Farm Classics with Peter O'Brien
In the late 80s, Massey Ferguson was enjoying the success of its newly-launched 3000 series tractors which brought high specification and cutting edge technology to drivers’ fingertips.
However, a new range of tractors was needed to replace the ageing 200 series – a basic workhorse tractor that could be set to a wide variety of tasks. Marketed as a global tractor, the 300 series was unveiled in 1989 and sold in almost 140 countries.
While the 390 uses the 80hp Perkins A4.248 engines, the 390T is powered by the AT4.236 model. A smooth running and peppy turbocharged powerplant generating a useful 90hp, giving the 390T the upper hand when stacked against its stablemate.
Tipping the scales at just under 3.5t, and with a lift capacity of 3t, the 390T offers an excellent power to weight ratio. A new feature of the 300 series was the automatic engaging of the four-wheel drive when braking or when the handbrake was applied.
A number of gearbox options were available, such as the Synchro 12 speed inherited from the 600 series tractors and the new, and popular, 12X12 SideShift shuttle gearbox.
A floor-mounted gear lever provides four gears in H pattern format, while pushing the stick through the gate fully the right-then up or down- selects the high, medium and low ranges, which are identified on the dashboard.
A chunky mechanical shuttle is conveniently located on the on the right of the dash.
This transmission proved very popular and received a further update with the addition of a button operated splitter on the gearstick and next to the lift controls – known as the SpeedShift transmission providing 18X6 gears.
Furthermore, both gearboxes could also be specified with a 40km road speed.
Two cab options were available fitted to the 390T – the flat floored HiLine cab and the low profile LoLine cab-ideally suited for entry to low roofed farm buildings.
The all new design was a vast improvement on its predecessor, with all new ventilation, dash, and hydraulic controls.
Forward visibility is excellent thanks to a front window free of any support as well as the doors, however the operator sits low between the mudguards, hindering side and rear views
The 390T proved to be an outstanding seller for Massey Ferguson, proved by its production run of over ten years in total.
Longevity, reliability and simplicity summarise this workhorse and countless numbers of these tractors are still actively working on farms all over Ireland.
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Massey Ferguson 390T
Years of manufacture