For this, our annual Readers' Choice story, we analyzed your "request for more information" inquiries and found what piqued your interest. According to many of you, it was trucks, tractors, trucktors, all-terrain vehicles, maintenance products to keep all of the above running smoothly and new ideas for handling grain. Here's a look at last year's top products.

Take a bow. You proclaimed GM's long-awaited truck redesign a success in Farm Industry News long before "The Truck" TV ads began blaring the rebirth of the 1999 Chevy Silverado and before Motor Trend named it truck of the year. In last year's Mid-February issue, we offered a first look at the '99 Silverado and the GMC Sierra, and your mail-in inquiries judged the Sierra ahead of the Chevy by a mere two votes, giving the edge to the Sierra as top product of the year.GMC cites 43 specific improvements in the Sierra: more standard engine horsepower, higher and more consistent torque, an all-new frame with longer wheelbase, standard 4-wheel disc brakes with larger brake pads, the first automatic 4-wd system, more suspension packages, greater forward illumination, more wheel lugs, wider and lower cab entrance, better seats in front and especially in the rear, improved instrumentation and climate controls, wider all-around visibility and much more. Jim Kornas, GMC's brand manager for the Sierra, says "never before in 30 years has there been such a level of uniqueness and differentiation with the Sierra compared to the competition."

We experienced the new-and-improved features of the Sierra first-hand when we attended GMC's commercial truck media event and drove the all-new Sierra on and off road near the New Hampshire International Speedway. After a half-day of test driving both half- ton and three-quarter-ton Sierras, we were impressed with their engine horsepower, consistent torque rise, excellent braking and handling and a much improved interior, including a spacious and comfortable back seat. Firsthand judging, at our August truck rodeo test, further proved GM's new design. In a limited head-to-head test (the '99 Ford and GMC half-ton trucks were unavailable), Team FIN farmers picked the half-ton Silverado over the half-ton Dodge Ram. And when the story ran in October, the Chevy version of the GM redesign received the most inquiries for that issue.

Why? Farmers say GM engineers have put more muscle, comfort, handling and braking into a new design that will now surpass the latest from Ford and Chrysler. In its first real launch of a substantially new full-size truck since 1988, GM hopes the Chevy and GMC models will regain market share lost to rivals, especially because trucks comprise almost half of the world's total light-vehicle sales. For more information about the Sierra, see your GMC dealer; for information about the Silverado, see your Chevy dealer.

A real humdinger

Many of you anxious to try a new all-terrain utility vehicle were interested in the Cushman RangeCat manufactured by Textron. It is designed to transport personnel and cargo over rough terrain where conventional vehicles cannot go.

The eight-wheel RangeCat is available with or without tracks. It comes in three models, starting at $15,960. All models feature a welded-steel construction with rollover protection.

The RangeCat 775 features a 25-hp, air-cooled Kohler gas engine and skid-steer transmission. It can handle 1,175 lbs. of cargo and reach 15 mph.

The RangeCat 1100 uses a 46-hp, liquid-cooled Kubota turbo-diesel engine and joystick-controlled hydrostatic steering. Rated for a capacity of 1,500 lbs., the vehicle comes with high-flotation tires. Optional features include heavy-duty mud tracks, snow tracks and a hydraulic PTO.

The largest of the line, the RangeCat 1700, has a capacity of 2,300 lbs. It uses a 46-hp, liquid-cooled Kubota turbo-diesel engine and dual-lever-controlled steering. This model also has an optional PTO, mud tracks and snow tracks. Contact Textron Turf Care And Specialty Products, Dept. FIN, 1721 Packard Ave., Racine, WS 53403-2564, 414/637-6711.

Heavy hauler

Kimball Products has been swamped with calls about its new 2-wd and 4-wd haulers since a story about them ran in our May/June issue. But owner Ron Kimball believes it's a great problem to have. His 4-wd model features a 16-hp, ohv engine with automatic transmission, 12x25 flotation tires, hydraulic brakes and a 1/2-cu.-yd. dump box. It also includes a lockout hub on the front axle that allows you to change from 2-wd to 4-wd with the flip of a switch. This model retails for $8,400. Contact Kim-ball Products, Dept. FIN, Box 792, Benton Harbor, MI 49023, 800/358-4586.

Tractor central

You liked the looks of Case's new MX-series Magnum tractors featured in our September issue. The technologically advanced, yet user-friendly tractors garnered a lot of information requests.

The series boasts the first row-crop tractor, the MX270, to reach 235-hp PTO, according to Case. Four other models are included in the MX line, starting at 145 hp.

A farmer can monitor and control the tractor and new Case implements from a touch-screen display in the cab. This technology networks with different electronic implements, namely Case IH's new 1200 series ASM planter. According to the company, the ability to centralize controls should lead to more efficient planting, seeding or tilling.

The new tractor line also features an 18-speed power-shift transmission, a 160-gal. fuel capacity and a 17.4-ft. turning radius with 14.9R30 tires at 60-in. tread. A large, quiet cab, 16,000-lb. hitch lift capacity and 44-gpm hydraulic flow are other pluses of this new line.

Prices list from $86,200 to $140,150. Contact Case Corp., Dept. FIN, 700 State St., Racine WI 53404, 414/ 636-6011.

Push me, pull me

An upgraded version of a front-mount equipment tractor grabbed your attention when featured in our April issue. New Holland North America introduced its TV 140 bidirectional tractor, and you wanted to know more. It replaces the company's eight-year-old 9030.

One of the new tractor's biggest advantages is that it provides clear visibility when the loader is operated. The operator can swivel the console to work at the loader from the rear without peering over a hood. The loader raises 14 ft.

The TV 140 has a PTO and 3-pt. hitch at both ends. It boasts a large 456-cu.-in. Genesis turbo-diesel engine. Plus, New Holland redesigned the cab to be more like a conventional farm tractor cab. The cab is big and comfortable and includes an electronic dash.

Reports from New Holland say that sales of the 4-wd bidirectional tractor are strong. Dairy operations use the tractor for digging silage, and cattle operations want it for loading manure and grabbing large bales. The versatile tractor also is used to mow hay and swath grain. Because the bidirectional tractor is capable of handling a front and rear implement, you can attach two mowers and cut a 36-ft. swath of hay in a single pass. The tractor lists for about $76,500. Contact New Holland North America Inc., Dept. FIN, Box 1895, New Holland, PA 17557-0903, 717/355-1372.

Precision depth cultivator

A cultivator designed for precision ground depth control caught your attention in last February's issue. We reported that Team FIN farmers Jack and Gary Appleby bought the Quad 5 cultivator, manufactured by Wil-Rich, because they needed a unit that would fold down small enough to fit in their machine shed and that would do a lot of chiseling in cornstalks. They found this unit to move easily through corn and soybean fields with its narrow C-shanks to keep soil and residue flowing smoothly. Plus, a floating hitch helps the unit stay in the ground when traveling over hills.

Accurate depth control on the cultivator is maintained by locating the gauge wheel up front. Once the depth is set, each shank consistently maintains the ground depth. The Quad 5 measures 129 in. from front bar to back bar on the five-bar frame.

Since our report, the company has added an 11-ft. mainframe cultivator to its line, which includes 13- and 16-ft. mainframes. A five-bar, spike-tooth harrow also may be purchased to attach to the back of the cultivator.

Retail price of the 421/2-ft. Quad 5 cultivator is $26,065. The harrow is available for $5,422. The company just introduced a cultivator with a level hitch, which costs less than the floating hitch. Contact Wil-Rich, Div. of TIC United Corp., Dept. FIN, Box 1030, Wahpeton, ND 58074, 701/642-2621.

ATV fever

There's nothing like an ATV to get farmers' attention, and the new Traxtor is receiving its share. Canada's Bombardier introduced its prototype last March, and it's now putting the first models on the market.

Bombardier is the Quebec-based company that produces Ski-Doo snowmobiles and Sea-Doo personal watercraft. The Traxtor represents its first launch in the ATV market.

It's the first-ever step-through ATV, which helps riders who mount and dismount with a full load on back. It features a Rotax 500-cc, in-line-axial, four-stroke, single-cylinder engine. Two spark plugs improve low-rpm torque. According to the company, the Traxtor is built to handle heavy utility applications.

The five-speed transmission features shifting from the left-hand grip. An illuminated gear-indicator display in the instrument panel lets you know what gear you're selecting. Contact your Ski-Doo or Sea-Doo dealer, or Bombardier Recreational Products, Dept. FIN, 565 de la Montagne St., Valcourt, Quebec, Canada J0E 2L0, 450/532-2211.

Tractor-truck merger

The idea of merging the power of a tractor with the versatility of a truck appealed to farmers who read about the Ranchhand last summer. Developer Bryce Wiehl now has the first Ranchhand ready for market.

Priced at $125,000, the Ranchhand is designed to be used like a tractor. It has centerline steering, 540/1,000 PTO and drawbar operations. A 165-hp, 5.9-liter Cummins turbo-diesel engine powers the Ranchhand. The truck design includes a 48-mph ground speed, full suspension, flotation tires and automotive styling with items like an air-ride seat and air conditioning. It has a flatbed with hoist and a GVW rating of 22,000 lbs. Other features include a power outlet for a 25,000-watt generator, compressed air and water service.

Wiehl came up with the design based on his experiences farming and owning an implement dealership. Soon he hopes to offer a heavier commercial version of the Ranchhand. Contact Crystal Plains Mfg. Inc., Dept. FIN, Box 306, Phillipsburg, KS 67661, 785/543-2600.

Flexible rollermill

A versatile rollermill for beef and dairy operations hit a positive chord with readers. The CattleMaxx, offered by Art's-Way Manufacturing, provides either flat or sharp rolls in three different groove operations. Their flat-top groove design ensures proper grain crimping or cracking. The sharp groove design achieves desired micron particle size while increasing mill capacity. Both rolls are available with 5, 7 or 10 grooves. The heavy-duty rollermill comes in either 105- or 150-bu. capacity.

Other features of the CattleMaxx include magnets mounted in the hopper to cut down on damage from tramp metal and an unloading auger that swings 324 for easy positioning. Contact Art's-Way Mfg. Co., Dept. FIN, Box 288, Armstrong, IA 50514-0288, 712/864-3131.

Continuous conveyor

Readers tired of patched-together grain systems involving many motors, drives and augers liked the looks of Hutchinson's new 10-in.-dia. grain pump system. This unusual system requires only one or two motors - depending on size - to do all the loading and unloading. It is rated at a conservative 6,000 bu./hr."We came up with a unique design that allows systems to be put up in an efficient manner and to get away from complex systems that have become so typical in the on-farm and semi-commercial systems," reports Mark Green of Hutchinson.

The unique design involves a loop conveyor system with plastic paddles. The system is one continuous conveyor that forms a picture frame around a row ofbins. The conveyor system loads and unloads in many bins and recirculates and bl ends the grain. The paddles, spaced 13 in. apart, replace traditional auger flightings.

Simplicity, cost, capacity and life are the big advantages of the new system, Green adds. According to the company, large farm operators and country elevators have been especially interested in the system. Price of the average system runs $100/linear ft. Contact Hutchinson, Dept. FIN, Box 629, Clay Center, KA 67432, 800/523-6993.

Mammoth carts get mammoth response

Grain carts just keep getting bigger, and the Brent Avalanche from Unverferth is no exception.

Two new models will unload grain at up to 600 bu./min.; the 850-bu. model (884) or 1,050-bu. model (1084) will have you done with harvest before you can say "how much do we have left to do?"

Ever since they were introduced at the Husker Harvest show last September, cameras are looking like a trend in grain harvesting. At an additional cost of $600, you can have a camera mounted onto the side of the cart, and with a black-and-white monitor mounted inside your tractor cab, you can watch the speedy flow of grain for optimal truck loading. An additional $300 puts a camera at the rear of the cart to let you watch oncoming traffic on roadways.

Carts also are available as duallies or tracked units. Price for model 884: single wheels, $24,800; with duals, $31,000; with tracks, $51,770. Contact Unverferth Mfg. Co. Inc., Dept. FIN, Box 357, Kalida, OH 45853, 800/322-6301.

Reader's choice under $5,000

A closer look

A compact borescope that can be used to look inside anything from engines to gun barrels generated a lot of interest from our readers. High-tech optics along with an affordable price of $475 made The Eastwood Company's Hawkeye Borescope a top pick. The handheld unit works like a periscope to let you peer into an interior area that is difficult to access. A 90 adapter, included with the borescope, can be slipped on to give a 360 view.

The 7-in.-long borescope uses light and fiber optics to view and enlarge images. The images are large enough to show surface defects, scratches or corrosion. A video camera may be attached to it.

Eastwood has expanded its borescope options with longer lengths. You may order the borescope from the catalog now offered online at www.eastwoodco.com. The product number is 43130. Or contact The Eastwood Co., Dept. FIN, Box 296, Malvern, PA 19355, 610/640-1450.

Barn designs

Readers interested in new designs for building barns sought advice from Barns and Backbuildings, highlighted in our October issue. The book details the design and construction for barns, sheds, garages, stables and garden structures. It covers all parts of these buildings from the weather vane to the flooring. The designs include a price range list, measurements and sources for the materials. You may purchase your favorite design from the designer and start building.Contact Donald J. Berg, Dept. FIN, Box 698, Rockville Centre, NY 11571, 516/766-5585.

Spring selection

Who hasn't needed a special spring at one time or another?

Ajax Wire Specialty Company carries most standard-size springs or will cut a stock spring or custom make one to fit your needs. Most sizes, weights and quantities are available. The springs are made of ferrous materials like steel, stainless steel and even brass or bronze. Prices start at $0.50/spring. Contact Ajax Wire Specialty Co., Dept. FIN, 119 Bloomingdale Rd., Hichsville, NY 11801, 800/966-2529.

Retrofit for anhydrous

A kit that allows farmers to retrofit their sprayers for accurate application of anhydrous ammonia drew the attention of a number of readers last January. The TeeJet NH3 application kit lets you use electronic sprayer controllers when applying anhydrous ammonia. Normally, electronic controllers work for herbicide use only. The TeeJet allows you to use the controllers to accurately and evenly apply anhydrous across a field. This eliminates under- and over-application of nitrogen.

Priced at $4,900, the TeeJet NH3 kit is produced by Spraying Systems Company. The main component of the kit is a Continental heat exchanger that temporarily converts anhydrous into a liquid so it can be accurately measured. Also included in the kit is a flowmeter, regulating valve and shutoff valve. These components are plumbed into the sprayer between the tank and toolbar.

Farmers can retrofit the sprayer themselves. A wiring harness connects the sprayer to a standard TeeJet 844 or 855 electronic sprayer controller. Contact Spraying Systems Co., Dept. FIN, Box 7900, Wheaton, IL 60189-7900, 630/665-5000.

Unplugging bearings

Sometimes the best things in life are the simplest. In the case of the Grease Buster from T-J Tools, this holds true. Three years ago, Paul Michener hit upon a unique way to unplug bearings on machinery. He developed a small hydraulic cylinder to blast the bearings. The simple design worked like a charm.Soon Michener was spending his winters assembling Grease Busters for other farmers. In just a couple of years, he has sold more than 20,000 of them, a testament to the number of plugged fittings farmers regularly encounter. With the Grease Buster, you don't need to heat plugged bearings with a torch to unplug them. Plus, it is small and can be carried to the field.

When using the product to unplug a fitting, you fill the cylinder with an oil-penetrating solvent. Hit the knob on the piston shaft to trigger a blast and the grease breaks up. The Grease Buster quickly greases bearings and works with both standard and elbow fittings.

The Grease Buster costs just $33. T-J Tools sells another model for $38 that has a flexible, 3-in.-long, high-pressure hose for difficult fittings.

Much cheaper than replacing bearings, the Grease Buster pays off big, Michener adds. Contact T-J Tools Inc., Dept. FIN, Box 120, Waynesville, OH 45068, 513/897-5142.

Miniature radio

The ability to tuck a two-way radio into a shirt pocket appealed to readers when the MicroTalk appeared in our January issue. The small handheld radio from Advanced Systems is only 4 1/4x21/16 in. It features 99 channels with a selectable scan to avoid busy channels. MicroTalk is available in two frequencies.

The unit comes with a belt clip, 600MAH battery, 110v AC wall charger and rubber duck antenna. Contact Advanced Systems, Dept. FIN, 1840 County Line Rd., Suite 202, Huntingdon Valley, PA 19006, 800/233-0013.

Sealant salvation

Our readers were impressed with the sealing ability of the Dynapro Seal Plus featured in our September issue. The versatile product stretches more than 500% without breaking and can seal holes and cracks up to 3/4 in. wide. It also works on expansion joints and can even be used in rain or standing water.

The manufacturer reports it won't crack, is UV stable and resists vibration and expansion problems. It can be used in temperatures from -35 to 220F. The sealant can even reseal itself if the bead is broken.

Seal Plus works on all hard surfaces, including ducts and cooling towers. The sealant resists oils, fuels, water, most acids, solvents and caustics. Contact Dynapro-Products, Dept. FIN, 150 Dow St., Manchester, NH 03101, 603/669-8786.

Shop filter

Readers were intrigued by the Shop Air filter featured in our Mid-February issue. You can install the Horton filter in your compressor system to help keep moisture and contaminants out of expensive air tools. The filter removes compressor lubricants, airborne water and microscopic solids. The company reports that the filter has a capacity of 36 cu. ft./min. and will last one year under typical conditions. Contact Horton Inc., Dept. FIN, 1170 15th Ave. SE, Minneapolis, MN 55414, 612/331-5931.

Untying cords

Are your electrical cords tied in knots and piled in a corner? The Reel Handy cord reel will take care of your mess by rolling up the electrical cords on a caddie. Here, the electrical cords will stay untangled and out from under foot.The cord reel, offered by Briggs Manufacturing, holds up to 100 ft. of 12-3 electrical cord with 15 amps. It can be used freestanding or with a swivel bracket mounted to a wall, ceiling, service truck or portable generator. Contact Briggs Mfg. Inc., Dept. FIN, 446 Meadowlark Dr., Minneapolis, KS 67467, 785/392-3520.

Tilting trailer for time-saving trips

Since New Alexandria Tractor Supply introduced its hydraulic tilt trailer to farmers at the Ohio Farm Science Review this past fall, the company has been busy adapting to the agricultural market. Its main customers are landscape contractors, but by widening and lengthening the trailer and offering a variety of hitch styles, the company says it's ready to take on the agricultural market in the Midwest.

Along with the 8-ft.-wide, 18-ft. 20-in-long version, you can now get the trailer in an expanded width of 81/2 ft. and lengths of 15 or 17 ft. Operating options are the standard double-action hydraulic system comprised of a deep-cycle marine battery with charger and a 110v power unit (for recharging). The company says one battery charge will allow you 80 tilts of the trailer. Or the trailer can be purchased with just the unit's cylinder and added hoses to work off a tractor's PTO, shaving off about $500 from the cost of the trailer. Hitch choices include a standard ball, or for an added $100, an adjustable, removable hitch in ball, pintle or clevis styles. Suggested list price: $3,595 to $3,895. Contact New Alexandria Tractor Supply, Dept. FIN, R.D. 3, Box 403, New Alexandria, PA 15670, 724/668-2000.

Easy viewing

An Iowa farmer discovered one way to ease marital tensions during the stressful harvesttime. He uses a modified periscope attached to a tractor cab to view grain loading, which eliminates the need for either spouse to leave the grain wagon or the tractor to check the grain level. Instead, grain unloading is easily viewed from the tractor cab. This keeps the wagon from being overloaded, which is always blamed on the other spouse.

May-Wes Manufacturing picked up the patented design and now sells it for $380. The kit includes everything needed to install the Cart Eye. It can be attached to the tractor cab in about 30 min. the first time and can be attached or removed in only 5 min. The Cart Eye clamps onto the side of the window and requires no drilling to the tractor. Contact May-Wes Mfg., Dept. FIN, Box 519, Hutchinson, MN 55350, 800/788-6483.

Auger cradles seed

Readers handling bulk soybean seed liked the idea of a kinder, gentler auger flighting, which we featured last spring.

Lundell Corporation's poly auger flighting with its plastic auger and cupped design attracted substantial reader interest. The plastic flighting reduces seed damage and improves germination compared to steel flighting, according to the company.

Lundell has offered plastic flighting since the mid-1980s. But recently it added the cup design developed at Iowa State University (ISU). The cup cradles the seed and keeps it away from the outside of the tube.

The company also adapted ISU's research on the optimum flighting size for tubing. This research shows that 5-in. flighting in a 6-in. tube conveys the seed with the least amount of damage. Lundell sells this standard size flighting for $15.50/ft. It also offers a 6-in. flighting for 7-in. tubing and a 7-in. flighting for 8-in. tubing.

The auger's module design means you can easily replace individual pieces of the auger as it wears. However, the company notes that plastic flighting is very durable and should last as long as brush or steel counterparts. Contact Lundell Corp., Dept. FIN, Box 458, Odebolt, IA 51458, 712/668-2400.