Fleet profile, Barry Read, Valtra

Fleet profile Barry Read Valtra

The Read contracting business was started in 1982 when Barry’s father started out reseeding and hedge cutting for people in the surrounding area. At this time Norman Read was running three Massey Ferguson 698T’s a 699 and 2640 along with a 590 he bought second hand. As things progressed, the fleet was running three McConnell flail hedge cutters and one saw blade cutter, a sludgagator tanker which started slurry around the end of September and ran flat out until may. Ploughing and reseeding also kept the firm busy
along with grass silage cutting in the summer. As the work load grew, two double chops were ran side by side behind the Massey fleet. Finding the tractors a bit light and after some engine problems on the four cylinder turbo Perkins small block engines, Norman looked to Deutz tractors to take up the work load. As Barry says “we never had a bad one”. The Deutz models used included a 470, two 610’s, a DX 90 and a 616 which Barry describes as one of the best tractors they ever had with a torque’y engine that pulled like a train. Barry praises the air cooled engines and simple gear box’s on the Deutz models. Looking for a more sophisticated machine, Norman turned to Stanley Patterson from Ballinahinch, from who he purchased a 115hp Fendt 311. They ran up 11,00 hours on this tractor which with its turbomatic clutch was again a great puller, but it did suffer from some gear box and brake issues. When the next time it came to update a tractor, Norman again turned to Stanley Patterson who at this time had started importing Valmet Valtra’s as he thought they would appeal to more people than the pricey Fendt’s. So in 1992 the Ried’s got a Valtra out on demonstration and again in 1993. The grip levels of these tractors impressed so much that in 1994 the Reid’s purchased there first Valtra, an 8100 model. According to Barry this tractor in 2wd could almost out preform their Massey’s in 4wd. The valtra performed well at anything it was asked to do, but at 120hp they found it a little short on torque, so with 1200 hours on the clock the engine got a boost from a turbo and went on to clock up 12,000 hrs before being moved on. The only ever gear box issue the Read’s did suffer on a Valtra was on this tractor, but was apparently caused by driver error when rammed into reverse with a full load of slurry. As things progressed and harvesters got bigger a 135hp 8150 was bought to take over, followed by a 8750 with 160hp as standard and ETB power boost. This tractor has since been dyno’d and found to be putting out 222hp at the shaft!!! At the time it was being used to power a JF 1100 harvester. A 8950 came along next with even more power to pick up thirty foot swathes after rakes were introduced to help the wilting process.
It was at this time that Barry bought the contracting business from his father and took over any machinery repayments.
Barry says that the ETB power boost on the 8750 and 8950 was very unreliable as it worked on sensors on the pto shaft to judge when enough power was being used through the PTO to kick in. As a result he had the Power boost put onto a switch on the dash so that when put onto the harvester it could be switched on. As Barry says “one day you had 200+hp and the next around 170-180” The switch had to be disconnected when not needed as he says that some drivers would prefer to hit the power boost switch when pulling heavy loads up hill instead of changing gear. He also notes that the HiTec 2 models which have a clutchless power shuttle are far superior to the HiTec 1 tractors which had a slight delay on shuttle use. Any tractors he now has with power shuttle are all HiTec 2.
As things again progressed a Self propelled New Holland FX 38 harvester was purchased to handle the growing acreage and so Barry sold his 8950 as he no longer had any need for two 200hp+ tractors in the yard. This is the only Valtra to have left the fleet with less than 11,000 hours.
Barry says he stays with Valtra for their basic controls which anyone can jump on and use. and although Valtra’s has higher spec tractors available he prefers to stick with the basic models on which “you pull a lever, tip a trailer”.
Sheer reliability is the main reason though. The sisu power plants never need a spanner put to them. He states that at about 5-6000 hours the rear brake slave cylinders and front master cylinders seals need replacing and other than that the brakes never need touching until 8-9000 hours, which considering the size of trailers and tankers they pull is pretty impressive. Clutch wear is another strong point as Barry never changed a clutch on a tractor with under 7000 hours
The only tractor to be bought second hand is a 8050 which Barry says he bought “very much at the right money”. This tractor is used on wide wheels to use in the field on the umbilical system, one of two he runs, one with 600 meters of pipe and the other with 800 meters. Barry says he will probably buy another front reeler to increase the distance on one of the systems.
Slurry is a huge part of the business and with a look at the machinery around the yard they are very well geared up for the task. Barry runs a total of six slurry tankers, all Redrock models. One of these is a top fill galvanised 1250 gallon model running on huge Terra tyres. Barry says he doesn’t use this system as much now as he used to as the umbilical systems do most of the spreading now. When it is used it is powered by the 8750 which has the power to pull the tanker at low revs on the 1000 rpm shaft to save on diesel at the high speed needed to match the tankers high output as it empties in 75 seconds.
Barrys also runs five other Redrock models, a 2000 gallon, two 2500 gallon, a 3000 gallon and a huge 4000 gallon model, all on tandem axles and sprung draw bars. One of the 2500 gallon models and the two larger models can be used to draw to the pipe system in the field when the distance is to great to pipe. The other two tankers have over hedge booms and can fill into any of the other three which have top fill hatches. Barry says its rare to have all five tankers drawing to the one system but if need be he can cater for it. All of these tankers are fitted with huge 750 tyres and if the conditions allow can be used to spread on the land. One of the two 2500 gallon tankers can also be fitted with a trailing shoe which is said to give the best results from your slurry. The 4000 gallon tanker is pulled by the 8750 and has both air and hydraulic brakes and euro brake away system should it ever break free. Barry said any of the other tractors could pull the rig but the 8750 with weighted rear wheels gives the grip needed while on the road. Barry tries to keep one driver to each tractor as this way theres no passing the buck should anything be broke or neglected. This is especially true while towing the 4000 gallon tanker. This is left to full time employee “wang” who has a hgv liscence to keep the rig well within the law.
Reseeding is also well catered for within the firm. A four furrow reversible plough currently takes care of all the ploughing but Barry says he has another furrow waiting to be put on if he purchases a bigger tractor which he hopes to do shortly. Two Rabbi power harrows are used to prepare the soil, one with a crumbler for reseeding, which is followed by a Moore unidrill for seeding, and one with a packer roller and air seeder combi for planting cereals. If need be the seeder can be pulled off the drill for use on reseeding jobs.
Hedge cutting keeps the fleet moving in the autumn month’s. Barry uses two McConnell flail cutters, one 2070 with a 23foot reach and one 7000 model with a 25foot reach. This gives him an edge over his competition, most of which use 17 meter machines.
On the silage front, mowing is taken care of using two trailed class disco mower conditioners, one of which has an auto swather for use when conditions aren’t favourable to leave the grass mowed flat for raking, behind two T130 tractors. Barry says the pair have no problem keeping in front of the harvester and remembers one day when conditions and favour allowed, he managed to mow 96 acres in a day with one mower, from 9:30am through to 1:30am the following day. He says that while he ate in the afternoon one of his workers came and dieseled up the tractor so little time was lost.
The 2002 FX 38 self propelled harvester, which arrived in the fleet in 2004 was changed last year for a new New Holland FR9050 and has two seasons done makes short work of the 2500 acres lifted each year and has no problem lifting the thirty foot swathes left by a class 880 rake which is usually used behind one of the mowing tractors when enough is mowed in front of the harvester.
Carting is taken care of by the remainder of the tractors, including a 8550 and 8150 that Barry hires from his father when needed, his own 8750 8150’s and the T160 (“my tractor”)he usually drives himself. Four Redrock fourteen ton trailers and one Fifteen ton trailer are used to ferry the crop to the pit.
On the pit, a Manitou 634-120 with 120hp, which Barry hires from his father is used to push in.
Whole crop silage is also dealt with by the FR9050 which has a crop processor fitted, using a finger bar type header, which typically cuts around 200 acres a year Barry points out that a disc type header would be more efficient, but with the small acreage cut each year and the big price tag, cannot be justified.
Other duties carried out by the firm include spreading manure and granulated lime with a 2.5 ton sulky broadcaster. This machine is programmed to the tractors forward speed and along with GPS fitted to the tractor is hugely accurate. With most manure now coming in jumbo bags, Barry can spread for any farmer without the necessary means of loading the bags as the sower is fitted with a self loading crane. At a cost of around £20 per ton and such accuracy it surely cant be passed.
During the winter months Barry also draws alot of round bales for farmers on his T130 with front end loader and low loader trailer.

With the huge work load carried out each year reliability is key to this firms success and it appears it gets no better than with the current Valtra fleet. Barry says the 8750, now showing 12,5000 hours will never be got rid of and along with the 135hp 8150’s he says he “would be let get rid of them” as they are firm favorites with his drivers. Barry has had several 8150 models in the fleet through the years including one “real fit one” which came to a sad end after it took off on a steep hill with a fully loaded manure spreader and was consequently wrote off. That tractor dyno’d at 163hp and that’s without ever being screwed up!

One things for sure, this man knows his tractors inside out and how to run a successful contracting business! Contact Barry on 07710821852.


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