(Antarctica – 18th December 2014): The drive back from the South Pole is proving every bit as exciting and emotional for the Antarctica2 tractor expedition team as, hour by hour, they tick off the distance home. The latest news is that they have less than 400 km to go to Novo Runway on the Antarctic coast. The MF 5610 put in yet another fantastic record-breaking run of 384 km and is as strong as ever despite the incredibly punishing schedule.
Now high up in the mountains at an elevation of 3314 metres (10,872 ft), the team members found themselves once again “gasping for breath” in the thin air. Thankfully, the weather has been clear with light blue skies but the temperature has dipped to minus 30 degrees C – dropping to around minus 37 with wind chill. As Expedition Lead Guide , Matty McNair said in her daily report: “It’s nippy out there.” Emotions are running high with the team as they all eager to get back home to their loved-ones in time for Christmas.
Everyone on the crew is pitching in with tractor driving shifts to ensure the MF 5610 is kept constantly on-the-move. There is no rest for the tractor. The drivers report that the cab is extremely warm and the seat very comfortable. The five-point seat belt helps them strap themselves down when driving over rough terrain. For in-cab entertainment, team members are passing the time in various different ways listening to music, podcasts and audio books. Manon Ossevoort, Lead Driver is listening to French lessons. Favourite sounds in the cab range from U2, Louise Attaque, Faithless, Trio, Muse, Endochine, Black Keys and Icelandic Music.
Ending her report from the ice, Matty McNair said: “Emotions are high. Will we make it back to Novo Runway to catch the (last) flight out? Will we be home at Christmas? We have just under 400 km to do in about 36 hours.” Nail-biting stuff!
Richard Albutt and his family run a 500-acre mixed stock unit at Postlip Hall Farm, Winchcombe, near Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, UK. In addition to 300 store cattle, there are 1500 breeding ewes, 400 ewe lambs and 1000 store lambs. Maize, fodder beet and barley are grown for the farm’s own use.
Clearly, a telehandler is a ‘must have’ piece of machinery for such an enterprise. Two years ago Richard decided to invest in a new MF 9306, trading in his older MF model.
“We quickly found substantial improvements in almost every department, most noticeably in the amount of power available,” Richard reports. “Also, we’ve got some pretty tight working areas here, and, being the smallest model in the current Massey Ferguson range, the MF 9306 gives us very good manoeuvrability, together with brilliant capacity and good reliability. In short, it handles everything.”
When all the cattle are in, and with the ewes to follow, the crucial task of delivering feed means the MF 9306 is a very busy machine over the winter, when loading the Keenan feeder and clearing muck out of the sheds represent the main tasks.
Richard is also very pleased with the quality of service he receives from his local Massey Ferguson dealership, JJ Farms, at nearby Gretton, which he describes as “excellent.” Reliable back-up Is high on his list of requirements and he believes he gets this.
“Unlike some other machinery manufacturers, that appear to be moving towards dealing direct with the customer nowadays, Massey Ferguson’s network of dealers is becoming even more highly-valued,” Richard observes. “I like to know that in the event of a problem arising, I can go to ours 24/7.
The MF 9306 is the most-used machine at Postlip Hall, running up an average of 1300 hours a year. “Out of all the machines here, it would be the last to go!” Richard comments.
On the topic of down-season equipment care, Doug Vahrenberg, co-owner of Vahrenberg Implement in Higginsville, Mo., says, “Farmers work long days, so they want to sit back and relax when they’re done. I say relax for a day and then get the tractor ready for spring. You can do it in a day, which might save you multiple days or even a week of downtime in the spring.”
The Checklist: Clean After Harvest
Whether you store your tractor during the winter or other times of year, a little cleaning can save you money and prevent downtime. Vahrenberg offers the following advice:
- Clean tractor exterior and interior. Start with an air compressor to blow away dirt and crop debris inside and out. This helps remove unwanted seeds that can transfer to other fields where they don’t belong. Also, debris attracts rodents that can damage electrical components. Follow up with a pressure wash to remove stubborn dirt and grime. Then wax to restore paint shine and provide protection from UV rays and chemical residues.
- Touch up scratches and bare spots with AGCO Parts Paint Products. They’re designed to precision match and protect against UV rays and harsh chemicals.
- Clean the radiator, condensers and coolers with compressed air and water. Always blow the opposite direction of air travel to remove dirt and debris. Vahrenberg says, “As little as 1/8 inch of grime on a cast-iron exterior can act like 2 inches of insulation, which interferes with the cooling ability and performance of the engine, as well as transmission and hydraulic systems.
- Increase comfort and reduce fatigue by replacing or repairing worn seats. Also repair or replace damaged upholstery panels in the cab to insulate and reduce noise.
- Check weather stripping around doors and windows to ensure a snug fit. These help improve climate control and help prevent dust and chemical vapors from entering the cab.
For additional down-season maintenance tips, check with your local Massey Ferguson dealer.
(Antarctica – 12-14th December 2014): The Antarctica2 tractor expedition team is already making good progress on its long and punishing 2500 km journey back from the South Pole to base camp at Novo Runway. But the latest big challenge is a dense ice-fog which has dramatically reduced visibility.
With 840 km under their belts, the team and MF 5610 tractor have now completed seven of the 20 degrees of Latitude which they need to cover before reaching Novo on the Antarctic coast. In a determined push, they reached Fuel Depot 83 where work was carried out on the tractor and support vehicles to rebalance the loads.
Until now, the expedition has been blessed with clear blue skies for the majority of the trip but freezing fog descended in a thick blanket to change the outlook completely. In her daily update from the ice, Matty McNair, Expedition Lead Guide reported: “The weather was sunny and then the ice fog rolled over us. It’s hard to see the tracks and bumps. If you can imagine being in a dark room and you can see nothing. That’s what it’s like except it’s in white!” To cope with this new situation, they had to follow GPS transit points which is extremely challenging.
The expedition is still travelling across the polar plateau at an elevation of 2603 metres (8,540 ft). Winds are up and it is cold – around minus 25 to minus 30 degrees C. Team members have to keep their vigilance at top level as they climb higher and higher towards the mountain range in their path – and where temperatures dropped to as low minus 56 C on their outward journey. After that come the dangers of the crevasse area.
It is a constant test of tenacity and endurance as the team, tractor and trucks continue their journey in one of the harshest environments on the planet. The MF 5610 has already proven its outstanding capabilities on the trek to the South Pole – and now it has to do it all over again. With interest in the trip reverberating around the world, the team spent a great deal of time fulfilling global radio, television and internet interview requests but now they have to concentrate on the serious business of getting home safely.
Sending a message to the whole team on Sunday morning, Campbell Scott, Massey Ferguson Director Sales Engineering and Brand Development said: “We and many others all over the world are following your progress around the clock and continue to be amazed by your teamwork and fortitude. It’s a hard slog back but we hope you can find a way to enjoy this last great surge despite the conditions. From a distance, every chapter of this remarkable story fills us with awe. We wish you a safe and secure traverse on these final stages of this historic expedition. Take care and bon voyage.”
The Vossebelts have tried a variety of tractor colors on their Southern Alberta farm. There was the green of John Deere and the blue of New Holland. Then, a neighboring farmer and Massey Ferguson customer suggested they give AGCO equipment and local dealer Hanlon Ag a try.
“We wanted the latest and greatest … and Challenger and Massey were the fit for us,” says Delbert Vossebelt, who lists multiple track Challengers and an MF7620 in the family fleet. “By having those track machines, we can straddle four rows, and that eliminates us compacting the dirt between the potato rows as we’re harvesting. It’s really advantageous for us.”
The MF7620 is the family’s first Massey Ferguson, but has proved to be a valuable part of the operation. “We shred most of the potato vines before we harvest, and it’s perfect, that Massey, on the vine shredder,” Delbert says. “Size-wise, it’s got enough horsepower to be able to pull the shredder without being too large and wasting diesel fuel. It’s a very good tractor.”
The AGCO CVT, or continuously variable transmission, that’s used in both Massey Ferguson and Challenger equipment was a major selling point for the Vossebelts. “It’s very fuel-efficient,” says Dwayne, Delbert’s brother. “We really like the CVT transmission too, because you’ve got such a wide range of speeds.”
“That’s important,” adds Delbert, “because when we’re harvesting potatoes, conditions change constantly. So you always are changing the speed of your equipment. And with the CVT transmission, you can pinpoint exactly what speed you need to be. The CVT transmission is a real asset on this farm.”
The switch to AGCO also brought another advantage to the Vossebelt operation. “Hanlon’s service is amazing,” says Delbert. “I could phone the service department, and those guys are there within an hour or so. I can’t stress enough how important that is, and [Hanlon] is always helping us out.”
Concludes Delbert: “We made a good decision by switching. In the future, we’ll definitely purchase more AGCO products.”