profi Tractor Test: Mid-Range Muscle (2008)

01:28PM Aug 25, 2008
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New Holland's TS135A is a powerful performer


Packing power into a smaller frame, the 115 PTO hp New Holland TS135A weighs less than 6 tons but provides functional muscle and maneuverability. This mid-sized tractor exemplifies the industry shift to use electronics to extract big power from smaller tractors.

Beneath the hood of the TS135A, a 6.7-liter CNH engine is fueled by common-rail injection. During the test, the tractor recorded 117 PTO hp without boost and 144 PTO hp with boost at rated speed. Maximum outputs also jumped higher at 130 PTO hp without boost and 154 PTO hp with boost.

Even with these high-power outputs, the TS135A doesn't guzzle diesel. With the power boost, the tractor used as little as 0.431 lb./hp/hr at rated speed and 0.388 lb./hp/hr at maximum output. Although, when working at full load and using all of the its reserves, the tractor consumed almost 8 gal./hr. The test team was concerned that the 58-gal. fuel tank capacity wouldn't last long enough in the field. However, the original fuel tank, as it was outfitted on the test tractor, was upped to 68 gal. before the tractor was sold in the U.S.

The TS-A Series of New Holland tractors feature transmissions with left-hand shuttle levers, and creeper speeds are available. Although the featured electronic speed management system is an operational advantage, it definitely has some drawbacks. The tractor needs to be revved up to 1,000 rpm before the operator can program any settings. The transmission tested had 17F/16R speeds, and only seven of the tractor's 17 gears were within the main working range of 2.5 mph to 7.5 mph. However, in U.S. versions of this model, the 16F/16R transmission features nine gears within the main working range. The transmission with 17F/16R speeds is now available in the T6000 Series.

When travelling in the eight auto transport speeds, the semi-powershift operated smoothly, even though there is the unavoidable drive drop between the 12th and 13th gears. As for the suspension, a smooth and comfortable ride can be attributed to the combination of front axle and cab springs. Turning to the rear axle, the PTO offers 540 rpm or 1,000 rpm.

The profi test team recorded a hefty lift of 12,544 lb. The slight concern with the hitch lift is that the peak occurs in the middle of the range, and then dips at the top end. This is where lift requirement is at its highest, depending on the type of application.

This segment of tractors is known for high specification levels, and the TS135A doesn't disappoint. With a two-pump hydraulic system, it delivers the more than sufficient hydraulic flow of 26.5 gal./min and an output of 42 hp. Total tractor flow is recorded at 37 gal./min. The test tractor featured electronic hydraulic outlets, complete with the ability to set flow timing but not rate. This was changed before the models came to market in the U.S., enabling operators to change flow as they set the time.

New Holland's headland management system allows for push-button control; when approaching a turn, the tractor throttles back, downshifts and raises the implement. After the turn is complete, the same button reactivates the settings to re-enter the row.

As alluded to earlier, the TS135A is a maneuverable machine for the horsepower it offers. Proving its tight-turning abilities, the tractor completed its circle in 37.4' with the front-wheel drive engaged and the track set to 5.97'.

In the cab, many improvements have been made from the previous TS models. The re-engineered platform is built on four main pillars, and the positive result is excellent access and visibility. The noise level in the cab reached a moderate level at 74.4 dB(A), but once at 2,000 rpm a faulty suspension bearing caused the readings to increase. New Holland has addressed that issue since the profi test. (Due to a difference in roof insulation, it's worth mentioning that the sound level reading from the Nebraska Tractor Test Lab report was 73 dB(A) with the front-wheel drive engaged.)

Although the controls are right at hand along the instrument panel, more improvements could have been made to the console to have the controls better lit and distinguishable. While driving, it may be difficult to change a ventilation or air-conditioning control because they are placed behind the driver's left shoulder.

The one-piece hood design allows for easy maintenance, and on the inside there is clear access to important components. The regular service intervals stretch to 600 hours for 4 gal. of engine oil and 1,200 hours for 17 gal. of transmission and hydraulic oil.

All in all, the New Holland TS135A is a mid-sized workhorse with the engine performance, fuel economy, gearshift control and hydraulic output that will accomplish a variety of jobs.

In 2007, New Holland replaced the TS-A tractor lineup with the T6000 Series. Powered by Tier 3 CNH turbo- charged four- or six-cylinder engines, the series ranges from 80 PTO hp to 135 PTO hp and includes a choice of three specification levels.