For those seeking cost-effective draft power, a used Case IH Quadtrac could represent good value for money. Geoff Ashcroft reports.
A used Case IH Quadtrac, such as this 12-year-old STX450, offers power on a budget.
Despite a 20-year history in the UK, most early Quadtracs will have been exported to keep a more youthful park of machines in dealerships. And buying a five- or six-year-old model still represents a chunk of money to shell out on a second-hand purchase. However, for the canny buyer, such a machine could give access to some cost-effective power.
The Quadtrac has changed little over the years. Early STX models from 2000 with EU Stage 2 Cummins power included 375, 440 and 500 models.
Cast idlers, cast drive wheels and 24 volt starting marked out the model changes for 2006, along with an STX530 model, and these are perhaps the oldest you will find lurking about in dealerships.
By 2008, model numbers ended in a ‘5’ and FPT Cursor engines appeared in all but the Cummins powered 535, making it easier for Case IH dealers to overhaul and repair its in-house power units. STX decals were also dropped from FPT-engined units.
By 2011, FPT engines meeting EU Stage 3b emissions requiring diesel exhaust fluid could be found from 400 to 600 models, with 2014 leading into Stage 4 compliance.
Case IH dealers should be able to run a serial number check for background information.
To run us through what to look for in a used Quadtrac, we got a few pointers from Paul Robinson, workshop foreman at Collings Brothers of Abbotsley, Cambridge, using a 12-year-old STX450 as an example.
While the Quadtrac’s axles are generally robust, its running gear is known to exhibit a few wear characteristics. Most notable is idler and roller issues.
Transparent caps are a popular upgrade so you can monitor the oil level in each hub. When hub seals fail, dust and soil can make it difficult to identify, so be prepared to take a thorough look and run your fingers round the hubs looking for leaks. If left unnoticed, bearings will fail and repair costs will escalate.
Rubber-coated idlers can stand a bit of wear, but chunks of rubber missing from the idlers is bad news. However, they can be re-rubbered.
Inside edges of idlers can show some wear and as long as you cannot get your fingers under the rubber, extreme peeling, they should continue to give reasonable service.
Check for the use of Armorlug tracks, which can be found from 2008 onwards, offering greater durability than earlier track belts. Look at wear on the sides of the lugs to check each track is running straight and true.
Seek further advice if you have any serious concerns about the undercarriage, as this is the area which will hurt the most.
Mr Robinson says: “If you are looking at an older model and you can find one which has good tracks, or has recently had an engine or transmission overhaul, then you are on the way to limiting your risk.”
Cummins 14.9-litre, six-cylinder engines have often been considered bomb-proof, though they are not without problems. There have been some head gasket problems, says Mr Robinson.
“Keep an eye out for oil leaks, and make regular inspections to oil and coolant levels,” he says.
“It is a general point but any Cummins-powered tractor with more than 8,000 hours on its clock might need some engine work. And we cannot touch their engines – a full rebuild for the STX engine could cost you about £25,000 through a Cummins agent.”
Hoses can get brittle with age and turbos will whistle and whine heavily before they pop. Exhaust silencers might need patching at the base, where moisture can sit and corrosion can form.
The 16 by two powershift transmission is another area to watch. Telltale signs include filter warning lights, the feel of slippage when pulling hard or unusual noises.
“At the first sign of a filter light, there should be some investigation, and not a new filter and drive on,” he says.
“Depending on the level of wear or neglect, a transmission overhaul can be from £8,000-£22,000.”
Not all Quadtracs will have a three-point linkage and PTO; some are just self-propelled drawbars.
While the linkage is tough it can still wear, as can the drawbar which features replaceable wear plates.
Inspect the link ends and spool couplers – you will find four spools on most models, though there can be up to six.
Look for leaks and check for linkage drop when parked, as the control valve can wear internally. If the linkage drops overnight when parked, it can take hydraulic pipes with it, causing a breakage, and the only cure is a new control valve.
Be sure to check the pto shaft seals for signs of oil leakage.
You can search hundreds of tractors, trailers, sprayers, balers, combines and many other types of machinery from independent dealers and private sellers.
Find new and used farm machinery for sale.