A Kubota RTV900 four-wheel drive all-terrain utility vehicle is proving a valuable workhorse on the 14,500 Ceannacroc Estates, mainly mountain land to the west of Fort Augustus, in the Scottish Highlands.
A replacement for a quad bike, the RTV900 was chosen because of its rugged build, powerful diesel engine, high capacity cargo box and comfortable cab.A replacement for a quad bike, the RTV900 was chosen because of its rugged build, powerful diesel engine, high capacity cargo box and comfortable cab.
The estate's proprietor Martin Girvan said: "It's a hard working vehicle that is highly reliable and very good on fuel consumption – it runs on virtually nothing with many miles covered before refuelling. We have come to depend on the Kubota for general work on the estate and it's out in all winds and weathers. It's far better than the quad bike as it has a comfortable cab which can hold two people. It's always busy doing something and has become a vital part of our operations."
The vehicle has already demonstrated that it is ideal for the most demanding of applications, all year round.
With around 1,000 deer on the estate the Kubota retrieves culled animals, working as far away as seven miles from the estate's offices. They are lifted into the vehicle's hydraulically-tipped rear cargo box by a car engine crane that has been fixed to the back of the vehicle. The cargo area has a load capacity of 500kg (1,100lbs).
The RTV900 is used to tow a feed unit which automatically releases the deer's diet of processed nuts and other food when coupled to the vehicle's hydraulics. The unit is also used to feed sheep. Other regular work includes bringing in wood and fetching and carrying items of machinery and pieces of equipment around the estate.
It has worked at heights of up to 3,000 ft with no problems in traversing the estate's tough terrain, which ranges from shale and rock to boggy peat. "It's just amazing how easy the vehicle gets across the most difficult ground with no trouble," said Mr Girvan.
Despite primarily working off-road, Ceannacroc Estates chose the Street Legal model as there are several miles of public roads on the estate. Where required four-wheel drive can be de-selected for reduced tyre wear and enhanced fuel consumption when driven on firm surfaces. It was supplied by Kubota main dealer Yarwoods, of Inverness.
Designed and built on tractor technology, the RTV900 is an extremely rugged machine that has set a new standard in all-terrain utility vehicles. It features a unique transmission system, advanced automotive type suspension, power steering and the highest ground clearance in its class, ideal for work on mountain land.
To give their vehicle even greater ground clearance, Ceannacroc Estates have fitted 27 inch diameter wheels, which are taller and wider than those supplied as standard with the machine. They have also fitted gun racks, for the secure carriage of weapons, to the vehicle's exterior, plus additional lights on top of the cab to give extra visibility in poor weather conditions.
Powered by a Kubota 22hp three cylinder water-cooled diesel engine, easily accessible for servicing, the RTV900 is equipped with a unique three-range variable hydrostatic transmission system (VHT). The system is actuated by a single foot pedal that gives infinitely variable forward and reverse travel up to a maximum speed of 25mph.
In action, VHT delivers rapid acceleration, excellent traction across all surfaces and impressive hill climbing ability thanks to the use of an additional hydrostatic assist motor that 'kicks in' when climbing a slope, instantly delivering more torque to the drive wheels. The VHT system also provides dynamic braking for safe, controlled hill starts and descents without having to rely solely on the vehicle's brakes.
Complementing the RTV900's hill climbing and traction abilities is an automotive style suspension system. The result is a smooth, shock-free ride, with outstanding stability and traction, and class-leading load carrying ability with minimal body tilt across the most challenging ground, such as that found in the Scottish Highlands.