By Oscar H. Will
Announced in late 1976 at the Arie Crown Theater in Chicago's McCormick Place, Harvester's new tractor lineup focused principally on power and comfort. This so-called Pro-Ag line (due to a computer-based tool for farmers to use in managing equipment needs) was given the number 86 as an identifier. The number 86 also came with some new styling, a relocated operator's station and a cab that was not to be referred to as a cab - it was to be called the "Control Center." The 86 series represented a new era for tractor farming - operator comfort was placed on the front burner to aid professional farmers with squeezing as much productivity out of their equipment as was humanly possible.
According to Ralph Baumheckel, the 86 series operator station was moved forward by about a foot and a half. This setup offered the farmer a smoother ride and made it easy to include an integrated 4-post ROPS and even a fresh new cab (operator enclosure in some marketing pieces) into the mix. On the larger models, the mid mounted "Control Center" was part of the package. This cab offered more glass, a mild curve in the windshield, doors on either side, heavy insulation and effectively grouped and located controls in a package that came pretty close to automotive quality fit and finish. The "Control Center" came standard with heat and air conditioning and it could be loaded up with additional comfort options as desired. With the addition of hydraulically controlled clutch and brakes, the "Control Center" was less noisy, less dusty and easier to heat and cool - the pedals were integral to the steering pedestal. Gone were the slots, holes and cracked rubber boots that allowed mechanical linkages to pass through the floor and or firewall.
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