Sprayer Showdown – Goldacres Crop Cruiser vs. Case IH Patriot 4430 review

By: Harrison Hunkin & Jaiden Drought, Video by: Sean Lander

Presented by

Farms & Farm Machinery’s Harrison Hunkin and FarmTrader NZ’s Jaiden Drought team up in an ultimate showdown between old and new sprayers!

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What do you get when you chuck a 20-year-old Goldacres Crop Cruiser prototype and a brand-new Case IH Patriot 4430 in a paddock? A bloody good day!

It also proves how far technology has come over the years. The inclusions of GPS, intelligent on-board software and modern engines have changed the farming landscape and it’s becoming more advanced by the day.

But baby boomers are still telling us that new machinery is too complicated; that electronics, dust and water are a recipe for disaster; while millennials don’t want a bar of anything that requires manual labour.

So is all this tech to the detriment of the ‘machine’?

To the detriment may be to the extreme, but what about the longevity and ruggedness of modern machinery, especially since this 20-year-old Goldacres has seen more than 20,000 hours of work and has done so without the help of a fancy cabin, automated booms or a modern transmission!

So is your old man telling the truth or living in the past when he preaches, "They just don’t make machines like they used to"? Well, we flew over FarmTrader NZ’s machinery guru Jaiden Drought to help us solve this dilemma.

At a special location in Victoria’s west, we put the two machines through their paces and some friendly competition.

The Case IH Patriot next to the Goldacres Crop Cruiser
Old vs. New

 

ENGINES & BOOMS

When the two self-propelled sprayers are put next to each other, there are a couple of noticeable differences. One’s green and the other’s red; one has seen better days; and the other looks swanky. But they both look ready for the job.

In terms of specs, the Victorian-manufactured Crop Cruiser features a 177hp Cummins engine. It’s noisy, grunty and has obviously done its job, propelling the Crop Cruiser for 20 years (without being rebuilt), but unfortunately it does struggle on the hills and was a big reason why the McInnes family opted to upgrade. The noise inside the cabin will also get to you, hence why the owner David has a pair of earmuffs permanently sitting on the control panel!

The Crop Cruiser also offers a 30-metre boom, nine-section control, a 4,000-litre tank, three-metre wheel spacings and a four-speed Allison automatic transmission. For its time, this would have been a serious bit of gear. To cover not only the number of hours that it has but the countless thousands of hectares is a triumph of engineering in itself.

On the other hand, the Patriot, purchased from O’Connors Horsham, offers an 8.7-litre six-cylinder Case IH FPT engine boasting 335hp, which boosts to 374hp, and a top speed of 48km/h.

The Crop Cruiser with its boom out
The Crop Cruiser has a 30m boom

The engine rumble when standing outside of the cabin is quite considerable, but the perks of its modern surveyor cab (which we’ll touch on later) virtually remove all engine noise, while the added ponies make mincemeat of the hills.

The Patriot is also hauling a 6,000-litre tank and a 36m boom with a 380/90R46 Michelin tyre offering, and three-metre wheel spacings that can be hydraulically adjusted on the move to four-metres for stability on the hills. (Another reason for the upgrade)

Nozzle spacings are 50.8cm, while the boom adjustment height ranges between 61-213cm with auto boom ground contour following and 36-section control.

One point to Case IH Patriot.

The Patriot 4430 with its boom extended
The Case IH Patriot 4430 has a 36m boom

 

TRANSMISSION

Simplicity is key when it comes to the Crop Cruiser. Its four-speed Allison transmission makes driving as simple as an automatic car, and this simplicity and durability is why Goldacres continue to use Allison transmissions today in its current self-propelled line-up.

Simply select drive (D) on the T-Bar and put your foot to floor and this old girl will tug along nicely. Gears do tend clunk and there is no P (park) which would have been a handy addition, but considering the age of the Crop Cruiser this is quite a minor peeve. It is very simple for a novice to hop in and drive, so we’ll turn a blind eye to this.

The Patriot, however, features a modern hydrostatic transmission that tends to be seen in most self-propelled sprayers, combine and forage harvesters.

Simply push forward on the hydrostatic control lever to move forward and pull that lever back and the Patriot will slow down and come to a halt. While extremely easy to use, braking does feel unnatural compared with the Crop Cruiser and gauging the feel of how fast it will slow down or speed up does take a little to get used to.

Like a car, the brake pedal is used to slow down in the Crop Cruiser. Tugging back on the hydrostatic control lever with a dab of brakes is the best option in the Patriot, however (for Australians), this does tend to lead to an uncomfortable, bunny-hopping stop. Again, nit-picking (not from the kiwis).

Farms & Farm Machinery (Harry) preferred the simplicity of the Crop Cruiser. Perhaps it’s due to the foreign feel of the hydrostatic transmission found in the Patriot, which FarmTrader (Jaiden) felt more at home with.

We’ll give the Goldacres Crop Cruiser the point (just).

The Hydrostatic control lever on the Patriot 4430
The Hydrostatic control lever on the Patriot 4430

 

IN THE CAB

The cab comparison is unfortunately where the old girl comes unstuck. It’s hard to turn away the large spacious surveyor cab of the Patriot. You could take or leave the red interior, but that leather heated seat is something else.

Ergonomically designed, with all controls and instruments positioned conveniently to the operator’s right-hand side, the Patriot 4430’s cab is a step above. While pretty much every manufacturer we can think of has its control panel within a right hand’s reach, in the Patriot it certainly doesn’t feel as though Case has just slapped a handful of buttons or switches on a small armrest.

The 40-degree right-hand swivel seat gives the operator a 180-degree full field of vision, while the Patriot 4430’s buddy seat can be folded to provide a convenient workstation with cup holders.

A pressurised cab to keep the inside air fresh from nasty chemicals is a big plus; and automatic temperature control and sunshades to keep one cool and comfortable, and an adjustable air-ride seat are modern luxuries many farmers wouldn’t even have in their car. But certainly for all-day work, you’d happily take them.

The interior of the Patriot 4430
the large spacious surveyor cab of the Patriot

We’re not sure what the Crop Cruiser was like 20 years ago, but we expect its cabin would have been pretty lush. Today, however, it’s definitely looking a bit rough, resembling a machine that has done every bit of 20,000 hours.

But that aside it wasn’t too bad, nor was it terribly uncomfortable.

The control panel on the right-hand side was surprisingly well laid out, with its boom control and light switches, but that’s about it.

In terms of luxury, it does offer air-con (not sure if it works), and a dying air seat. The air-bag suspension on the chassis of the Crop Cruiser did give a smooth ride, though it could be argued if the Case’s standard of seat was in the old girl it may have been a closer battle.

It’s fair to say the Patriot gets the points here. 

The rugged interior of the Crop Cruiser
The cabin of the Crop Cruiser

 

TECHNOLOGY

There is plenty of built-in tech in the Patriot. The AFS Pro 700 monitor puts total control at the user’s fingertips. The single-screen display allows operators to monitor and control guidance functions and application rates as well as track ground speed, acres covered and other variables. The beauty of the AFS Pro is the number of machine functions for one screen rather than the entire right-hand window being cluttered with control monitors.

A downfall, however, is that it takes about 40 seconds to boot up, slowing down the process of putting the booms out etc. (Stop your sooking.) And secondly, it does require multiple menus and sub menus to get through the information. The convenience of the one screen does trump these gripes, however.

For farmers who prefer a different monitor system, Case does offer the Viper 4+ system from Raven Precision. The optional Viper 4+ system provides total application control all on a 12.1-inch screen.

Meanwhile, sprayer control switches are ergonomically placed and attached directly to the operator’s seat. Auto-guidance is easily engaged from the multi-control handle and will engage from well over a metre shy of the A-B line.

The Crop Cruiser, on the other hand, while basic inside, is operating a Trimble system that David says does the job. With seven pushes of the green arrow it is spraying.

While the Patriot’s tech is definitely faster and smarter, we’re going to give half a point to both machines purely to turn this comparison up a notch.

 


OLD vs. NEW

By this time, we were both champing at the bit for a bit of a cross-Tasman competition. So with the points so close, we thought: "Why don’t we test the machines out with a bit of action?" Not a competition as to which can drive the fastest, because the Patriot would whip the old girl, or which could blow more smoke, because the Crop Cruiser would literally smoke the Patriot.

We decided on a circuit race. The first to unfold their boom, take off down to the end of the paddock, turn and return, then fold the booms back in would win the final points.

Jaiden in the Patriot, Harry in the Crop Cruiser – there could be only one winner.

The Patriot won by about a minute, a buzzkill for all the oldies out there barracking for the Crop Cruiser, but unfortunately that extra 150hp was no match for the 20-year-old. Nonetheless it was a fantastic bit off fun.

 

THE BOTTOM LINE

Deep down somewhere, we secretly wanted the old girl to win, but if we’re honest, we always knew that new Case IH Patriot 4430 with its big 8.7L FPT engine and its wonderfully laid-out cab would be hard to beat.

While your old man may have a point when it comes to the longevity of these machines, a point we won’t be able to confirm for another 20 years, it’s really hard to turn your back on modern machinery.

A machine like the Patriot 4430 doesn’t take any less skill to operate, but it excels where it matters most: comfort, efficiency and output.

This wasn’t a contest between Goldacres or Case IH; it was a contest between old and new.

We take our hat off to the people at Goldacres and their old Crop Cruiser, it is one hell of a machine and revolutionary for its time, but kudos to the Case IH Patriot, the young pup come out on top this time.

Australia vs. New Zealand
Australia vs. New Zealand


Hits

  • Comfort and throughput of the Patriot
  • Level of technology to make life easy in the Patriot was staggering
  • Number of section controls, boom width and tank capacity were the major difference between the two machines
  • Hydrostatic, one-range transmission (with sensitivity dial) was a big advantage in the Case IH
  • The simplicity of the Crop Cruiser – period
  • The Crop Cruiser was much quieter outside while the Case was much quieter inside – we will let you decide the winner there
  • Both have chemical induction, fresh water and hand wash tanks which work very effectively
  • The folding of the booms was simpler (engineering-wise) on the crop cruiser although the functionality and technology on the Patriot (which includes pulse induction nozzles) is very impressive

Misses

  • Cabin noise and comfort for long days in the field left a little to be desired in the Crop Cruiser
  • Due to the hydraulically activated almost everything, the throttle on the Patriot almost had to be right open, meaning it was very noisy outside 
  • Setting up to spray and activating the GPS in the crop cruiser was very straightforward (although a little crude), while this required significantly more explaining in the Patriot. To be fair, you could do more with the Patriot, so you would expect a level of complexity. If they both had a switch under a red cover to start spraying like a seat ejection switch on the movies would be even better, we both agreed.

 

Case IH Patriot 4430 Specs
Engine  Case IH FPT 8.7L (531cu-in.) inline six-cylinder, 335 rated hp (250kW), 374 peak hp (279kW)
Drive  Hydrostatic with full-time four-wheel drive. Infinitely variable speed control returns wheel motor swash plates to maximum angle each time the hydro lever is returned to neutral
Travel Speed  48km/h
Dry Weight  12,428kg (27,400lbs.) (27/30m boom); 13,109kg (28,900lbs.) (36m boom)
Overall Width  Wheels retracted 3.5m (11ft. 6in.); Wheels extended 4.5m (14 ft. 7 in.)
Tyre Size  Available with 380/90R46, 480/80R42, 620/70R38 and 650/65R38.
Ground Clearence  135cm
Turning Radius   7.5m (24ft. 9 in.) from centre line of rear axle
Boom Length   Offered in – 18.3/30.5m (60/100ft.), or 18.3/27.4/36.5m (60/90/120ft.) self-centering
Boom Adjustment Height   61-213cm (24-84in.)
Full Boom Breakaway   30 degrees
Suspension   Four-wheel independent trailing-link with spring and shock standard; active suspension
Steering  Hydraulic power steering with master / slave re-phasing cylinders
Fuel tank   454L
Rinse Tank   530L

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