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CASE STUDY : Mark Petty - Hayes, Bedfordshire



CASE STUDY - Lime spreading contractor : Mark Petty – Hayes, Bedfordshire

Mark Petty
Mark Petty

Faced with a 40-odd mile commute to his farthest regular customer, Lime Spreading contractor Mark Petty needed a tractor and loader combination that was well at home on the road.

For years, he had towed his KRM Bredal spreader with Massey Ferguson tractors, including a 7618 and 7718 sporting an MF-branded Quicke loader.

That came in the form of a 220hp JCB Fastrac 4220, which, with its all-round axle suspension and disc brakes, offers a rattle-free ride and a top speed of 63kph. With the help of his friend, James Baker, Fastrac specialist at Oliver Land Power, he set about finding a suitable loader to fit this sizeable tractor.However, with a legal top speed of 40kph and some less-than-plush mechanical cab suspension, he decided to go in search of something smoother.


Les chargeuses Fastrac et MX T418 de Mark PettyMark Petty’s Fastrac and MX T418 loader


Although he’d had a Massey Ferguson-branded Quicke loader before, Mr Petty wasn’t that impressed with its performance and fancied trying something else.

In the end, he turned to French brand MX and opted for the largest loader it currently offers in the UK – the T418. This is designed for tractors from 150hp to 300hp and will lift about 3t, dropping to 2.6t at full height. It also has a fairly impressive 4.6m maximum lift height.

All this meant it would make the most of the Fastrac’s size, power and weight.


In the cab, Mr Petty opted for the top-spec ePilot electronic joystick, which has the option of configuring buttons to carry out different functions. It also offers fancy features such as an auto-levelling, automatic bucket shake and hydraulic locking pins.

Future updates mean it could be used to control some of the tractor’s functions too.

From the start, Mr Petty decided to order the loader with a Euro carriage so it would work with his existing range of attachments. These include a bucket made by a local firm, a bale spike and a snow plough.

Following the advice of Mr Baker, he also added a 900kg weight on the Fastrac’s rear mounting point. This helps counterbalance the heavy loader up front and makes the outfit more stable.

To give it optimum hydraulic oomph, the loader was plumbed into the tractor’s load-sensing hydraulics. This means there is no interruption to the hydraulic flow and it leaves the tractor’s four rear spools untouched. It also negates the need to fit additional mid-mount spools.

The pair’s only real criticism of the MX kit is that the bracket arrangement provided to attach the joystick to the armrest is a little clumsy.

How has it fitted in?

According to Mr Petty, the Fastrac and T418 loader combination is surprisingly nimble. This is helped by the fact that the tractor is four-wheel steer and has a CVT transmission, which makes it easy to inch up to loads accurately.

As a result, Mr Petty can run a pretty efficient operation, by towing his KRM Bredal spreader to the field with the Fastrac and loading himself.

Even though the tractor’s hitch is hidden from view, he can hook to the spreader in about two minutes – a task that’s helped by the fact he has a camera trained on the pickup hitch.

Depending on the product he is spreading and the application rate, the spreader takes 10-20 minutes to empty. That means there is plenty of unhitching and hitching to be done during the day.

“It took a bit of getting used to, but by the end of the first day I was fine with it,” says Mr Petty. “I tend to use the top link as a guide to get me somewhere near and then I switch to the camera.”

Due to the loader’s lift capacity and height, he can fill the spreader in a matter of minutes. The auto-levelling feature has also helped increase his productivity. “I’ve set it so that the toe is ever so slightly off the ground,” he says. “ That means I can drop the heel on the deck and I know I won’t be scooping up any soil.”

For larger jobs, he does draft in a friend with a telehandler to help him load. However, because the loader rides so smoothly on its suspension, he doesn’t bother removing it.

So far, it’s only been taken off for a trial run, which took a couple of minutes.  This involves attaching the stands, undoing the latches either side and removing the single hydraulic and electrical connector block. The driver can then hop back in the cab and reverse away from the loader.