Video: Catching up with Ireland’s best-known ‘Fastrac’ specialist

AgriLand paid a visit to Kilmainhamwood – near Kells, Co. Meath – to meet Ireland’s best-known (independent) JCB Fastrac specialist.

John W Anderson spoke to Robert Russell – from Russell Fastraxx – to get an insight into these innovative tractors and to find out how Irish-owned examples are faring around the country.

Robert explained: “I served my time as an agricultural mechanic and worked initially with Massey Ferguson and other brands alongside.

“My first introduction to a Fastrac was at McAuley Feeds. They ran one for six years – a 3155 model. It clocked up 13,500 hours in that time.”

He joked: “I fell in love with them. I got some sort of addiction or disease!”

He continued: “We started off doing a lot of repairs – probably ones that main dealers hadn’t seen at that stage. Then I got offered more transmission and clutch repairs. Just over time, I built up a huge knowledge on them.

“Some of the early Fastracs – the 145 in particular – were probably not the most reliable machines. Most of those that came to me arrived on a low-loader – usually with a pallet or a box of pieces with them.

We put those gearboxes back together and I learned all the nuts and bolts of the early models. I took that knowledge with me on to the later models –  the 3185, 3155 and then the 3190, 3220 and 3230.

“There are lots of them out there – reliable, hard-working machines. There are examples with 10,000+ hours – still earning their keep.

“The 2170 is starting to shine through with its 4WS [four-wheel-steer]. It made up for the lack of horsepower of the 2135, which was a good tractor but not really capable on the road when pulling a large load.”

Robert noted: “In 2001, JCB introduced the Smoothshift transmission; that was a huge leap forward in the reliability of the tractors.

“They put in a wet clutch instead of the traditional dry unit; that made for massive improvements in both the operation and longevity of the clutches themselves.

We have lots of Smoothshift models with in excess of 15,000 hours – the 3185 in particular. We’re starting to see some of the 3220 and 3230 models edging towards those sort of hours also.

Robert then spoke about the newer 4000 Series machines, explaining how these units have evolved the Fastrac concept further. You’ll simply have to watch the video (above) to find out more.

He concluded by saying: “We’ve dealt with customers across the 32 counties over the last 19 years. Now my son is getting involved in the business.”

He reckons that the future for Fastracs is “very bright here in Ireland”.