The utility and compact utility tractor segments (roughly the 50 to 125 horsepower range) are the most densely populated tractor ranges on the market. Several tractor-only brands along with all the major brands have their largest number of offerings in that group. So there is a lot for a potential buyer to choose from.
To ramp up their ability to compete in that market, Case IH recently expanded its Farmall A line.
“We’re launching three new models, 55A, 65A and 75A,” said Denny Stroo, livestock marketing manager, during a field day near Phoenix, Arizona, in January. “They’re brand new for us. We launched these at Farm Progress in August of 2018.”
Grainews had the chance to spend some time going over the tractors and get behind the wheel of an MFD 75A model in that Arizona field. That gave us a basic driving impression to see what the new models have to offer. The model we tested was equipped with a cab and a factory-installed front-end loader.
“The 55A and 65A are cab-only tractors,” notes Stroo. “In the 75A we’re doing both two-wheel drive or MFD models (with or without cabs). MFD is our most popular option. The loader is built in the same plant the tractor is built in, and it’s specifically designed for this tractor. It’s available in self-levelling and non-self-levelling.”
Case IH offers three different model lines in its Farmall series, the A, C and U.
“We really have three families or series of Farmall tractors now, the A, C and U,” said Stroo. “As more manufacturers have been coming into this utility tractor segment and adding more models, as we are, we have to differentiate these tractors. So we’re trying to use the good, better, best strategy. A good tractor we correlate to an economy level tractor: the Farmall A. The Farmall C is more of a deluxe level tractor, or breaking it down is a better tractor than the A. And the Farmall U is a premium level tractor: that best-level tractor.
“What does that mean for our customers, you can correlate that back to how many hours do they spend a day in the tractor. We can use electronics to make things more comfortable. On the other hand if they’re more price conscious, maybe they don’t want all those bells and whistles, that’s where these Farmall As come in. We’re trying to meet the demands of a wide range of customers with our different series of tractors.”
Getting behind the wheel
Driving the 75A gave us a chance to see how an example from the “good” end of the series handled, at least in its basic operation.
Starting with the cab, it felt relatively comfortable. We didn’t get an actual decibel reading, but at full throttle it was still relatively quiet and we didn’t have to turn the radio volume knob up to 10 to hear it. The cab interior was relatively large for the size of the tractor, with enough room to squeeze in a buddy seat. The cab also included an upper, high-visibility window so an operator can see the loader at full height.
Interior cab surfaces are mostly plain, and washable, and the limited number of controls fall easily to hand. Although the mechanical gearshift linkage sounded a bit clunky when making changes, it had a nice, firm feel to it. And there is a shuttle shift available on the optional 12 x 12 transmission the test tractor was equipped with. That made back-and-forth loader operations smooth and easy, but it does require clutching when changing directions. There is also a basic 8 x 8 mechanical transmission available in this model.
“This is a brand-new cab for us, specifically designed as a cost-effective cab,” added Stroo. “We think we have a far superior cab-operator experience whether it’s an economy or deluxe level tractor. There’s very little use of electronics, virtually no electronics, a simple, mechanically operated tractor. Those two features, a cab and a power shuttle is why we’re bringing these new models to market.”
When running at low throttle, the loader lifts without reducing steering ability, a common problem on some “economy” tractors of this size. That is because the 12.6 g.p.m. (48 l/min.) hydraulic pump includes a dedicated steering circuit.
“We’ve been doing separated steering pumps for many of these tractors,” he added. “We offer two rear remotes as standard equipment. Three are an option. So it’s an economy model, but we have some nice standard features. We have the highest rear-hitch lift capacity compared to competitive models. There’s an additional lift cylinder option that gives even more lift capacity.”
Stroo claims the tractors weigh in heavier than most, because of the extra steel used in the main driveline components. That extra steel gives the new A Series models their lift, carry, pull and push capacity. An MFD 75A with a cab weighs in at 6,834 pounds (3,100 kilograms), plus the weight of the loader. It can be ballasted with an additional 1,010 pounds (460 kilograms). Which gives it roughly in that 100 pounds per horsepower rule of thumb used on high-horsepower field tractors.
“Things we like to promote on our Farmall tractors is weight and durability, we typically weigh more than the competitive models,” said Stroo. “Where that weight is located is critical. For us, that weight is built into the drivetrain of the tractor. It’s in the heart of the tractor.
Standard rear rubber on these tractors includes 16.9 x 30 bias-ply rears; radial tires are also available.
“We offer these tractors with quite a few choices,” said Stroo. “That includes adjustable link ends, on the three-point hitch. And when it comes to emissions, the 2.9 litre, three-cylinder diesels under the hoods of the A Series do not use particulate filters, so there is no mandatory regeneration periods.
“For 2018 forward, on all utility Farmall tractors no diesel particulate filter,” Stroo added. “What that means for a customer is they don’t have to go through a regeneration to clean that filter out. Therefore, no down time to maintain a DPF, because it doesn’t exist on our tractors.”
Overall, the 75A handled well. Despite the lack of more convenient electronic controls, the tractor didn’t feel like it was lacking capability in any area and was still comfortable to drive.