A, a ROPS machine that replaced a well-used 1984, 72hp, David Brown 1390. The Grahams run 400 Friesian and Jersey dairy cows on their 231ha property, which includes a large 43ha lake. With three farm workers, including Judith, they currently run two herds of 200 each. The Grahams sharemilked for three years before buying the family farm 18 months ago, and have been improving it ever since. As such, next season’s plan is to increase the herd to 475 cows. Peter works at the local Fonterra dairy factory and helps out when he gets home and over the weekends.

With Judith doing much of the driving, she finds with the new TL90A she can get into places they couldn’t before. An 11cu m Giltrap feed wagon is on the way and further plans include more attachments, including a spreader.

The Grahams said they chose a New Holland because they have always received good service from Norwood Farm Machinery in Te Awamutu. Doing the driving, Judith really liked the loader quick hitch feature and having the hydraulic valves in one area, plus the quick adjustable steering wheel and seat to suit her requirements.

“We’ve had contractors here who are using New Holland, so we thought they must be alright,” Peter says.

Off to work
Sitting reasonably high up, the driver’s work area features a flat floor and easy-to-locate controls and buttons. I particularly like the New Holland’s combined analogue and digital dash, it’s easy to read – largely due to the large overhang area above the dials to reduce sunlight reflection. There is a small control panel to the right of the dash, enabling the operator to programme the likes of service intervals and distance travelled, and allows them to work out the area of a paddock.

Vision from the driver’s seat is pretty good, with only the single exhaust stack rising directly out of the rear-hinged bonnet. To keep the noise in, New Holland leaves only a small opening for the stack, which means the stack has to be removed to lift the bonnet up higher than where it lifts to gain normal access to the radiators, etc. No problem, all you need to do is turn the stack, as you would a light bulb. The stack itself rises well above the canopy overhang, meaning the sound doesn’t get reflected inside the roof.

The turbocharged TL90A engine is a Euro 2 compliant 4.5-litre four-cylinder powerplant, rated at 91hp, with 350Nm of torque at 1400rpm. The timing gear is now mounted at the back of the engine instead of the front for a better turning circle. Given free range of the farm, I gave the TL90A a good work out on a couple of typical rolling farm hills. Without a trailer or implement to put a decent strain on the engine, I drive up the hills in higher gears to gain a feel for the engine’s power characteristics under load. After several runs, this enables me to find out when the torque continues to pull a tractor up a hill from given revs. It also lets me know where the power drops off, and how fat the power curve is. The TL90A will rev out to 2500rpm easily enough, but there seems little point taking it much over 2200rpm. Good pulling power was best between 1200 and 1800rpm, with the climb speed dropping only marginally as the motor lost its revs.

The wet clutch gearbox offers a total of 24 gears in each direction, with three speed ranges to choose from, for the smooth changing four-speed manual gearbox. The operator also has the ability to quickly change up or down with their thumb through the electrically operated push buttons, situated on the top of the gear lever. Top speed is 40kph.

Judith raved about the shuttle forward/reverse operation. Compared to their last tractor, it’s not hard to see why, but obviously the shuttle is an excellent feature on any machine. I found the TL90A shuttle to be less progressive on take-up than I’ve tested on other tractors of a similar size. This is highlighted when shuttle changing while moving from one direction to another. I should point out it is not a fault, it would just take a bit longer to get the feel of than a machine with more progression.

The push-button selectable four-wheel drive option is located on the left side of the steering wheel, right alongside the electro-hydraulically controlled two-axle diff lock.

At the back, the TL90A has an angled Perspex safety window, which probably keeps rearward noise out, too. Our test machine had quick hitching stabiliser bars as standard and a single spotlight on the right rear guard. Also standard are two double acting remote hydraulic valves, with options for more, with a 51 litre per minute flow rate.

The electronic soft-start PTO engagement switch is mounted on the right hand guard. The three speed PTO drive includes 540 (2200rpm engine speed), 540 Economy (1715rpm) and 1000rpm (2380rpm).

I didn’t put Judith to the test but Peter said once they get a handle on it, they will be able to remove the entire quick-change Mailleux MX75u front-end loader in less than a minute. It felt like a good-sized loader for a 4000-odd kilogram ROPS tractor (4250kg with cab the only figure available), it matches the TL90A well. The loader has twin crowd rams with a special safety relief valve so you can now scrape the bucket without fear of damaging the rams. Norwoods is currently offering a special tractor/loader package until the end of May.

SPECIFICATIONS: New Holland TL90A
No. of cylinders: 4
Bore x stroke (mm): 104 x 132
Rated engine power (kW/hp): 67/91
Rated engine speed (rpm): 2500
Max torque at rpm (Nm/rpm): 350/1400
Standard fuel capacity (l): 127
ShuttleCommand gears: 12×12
DualCommand gears: 24×12
DualCommand with PowerShuttle: 24×24
Max lift capacity (kg): 5060
Overall length (mm): 4362
Min width (mm): 2012
Overall height (mm): 2494
Min weight with cab 2WD/4WD: 3850/4250
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