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Michigan Couple Became " Tractor Tourists"
The idea of taking a cross-country tractor ride prompted Bill Bierman, Riga, Michigan to buy a used JCB Fastrac tractor last year.
  Bierman and his wife, Linda, like to travel and happened to be in Fairbanks, Alaska, in 1998 when Glen and Betty Martin rolled into town on a 1950 John Deere tractor after about 90 days on the road from their farm at Dalton, Ohio. (See FARM SHOW's Vol. 23, No. 2). The Martins spent a total of 126 days on the road and logged 4,502 miles.
  "I thought that sounded like the trip of a lifetime," Bierman remembers. But he didn't like the idea of making it on an older tractor or even on a newer regular farm tractor.
  When he heard the European-built JCB Fastrac was for sale, he checked the particulars on the machine and found it was just what he needed for a comfortable tractor drive across the country. JCB began making farm tractors a few years ago. The design is based on a survey of what European farmers wanted in a future farm tractor. Bierman gets parts and service from a dealer in Ohio.
  "The tractor has a Cummins diesel engine in it like the ones used in Dodge pickups. It has an extra-wide cab and seat designed for two people to ride comfortably, with all the climate control and comfort features you'd find in a car or pickup," he says. "And it has a 30-speed transmission, designed for both heavy field work and higher speed towing, with a top road speed of about 42 miles per hour. It also has an air-activated clutch and other features normally associated with small commercial trucks."
  Though it was used, Bierman says the tractor was just like new, with only about 2,000 hours on it. "It had been used mostly for hauling poultry manure several miles from the poultry houses to fields where it could be applied," he says.
  He bought the tractor about 200 miles from his home and drove it back to Riga, averaging about better than 35 mph on the trip. Bierman then began planning his first long distance trip on it.
  "Our son and his family had moved from Michigan to central Nebraska, where they operate a dairy farm," he says. "We had a tractor, some machinery and a pickup truck he wanted, but had not been able to pick up, so I decided we'd take it all to him."
  It wasn't until Bierman started loading the pickup and machinery onto a 42-ft. semi trailer, borrowed from a friend, that his wife Linda realized he was serious about driving the tractor to Nebraska. "She wasn't sure about going along on the tractor, but she couldn't pass up the opportunity to see the grandkids," Bierman says.
  He planned a route that kept him on county, state and lesser-traveled federal highways most of the way. "It's a great way to see the country," he says. "You can see so much more travelling at slower speeds and away from the interstate highways.
  A forced detour for road construction in Iowa put them onto a four-lane limited access highway with higher speed traffic for about 10 miles, but Bierman says he had no trouble maintaining the 40 mph minimum speed with the JCB.
  "We were concerned about getting stopped by the highway patrol, so we made sure everything was legal before leaving home," he says. The tractor was already equipped to activate the air brakes on the trailer, and they were within all length and width regulations.
  Despite pulling down to 20 mph on some of the hills, the tractor was still able to average better than 35 miles per hour with the trailer behind it. And putting in 8 to 10 hours a day on the tractor, they were able to travel from Riga to their son's farm near Arnold, Nebraska, in just three days.
  Bierman says three days on the tractor was enough for Linda, though, and they returned home by car with friends. He went back to Nebraska a couple of months later by bus to retrieve the tractor with his brother-in-law. They loaded the trailer with five used windmills from a Nebraska dealer and then made a more leisurely return trip through parts of South Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Bill Bierman, 14917 Fike Road, Riga, Mich. 49276 (ph 517 486-2394).

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2002 - Volume #26, Issue #3