New Bell Series III Tractors built tough for Africa

It may seem like Bell Equipment is going retro with its new Bell Series III Haulage Tractors, but the company is simply providing for the operating needs of their customers at the lowest cost per ton hauled, reports Joe Spencer.

BELL Equipment’s new Africa Tractor range may seem old-fashioned, but why change a tractor that works? Africa Tractors have been built in Africa for harsh conditions according to Tim Beningfield, Bell Equipment product marketing manager for sugar and forestry products. “Some of our customers believed that the higher specifications of Series II didn’t offer any value to their particular operations, so we’ve combined the best features of Series I and Series II for the new Africa Tractors,” he says.

“In essence we’ve gone back to basics to deliver a reliable, robust haulage workhorse with a simple design for easy maintenance and longevity. Those who want the bells and whistles still have the opportunity to include them as optional extras. “What is truly revolutionary about the Africa Tractors is that for the first time customers can get a true “built for haulage” machine at little or no premium cost per kilowatt over a conventional farm tractor. On a cost per ton basis, Bell has a big advantage, so from now on there’s no good reason to use anything else for haulage.”

Blast from the past
Bell Equipment believes that purpose-built haulage tractors are still valid today, as there are simply no viable modifications to be made to a tractor to equip it for the demands of long-term, heavy-haulage work. “The differences remain,” says Tim. “A Bell hauler has a full-length steel chassis to endure shock loads, compared to the tractor’s bolted cast iron construction, sometimes with an add-on piece to strengthen the joint between the front and rear. “Bell tractors have outboard drum brakes with massive heat-handling capability. Most tractors have in-board brakes that are less efficient in dealing with the heat build-up under heavy use, sometimes resulting in lumps of carbon in the oil.”

Built for haulage
Tim say the superior performance and endurance of the automated Allison haulage transmission has been a Bell hallmark since 1977.“From the over-size steering kingpins to the sturdy and stable forward of the axle centre-line hydraulic hitch-point, Bell tractors are built for haulage from the ground up,” he says. The Africa Tractors look tough, with an all-steel bonnet and mudguard construction for greater robustness and easy repair and maintenance.

The cab is certified for a roll over protection structure (ROPS) or falling objects protection structure (FOPS), but the construction and ergonomics have been simplified. Inside, the dash has also been simplified with only warning lights and essential instruments.The latest air-cooled Deutz engines mean there’s no radiator to maintain. The 904A and 904AF, 2WD and 4WD will feature the 70kW (90hp) four-cylinder Deutz engines. The 1216A and 1216AF and larger 1716A and 1716AF will feature six-cylinder engines of 100kW (120hp) and 125kW (170hp).Africa Tractor’s 904AF and 1216AF models were introduced to the market in September. The 904A and the 1216A are due to be launched in December, and the larger 1716AF and 1716A in the second quarter of 2011.