“We’re excited to show you what John Deere is introducing this year,” said one of the brand’s marketing reps as she addressed a group of farm machinery writers. That was several weeks ago as we sat in one of the meeting rooms inside the green brand’s Waterloo, Iowa, tractor and cab assembly plant. The smile on her face and the nodding heads of the other Deere staff indicated everyone really was excited to show us what was waiting in a service bay downstairs.
What was waiting was an 8RX tractor, an industry first, four-track, rigid-frame, high-horsepower tractor. The 8RX joins Deere’s 8 Family of tractors, giving buyers a choice of two different tracked tractor designs: the 8RT two-track models that have been around for a while and the new four-track 8RX.
On that day, Deere gave our group of machinery writers a special treat. We got a preview look at the 8RX nearly two months ahead of its official debut. That’s one of the great things about my job, getting those kinds of unique opportunities to see the machines as they are about to hit the market and being able to speak with the engineers that built them.
There have been a few pictures making the rounds on social media as pre-production 8RX models were spotting travelling on trucks across the U.S. But now as the news breaks, so to speak, we at Grainews are not only able to talk in detail about the new tractors we saw that day, but I can tell you we were also in the field with them!
Deere had the new 8RX tractors along with the newly updated 8R and 7R tractors (oh, did I forget to mention them?) already hooked up to some tillage implements and waiting for us to put them to work outside the back door of the plant.
The 8RX tractors aren’t just standard 8Rs with track modules bolted onto them, far from it. While these tractors make use of some driveline designs used on the larger 9RX, the entire final drive components are purpose built for the tracked models. A close look at them reveals the differences. The axles look very different, and the 8RX tractors actually stand slightly taller than the other models in the 8 Family.
In the field, these tractors felt almost exactly like driving a regular 8R tractor, though. The steering felt the same, as did the turning radius. Unlike the two-track 8RT models, there is almost no ridging of dirt during turns.
All the 8R and 7R tractors get a facelift for 2020 as well, so they have a slightly different look to them. The cabs have grown a bit and feel much roomier, mostly due to taking the HVAC components out o the cab roof and putting them behind the seat to create more headroom.
The 8RX tractors will make their official world debut at Agritechnica in Germany in a couple of weeks. Getting to see them ahead of time was more than a treat. But sitting on this news to honour our agreement to Deere was difficult. We had to promise not to spoil their surprise. But now that it’s official, we’re free to tell you all about them.
And we at Grainews are going to go one better than telling you about them, we’re going to show them to you. To take a virtual pass through the field in one, click here to see our video taken during our Waterloo preview.