YORK farmer Tony Seabrook has two big reasons for smiling.
Good rains have provided an ideal start to the season and his damaged self-propelled Vector sprayer-spreader is back in action.
Last year he received a call from an insurance assessor declaring the damaged Vector as a "write-off" and encouraged Mr Seabrook to tender for the US-made machine, which had barrel-rolled off a mound, landing on its cab.
"When I checked it out, the machine was basically intact, with the obvious damage to the cab," Mr Seabrook said.
"I bought it, changed the battery and it started and drove right away.
"All I had to do was get another ROPS cab because we couldn't straighten the old one and fix up the walkway.
"It is amazing no structural damage was done, even the step-up ladder was OK.
"The main chassis beam and suspension was undamaged along with the rubber mounts on the cab suspension, so it gives me great confidence to know the manufacturer, RBR Enterprises, is not kidding in terms of building a strong machine."
It underlines the reason why Mr Seabrook has been importing Vectors for the past few years and why word of mouth sees sales and inquiries from eastern States farmers.
"The feedback we get from owners is so consistent," Mr Seabrook said.
"Everybody comments on how tough the machine is, the smooth ride and the fuel savings.
"Plus there's the bonus of converting it from a sprayer to a spreader."
Mr Seabrook said the latest Vector, which has been designed for Australian conditions, reminds him of the marketing campaign by Versatile tractors in the 1990s.
"Versatile used to say their new models hadn't changed dramatically because they got it right in the first place and that's what I believe RBR Enterprises has done.
"The major change in the new model is a heavier-rated axle and an increase in choice of lighting packages. That's it.
"And farmers get a pleasant surprise when they are told they will probably have to spend up to $100,000 less than buying a competitive model because there's no overhead or margin costs on the machine."
Standard features include a 6000 litre-capacity tank; a Cummins 8.3 litre Tier 3 engine developing 228kW (305hp) and a mechanical drive, four-speed Allison Hi-Lo transmission, with a Marmon Herrington drop box, giving eight forward speeds.
The standard controller is a Raven Viper which provides variable rate application, auto-boom shut-off, boom switching and auto-levelling among its features.
Pairing the Viper with Raven Smartrax also provides for accurate auto-steering.
Many farmers regard the boom, designed by Stoll's Spraying Systems in Wagga Wagga, NSW, as the stand-out.
According to Mr Seabrook, the boom is perfectly in tune with the Vector's theme of simple, robust, and dependable.
"It's a rugged, truss-style boom that has been tested and proven over the years, and it has been proven to be a valuable addition to the Vector line," he said.
The new spacious cab is fixed on air bag suspension and comes standard with air suspension seat with a console that moves with the seat.
The cab is made by the same company that manufactures cabs for Caterpillar and incorporates a cab-operated entry ladder for added safety.
A safety platform also allows inspection of the main tank, fresh water tank and fuel tank.
The pillar-less glass wrap-around cab provides outstanding fore and aft visibility and is 400mm (16in) wider than standard cabs.
The Mississippi-based manufacturer has added connection plates around the roof of the cab to add more lighting if required.
"Another good feature is that a lot of componentry is familiar to Australian farmers and is easy to access," Mr Seabrook said.
"The bigger cab, longer wheelbase and an Australian-made boom were all features suggested by Australian owners," he said.
The chassis is a hollow section rectangular box the same as the Case Titan floater which doubles as an air tank for both the brakes and the fast-response air bag suspension.
It also features the same Hypro pump as used on Case IH sprayers.
All plumbing is conveniently located on one side complete with a drop-down granular mixing system.
It incorporates the commonly-used Banjo fittings.
The mechanical drive means no hydraulics on the wheels, so no cooling is required, reducing parasitic power loss and giving improved fuel economy.
Daily walk-around checks are easy and the battery is easily accessible, alleviating any sour moods.
Mr Seabrook said his company AgImports is the Australian distributor and is actively building an Australia-wide dealer network.
"We've signed up Stoll Spraying Equipment and Pastro Custom AG in NSW and Cummins AG in South Australia and we are seeking WA dealers," he said.
"We're open to discussions with all dealers on franchise arrangements."
More information: AgImports 0427 908 201 or 0408 908 201.