This year even a casual stroll through a farm machinery show will reveal the obvious trend toward increased use of rubber-belted track systems. And manufacturers have recently introduced even more options for those who want the benefits that technology offers. In less than three decades belts have gone from the fringe to the mainstream.
This year we’ve seen the introduction of yet another tracked ag tractor concept, the “Halftrack”.
A few weeks ago, New Holland held a media event at its North American corporate headquarters in New Holland, Pennsylvania, and it became the first brand to unveil a halftrack belted tractor. Although all media members were restricted from releasing the information until this week. So we had to wait a little while to show you what we saw.
The T8 halftrack is available in three different models with rated horsepower output ranging from 311 to 379.
“We know that twin-track machines have a been a staple on many farms for years now,” said Nathan Graham, an NH product training specialist, as he stood in front of a T8 halftrack at the company’s test track in New Holland, Pennsylvania at the media event. “But the twin tracks have some inherent flaws. They leave a lot of berming on the ends. They act like a skid steer. What we’ve done is taken the comfort and the balance of a conventional tractor and added tracks to it.”
So the T8s, technically twin tracks I suppose, eliminate those negatives by keeping a front steering axle.
The track on these T8s aren’t interchangeable with tires. The tractors have a rear drop box drive arrangement designed to give the track modules the correct gear ratios to keep travel speeds in line with their wheeled brothers.
This week New Holland’s sister company under the CNH umbrella, Case IH, unveiled their equivalent, the Magnum Rowtrac, at a media event in Iowa. Case IH will offer two models offering 340 and 380 rated horsepower. The 380 will come with a CVT transmission as standard. The CVT will be an option on the smaller 340. NH, too, will offer either a CVT or powershift transmission.
Both brands will offer belt widths from 16 to 30 inches. The track modules are built by CNH at their Racine, Wisconsin, plant.
For a video look at New Holland’s T8 SmartTrax, there will be a new video under the e-QuipTV heading under the videos link shortly.
And if you’ve ever wondered how this rubber-belt technology came to be, the September 29 issue of Grainews will have the first of a two-part series that reveals exactly how the first belted tractor was developed. There are some very interesting details in that feature. Don’t miss it.