Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Sunday 23 July 2017

Landini packs a punch with little Italian

Dripping in Irish-engineered components, the slick 5-110H tractor shows its prowess in rigorous test

STRENGTH IN DEPTH: The Landini 5-110H proved to be an impressive performer as a yard tractor for farmers
STRENGTH IN DEPTH: The Landini 5-110H proved to be an impressive performer as a yard tractor for farmers

Bruce Lett

In terms of makes and models of tractor, it is the Italians who occupy a very large section of the market, owning brands such as New Holland, CaseIH, Steyr, Same, Lamborghini, Hurlimann, Deutz, McCormick and Landini.

Some of these names aren't readily identified as Italian, with their heritages rooted in Britain, Austria, Germany and Switzerland. But Landini is certainly all Italian and, through its importers, Dublin-based D&S Machinery, has been well represented in Ireland for many years.

For this user impression, D&S Machinery loaned a demonstration model from Landini's new 5H series. This new model slots in just above the firm's Powerfarm series and was first seen at the FTMTA's Grassland event in Gurteen, Co Tipperary, earlier this year.

The 5H series falls into the firm's trusted loader category and, while this section is the main earner for most manufacturers, it is also the most contested category for all concerned. Here, we will put it through its paces to see what it has to offer users in terms of features and value for money.

I am always curious to see what different manufacturers bring to the table and their perception of what an individual market demands.

Here in Ireland, customers in the market for a new 100hp loader tractor have gone beyond the basic specification machine, with 'manual' dry clutch and 40-litre/min hydraulics, preferring instead power-shuttle wet clutch, high-output hydraulics, eco speed PTO and a few more creature comforts such as air seat and a clear roof panel for loader work.

D&S dropped off the largest model in the 5H series, a 5-110H Top, at my work place. This was fitted out with Irish engineering on the front and back, a Rossmore FL60 loader up front and a Dromone telescopic hitch on the rear. Like most things Italian, there was no shortage of style; the 5H features a four-pillar cab with large, glass doors and a super-slim and sculpted bonnet. The drive home was more than 20 miles and on a wet and dark night would test several of the tractor's features.

Up first was the heating, which was required to dry out and de-mist all the cab's glass to aid visibility for the journey home. Left running for 10-15 minutes before leaving, all the glass was surprisingly clear. A closer investigation revealed the heating system was well engineered, with a multitude of air vents and ducts performing better than a team of ladies armed with industrial hair driers. The Italians clearly came over here to design this system, which is also equipped with air-conditioning for the occasional summer experience.


They put so much effort into the heating and ventilation on the 5H that they had nothing left for the wipers. With one speed and a switch on the in-cab mounted motor (and matching unit on the rear window), it was noisy and became annoying after a while.

The lights, on the other hand, were exceptional, so much so that several car drivers flashed me on the narrow highways. A flash of the heads confirmed to any low riders that my lights were dipped on my (borrowed) Italian transport.

Comfort was supplied in the form of an air seat and adjustable steering wheel but, unfortunately, the loader was not specified with a 'soft-ride' facility -- an absolute must in my opinion for our tough roads. This is something that can be easily added afterwards, though at minimal cost for maximum comfort and spinal maintenance. The national road leg of the journey was snug all the way home.

Off to work and, under the bonnet, a Perkins four-cylinder, turbocharged and intercooled engine provided the power for the 5-110H. Maximum power is quoted at 102hp -- or 75kWs -- for this, the biggest model in the range. There are four models in the 5H series, starting with the 5-080H at 74hp/54.5kW up to the 5-110H used here. Two levels of specification are offered, the lower-range Techno (dry clutch, manual shuttle, etc) and the Top (wet clutch, clutchless shuttle, optional electronic lift control, etc), which was the specification of tractor I used.

The engine is paired up with a 36-forward and 12-reverse speed power-shuttle transmission, incorporating three power-shift gear changes in each mechanical gear change. There are no powershift speeds available in reverse, which gives it the 36F/12R selection. The transmission will default to the middle powershift speed in reverse every time that reverse is selected.

Further back, the familiar rear axle bull gear reduction units of the Blizzard and Powerfarm Series are substituted with a conventional 'trumpet-housing' axle.

Also new is lower-link draft sensing, a move away from the top-link spring arrangement seen on older Landini ranges. The test tractor was equipped with mechanical lift control, which many would prefer over electronic lift control on this type of tractor. Electronic lift control is available as a €1,500 (including VAT) option, but only on the high spec Top versions.

The mechanical external lift control is like many safety-driven designs -- complicated. It almost needs its own set of instructions on how to operate it. The test tractor also came with Category II hook ends -- its lower lift arms plus a turnbuckle adjuster mechanism on the right-hand drop-link to the lift arm.

Tyres

Our tractor was well shod, with 440/65-R24 Michelin tyres on the front and 540/65-R34 Michelins on the rear. This didn't appear to affect the steering lock and, combined with its short wheel base of 2.34m, the 5-110H was agile around the yard. Rossmore Engineering designed the tractor's loader brackets so as not to impede the steering lock, plus the pivoting mudguards were kept well out of harm's way with a spring-and-stop design now adopted by many manufacturers.

With the weather not helping the task in hand, I hooked up a twin axle, heavy-steel bale trailer, to deliver it back to its rightful owner. The Dromone hydraulic telescopic hitch was both welcome and necessary in the hooking-up process, especially to avoid embarrassment when I had an audience.

On the road, the Perkins power plant surprised me with its level of power and torque reserve, proving itself to be a really powerful little performer. The manufacturer's maximum power statistic is 103hp but the 5-110H drove like there was an extra 10 horses in the corral.

The three-speed powershift was a real plus on the road. Changes were smooth and a transmission disconnect button on the main gearstick allowed mechanical gear changes to be made without clutching.

Most manufacturers will switch on the four-wheel drive when the brake pedal is pressed to bring four-wheel braking into play, offering front axle braking as an option. Landini, however, chose to equip the 5-110H with brakes in the front axle. Most manufacturers locate their brakes in the outer hubs but Landini locates these 'inboard', in the differential housing. This had the advantage of better brake cooling because of the larger volume of oil in the axle beam. While the brakes were powerful and gave better control with no four-wheel-drive engagement/disengagement jump, they did take a considerable level of effort to operate in comparison to some of the Landini's competition.

Cab

The cab was a mix of modern and retro, combining a dash-mounted hand-throttle lever on the right with a power-shuttle lever on the left. It did feel a little claustrophobic at first on the drive home in the black of night but, in the day time, the four-post cab design translated into excellent visibility. Access was ample through the large doors to the seat for my 6'2" frame. Equipped with an air seat and tiltable steering wheel, everything was laid out just right for me and, overall, I found it a likeable and comfortable working environment for a loader tractor.

The Landini's four-post cab was smaller than that used by its rivals but this also meant that the glass doors were smaller and far more controllable and easier to open and close than the competition. A clear roof panel for operating the loader at height is, in my opinion, a must for any modern loader tractor and the Landini is fitted with one -- albeit one that is smaller that most of the competition.

Loader

The 5-110H felt well rooted with loader and load, possibly helped by the chunky tyres which made it a steady combo. Stacking bales, the Rossmore FL60 loader was as capable as any to get the fourth bale up. Loader lift capacity seemed good as well, but cycle times in comparison to some of the competition were a bit slow.

Landini makes 52.3 litres a minute available for hydraulic services, including the loader on the 5-110H. While this figure is higher than the norm of a decade ago, much of the competition is making up to 100 litres/min available for loader functions. This level of oil flow makes for comfortable loader speeds and decent cycle times.

Summary

I was pleasantly surprised by the Landini 5-110H. It was an ideal loader tractor, nimble around the yard with a nice cab and everything close to hand.

Many will like the simple mechanical lift control, while shuttle and gear changing was nice and smooth. The transmission disconnect on the main gearstick worked well, making any clutchless mechanical gear changes very slick. The demonstration tractor was equipped with a two-speed PTO, 540 and 1,000rpm. A three-speed unit -- 540, 750 and 1,000rpm -- is more commonplace on this type of tractor, however, and is available as an option for €650 (including VAT).

Air conditioning is standard, as is electro-hydraulic four-wheel drive, diff lock and PTO control, plus external PTO controls on the rear mudguards.

Price of the demo spec 5-110H Top tractor is €53,845 including VAT + Rossmore FL60 loader.

The lower spec 5-110 Techno retails at €45,500 including VAT (no loader) but does include air-conditioning and Dromone's telescopic hitch.

Irish Independent