THERE are two things old Versatile tractors owners remember from the heady days of the 1970s and 80s.
The Versie Bomber jacket was about the best in the industry and every time a new Versie model was released the company always said changes were discreet because “everything works”.
It was simple marketing but it was music to the ears of most Versatile owners.
I interviewed quite a few owners all those years ago and most told me the reason they bought the tractor was because it was reliable and easy to service.
“You can fix ‘em in the paddock,” is one quote I recall.
Today the same sorts of comments ring true and many new owners have reverted to re-painting them in the original red and yellow.
That’s the case with Mullewa farmers Ian and Rob Kitto, who last year invested in two Versatile 620 DT (Delta Tracks) models – from AgWest Machinery, Geraldton – to basically rip deeper and go faster, as well as seeding duties.
You could say they are Versatile aficionados, having bought their first Versie in 1975, a 224kW (300hp) 4WD 900 model.
“We’ve had seven Versies since 1975, including one blue 9682 model that has done 7000 hours and it’s still going,” Rob said. “And it has never had a Versatile mechanic on it.”
The Kittos bought the 620DT for hard work, noting it has a standard weight of 27.5 tonnes while holding 1.5 tonnes of fuel in saddle tanks on either side of the cab.
“We wanted constant power to the ground and when you add up the weight, the tracks and the mid-mount fuel tanks, you get a balanced design that does the job, especially when you’re ripping on our deep sands,” Rob said.
“On our heavy country, the weight means less slip.
“We’ve noticed on another model we had with the fuel tank at the rear, that when there’s not much fuel left in the tank, traction is reduced.
“The mid-mount tanks provide a better balance”
Ease of service has always been a hallmark of the Versie and Rob said the 620DT was no different.
“At the 100 hour service interval it took us four hours to do all the oils from the diffs to the planetaries,” he said.
With a full season under their belt and the Versies clocking 500 hours and 150 hours respectively, the Kittos are pleased they stuck with the Versie.
“They are mainly used for ripping between 550 and 600mm (22-24in),” Rob said.
“Pulling a six metre (20ft) Bednar deep ripper it runs between 1650 and 1700rpm at 8km/h using between 70 and 80 litres of fuel.”
The 620DT achieves similar figures when the Kittos employ a 12.2mt (40ft) Ausplow Easitill, digging at between 300 and 400mm (12-16in).
Wheel slip is between three and four per cent.
The Kittos bought their first track tractor in 2000 replacing a Big Bud rated at 525hp (392kW) and weighing 25 tonnes.
Using a 9.1m (30ft) ripper, the Big Bud recorded wheelslip between 20 and 25 per cent and used 100 litres of fuel an hour.
“We feel the Versies are the best tractor suited for our jobs,” Rob said. “You get minimal downtime and we can basically fix any glitches so there’s no need to make service calls.
“Hopefully these two will be on our farm for a long time.”
The Cummins power plant is a familiar motor to the Kittos, who appreciate that the Tier II model comes without diesel particulate filters and AdBlue.
“It’s just a raw engine with raw power,” Rob said.
“It seems the harder you work them the more they like it.”
The 620DT is rated at 463kW (620hp) with the Cummins engine linked to a CAT TA-22, 16-speed powershift transmission.
The power arrives at the track assembly through Versatile outboard planetary axles and this final drive system can be serviced without the removal of the track system.
According to Versatile, the DeltaTrack model was designed as a dedicated track machine instead of simply adding track assemblies to an existing platform.
The integrated track undercarriage mounting system includes a reinforced connection to the tractor frame so that the frame absorbs load, reducing stress on the undercarriage and track components.
The large one-piece cast drive sprocket features industry-leading drive bar engagement for better torque transfer and long life.
The 21cm (8.5in) drive lugs are the largest in the industry and eliminate the chance of track slippage.
Versatile also says the idler wheels and mid-rollers are polyurethane-coated and offer a significantly longer wear life when compared to rubber-coated mid-rollers.
Two track width options available are 75cm (30in) and 90cm (36in).
And if you’ve still got that old Bomber jacket, you’ll find plenty of room in the new cab, which Versatile claims is the largest cab in the agriculture industry offering almost “surround” visibility.