Power house

Farms & Farm Machinery - - Contents -

Jaiden Drought tests the mas­sive Fendt 1050 500hp trac­tor

It’s not of­ten you get the chance to get be­hind the wheel of a 500hp trac­tor, let alone be one of the first peo­ple in the re­gion to drive it. New Zealand cor­re­spon­dent Jaiden Drought re­cently had the op­por­tu­nity to in­dulge his pas­sion and ap­pre­ci­a­tion for tech­nol­ogy and trac­tors, spend­ing the day with one of the big­gest toys in the mar­ket – the mas­sive Fendt 1050

The newly-ar­rived Fendt 1050 takes pride of place on Pi­ako Trac­tors’ yard in Ro­torua. Even though there are rows of im­pres­sive ma­chin­ery and trac­tors on-site, the 1050 stands head and shoul­ders above the rest, both in size and per­for­mance.

Hosted for the day by dealer prin­ci­pal Ian Pilcher (Pilch), we got off to an epic start with Pilch throw­ing me the keys, giv­ing me direc­tions to a Re­poroa farm about 45km away and telling me to en­joy the mas­sive Fendt.

The only snag was I had to safely nav­i­gate Ro­torua’s rush-hour morn­ing traf­fic in a trac­tor I’d never driven, with a 3.3-tonne weight block on the front, which isn’t vis­i­ble from up in the cab. What I could see, how­ever, was the ex­pres­sion on peo­ple’s faces as I tail­gated them through round­abouts and traf­fic lights. I spot­ted more than a few star­tled faces in rear mir­rors, prob­a­bly won­der­ing what the huge green beast be­hind them was.

De­spite the seem­ingly per­ilous jour­ney and, ad­mit­tedly, a touch of nerves about deal­ing with busy city drivers, af­ter a few min­utes it was ap­par­ent that aside from get­ting used to the size, driv­ing this beast is just like be­ing be­hind the wheel of any other Fendt. The hour-long trip to Re­poroa was a dod­dle, with a quick road-speed test on the way.

Our first stop was to the yard of Josh’s Carston Con­tract­ing, a lovely young bloke go­ing gang­busters on the hard ex-forestry coun­try with eight 900 series Fendt trac­tors in his fleet. He’s clearly a fan of the brand. We de­cided to hook the 1050 up to the big­gest thing we could find at the time in his yard – a large set of 4Ag DVi970 off­set discs – be­fore head­ing down the road to one of Sir Michael Fay’s dairy farms and cul­ti­vat­ing some pad­docks.

HIGH TORQUE/LOW SPEED

One of the main rea­sons you can’t see the front weight block is be­cause of the huge bon­net. How­ever, this is needed to house the equally huge six-cylin­der, 12.4-litre MAN en­gine with

max­i­mum power of 517hp. This is a mas­sive en­gine and the large dis­place­ment al­lows for eye-wa­ter­ing torque fig­ures at low revs – some­thing I will touch on soon.

If you com­pare the 12.4-litre MAN, the low­est horse­power trac­tor in the four model 1000 series line-up (the 1038), to the 7.8-litre Deutz en­gine in the 939 (the largest in the 900 series), both are roughly the same horse­power, but the dif­fer­ence in en­gine size and trac­tor statue is vast.

Part of the rea­son for the large dis­place­ment en­gine is the ‘Fendt iD high torque/low speed con­cept’. The clue is in the name. The ba­sic prin­ci­ple is to cre­ate the most power be­tween 1100 and 1500rpm.

The fig­ures are im­pres­sive: 2,400Nm torque, and be­cause of this lower en­gine speed, the en­gine runs cooler, al­low­ing less fuel to be con­sumed both from work rate and power ex­truded from the cool­ing set-up.

Speak­ing of the cool­ing set-up, the un­usual con­cept con­cen­tric air sys­tem means that the fan is po­si­tioned in front of the ra­di­a­tor, push­ing cold air through rather than drag­ging hot air from be­hind the cool­ing packs. The other key fea­ture (as it can’t run off the en­gine) in this tilted po­si­tion is that it is hy­drauli­cally driven.

The low-revving beast on the road is quite im­pres­sive. You ex­pect that with 500hp it will be scream­ing at you, but it is purely the size and not the sound that is the im­pres­sive part of this equa­tion. A speed of 55km/hr is achieved at 1,250– 1,300rpm, and if you want to keep to a more leisurely 40km/h, this is achieved at less than 1,000rpm – quiet enough to al­most hear na­ture out­side.

TORQUE DIS­TRI­BU­TION

The Fendt Vario has been around long enough that I don’t need to bang on about all the good things as­so­ci­ated with it. One of the not-so-good things, which is a trick for young play­ers, is the me­chan­i­cal I/II range change. On the 1000 series, this has been abol­ished along with the four-wheel-drive/diff lock sys­tem and the need for in­de­pen­dent side brakes. This has been subbed out and re­placed with ‘Fendt Torque Dis­tri­bu­tion’.

Me­chan­i­cally, there are still two swash plate pumps and two mo­tors, al­though the two mo­tors now have ded­i­cated jobs: one to sup­ply­ing the rear axle and the other the front. The mo­tors are linked with a T-fit­ting, which acts like a hy­dro­static dif­fer­en­tial be­tween the axles, al­low­ing the oil flow be­tween the pump and hy­draulic mo­tor to be free-flow­ing. The re­sult is that torque can be com­puter con­trolled, al­low­ing it to be shifted from one axle to the other. It au­to­mat­i­cally cuts out at 25km/h and over or when there is no load on. How­ever, it will re-en­gage when the brakes are touched, ef­fec­tively of­fer­ing the best of both worlds be­tween four-wheel drive and all-wheel drive.

An­other ben­e­fit of this set-up is that when turn­ing, the ‘pull in turn’ ef­fect hap­pens, speed­ing up the two out­side wheels to give a side-break­ing ef­fect with­out need­ing to touch a thing.

An­other cou­ple of op­tions to get the most out of the trac­tor is ‘GripAs­sis­tant’. This is in the Var­i­oTer­mi­nal and gives rec­om­mended in­fla­tion pres­sure and amount of bal­last (front/rear) for the cur­rent tyres, tar­get travel speed, and im­ple­ment at­tach­ment.

A step up again is ‘Var­i­oGrip’, which al­lows the in­fla­tion/ de­fla­tion of the tyres from the com­fort of the cab (this wasn’t spec’d on the 1050 tested).

CAB COM­FORTS

In­side the Fendt 1050, the arm­rest is vir­tu­ally the same as any 5, 7, 8, or 900 series Fendt trac­tor, so func­tion­al­ity is very good. The only no­tice­able dif­fer­ences are the front cam­era sec­tion on the Vario Ter­mi­nal, which al­lows you to see in front of the huge

What I could see, how­ever, was the ex­pres­sion on peo­ple’s faces as I tail­gated them through round­abouts and traf­fic lights.

bon­net, and the large cool box, which sug­gests the big ar­eas and long hours she’s equipped for.

On the road, the travel is ex­tremely smooth, with new four­point airbag cab sus­pen­sion and in­de­pen­dent front sus­pen­sion work­ing beau­ti­fully. The top-spec heated, air-con­di­tioned, leather-bound Evo­lu­tion seat, and match­ing pas­sen­ger seat, are also beau­ti­fully com­fort­able. The low revving con­cept makes it very quiet in­side. Hon­estly, once you have the spa­tial aware­ness of the size of the ma­chine you’re in, it is as easy to drive as any other Fendt trac­tor.

If I’m be­ing picky, one small gripe is re­gard­ing the mir­rors. The larger two-piece mir­rors are the busi­ness and trans­form the 700 series trac­tors, but you def­i­nitely need them on this ma­chine to have any idea about what is hap­pen­ing down the side.

I also found that hav­ing the lights and air-con­di­tion­ing/heater con­trols down on the dash a lit­tle strange. This isn’t an is­sue; it just feels more nat­u­ral to have them up on the top of the cab.

Speak­ing of lights, though, the day­time run­ning LED lights on the front make an al­ready staunch trac­tor look even cooler and up to 18 LED work lights can be spec’d on the big girl.

PTO AND HY­DRAULICS

Three-speed power take-off (PTO) is stan­dard here, but prob­a­bly not the three speeds you are used to: 1,000, 1,000 econ­omy, and 1,300 PTO. The size of the PTO shaft on the trac­tor is about the size of your fore­arm. It’s the same with the cat­e­gory-four link­age and draw­bar pin. Big is good apart from when you go to find some­thing to hook it up to, as most gear in New Zealand is cat­e­gory three.

Just like the un­con­ven­tion­ally mas­sive PTO out­put, front lift ca­pac­ity sits at a rated 5.58 tonnes, with a mon­strous 12.9 tonnes rated at the rear. The three dif­fer­ent hy­draulic pack­ages are no dif­fer­ent: 169 litres per minute, 228 litres per minute, and 430 litres per minute, with the lat­ter (on our test ma­chine) us­ing two CCLS pumps (a 220 litres per minute and a 210 litres per minute) on sep­a­rate cir­cuits. All spools de­liver at least 140 litres per minute, with one on our test ma­chine giv­ing the greater 170 litres per minute op­tion (al­though larger cou­plings are re­quired).

VER­DICT

The burn­ing ques­tion is: can it put 500hp to the ground with­out muddy rooster tails from the rear wheels? The an­swer is slightly more com­pli­cated than a sim­ple yes or no.

We had a set of six-me­tre heavy-duty discs that pro­vided lit­tle re­sis­tance. How­ever, it was rain­ing, greasy, and wheel slip was no­tice­able. Wheel equip­ment and bal­last will be the true telling of this yarn and is some­thing that needs to be con­sid­ered.

It be­comes in­ter­est­ing once you en­ter the pointy end of the trac­tor mar­ket: cost of own­er­ship is re­ally the only sales pitch that comes into the equa­tion. The price it­self is high, to the point you should glaze over it, but (and it’s a big but for a big trac­tor), in this league of ma­chine, you would need to have a se­ri­ous, or sev­eral se­ri­ous, projects on your hands.

So spot fuel rates mean noth­ing. Yes, it will guz­zle 100 litres per hour if you worked it hard enough and go through the 800-litre tank ca­pac­ity be­fore sun­down, but the hectares you could chew up in that time are also as stag­ger­ing. Hence, the long-term, over­all work rates and cost­ings per hectare are the only way to do the fi­nan­cial rea­son­ing be­hind the in­vest­ment.

The more at­tain­able equa­tions are how you will con­vince your wife, bank man­ager, and ac­coun­tant that buy­ing one of these things is the best idea you have ever come up with. I’m cur­rently wad­ing through one of these com­plex equa­tions. Progress re­port: stick to flow­ers and choco­late for the wife; it seems to be get­ting some trac­tion.

On the road, the travel is ex­tremely smooth, with new four-point airbag cab sus­pen­sion and in­de­pen­dent front sus­pen­sion work­ing beau­ti­fully.

1. The Fendt 1050 makes easy work of the six-me­tre heavy-duty discs be­hind it 2. The im­pos­ing and stylishfront bon­net3. An im­pres­sive 12.9-tonne lift ca­pac­ity on the rear, as well as six hy­draulic spools and a three-speed PTO4. Both rear fend­ers have one spool con­trol as well as link­age and PTO con­trols5. The in­de­pen­dent front axle sus­pen­sion gives a smooth ride

6. The large hy­draulic fan is in front of the ra­di­a­tor and blows cold air through, which is un­con­ven­tional7. The LED run­ning lights are a nicetouch8. Chris Bain (AGCO) and JaidenDrought9. The Fendt 1050 get­ting stuck into some work with the mag­nif­i­cent Re­poroa back­drop 6

7

8

PlussesIt on has four 517hp wheels and is about the coolest thingAs easy to op­er­ate as any other Fendt, just big­gerGrip as­sist and Var­i­oGrip help get that power to the ground430L/min hy­draulic out­putSmooth com­fort­able ride thanks to four­point airbag sus­pen­sion and in­de­pen­dent front sus­pen­sionMas­sive 12.4L MAN en­gine pro­duces eye-wa­ter­ing torque fig­ures: 2,400Nm at 1,100rpm with ‘Fendt ID’ con­ceptCool box in the cab keeps snacks hot or cold on the big jobsMi­nuses High cost of in­vest­ment Mir­rors could be big­ger

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