Sport is an important part of the curriculum at St John's School, Leatherhead in Surrey, and playing surfaces of a high standard are expected.
The 52 acre grounds, over two sites, are home to nine rugby pitches, which double up for football in the spring term, four cricket squares and an astro turf hockey pitch. They are cared for by a team of four groundsmen, headed up by Neil Pudney, who has been at the school for 13 years.
Two TYM tractors, a T431 and 43hp T433, make up a vital part of the armoury, and are generally split between the two sites, although Neil says: "We may use the two machines together for the best output when mowing and spiking or harrowing and spiking in busy periods."
"As the school's sporting schedule is so busy, any pitch maintenance work has to be accomplished in a tight time window, so we need efficient, reliable machinery," he adds.
Neil first came across the tractors when a fellow groundsman recommended them, and comments: "I actually thought they sounded too good to be true, so I had a look on the TYM stand at Saltex. The value for money and level of specification amazed me - I had a quote for a similar tractor from another manufacturer, and they couldn't get anywhere near the price."
The T431 was purchased some eight years ago, and along with its newer sibling handles a range of implements. Outfields are cut with hydraulic gang mowers, and a high speed linear aerator is used for pitch renovations. A rear mounted topper was also purchased from TYM, and is ideal for cutting the rugby pitches in wet conditions, when the heavy hydraulic gangs would sink in.
A loader is fitted to the T431 to move fertiliser and other materials around the site, and a front linkage allows a snowplough to be used with the T433.
"Although the day it arrived, the snow melted," laughs Neil. "These tractors are the ideal size, weight and power for this job, and have lots of good features."
Neil comments that the generous 1300kg lift capacity of the T433 is perfect for hefty pitch maintenance equipment.
"It has the best end of link arm lift capacity in its class," he explains. "The aerator we use weighs one tonne and the tractor handles it with ease. The transmission is also extremely useful for the aerator which is a high speed model - I simply adjust the pto speed and then set the ratios on the gearbox to get the ideal forward speed. There are four ratios giving lots of options for different jobs and it is extremely versatile."
He also praises the pto control system, which automatically disengages the power take-off when the linkage lifts the implement out of the ground and re-engages it when it is lowered again at the start of the next run.
"It is great for pitch work - one less button to press as you turn, although it can also be set to manual if required."
Making life easier and boosting productivity on turns or when shuttling backwards and forward with a loader, the left hand lever operated shuttle selects forward, neutral and reverse and leaves the right hand free to operate other controls. "This simplifies the operation considerably - it is just so user-friendly." Neil says.
Both tractors are fitted with generous all weather cabs, complete with heating and air conditioning.
"There is also a radio which is much appreciated by the operators, and I would rather they listen to that than have IPod headphones on - it is a lot safer," he comments.
Servicing is carried out by dealer Surrey Power, but Neil comments that the tractors have proved highly reliable and have spent little time in the workshop.
Surrey Power also offered a good range of tyre options, with Neil selecting good quality turf tyres to ensure that the tractors can get on the pitches through the soft ground conditions of a British winter.
"We have to be able to use the tractors in all conditions due to our workload, so getting the tyres right was important," he explains.
A planned replacement policy is being put together for the school's grounds equipment , but Neil comments that compared to the farming tractors which are his background, the TYM models do relatively few hours and should last a long time.
"I would recommend these tractors to anyone - value is important but they have to be able to do the job. If we had more land I would have more of them!"
TYM Tractors UK, 9b Weydown Road Ind. Est., Haslemere, Surrey GU27 1DW UK
Tel: +44 (0)845 838 883 - Fax: +44 (0)845 838 8847 - www.tymtractors.co.uk