JCB Fas­trac mile­stone

Farms & Farm Machinery - - Contents -

It’s been 25 years since the first Fas­trac trac­tor was in­tro­duced

JCB is toast­ing 25 years’ pro­duc­tion of its Fas­trac range of trac­tors, the world’s first trac­tor with full sus­pen­sion.

It was JCB chair­man An­thony Bam­ford who struck the idea of man­u­fac­tur­ing an un­con­ven­tional trac­tor while he was on hol­i­day from Bri­tain in 1984.

He saw an op­por­tu­nity to de­velop a trac­tor that had high road speed and would also be ca­pa­ble of field work, in­clud­ing heavy-draft ap­pli­ca­tions.

The Fas­trac de­sign has de­vel­oped hugely from the first pro­to­type built in 1987 in se­cret be­neath the of­fice block at JCB Trans­mis­sions in Wrex­ham, North Wales.

Back then it had sus­pen­sion in­cor­po­rated in both axles, shat­ter­ing the myth that sus­pen­sion and plough­ing is an im­pos­si­ble com­bi­na­tion.

Project P120, as it was known then, was un­veiled to the me­dia and public at the Royal Smith­field Show in 1990 ahead of pro­duc­tion start-up in spring the fol­low­ing year.

Apart from be­ing the first high-draft agri­cul­tural trac­tor with all-round sus­pen­sion, ca­pa­ble of top speeds up to 75km/h, over the past 25 years the Fas­trac has been the first to fea­ture truck-stan­dard disc brakes, multi-mode four-wheel steer­ing, an anti-lock brak­ing sys­tem (ABS), and self-lev­el­ling sus­pen­sion.

It was the field speed and com­fort that was praised by early Fas­trac users the most, ac­cord­ing to JCB.

The Selec­tronic trans­mis­sion with 2-speed pow­er­shift was one of the first im­prove­ments to the Fas­trac in­tro­duced two years after the 125 (120hp) and 145 Turbo (140hp) mod­els were launched in 1991. This dou­bled the num­ber of work­ing speeds avail­able and brought in a pre-se­lect sys­tem for easy range and shut­tle shift­ing.

Fast for­ward to when the cur­rent 4000 Se­ries trac­tor was first un­veiled in 2013, and JCB chief engi­neer­ing and in­no­va­tion of­fi­cer Tim Burn­hope says that look­ing back, it’s clear JCB’s trac­tor tech­nol­ogy and de­sign has come a long way.

“The Fas­trac 4000 Se­ries is such a com­plete trac­tor in all re­spects that it’s at­tract­ing users who haven’t op­er­ated a Fas­trac be­fore, as well as long-term en­thu­si­asts,” Burn­hope says. “The cab de­sign, en­gine per­for­mance and trans­mis­sion con­trol is at least as good as other trac­tors of com­pa­ra­ble power.”

JCB em­ploy­ees cel­e­brate 25 years of Fas­trac trac­tor pro­duc­tion

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