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Tractor Nose Job Improves Sight Lines
The problem of poor up-front visibility when using front-end loaders can be easily solved, according to the editor of a Norwegian farm journal.
Rudolf Vie, editor of Norsk Landbruk, says "plastic surgery" to the front engine cowling of loader-size tractors is catching on fast with both Swedish and Norwegian farmers. "It's really quite easy to do. If you look under the hood, you will usually find only a radiator, battery and air cleaner in front of the engine," says Vie.
According to Vie, Deutz tractors are generally the easiest to modify because they are equipped with air-cooled engines. As a result, there are none of the problems associated with lowering the radiator to allow the hood to be dropped in front.
Vie questions why no tractor manufacturer, such as Ford or Massey Ferguson, has adopted the idea. "It makes me wonder if any of their designers have ever operated a tractor with a front-end loader."
The cost in Norway and Sweden of having a "nose job" done on a Deutz tractor is about $1,500. And although it's more time-consuming and complicated, similar surgery for other tractor makes has also be-come quite popular. For example, the importer of Fiat tractors into Norway now custom-modifies its tractors. On these models the radiator is angled toward the rear and cooled by an electric fan. A smaller battery is installed in a new location (sometimes in a well ahead of and below the engine). Cost ranges from about $2,000 to $3,000, depending on the model and whether it's new or used. Other tractors that have been successfully modified include the Massey-Ferguson, Deere, Ford, Same, Fendt and Shibaura.
How did the idea for dropping the front-end of a tractor first come about? Rudolf Vie says he was initially responsible for introducing the basic concept into Scandinavia. In 1984 he published an article proposing that the idea was both feasible and practical. He included a photo of a Lutz that he had modified using a scissors and glue to alter the photograph, not the actual tractor. To his surprise, the week following publication a Norwegian farmer phoned him to say he had just completed the job of lowering the hood on his Deutz for only the cost of a can of Deutz-green paint.
Soon after another Norwegian farmer, Erik Sagen of Skarnes modified a Deutz that he bought specifically for that purpose. Sagen wanted a tractor suited to loader work for handling his potato and vegetable crops. He needed good visibility to avoid damaging produce, which he moves on pallets, and wanted to be able to see the pallet forks at ground level from the tractor seat, something not possible with an unmodified tractor.
In 1989 the first dealer-built "noseless" tractors appeared in both Sweden and Nor-way. Vie says they already appear to be a commercial success.
Reprinted courtesy POWER FARMING magazine, Surrey, England.

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1990 - Volume #14, Issue #3