Big cat hunt­ing

Case IH Puma Tier 4B Series trac­tor

Farms & Farm Machinery - - Contents -

An Amer­i­can big cat, pumas are known by sev­eral dif­fer­ent names in­clud­ing cougar, pan­ther and moun­tain lion. In some ar­eas, th­ese wild cats are be­com­ing rarer.

How­ever, the Aus­trian-built Case IH Puma range is ex­pe­ri­enc­ing any­thing but a de­cline. In fact, it is thriv­ing.

The St Valen­tine plant is Case IH’s Euro­pean home, pro­duc­ing 28 trac­tor mod­els from 99-240hp – in­clud­ing the Puma range, which ranges from 150hp to 240hp. Now onto its third gen­er­a­tion, the Puma has quite a fol­low­ing among con­trac­tors and larger farm­ers, although it still has a few years to go to achieve leg­endary sta­tus like the Mag­num.

THE TEST

Af­ter a quick cup of tea with Dar­ren Miers and the boys from Grain and Food (Ag con­trac­tors based near Hamilton in New

Zealand), we headed to a lo­cal dairy farm with some slurry to spread us­ing the high-spec 1250 muck spreader on demo from Gil­trap Agri Zone in Cambridge, along with the top-ofthe-range Puma 240 CVT.

The Puma range is be­ing made avail­able in Clas­sic and Ul­ti­mate mod­els, pro­vid­ing as many – or few – bells and whis­tles as you pre­fer.

With tor­ren­tial rain and icy wind, we man­aged to get onto the pad­docks in less than ideal con­di­tions.

The big Puma was ac­tu­ally lighter on the pad­dock than I was ex­pect­ing. The weight of high-spec 12-tonne muck spreader be­hind was no is­sue. Although it is a well-built (heavy) ma­chine, the Grain and Food guys had been drag­ging it around the hills a few days ear­lier with no trou­ble.

Af­ter a day dodg­ing show­ers, I am sure the big 240 Puma was

pleased to be back to the dry, clean yard at the end of the day with the rest of the red Grain and Food fleet.

EN­GINE

With com­pe­ti­tion fierce be­tween trac­tor brands, each has to keep up or be left be­hind. The new Puma model boasts six new en­gine de­sign patents. Th­ese im­prove­ments of­fer around 15hp (un­boosted) over the pre­vi­ous model, while de­creas­ing the ni­trous ox­ide emis­sions lev­els to be com­pli­ant with Tier 4 fi­nal re­quire­ments.

To achieve this, Case hasn’t had to add an ex­pen­sive diesel par­tic­u­late fil­ter or ex­haust gas re­cir­cu­la­tion sys­tem. A 48-litre AdBlue tank mounted next to the diesel tank and treat­ment sys­tem is the main re­quire­ment, along with re­fine­ments within the en­gine. En­gine noise in the com­fort­able high-spec cab is not no­tice­ably loud by any stan­dard. Au­to­matic pro­duc­tiv­ity man­age­ment (APM) helps max­imise ef­fi­ciency in fuel con­sump­tion by re­duc­ing revs in re­la­tion to en­gine load while main­tain­ing for­ward speed via the CVT trans­mis­sion.

TRANS­MIS­SION

The 240 Puma is only avail­able in CVT. The CVT sys­tem has re­ceived an up­date to make it more re­spon­sive and to op­er­ate more like an au­to­matic car, in­ter­pret­ing the op­er­a­tor in­put and chang­ing speed/power out­put ac­cord­ingly de­pend­ing on ac­cel­er­a­tor in­put.

The other fea­ture that I re­ally like on this trans­mis­sion is the ac­tive hold sys­tem, which al­lows you to stop the trac­tor on a hill with­out us­ing brakes, and al­lows you to pull away again with­out us­ing ei­ther brake or clutch ped­als. This is eas­ier on the trac­tor and op­er­a­tor; great for round bal­ing du­ties or op­er­at­ing big trail­ers and muck spread­ers.

An­other fuel-sav­ing fea­ture of the trans­mis­sion on the new Puma range is the eco mode, which is use­ful in trans­port sit­u­a­tions where it will cut right back to around 1600rpm once it has reached its top speed 40-50km/h, de­pend­ing on front axle fit­ted.

SERVICING

The Case IH de­sign and tech­ni­cal teams have kept with the 12-month/600-hour in­ter­val en­gine and 1200-hour trans­mis­sion oil changes like most agri­cul­tural trac­tors they are pro­duc­ing. This is right up there in terms of what the rest of the in­dus­try is of­fer­ing and helps keep the over­all cost of own­er­ship of a new Puma down.

More im­por­tantly, it means less down­time at busy

times when the weather is good and you need to get through the work.

Daily servicing is pretty straight­for­ward. The oil dip­stick/filler on the same side as the fuel tank is eas­ily checked with­out rais­ing the bon­net. The one-piece bon­net is eas­ily lifted, re­quir­ing a tool to re­lease the safety. With two po­si­tions (45 and 90 de­grees) to choose from, this al­lows enough room for a quick check or eas­ier ac­cess for servicing. Ra­di­a­tor cool­ing packs are easy to get at and clean mounted up front.

CAB

One of the most no­tice­able new fea­tures of the Puma range is the up­dated cab de­sign. Ad­di­tion of new LED lights on each of the four cor­ners takes the to­tal light­ing pack­age up to 28,800 lu­mens and should give a 360-de­gree range of light­ing op­tions to suit what­ever task is at hand dur­ing dark­ness. The rear fend­ers have also been up­dated. PTO and link­age con­trols are still built in, and the main change is to the shape, which al­lows 710 tyres to be fit­ted and keep the mud at bay with­out fender ex­ten­sions. As stan­dard, the Puma 240 is fit­ted with Miche­lin 650/65 R42 rear and 540/65 R30 front tyres.

In­side the cab, the Ul­ti­mate series Puma, like the test trac­tor, re­ceives a leather op­er­a­tor and train­ing seat. The other cos­metic up­grade is the air-con­di­tion­ing unit.

Case IH has gone to a one-piece front win­dow, fur­ther en­hanc­ing vis­i­bil­ity for the op­er­a­tor. For rear view, two-piece mir­rors – like the big trucks use – have been added, which are great for view­ing dif­fer­ent fields of vi­sion with­out al­ter­ing the mir­ror. Con­trols are mounted on the multi-con­troller arm, with in­for­ma­tion dis­played down the front right pil­lar and in the AFS 700 touch­screen mon­i­tor. This leaves a greater un­ob­structed view for­ward, with a cooler box util­is­ing the air-con­di­tion­ing unit in the place of a tra­di­tional dash setup.

IN THE CAB

As an op­er­a­tor, you wouldn’t com­plain about the space, com­fort and vis­i­bil­ity of­fered by the Puma cabs. Qual­ity of fin­ish is high and the leather seat is a nice fin­ish. Case IH uses the same op­er­a­tion and con­trol sys­tems from the Maxxum CVT trac­tors, right up to the big­gest Steiger wheel and Quad­trac ma­chines, which im­me­di­ately makes them fa­mil­iar to a num­ber of op­er­a­tors – as do the stan­dard use of colours: yel­low for PTO func­tion; or­ange for drive; blue for FWD.

Be­ing a longer wheel­base ma­chine, com­fort lev­els are ex­cel­lent – as you would ex­pect with a premium seat pack­age cab sus­pen­sion and front sus­pen­sion, which is an op­tion. I would ex­pect it to be fit­ted al­most as stan­dard with the work­load ex­pected of a trac­tor of this size.

For road work at 50km/h, the ride is very good. More im­por­tant than ac­tual power and speed is be­ing able to pull up a loaded trac­tor and load, keep­ing the drive and other road users safe. With the Ul­ti­mate spec, you get air and hy­draulic trailer brakes. For those wannabe truck driv­ers, the ex­haust brake pedal will be right up your al­ley.

AFS MON­I­TOR

A com­puter used to be the size of a room. Now it is con­densed down to the size of a smart­phone. In the Puma range, the func­tion-op­er­at­ing com­puter comes in the form of the AFS 700 touch­screen unit, big­ger than a smart­phone with roughly a 10-inch screen to make for eas­ier op­er­a­tion.

I found this unit very user-friendly; scrolling through to find what you want is straight­for­ward. The Head­land Man­age­ment Con­trol sys­tem is very easy to set up, as is cre­at­ing and se­lect­ing or re­mov­ing tasks, or chang­ing the order of func­tion – time or dis­tance pa­ram­e­ters are eas­ily se­lected.

The Head­land Man­age­ment Sys­tem al­lows the op­er­a­tor to pro­gramme up to 32 in­di­vid­ual func­tions/steps. You have the op­tion of pro­gram­ming the se­quence you want or, pos­si­bly eas­ier for some, just record the se­quences in the pad­dock as you start the job.

A handy fea­ture is balers and wrap­per com­bos be­ing able to mount up to three cam­eras with dis­play on the AFS unit. Hav­ing ISOBUS III ca­pa­bil­ity, the im­ple­ment can con­trol a num­ber of trac­tor func­tions with ISOBUS con­trol di­rectly on the AFS screen with­out need­ing an­other sep­a­rate mon­i­tor in the cab.

Be­ing guid­ance-ready, the Puma is set up ready for what­ever task you may have to throw at it. The in­for­ma­tion on ar­eas worked and fuel used is use­ful for con­trac­tors to work out cost­ings and im­prove the ser­vice they can of­fer their clients.

If you choose to opt for no AFS mon­i­tor, you can still use most of the trac­tor func­tions through the con­trol arm and dis­play on the right-hand pil­lar of the cab. This al­lows you to use an­other ISOBUS ter­mi­nal, if that suits your sit­u­a­tion.

HY­DRAULICS

The 170L/min hy­draulic pump of the Puma CVT trac­tors pro­vides im­pres­sive lift ca­pac­ity of 10,463kg at the rear link­age. The (up to) nine elec­tronic re­motes (five rear and four mid-mount) should be am­ple for most sit­u­a­tions.

Not so vis­i­ble, but very use­ful all the same, are the up­dates within the hy­draulic sys­tem. You can se­lect which re­mote you want on a lever within the AFS Pro 700 touch­screen, and you can eas­ily fur­ther fine-tune flow rates to suit dif­fer­ent ap­pli­ca­tions.

Used with the Head­land Man­age­ment Sys­tem, the op­er­a­tor can con­cen­trate on where they are go­ing, while other func­tions are taken care of by trac­tor au­to­ma­tion. An­other new fea­ture I’m sure Puma driv­ers will ap­pre­ci­ate is be­ing able to move straight through the hy­draulic re­motes, from locked in to out, with­out hav­ing to pause in be­tween.

PTO

Elec­tro hy­draulic PTO with soft start func­tion saves dam­age to im­ple­ments like round balers. Used in con­junc­tion with head­land man­age­ment, you can set start/stop times at cer­tain points when rais­ing/low­er­ing im­ple­ments to pre­vent dam­age to drive shafts and im­ple­ments.

THE BOTTOM LINE

This is the most time I have spent in a Puma trac­tor in the last cou­ple of years. The im­prove­ments and changes made to de­sign and func­tion have im­me­di­ate ben­e­fits for those who own and op­er­ate th­ese lat­est mod­els.

With the evo­lu­tion of the third gen­er­a­tion Pumas, I can’t see th­ese ma­chines fea­tur­ing on the en­dan­gered species list any time soon.

“You have the op­tion of pro­gram­ming the se­quence you want”

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1

Main pic: Test­ing with the Puma and high spec muck spreader

1: The big cat is guid­ance-ready 2: A high-lift, one-piece bon­net

makes for easy servicing

3: The Puma 240 has a large

touch­screen AFS mon­i­tor

4: The solid-built, high-spec back end is a strong fea­ture of the Puma range 4

3

7

5: The Aus­trian-built Case Puma

240 CVT trac­tor

6: Leather seats are a nice fin­ish in

the Ul­ti­mate spec

7: A new light­ing pack­age gives

360-de­gree op­tions

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