Reviews

Top Tractor 2016: Massey Ferguson 5610

There was something special about the red Massey Ferguson tractor we tested in the recent Farm Trader Top Tractor Showcase.

The Massey Ferguson 5610 was a factory spec’d replica of the same model that (after 17 days and 2500 kilometres) reached South 90—as far south as anybody can go. The quest was set out by the great explorer Sir Edmund Hillary, who led the first mechanised expedition to the South Pole in 1957 using Ferguson TE20 tractors.

You may have heard in the news recently that another 5610 Antarctica replica and two restored TE20s are making a 2012 kilometre road journey the length of the country (the same distance Sir Ed travelled from Scott Base to the South Pole) to raise $1 million for Antarctic Heritage Trust to upkeep Hillary’s Hut. The Hut is the first building constructed at Scott Base and is where Sir Ed’s team began their historic Ferguson tractor expedition to the South Pole in 1957.

Often, Fieldays week can feel like the South Pole, but this year, we weren’t there for the weather. Instead, we tested eight of the best tractors priced under $100,000.

Engine

For the non-believers who think the three-cylinder engine in the 5608, 09, and 10 models are a blast from the past, apart from a slightly noisier idle (it idles at 650rpm), it was hard to find fault in the AGCO powered three-cylinder, 3.3L engine.

For some time, Massey Ferguson has placed a large emphasis on its sloping bonnet. This makes loader work a real breeze. During our testing, when we jumped in between tractors, it was a noticeable difference. This is another reason to opt for the three-cylinder engine, with space in modern engine bays a precious commodity.

Transmission

One thing that appeals to the buyers is the functionality of the Dyna 4 transmission. There are three control locations in the cab: the left-hand power control, the t-stick on the right-hand console, and the factory loader joystick control. This machine was also fitted with an auto drive mode that operates like a full power shift and changes straight up from first gear in the first range right through to the fourth gear in the fourth range. All you have to do is set the engine rev parameters for when it changes and off you go.

Massey _5610_5

There are a number of different settings for the transmission that are nifty, although this does require some homework. Having said that, all the automation can be turned off and the tractor can be driven like any other normal semi-power shift transmission, all without touching the clutch.

The brake-to-neutral feature works as soon as the brake is pressed; it simultaneously operates the clutch. This is useful for loader work, although it does need to be reactivated every time the tractor is turned off, which is a niggle.

Hydraulics

58 L/min of oil is available for the loader/linkage and spools as standard. Although, this machine was equipped with the combined flow option (by pressing the button on RH B-pillar) of an additional 42L pump to give the open centre pump a 100L/min combined flow.

The Massey Ferguson has three rear spools as standard: two have float; all have a detent and constant flow.

540/540E /1000 PTO will prove ample for a tractor of this size and the work it will tackle. Equipped with electronic engagement in the cab and a stop/start button on the rear fender, auto PTO is standard.

Operating Environment

I still prefer the 5/6 pillar cabs over the larger doored four-pillar counterparts, but this is just a personal preference. Once inside the Massey Ferguson cab, the sleek dashboard and sloping bonnet prove that visibility is a no barrier. The cab interior also has a quality feel to it.

Adjustment of the steering position allows both tilting and extending that, as a tall person, makes life a lot more comfortable. As this was the Antarctica version, it had a top of the line seat that was the best of the bunch for me, although this is not a standard feature. The right-hand B pillar is where the working lights, 4wd, diff, and rear linkage settings are all push buttons.

Driving Impression

Just about all Massey Ferguson tractors of this size are ordered as ‘loader ready’ with factory fitted cast brackets, and in this case, the MF941 (Quicke) boom was fitted. Driving the machine during our test, the visibility of the bonnet and cab comfort were standouts for me. The joystick for the loader with integrated transmission gear changes, shuttle, de-clutch button as well as third and fourth function allows you to just use your right hand to control the tractor and the left to do the steering.

Massey _5610_8

The verdict

The Massey Ferguson is a good honest tractor.

Pros

  • Excellent build quality and finish
  • Large wing mirrors
  • High-quality tyres and guards
  • Loader integrated joystick was user-friendly
  • Brake to N function and anti-stall
  • Comfortable seat and cab environment
  • Excellent visibility via the sloping bonnet
  • Large number of work lights
  • Three-speed PTO
  • Button cluster on right B pillar was convenient
  • 4.3T rear lift will prove ample
  • The only tractor to be standard with three spools (two with float)
  • Auto Battery Isolator once key is turned off
  • Full dish rear rims will reduce paint flaking and cracks
  • Rear sight glass for transmission oil
  • Mechanical cab suspension

Cons

  • Dust plugs on the rear spools would be much better with the spring caps
  • Dot-matrix in cab information is difficult to navigate around
  • Toolbox is in an unpractical location
  • Rear linkage activation is a little tricky
  • Air filter is behind the loader towers

Read the full review in the latest issue (#236) of Farm Trader magazine.

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