William Lee fleet proifile

Growing up on a dairy farm which used Massey Ferguson tractors exclusively, it was
inevitable that when William Lee started contracting back in the early 90’s he would rely
on the red and grey brand to power him forward. William started out cutting grass
silage around his home in Belanalack C.o Fermanagh with a new MF 399 and a trailed
five foot Tarrup double chop. Carting at that time was left to a 2wd 390 and a mf240
took care of the buckraking with a Whylie push off. This 399 which had a lowline cab
with three gear sticks between the operators feet, was traded in for a high line model
with Masseys 12F/12R 40K gear box with the gears to the right of the seat, a dash
mounted mechanical shuttle lever, and tottaly flat floor.
On this model William remembers the tractor being to high geared for reversing in high
range and when pulling heavy loads if the engine was pulled down too much in high
first it was to time consuming to get it into medium range and back into gear in time to
mantain momentum as the main gear stick which has four gears in a H pattern, also
selected the range by pushing it further right and either forward or back. This 399 was
used to power a Pottinger MEX IV precision chop lifting ten foot swathes mowed down by
a 2wd MF 390T. At this time a cabless MF290 4wd handled the buckraking.
In 1996, looking for more power and modernisation, William again turned to
William Bells of Fivemiletown C.o Tyrone. This time he took delivery of a new MF 6180
with the well proven dynashift four speed powershift gear box. The move up in
horsepower led William to purchase a higher capacity MEX VI harvester for his growing
workload. A JCB 408 loading shovel was also bought to cope with the increase in the
speed at which grass came to the clamp.
In 1997 William bought a MF 4270 to take over mowing duties and a 6255 for carting.
After fitting an autoswather to the mower, which made the 4270 sweat, William found
the 6180 struggling with the 20ft swathes. Eager to keep up with the growing demand
for his services, in 1998 William again climbed the horsepower ladder. This time he
purchased a MF 8160. With 200 hp at his disposal, William opted for a bigger Taarup 10x
harvester, which in the right conditions could put away up to 70 acres. William was
impressed with the performance of the 8160 with his only grumble being that the clutch
was very jumpy. This was reset a couple of times by William Bells mechanics, but was
never just right.
The 6180 had a right hand shuttle lever, which had an electronic button making it
effectively a clutchless shuttle. This proved troublesome and was rectified by modifying it
back to a mechanical shuttle lever, which was also specified on the 8160.
During these years the 3000 series also featured with a new 3065 and a 3095 being
purchased for carting duties. The 3095 had what is known as an A/B forward reverse
shuttle which gave the option of a high or low reverse gear to be selected. This proved
to be a very unreliable gearbox and resulted in the tractor only serving one season in
the fleet. The 3065 had the well proven dynashift four speed powershift gear box and
worked well for three or four seasons, but as trailers got bigger was deemed too light
and was subsequently moved on. William remembers his 6255, bought new in 2000, as
being a “great tractor”, being used to cart grass in the summer and on the umbilical
slurry system in the winter with a set of low ground pressure tyres. The need for bigger
tractors in front of the growing trailers being the only reason for it moving on.
The 4270 is also fondly remembered as being well up to work and very reliable but if William was to do it again
he would have fitted it with a turbo to increase output. The 6255 was Williams first tractor to be fitted with MF’s Dyna 4 gearbox with the clutchless left hand shuttle lever, located beside the steering wheel doubling up as the powershift
In 2001, the need for higher output again brought change. This time the trailed
harvester gave way for a 1997 model John Deere 6710 2wd selfpropelled harvester.
With no more need for a 200hp tractor, William traded in his trusty 8160 for a
demonstrator model MF 8220 with 166hp. This tractor was put to work with a new
McHale Fusion balere and despite being described as a “lovely cumfortable tractor was
just a little underpowered for the combination baler/ wrapperand was traded in for a new
6490 in 2004 which is now the main mowing tractor in the fleet using a 10 foot front
mounted Vicon mower and a rear mounted 10 foot 6inch vicon. A MF6280 joined the
fleet in 2002. Again bought new from William Bells, it came fitted with front linkage to
carry the firms front mounted pipe reeler for the umbilical slurry system and took over
field duties from the 6255.
Two new Mf6480’s were purchased in 2005 to cope with the bigger silage trailers and
slurry tankers now being used. Both have the highly regarded dyna 4 gearbox. These
were joined by another 6480 in 2008 which was the last of the older models, the newer
models having Tier 3 engine emissioms and new styling. This 6480 has the newer Dyna
6 gear box which comes as standard, which while being well liked by the fleet drivers
has failed to convert William from being a “Dyna 4 man”. Having put up on 5000 hours
on his two Dyna 4 tractors William reports no major problems, only the occasional
sensor glitches. The Dyna 6 model. now showing just over 2000 hours has so far also
proved reliable. Its at this point that Willian remarks that he finds the older 6200 series
to be more comfortable than the 6400 models which need the rear cab bushings to be
replaced every two years. The newer 6480 along with the 6490 have cab
and front axle suspension which are a real comfort bonus. Another point to note is that
some of the older tractors William had had swing out pick up hitches which wore badly,
and if ballowed to go too long without attention could actually wear a hole in the back
end housing, something to watch out for.
In 2005, a John Deere 6850 with 4wd took the role as harvester. A 2003 model, William
rates it as a great machine which can really put away the acres. A MF 4355 and 30 foot
Kuhn rake follow the mower (which can be set to lay the grass flat to aid wilting) to help
keep the harvester working at its full potential. This 2002 classic model was bought
primeraly as a yard tractor and is now a headliner in the harvesting fleet. With a
manual lift and few electrics its a real “jump on and go” machine and is used all year
round. It provides the power for the farms Mixtech twin tub diet feeder (see youtube) in
the winter time to feed the farms 130 strong dairy herd plus folowers, and takes care of
most of the sowing and topping, as well as land leveling on reseed contracts. A real all
rounder, it recently received a new clutch, which after over 5000 hours is no shame to
this compact 100 hp tractor. A 399 is also part of the home fleet along with a 690 with
front end loader as a back up to the loading shovels.
On the loader front an 03 Redrock tm 300 fills the main roll. Used for pushing in grass,
filling the manure spreader and on a sheer grab in the winter, this has been a great
shovel. Now showing 6000 hours there are few negatives to report. When the
Redrock is out on hire a Wieldman 1460 takes over. A small and compact cabless
machine it can still m,ake light work of filling the diet feeder, feeding round bales and
bedding cubicles. Previous loaders include two Claas models, a 976 for one season and a
K50, both of which were plagued with problems. A JCB 408 was Williams first shovel and
worked well.
Today William’s business covers a wide range of tasks. While silage and slurry may be
the bread and butter work, the firm also carries out ploughing and reseeding, muck
spreading, as well as excavation work carried out with an 06 Cat 414 Cl zero swing
excavator with tow dump trailers available to keep things moving in the off season
An “If you want it done well do it” attitude ensures this pristene fleet keeps rolling.
2004 6490
2005 6480
2005 6480
2008 6480
2002 6280
2002 4255
1997 399
1986 690
2003 John Deere 6850
Year Make/model
2003 Redrock TM300
2005 Wieldmann 1460
2006 Cat 414CL
4 furrow kuhn reversable plough
3m heavy duty power harrow with 3m air seeder for one pass cultivation
6m Einbuch grass seeder
Vicon 10 foot 6 inch trailed mower conditioner
Vicon 10 foot 6 inch rear mounted mower conditioner
Vicon 10 foot front mounted mower
30 foot Kuhn rake
2 kane 15 foot silage trailers on 550 tyres
2 Donnelly 13 amd 14 foot silage trailers on 550 tyres
Johnston 14 foot cattle/silage trailer
Ruscon 16 ton lowloader
McHale Fusion round baler wrapper combo
Vicon 135 round baler
Vicon round bale wrapper
Slurry Kat umnilical slurry system with Doda pump
Redrock 2000 gallon recessed wheel tanker
Redrock 1600 gallon recessed wheel tanker
Abbey 9 ton multi spreader
2 Redrock slurry pumps (high flow/ super flow)
Spearhead hedge cutter
Mixtech twin tub diet feeder
Grass/ silage cutting
Round baling
Slurry spreading (umbilical/tankers)
Muck spreading
Hedge cutting
Dump trailer hire
Teleporter/shovel hire
Tractor and driver hire.


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