James Connolly reports on the Craigs Tractor Enthusiasts’ silage day, that took place near Cullybackey, in Co. Antrim, in early August.
The unsettled weather during July and August made it difficult for many event organisers to run their events as planned, and so it was very pleasing that this working day could take place. Although there were some rain showers on the day, the ground conditions were better than expected, and everyone who attended with machinery had the opportunity to cut silage.
This small group of enthusiasts managed to raise more than £1,300 for Air Ambulance NI.
They did so by cutting whole crop and grass silage with a range of single- and double-chop forage harvesters. These machines were driven by a varied selection of classic tractors from the 1960s through to the ’90s, including some interesting models that had been re-powered with larger engines.
It was great to see them all in action as, in years gone by, it wasn’t unusual for farmers and contractors to modify their tractors in such a way, to get more power to drive a trailed forage harvester.
It had been a very long time since I last saw a Nuffield cutting silage with a double-chop harvester, but this was the first time that I had ever seen a Perkins V8-powered Nuffield, badged as a ’10/180′, in action with a Taarup double-chop.
Both tractor and harvester belong to Osbert Whyte, from near Portglenone, and make a very interesting and lively combination. The sound this Nuffield makes while at work with the harvester is, in my opinion, superb, and will live long in my memory. I must thank Osbert for letting me cut silage with the tractor on the day.
Ken Cooke, from Newtownards, brought along his County 1374, which started life a standard 774 model. It is now fitted with an engine from a Ford/New Holland 7740 PowerStar, complete with Dual Power transmission and a Ford ‘Q’ cab. The tractor made easy work of powering a Taarup double-chop, and was up and down the field at an impressive pace.
Another tractor that caught the eye belonged to Alec Gregg – one of the organisers of the event – who brought along his 1966 Ford 6X 4000. This tractor is fitted with an engine from a Ford 7810 Generation III, and was used on trailer duties.
Alec also cut silage with his Ford Force 5000 and 42in JF FH 112s single-chop harvester.
Nigel Kerr, from Glarryford, had his very nicely restored MF 178 Mult-Power tractor out at the silage day, teamed up with William Adams’ 1972 UG Ugerløse 53in single-chop harvester. This harvester, which has been on the same farm for 51 years, was restored to working order over the winter months of 2022. It was purchased new from Kane & McPherson, of Ballycastle, Co Antrim. The Danish-built Ugerlose harvester is an unusual sight at such events, compared to the likes of the popular Taarup and JF single-chop machines.
Another interesting silage harvester at the event was a yellow, five-foot New Holland 341 double-chop powered by a nicely restored Ford 7840 SLE, owned by Trevor Sterling. These machines were produced by Kidd for New Holland when the company stopped making the 339 and 342 double-chop models. The five-foot 339 was replaced by the 341, and the six-foot 342 was replaced by the 343.
Bryan Hanna, from Vow near Ballymoney, had his 1972, four-wheel-drive MF 168 Multi-Power at the event, complete with a New Holland 339 harvester. This tractor was built in France for the European market, and wasn’t available to UK farmers. It has the same front axle and running gear as the later MF 590 tractor.
It was also good to see a 1974 Ford Force 4000 tractor, belonging to DJ McKay, cutting silage with a Kidd MkII double-chop harvester owned by Trevor Sterling. This small, three-cylinder tractor was going very well and doing a good job side-filling to a New Holland T7.185 pulling a twin-axle Fraser silage trailer. The Ford 4000 and Kidd harvester looked small compared to the New Holland tractor, and it just goes to show how big machinery has become in recent years.
There were also some very nice Ford Series 1o tractors at work on the day, including a two-wheel-drive 7610 and four-wheel drive 7810, both Force II models, owned by Robert McCaughey. Samuel Sterling was using a 1987 Ford 7710 to power a red 339 New Holland harvester.
It’s interesting to note that Ford and New Holland 40 Series tractors are becoming popular with enthusiasts, such as the 7740, 7840 and 8340 SLE models. Perhaps the rising costs of owning Ford 7000s and 7810s makes 40 Series tractors a more attractive proposition for enthusiasts.
Samuel Irwin, also from Vow, was cutting silage with a long-wheelbase County 1184 TW and Kidd MkII double-chop harvester. This County is a late production model, built by the Benson Group in 1989, based on the Ford TW-15 skid unit and complete with a synchromesh transmission.
Another tractor that I liked was a nicely restored MF 698, with aftermarket turbo kit, owned by Neil McCullough from Ballymena, which pulled a Marshall eight-tonne silage trailer.
David Law, from Portglenone, had a 1985 Case 1294 tractor that did a very good job drawing silage with a 6.5-tonne, twin-axle silage trailer in a Claas livery.
Overall, this was a very good event, and one that I thoroughly enjoyed attending. Well done to Trevor Sterling, Lauren Greer, Robert McCaughey, Alex Gregg and the Craigs Tractor Enthusiasts for putting on a great working day.
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Rare light-commercial versions of the Standard Vanguard