REVIEW: Case IH Magnum Rowtrac 380 tracked tractor

By: Tom Dickson, Photography by: Barry Ashenhurst, Video by: Barry Ashenhurst

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The latest Case IH Magnum Rowtrac 380 is designed to handle like a sports car without tearing up the ground. TOM DICKSON was there when it landed on our shores.

I was invited to Kadina in South Australia where the first and only Magnum Rowtrac 380 in Australia was launched to the state’s Case IH dealer network.

Not only have I been allowed a close-up look but I’ve also been offered full use of the tractor at the end of the day to put it through its paces.

Look up Case IH tractor specifications

Even better is that high horsepower tractor specialist for Case IH North America Ken Ohnell will be on hand. He’s made himself available to ride alongside me in the cab and provide a bit of guidance on its operation. Perhaps even a bit of an update of some of the new features.

I should probably mention the Magnum Rowtrac 380 just took out the prestigious 2015 Tractor of the Year award in Bologna, Italy, and at 380hp (283kW) it is also currently the highest horsepower rigid chassis Rowcrop tractor manufactured by Case IH.

 

Contents

Tyres and tracks

Transmission

Engine and maintenance

Cabin

Controls and performance

Verdict

Specifications

 

Case IH Magnum Rowtrac 380 tyres and tracks

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The most obvious feature on the new machine is the combination of tracks on the rear and High-Low pressure tyres on the front.

I’m told the tracks improve grip in all conditions, and running wheels on the front means the Magnum 380 loses nothing in the way of mobility.

"It’s not as simple as taking a Magnum tractor and adding tracks to it," he explains.

"We’ve done a lot of engineering and made the axle housings and the extensions larger to support that tractor under that heavy torque load in the horse power range that we are in.

"The tracks are also complemented by the front suspended axle, which is designed to push that front tyre to the ground and provide four points of contact.

"With the front wheels driving and the rear tracks driving we have zero slippage to one per cent. Going further through the field sooner gives you a faster return on your investment."

The track mechanism is a combination of both friction drive and positive drive. The Magnum Rowtrac assembly has incorporated a larger drive wheel, which creates an increased contact area between it and the rubber track guaranteeing a more reliable drive with less slippage.

To prevent slippage in wet, muddy conditions the track system goes into positive drive meaning slots in the drive wheel engage with lugs on the inside of the track.

When you go to a bigger wheel to get more wrap you get more drive lugs engaged. When you get more drive lugs engaged it takes up some of the pressure from the friction drive and allows more torque to the ground.

Hydraulic pressure is maintained on the assembly continually to keep maximum tension on the rubber track, which encourages friction drive for the majority of the time.

To remove a track a couple of litres of oil is drained out of the system that releases pressure on the track and it can be lifted off.

When the track is refitted the tractor is started and the hydraulic system automatically pressurises and returns tension to the track. A glass sight bowl in the centre of each idler wheel gives a clear and instant indication of the oil level in each.

Oil change intervals on the idlers are recommended at 1,500 hours or when the oil appears to have deteriorated.

The bottom section of the track pivots ten degrees forward and backwards to follow the contours of the ground and maintain maximum traction across uneven surfaces.

There are four options when selecting track widths. These are 16, 18, 24, and 30 inches (40.6, 45.7, 61 and 76.2cm). Fitting spacers to the rear axle and changing the front axle allows the width of the tractor to be altered to fit into most controlled traffic operations.

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Case IH Magnum Rowtrac 380 transmission

A stand-out feature that helped get it over the line to take home the prize is the continuously variable transmission (CVT) technology brought in on this tractor, and in particular, the active stop.

When you pull the propulsion lever back the active stop puts it into a hold position no matter what the degree of slope you’re on. The tractor won’t roll. It sits ready for action until you move the propulsion lever, when it instantly travels in the right direction.

The infinitely variable transmission has four forward and two reverse ranges with a top forward speed of 40km/h and the convenience of a forward/reverse shuttle to top it off.

 

 

Case IH Magnum Rowtrac 380 engine and maintenance

The fuel tank is located underneath the steps leading to the cabin. It has an increased size of 765 litres and being a Tier 2 engine, it doesn’t require an AdBlue tank.

Also on the left-hand side in front of the steps is a magnetically held cover. This is a new concept on this series that shields the air cleaner canister, severe duty fuel filter and transmission oil check and filler point.

The engine oil check is on the side of the motor, so all of the daily maintenance can be done from the ground before entering the tractor.

Lifting the bonnet is surprisingly easy. I say surprising because on these big, high horsepower tractors the large bonnet is often very heavy and hard to get up. There seems to be good access to the motor and especially the cooling system so blowing it out regularly won’t be an inconvenience.

The fan is ISO-mounted so not affected by movement of the motor. This allows it to be placed extremely close to the radiators and the cowling around the fan fits very tightly.

The snug fit means the fan creates a better suction of air through the radiator and enhances engine cooling which in turn boosts engine efficiency.

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Case IH Magnum Rowtrac 380 cabin

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Cabin entry seems a lot easier and safer because the steps have been placed at a better angle and not so straight up and down. There’s less chance of slipping.

Fitted are automatic clean out steps so if you have mud on your boots there is enough room between the step lugs to allow that mud to fall out.

All tractors come auto-guidance ready. They have a Pro 700 monitor that’s very easy to operate and you can select operations through six different screens that are included in the monitor.

The plush red leather seat on the Magnum rides like a cushion of air. It moulds in around me to create a complete work station.

The built-in armrest has all the normal controls you would expect to find in the top end new market, and for anyone who is familiar with Case IH tractors, nothing much has changed from previous models.

I haven’t owned a Magnum before but feel like I could navigate around the controls without too much drama.

The Magnum includes built-in heating for cold climates and as an added bonus has a cooling system where the lower and back cushions are ventilated.

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Case IH Magnum Rowtrac 380 controls and performance

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Finally my American expert throws me the keys giving me permission to take it for a drive.

Ohnell takes great delight in watching me attempt to start it up. I think I’ve followed the proper procedure but I get no response when I turn the key. He says I’m very close so I begin scanning the cab looking for a solution like a game of I Spy. I give up.

It turns out I just need to change the direction lever from neutral to park. He laughs as I get over my embarrassing moment and spark the 6 cylinder, 8.7-litre, turbo diesel into life.

To get moving I just move the directional lever on the steering column out of park into forward then push forward on the multi-function handle. Three target speeds, or cruise control speeds, can be selected and their value in kilometres per hour is displayed on a screen on the right hand front pillar.

Buttons on the multi-function handle swap from one set speed to another and a scroll wheel adjusts the set speed of each. All the other more advanced settings and features I’m sure I could pick up quickly given a bit more time.

Now what you’ve all been waiting for is information on how it handles.

Like a sports car. Well not really, but it’s excellent and a lot better than I thought a tractor fitted with tracks could be. It’s smooth and responsive at any speed and to be honest feels no different to a wheel tractor.

I throw the Magnum Rowtrack 380 into a full lock turn at about 6km/h on the sandy type base. It responds beautifully to create a turning circle with an outside diameter not more than about 7m or 8m.

Looking back to admire my perfectly sculpted design, I see virtually no scuffing of the ground.

For all the critics who think tracked machines leave a mess, I say at the end of the day you won’t find any ruts or berms requiring a truck load of soil to fill on the headlands caused by turning with the Magnum Rowtrac 380.

Another advancement of the machine is the new roof design with advanced LED lighting built-in. The LED package provides better lighting along with less drive or need for power, which again relates back to fuel economy and fuel usage, so it’s a real saving to the operator.

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The Verdict

Comfortable, simple, usable, manoeuvrable, powerful and accessible are a few of the descriptive words that easily come to mind when reminiscing about my day’s experience.

But the one memory that stands out most clearly relates to ground disturbance, or more accurately the lack of it.

These machines are in ports around Australia now so will be available for this year’s sowing season.

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Case IH Magnum Rowtrac 380 specifications

Make/Model: Case IH Magnum Rowtrac 380

Engine: 8.7-litre Tier 4B/Final

Rated: 380hp / 283kW

PTO: 315hp / 235kW

For the detailed specs, click here.

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For the detailed report, pick up a copy of New Farm Machinery magazine issue 20, on-sale March 30. Subscribe to the magazine to have it delivered. 

Find Case IH tractors for sale.

11 CaseIH Magnum Rowtrac 380 The Magnum 380 manoeuvres equally as well on hard and soft surfaces 11 CaseIH Magnum Rowtrac 380
1 CaseIH Magnum Rowtrac 380 TPL The TPL quick hitch coupler is a great time saving piece of apparatus. 1 CaseIH Magnum Rowtrac 380 TPL
3 CaseIH Magnum Rowtrac 380 Tracks Track lugs engage with slots inside the main drive wheel initiating positive drive under extreme load to prevent belt slippage. 3 CaseIH Magnum Rowtrac 380 Tracks
4 CaseIH Magnum Rowtrac 380 seat Ventilated cooling is incorporated into the seat to further improve driver comfort in all conditions. 4 CaseIH Magnum Rowtrac 380 seat
5 CaseIH Magnum Rowtrac 380 tyres Magnum Rowtrac tyres run at about 40 percent less PSI than traditional tyres which creates a longer footprint for reduced compaction. 5 CaseIH Magnum Rowtrac 380 tyres
7 CaseIH Magnum Rowtrac 380 control Complete comfort is all at your fingertips. 7 CaseIH Magnum Rowtrac 380 control
8 CaseIH Magnum Rowtrac 380 armrest control The built-in armrest control unit has been kept simple and easy to navigate. 8 CaseIH Magnum Rowtrac 380 armrest control
9 CaseIH Magnum Rowtrac 380 rubber cushioning Rubber compound cushioning is incorporated into the track assembly to absorb shock and vibration. 9 CaseIH Magnum Rowtrac 380 rubber cushioning
10 CaseIH Magnum Rowtrac 380 lightingjpg The new LED lighting package gives better night vision and draws considerably less power than conventional lighting. 10 CaseIH Magnum Rowtrac 380 lightingjpg
13 CaseIH Magnum Rowtrac 380 hydraulic linkage Hydraulic front axle suspension ensures maximum comfort in the toughest conditions. 13 CaseIH Magnum Rowtrac 380 hydraulic linkage
14 CaseIH Magnum Rowtrac 380 check oil levels Checking oil levels in the idler wheels takes only seconds thanks to glass centres. 14 CaseIH Magnum Rowtrac 380 check oil levels

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