I couldn’t dream of a better situation for a perfect test than a 70-acre farm with everything from well-managed turf to overgrown brush. Dave Steiner of Mast-Lepley provided me with the new Steiner 430 Max articulating tractor. When I say new, I mean brand new, and so were the following attachments: the rough cut mower, core aerator, tiller, stump cutter and the side-discharge finishing mower.
The Steiner 430 Max features full-time, four-wheel drive with a low and high side to move, operate and dominate any terrain. The tractor articulates right in front of the operator with the aide of power steering, providing a tight turning radius with great visibility going forward or in reverse. The drive system is a hand-controlled hydrostatic lever that powers two peerless transaxles. This unit was driven by a 30 hp Kohler gas engine that effortlessly powered every attachment I hooked to it. All operator controls and gauges were well placed on the unit, allowing the operator to use them while safely controlling the tractor. At low or high travel speeds, the ride is very comfortable through the use of the 20 x 10-8 tires, which act as shock absorbers, and a flexible frame that will always keep you in traction. Depending on which attachment you are using, the provided weight kit keeps the operator in control on slopes.
The best feature of the Steiner 430 Max tractor is the Quick Hitch System. It is actually quick and easy to use for only one person. Drive the tractor forward into the attachment of your choice by lining up the hitch arms into the attachments arm pins. With one hand or foot, push down on the lever and it locks the attachment into place. Then, on the front of the unit, push in the pulley and slide the drive belt on, and you’re ready to go. The Quick Hitch System also includes an auxiliary hydraulic quick coupler. This system allows the operator to lift each attachment for transport and lower it for use.
|Photos courtesy of Steiner.|
|The Quick Hitch System allows the operator to easily hook on to any attachment.||The Steiner 430 Max with mower attachment.|
After a couple of hours playing with the tractor, I decided to see how the mower deck cuts through overgrown wet turf. I hooked up to the 60-inch, side-discharge, front-mounted finishing deck. The deck floats via the front caster wheels, and the roller attached to the rear of the deck helps lay down a prominent stripe. The deck provides a nice cut, even with the turf being wet. The deck didn’t clog or accumulate clippings on the underside. The best attribute is the tilt-up deck feature.
The next toy I attached to the front of the 430 Max was the core aerator. You just put the aerator in the float position and go forward as fast as you can, which I must say is the fastest I ever went while pulling good plugs. When you want to turn, lift the aerator up via the control lever, make your turn and put the lever back into the float position.
After tearing up all of the turf I own, it was time to do some brush hogging with the 66-inch, rough cut mower. This was extremely heavy and made operating the tractor on hills a little tricky. I used all the weights provided on the 430 Max tractor to counterbalance the weight of the rough cut mower. The rough cut did an OK job on tall vegetation, but it did bog down quite often. I think this was due to the safety design, which has a limited discharge opening.
The 16-inch stump cutter was powerful and easy to use. Since the unit articulates in the middle, it ends up operating the cutter head like a full-size stump grinder. As you make each pass, lower the head a few inches each time until the stump no longer exists. This attachment ended up being my favorite to use because it outperforms itself in size and ease of use. In addition, while operating the cutter you are shielded by the 430 Max tractor, making it one of the safest grinders I have ever used.
At first glance, the tiller looks like it belongs on the back of a three-point-hitch tractor. It is big, heavy and supposedly only goes 6 inches deep, which I think is an understatement. This tiller will dig and turn over just about any soil you have. The major drawback is you have to operate the tractor in reverse while the tiller is in motion. Ground speed needs to be really slow so you don’t tear belts, which was the only problem I had with the tiller.
I would like to thank everyone involved in this field test especially Tim Jordan from Mast-Lepley. He made himself more than available to answer all my questions.
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