More to Chi­nese trac­tors than you think

Dairy News Australia - - MACHINERY & PRODUCTS - JOHN DROPPERT • John Droppert has no me­chan­i­cal qual­i­fi­ca­tions what­so­ever, but has been pas­sion­ate about trac­tors since be­fore he could talk and has op­er­ated many dif­fer­ent makes and mod­els in a va­ri­ety of roles for both profit and fun.

CHI­NESE TRAC­TORS. Wait! Don’t turn the page just yet. I know what you’re think­ing — and it prob­a­bly wouldn’t be wise to print it here. It’s fair to say Chi­nese trac­tors, in gen­eral, have the rep­u­ta­tion that Korean ones had not too long ago, and Ja­panese ones well be­fore that. One that makes for much hi­lar­ity when you see a low-hour ma­chine for sale, or a sus­pected sucker shak­ing hands on a deal at Farm World. If the me­dia cov­er­age and odd court de­ci­sion are true, at least some seg­ments of this broadly gen­er­alised cat­e­gory are wor­thy of lash­ings of ridicule and dis­dain. I’d have thought most of them can eas­ily be picked out at the field days — the ones where the spray paint has not quite all gone where it should, and the pan­els just seem to be that bit too far out of align­ment. The plas­tic looks and smells like it’ll melt if the sun stays out too long. It seems that not ev­ery­one got the memo though, or money re­ally does talk; as you still see them get­ting pur­chased, out in pad­docks, and then ad­ver­tised for sale or sym­pa­thy. I’ve never driven a good Chi­nese trac­tor, but then again I’ve never driven a bad one ei­ther. I’d re­ally like to flog the guts out of one just to see what it can do. Here’s why: As you may be aware, this col­umn has a soft spot for tough, ba­sic spec ma­chines that get the job done with­out mak­ing you a cof­fee and giv­ing you a mas­sage. The ones where the levers are still con­nected to things; trac­tors that you can walk up to, have a look un­der the bon­net, and ac­tu­ally see what’s go­ing on. At face value, Chi­nese trac­tors fit that bill per­fectly. And I strongly sus­pect that there are at least some good ones out there on the mar­ket. Whether they’re based on re­li­able older plat­forms, backed by more es­tab­lished deal­ers rather than sim­ply ‘im­porters’, or straight out man­u­fac­tured to a higher stan­dard, with de­cent cast­ings and fit­tings, more pre­cise parts, and the like. They must ex­ist. Why do I be­lieve this? Be­cause I’ve been for­tu­nate enough to see just enough of China (not much) to know that lo­cally pro­duced ma­chines are ev­ery­where there — just as there are a great many Chi­nese cars on the roads. You can’t tell me that the Chi­nese econ­omy has got­ten to where it has on the ba­sis of trac­tors that break down after 100 hours of slash­ing. I have also seen Chi­nese milk pro­cess­ing plants with more peo­ple as tour guides than work­ing on the fac­tory floor, and ro­bot­ics that would make the eyes of any Aus­tralian plant man­ager wa­ter. You can’t tell me that they don’t have a clue how to build trac­tors. I’m sure that there are plenty of dodgy char­ac­ters cut­ting cor­ners, but it seems disin­gen­u­ous to sug­gest that the Chi­nese can’t build de­cent trac­tors. So are we tend­ing to im­port too many of the ones that fit the cheap price buyers ex­pect to pay? Or are there plenty of good ones that we don’t hear about be­cause a cou­ple of bad ap­ples are trash­ing the ba­sic end of the mar­ket? My bud­get doesn’t ex­tend to find­ing out through trial and er­ror, so I’m just ask­ing ques­tions …

You can’t tell me that the Chi­nese econ­omy has got­ten to where it has on the ba­sis of trac­tors that break down after 100 hours of slash­ing.

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