Soucy is an aftermarket manufacturer of tracks,” explains Martin VanSteenbergen, western territory manager for John Deere. “In Western Canada the four-wheel drive 9R is the tractor that is mostly used. So, we wanted to come up with designs for that tractor. After making tracks for the 8R Series, the 9R’s tracks are very, very similar. We have rigorously tested the 8R and now we’ve come out with the 9R.”
Soucy International used the 2013 Canadian Farm Progress Show to introduce its new track offering for 9R tractors to Prairie farmers. And a lot of people attending that event took notice. “There’s been a lot of questions. A lot of interest in the tractor,” said VanSteenbergen during an interview at the Regina show. “John Deere in Eastern Saskatchewan definitely has a lot of market share with their four-wheel drive. For the die-hard John Deere farmers this is definitely of interest.”
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Although the track systems offer advantages like a boost in floatation, farmers will have to be content with lower speeds throughout the gear ranges in a 9R fitted with the Soucy system. “Since we are aftermarket, we cannot adjust any of the gear ratios in the transmission,” noted VanSteenbergen. “That’s why we made the sprocket as big as possible, to not lose (too much) speed. But we’re still losing 25 per cent.”
The Soucy track system for the 9R Deere offers some brand new features, which the company has just developed. “It’s completely new,” he said. “It’s the next generation.”
The company casts its own axle and bogies which now incorporate added strength. And the firm produces its own rubber belts as well, which now use four layers of steel belting for improved strength. Even the tread-bar pattern on the rubber belts is a little different than the standard chevron design farmers are used to seeing.
When it comes to maintenance, the mid-rollers and idlers use oil bath hubs that require only annual or 250-hour oil changes. And there are eight 50-hour grease zerks on each module.
“The big feature on the mid-rollers is they oscillate laterally and back to front,” says VanSteenbergen. “The dynamic tensioner, which is supported by nitrogen accumulators will also go back and forth. So it (the track) will follow the flow of the roads a lot better.”
Equipping a 9R tractor with a set of Soucy tracks will set farmers back about $165,000, and expect to have a mechanic spend about 32 hours installing them. Soucy products are sold through the Rocky Mountain dealership network and other retailers in Western Canada.