Heavy duty

The new HD mod­els in the New Hol­land T7 trac­tor line- up are big­ger, stronger and smoother, but re­main rel­a­tively ma­noeu­vrable and com­pact. Tom Dick­son tries out the T7.315 HD Blue Power to see if it lives up to the hype

Farms & Farm Machinery - - New Equipment Test -

Trac­tor man­u­fac­turer New Hol­land has re­cently launched two T7 HD trac­tors – des­ig­nated T7.290 HD and T7.315 HD – which are a big­ger, stronger and smoother al­ter­na­tive to the pre­vi­ous eight mod­els in the pop­u­lar T7 se­ries. The lat­est two have a rated horse­power of 271 and 300 re­spec­tively, which means the 10 mod­els in the T7 se­ries now span a power range from 140hp to 300hp. The T7.290 HD ( heavy duty) and T7.315 HD trac­tors of­fer a 6 per cent higher lift ca­pac­ity and 26cm longer wheel­base com­pared to the stan­dard T7 range; the wheel­base is 11cm longer in the T7 Long wheel­base line- up. The T7 HD range is so im­por­tant to New Hol­land that it is pro­duced on a brand new pro­duc­tion line in the UK. In­trigued by what the new ma­chines have to of­fer, we headed to Bir­re­gurra near Gee­long in Vic­to­ria to see Steve Lewer of Lewer Farm Ser­vices, who has been us­ing New Hol­land trac­tors in his agri­cul­tural con­tract­ing busi­ness for the last seven years. He was us­ing the T7.315 HD with a Claas triple- com­bi­na­tion mower – a Disco 3200 Profi l in front, and a Disco 8500 Con­tour but­terfl y mower at the rear. ( We’ll be re­view­ing the mow­ers them­selves very soon.)

EN­GINE

The 6.7- litre Fiat Pow­er­train Tech­nolo­gies ( FPT) en­gine fea­tures Tier 4B- com­pli­ant tech­nol­ogy called ECOBlue HI- eSCR. It gen­er­ates up to a max­i­mum 313hp while still de­liv­er­ing the same im­pres­sive fuel effi ciency that FPT en­gines have be­come renowned for. For the last eight years, FPT in­dus­trial has pro­duced over 450,000 SCR en­gines for the agri­cul­tural, con­struc­tion and

haulage in­dus­tries. A tes­ta­ment to their qual­ity is the in­creas­ing num­ber of man­u­fac­tur­ers that are choos­ing them to fit to their ma­chines. Lately it seems like ev­ery time I flip the lid on a trac­tor, it has an FPT en­gine un­der the bon­net.

To en­sure top per­for­mance un­der a wide range of work­ing con­di­tions, New Hol­land has in­tro­duced a vari­able-ge­om­e­try tur­bocharger onto the FPT en­gine. It has been in­tro­duced to main­tain the max­i­mum 1282Nm of torque across a 500rpm en­gine rev range.

To ef­fec­tively de­liver more power, the en­gine has been strength­ened with ex­tra sub-frame sup­ports that have in­creased the max­i­mum gross ve­hi­cle weight to 16 tonnes.

To op­ti­mise the en­gine’s op­er­at­ing per­for­mance, Lewer has added the op­tional re­versible fan, which vir­tu­ally elim­i­nates the risk of over­heat­ing and re­duced per­for­mance from in­ad­e­quate cool­ing sys­tem main­te­nance.

I wit­nessed first hand its ben­e­fits when it was en­gaged and blew a cloud of dust and fine hay par­ti­cles back out of the ra­di­a­tors and the front grille. It can be set to come on au­to­mat­i­cally at pre­set in­ter­vals or man­u­ally en­gaged.

While I am stand­ing out­side watch­ing the trac­tor and mower com­plete strips up and down the pad­dock, I can hardly hear the en­gine over the con­stant drone of the Claas mow­ers. Once in­side the cab, I am de­lighted to find that the en­gine noise and vi­bra­tion are mostly un­de­tectable.

TRANS­MIS­SION

De­signed and built by New Hol­land, the Auto Com­mand con­tin­u­ously vari­able trans­mis­sion is de­signed to match the most used speeds dur­ing heavy draft work, sec­ondary cul­ti­va­tion du­ties, high-speed pad­dock work, and high­speed road travel.

It has four dif­fer­ent auto op­er­at­ing modes – cruise, man­ual and PTO – with three ad­justable tar­get speeds. The trans­mis­sion is ca­pa­ble of pro­pel­ling the trac­tor at a speed as low as 20 me­tres per hour up to a max­i­mum 50km/h. An im­por­tant safety fea­ture of the Auto Com­mand trans­mis­sion is the Ac­tive StopS­tart fea­ture: when the trac­tor is brought to a halt, the trans­mis­sion pre­vents it from mov­ing back­wards or for­wards.

Even with a heavy load, there is no risk of roll­back when the trans­mis­sion takes up drive. As a backup, and to en­sure com­plete se­cu­rity, there is an elec­tronic park brake lo­cated on the for­ward/re­verse shut­tle lever.

CVT trans­mis­sions are quite the norm now in the medium- to high-horse­power trac­tors. They are ba­si­cally all op­er­ated in a sim­i­lar fash­ion, but the New Hol­land trans­mis­sion con­trol hand­grip per­forms a lit­tle bit dif­fer­ently to some on the mar­ket.

To in­crease for­ward speed, you push the lever for­ward; to de­crease for­ward speed, you pull it back. That’s sim­i­lar to ev­ery other ma­chine on the mar­ket, but it dif­fers by hav­ing to pull the lever back­wards to in­crease re­verse speed – which just makes sense to me, as op­posed to some trac­tors where you have to push the lever fur­ther for­ward to go faster back­wards.

PIMP MY TRAC­TOR

An ex­clu­sive Blue Power pack­age up­grade is also avail­able for own­ers who want their trac­tor to stand out from the crowd. Seem­ingly in­spired by the car de­tail­ing pro­gram Pimp My Ride, where cars are cus­tomised to the edge of non-recog­ni­tion, the Blue Power pack­age in­cludes

dis­tinc­tive metal­lic mid­night-blue paint, chrome-coloured grill, sil­ver-wheel rims, three-di­men­sional bon­net de­cals, Blue Power com­fort sus­pen­sion seat, branded thick-pile car­pet, and sil­ver sur­rounds on the cabin work­ing lights.

The new ag­gres­sive styling pack­age is sup­ported by a beefedup front axle with Ter­raglide front sus­pen­sion, ABS brak­ing and ex­haust brake tech­nol­ogy, re­versible cool­ing fan, cabin sus­pen­sion, and a fuel tank with ca­pac­ity in­creased to 630 litres.

Driver fa­tigue is kept to a min­i­mum thanks to a fac­tory-in­stalled In­tel­liS­teer guid­ance sys­tem and op­tional head­land turn se­quenc­ing sys­tem. An up­graded light­ing pack­age in­cludes no less than 20 LED work­ing lights.

Co­lac-based Steve Lewer com­pleted his diesel me­chanic ap­pren­tice­ship at New Hol­land deal­er­ship Swayne and McCabe seven years ago, and says it makes sense to con­tinue us­ing the prod­uct he had be­come so fa­mil­iar with dur­ing his train­ing. Be­fore buy­ing the New Hol­land T7.315 HD, Lewer was look­ing around for a higher horse­power trac­tor in the 300hp range, but didn’t want to step up to the big, bulky, heavy-duty pulling trac­tors.

He says the T7.315 HD is per­fect be­cause it has higher power, in­creased weight and longer wheel­base, but re­mains rel­a­tively com­pact and ma­noeu­vrable, and is suit­able for ev­ery im­ple­ment and ser­vice that Lewer Farm Ser­vices of­fers.

“I love the look that the Blue Power pack­age gives it,” Lewer says. “In the com­pet­i­tive game of con­tract­ing, it’s nice to be able to stand out from the crowd and be recog­nised as hav­ing smart-look­ing and qual­ity equip­ment.”

Luck­ily, he is more than happy for me to join him in the cab for a day’s work cut­ting hay us­ing the triple mower combo with an 8.5m cut­ting width.

COST SAVER

I can hear all the crit­ics out there scream­ing that a 300hp trac­tor is a bit over­pow­ered for a set of mow­ers this size but, as Lewer points out, this is a trac­tor that will be used on a va­ri­ety of ma­chines that he uses, in­clud­ing his air-seed­ers and slurry spread­ers.

It’s fair to say that trac­tor horse­power is very sim­i­lar to ma­chin­ery shed size. Too much is never a prob­lem, and no mat­ter how much you have, you will al­ways find a way of us­ing it in the fu­ture.

“The ex­tra power that I have on hand al­lows me to run the PTO in 1000 econ­omy, drop my en­gine revs, and make a mas­sive sav­ing on fuel us­age on this job,” Lewer says.

A quick glance at the In­tel­liView touch­screen mon­i­tor pro­vides proof of his claims of re­duced fuel us­age. With the en­gine revs hov­er­ing around 1600rpm, the av­er­age fuel econ­omy read­out says we are only us­ing 31 litres per hour and the trac­tor is op­er­at­ing at 75 per cent of its avail­able power.

Lewer says the real fuel us­age fig­ure over the course of the day is prob­a­bly a cou­ple of litres per hour bet­ter than that.

“On a few oc­ca­sions I’ve ac­tu­ally mea­sured the fuel used at the end of the day when I’m re­fu­elling to get an ex­act econ­omy rate, and it’s al­ways bet­ter than what the com­puter says,” he says.

“I’m look­ing for­ward to get­ting it work­ing harder on some of our cul­ti­va­tion equip­ment to give the en­gine a good run in.”

ON THE JOB

Jump­ing into the driv­ing seat and cast­ing an eye over the fa­mil­iar SideWin­der II arm­rest makes me feel right at home.

Not that I’m call­ing my­self an ex­pert, but I’ve used it a few times be­fore on other New Hol­lands and re­ally liked its com­fort­able po­si­tion­ing and the in­tu­itive lay­out of the fea­tures and func­tions.

This Sidewin­der con­sole that op­er­ates the Auto Com­mand trans­mis­sion is some­thing that has been run for about seven years now on New Hol­land trac­tors from 100hp and up.

With one hand on the steer­ing wheel and the other sit­ting com­fort­ably on the Sidewin­der II joy­stick, I am find­ing it re­ally easy to get in and op­er­ate the trac­tor and use the ba­sic fea­tures. It just seems the per­fect fit, like slid­ing your hand into a warm fa­mil­iar glove.

In say­ing that, I mean, with­out any in­struc­tion, I can per­form the ba­sic stuff like speed and di­rec­tional changes, lift and lower the link­age arms, and op­er­ate the hy­draulics and PTO all from the arm­rest.

Con­ti­nu­ity from one model to the next is re­ally im­por­tant for fa­mil­iar­ity, and is some­thing that is re­ally ap­pre­ci­ated by re­peat cus­tomers. But even with my lim­ited ex­pe­ri­ence, I am quite con­fi­dent I will quickly come to ap­pre­ci­ate its abil­ity to make the op­er­at­ing ex­pe­ri­ence a plea­sure.

The arm­rest has an elec­tronic mech­a­nism that moves it for­ward and back­ward so you can po­si­tion it per­fectly to max­imise your com­fort.

Apart from con­trol­ling the speed of the trac­tor, the hand grip – or joy­stick – fea­tures clearly la­belled soft-touch but­tons for op­er­at­ing up to two sets of re­motes, head­land turn se­quenc­ing, au­tosteer en­gage­ment, rear and front link­age con­trol, as well as a for­ward/re­verse shut­tle switch.

All of the T7.315 HD trac­tor’s re­main­ing op­er­at­ing func­tion con­trollers are ex­cep­tion­ally well po­si­tioned and clearly la­belled on the arm­rest.

New Hol­land has got it right with the Sidewin­der II arm­rest, and I can see no rea­son why it should be changed in the fore­see­able fu­ture.

The arm­rest con­trol con­sole is fur­ther en­hanced by the big In­tel­liView mon­i­tor, which not only pro­vides all the rel­e­vant in­for­ma­tion re­gard­ing the trac­tor’s en­gine, trans­mis­sion, link­age, hy­draulic and PTO per­for­mance, but also per­forms GPS map­ping, auto steer­ing, and guid­ance du­ties.

Lewer has in­stalled a sec­ond In­tel­liView screen into his trac­tor so that he can have one screen per­ma­nently open with guid­ance and map­ping dis­played, while the sec­ond one keeps him up to date with the trac­tor’s per­for­mance and con­trols his ISO BUS­com­pat­i­ble im­ple­ments.

THE BOT­TOM LINE

The New Hol­land T7.315 HD Blue Power is a great trac­tor to be in, and by that I mean com­fort­able and quiet.

The cabin is not huge, but I pre­fer its com­pact na­ture as it pro­vides a sense that all the con­trols are well within reach. And the vis­i­bil­ity out of the four-pil­lar cabin is su­perb.

‘In­tu­itive’ is a word that gets thrown around a lot th­ese days to de­scribe whether or not the op­er­at­ing func­tions are self­ex­plana­tory. In this case, it per­fectly de­scribes the T7.315 HD. It is a very sim­ple and un­in­tim­i­dat­ing trac­tor to jump into and drive.

After a full day’s scru­tiny, I could only find a cou­ple of fea­tures that could be im­proved on.

Firstly, the AdBlue fill point is re­cessed into the diesel tank, mak­ing it a lit­tle hard to ac­cess if you are try­ing to fill it with a fuel con­tainer.

Se­condly, the steps lead­ing into the cabin are a bit too steep, mak­ing en­try into the cabin feel more like climb­ing a lad­der.

I found my­self hav­ing to con­cen­trate on main­tain­ing my foot­ing, es­pe­cially when mak­ing my way down. The prob­lem would be ex­ag­ger­ated when car­ry­ing a lunch box or other item with a bit of weight.

And thirdly, we couldn’t find the spe­cial tool used to open the bon­net, so had to im­pro­vise by jam­ming a pen into the mech­a­nism to un­latch the bon­net.

To fin­ish on a high note, I think the ex­haust brak­ing sys­tem Lewer has in­cluded is a mas­sive ad­van­tage in im­prov­ing safe oper­a­tion.

The Vic­to­rian con­tac­tor says that trac­tors with a CVT trans­mis­sion have a ten­dency for over-run­ning on de­scents, but this brak­ing sys­tem pre­vents that from oc­cur­ring, and it also helps main­tain con­trol when slow­ing the trac­tor down while pulling a heavy load.

I feel con­fi­dent that any­one, even those with min­i­mal driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence, would be able to han­dle this trac­tor in no time.

A se­ri­ously good- look­ing trac­tor. The heavy- duty T7.315 hardly raises a sweat run­ning a set of 8.5m triple mower com­bi­na­tions

1: The BluePower Auto Com­fort seat in­cludes au­to­matic weight set­ting, ac­tive sus­pen­sion, and heat­ing and cool­ing

2: A leather-bound steer­ing wheel pro­vides the ic­ing on the cake to a sim­ple but stylish cabin lay­out

Apart from a poorly po­si­tioned filler point on the AdBlue tank and steep en­try steps, it’s very hard to find any­thing else that needs chang­ing

Rais­ing the bon­net re­veals a 6.7-litre

FPT In­dus­trial en­gine fea­tur­ing EcoBlue HI-eSCR tech­nol­ogy for Tier 4B com­pli­ance

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