Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Wednesday 18 October 2017

Packing power and punch in a competitive market place

Compact Landini Powermondial 120 has many pluses to give it the edge on its 110hp rivals

Bruce Lett

The latest tractor to make it to our shores from Italy is the Landini Powermondial 120. This model differs from the other two smaller designs in the range in that it moves away from conventional mechanical fuel injection to electronically controlled common rail fuel injection.

Landini is owned by the Italian Argo Group, which also owns the McCormick brand, both of which are imported and distributed here in Ireland by Dublin-based D&S Machinery Ltd. Neither brand manufactures its own engines, which is not uncommon among tractor manufacturers. Instead, Perkins engines are widely used across both brands in the lower horsepower models, with Fiat Power Train engines being installed in larger models.

Under the hood of the new Powermondial 120 is a Perkins 1104D-TA Tier 3 engine with turbo charger and intercooler.

The 'Dual Power' decal on the side of the tractor's bonnet is not to be confused with Ford's two-speed powershift of old.

It actually refers to the boost facility on the Perkins engine in transport and PTO mode, facilitated by the electronically controlled common rail fuel injection. The manufacturer gives maximum power figures of 112hp and 121hp respectively, the latter under Dual Power boost circumstances.

Where does the Powermondial fit into the market?

Weighing in at 4.6t and normally producing 110hp, this four-wheel drive, four-pot tractor punches in the most competitive sector of the agricultural tractor market in Ireland. The edge it has, on paper at least, is power boost, giving it an extra 9hp in PTO and transport modes. But this is a hotly contested sector with manufacturers producing an array of models, in different sizes and specs to suit all scenarios.

For example, CaseIH, at the last count, has five completely different models from different ranges in this power category.

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Last winter we put a tractor from the firm's 5H series through its paces and while it could be a bit basic in places, overall it impressed us.

The Powermondial is a higher specification tractor with less of a basic stockman feel about it, trending more towards a tillage specification tractor.

Being Italian designed and built, the first impression that you get is that it is stylish. Close examination reveals that this style is pinned together well, with excellent build quality inside the cab.

The firm's four-post cab is smaller than some out there, but inside there is plenty of room for those even with the gait and co-ordination of a giraffe.

Helpers

There is a well placed and comfortable passenger seat with a seat belt for little helpers (and big children). It's also well out of the way of long legs for entering and exiting the cab. With tractors in this class, there tends to be a lot of movement in and out of the cab, opening and closing gates or wire, taking wrap off bales and so on. It's crucial that the path from the ground to the seat is unobstructed and doesn't require an apprenticeship as a contortionist in the circus to navigate.

As mentioned earlier, Landini's four-pillar cab is smaller than that offered by some of the competition and, as a result, the door is smaller and much easier to handle, requiring less physical effort and stretching to close. Visibility to the side is excellent with no middle or 'B' pillar to obscure view.

A clear roof panel is fitted, which would be ideal if our test tractor was fitted with a loader. This also opens for extra ventilation.

In the cockpit, a Sears air seat provides a perch for the posterior, and without cab suspension is sure to be welcome.

The steering wheel tilts and telescopes to suit different dimension drivers but the telescopic travel is a bit limited, I felt, for this driver. As is the norm, most of the tractor's controls were laid out to the driver's right, with the power shuttle controls on the left just under the steering wheel.

And, yes, there were lots of places to store bits and pieces in the cab, from linkage balls to phones. A cigarette lighter and ash tray also featured, useful even if you don't smoke for minding fuses and change.

Physically, the Landini Powermondial 120 is not very big, so initially there was a bit of a debate whether or not to hang the four-furrow Kverneland reversible plough on the back.

The tractor came with 420kg of weights on its nose, so it was decided to marry the pair. To everyone's surprise, the Powermondial handled the plough with ease, keeping all four wheels planted firmly on the ground throughout mounting and manoeuvring. So with the plough on board, it was decided to see what this little Italian number could do in the field.

Our tractor featured electronic lift control, which has similar features and functions to most systems out there but with the individual manufacturer's styling. In the Landini's case, the controls were laid out on an oval panel to the right. In operation, these are well placed for fiddling with the depth control knob and operating the raise and lower button.

The Powermondial 120 has a 36-forward and 12-reverse speed transmission, achieved with three powershift speeds, four synchromesh gears and three range gears. In reverse, there are no powershift speeds, instead defaulting to second powershift in reverse in all mechanical gears. The shuttle lever to the left of the steering wheel selects forwards, neutral or reverse.

Changing powershift speeds is done with two buttons on the main gearstick, one for up and one for down. These are positioned to the front left of the gearstick and initially are tricky to get to but do prevent accidental up or down shifting. Above these two buttons, a de-clutch button provides the same function as the clutch pedal, facilitating mechanical gear changes while leaving the left boot on the floor.

The tractor proved it could handle the plough with ease. A good lock and short wheelbase keep the headlands small and a very fast lift speeded up headland manoeuvres. Shuttling between forward and reverse was smooth and the aggressiveness of the direction change could be adjusted by a dial on the right hand console, with its settings indicated in the centre display of the instrument cluster.

Flagship

Rear linkage lift capacity is quoted at 4.7t and this flagship model features a 60l/min hydraulic pump, 8l/min more than the two smaller models.

While this is not exceptional capacity, it's decent enough for this class of tractor and if it was fitted with a loader, it shouldn't disappoint. Our tractor was fitted with three double-acting spool valves with a flow adjuster on the first valve.

A slick joystick lever controlled two of these while a rather odd-looking lever operated the third and was plumbed to the telescopic hitch.

The Perkins power plant under the bonnet performed adequately but, to be honest, I thought it would provide more punch than it did. I realise the power boost facility wouldn't activate in this type of scenario at relatively slow speed and maybe when it is run in a bit more those horses under the bonnet will work harder.

You would expect a tractor selling in this category to handle a reasonably sized slurry tanker but, with none to hand, we hooked to a twin-axle Herron trailer with about nine tonnes of oats on board. The combined weight would be more than sufficient to simulate a good size tanker fully loaded.

Hooking up was done with a Dromone telescopic hitch, which extended out into the view of the target. Landini also provides a mirror on the rear window frame, but that is a real Paul Daniels job to line hook and eye up in the mirror.

As I have probably mentioned before, some manufacturers do not provide basic lift control buttons like those mounted on the rear mudguards to raise and lower the lift arms and hitch. These are particularly useful for hooking up to a trailer or implement and can also prevent the lift from being accidentally activated and shooting to the top.

While the Powermondial does not have one of these in-cab switches, it almost achieves the same effect with its lift function button because it has a middle position between raise and lower function where the lift will stop.

With the trailer all wired in and plumbed up, it was time for some hauling. In the power department, there was no shortage of horses champing at the bit, perhaps because the power boost, or Dual Power feature as Landini likes to call it, comes into play.

Over rough ground and at speed, the trailer did throw the Landini around a bit, but I reckon that would be the case for any tractor of this size hooked up to our test load.

The three-speed powershift was ideal for this type of work but could be a bit sharp on changing. Again, this would probably smooth out when the engine is fully run in.

Brakes

The de-clutch button was certainly useful for mechanical gear changes and drive take up was very smooth on release.

Slowing down with the brakes was no bother. The trailer really did most of the braking, but worth mentioning is the fact that Landini uses onboard brakes on the front axle instead of bringing on four-wheel drive to provide braking effect. This tractor is also fitted with 'boosted' brakes, in keeping with recent EU legislation to reduce braking effort at the pedals and actual braking distance.

Our tractor was fitted with standard, non-telescopic mirrors, which really were not very effective for the wide trailer.

Telescopic mirrors are not a factory-fitted option, but Patrick Ryan, a product and customer support man at D&S Machinery Ltd, said the company could retrofit telescopic mirrors from its own stores department if needed. The test tractor featured a two-speed PTO (540rpm and 1,000rpm); the three-speed option with ECO speed costs an extra €650 including VAT.

To sum up, the Landini Powermondial 120 is a likeable and capable tractor, surprising us with its ability to handle the plough. It does appear to tick all the necessary boxes, but it is competing in a tough segment of the market. D&S Ltd has priced the tractor, with all the bells and whistles listed above, at €45,455 pluss VAT.

Indo Farming

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