Back in 2000, we did a story on high-speed tractors called “Breaking the speed barrier.” In the article, JCB was credited for holding the record of for the fastest tractor, capable of achieving speeds up to 40 mph.
But recently we received an email from Pauline M. Owen, who wrote to tell us about a tractor that can go up to 50 mph. Owen works for Trantor International Ltd, a small tractor company based in Manchester, England. She says the company developed and patented the World’s first fully suspended high-speed farm tractor called the TRANTOR (the TRANsport tracTOR) in the 1970s.
Own writes, “We have been designing High Speed tractors since 1973 and won the California tractor race in 1984/5. We have certainly produced some interesting products. We have pleasure in attaching "It’s the new Trantor," a 1984 report from the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (UMIST)."
The report lays out how UMIST researchers Dr. Graham Edwards and Stuart Taylor developed the prototype in 1971 as part of a MSc research project and later formed a company called HST Developments (now named Trantor International Ltd.) The first Trantor prototype was a two wheel drive model about the size and weight of a Land Rover and driven by a 55 horse power Perkins 4.154 engine. Between 1975 and 1978, 17 more prototype and pre-production models with 72 HP Leyland and 80 HP Perkins engines were made.
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In the 1980s the Trantor went through more design iterations, including a larger 128HP model called the Trantor 2, a 128HP special-purpose road transport and heavy-hauling version, a 4-wheel drive TRANTOR, and a Series 3 design rated 150hp for high speed road and fieldwork. Edwards and Taylor even made a 70 mph prototype.
Trantor International Ltd. actively continues its design and development work. Its current Trantor tractor concept is a hi-speed transport tractor designed for crop transportation and no-till farming systems. "There is no plowing, so plowing (conventional) tractors are not needed," Owen says. The company says it enable users to reduce fuel consumption by as much as 40%, and increase labor-productivity (of tractor-drivers) by more than 300% on most farms.
The Trantor also has found a niche in developing countries, where it is being used for transport, fieldwork and personnel, or TPF, all in a 'conventional' tractor with suspension.
With faster tractors, now farm implements are trying to keep up, as editor Willie Vogt talks about in his recent article “Need for Speed,” published in our March 2015 issue.
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