Founded in 1998, Branson Tractor might be relatively new to the equipment industry, but it’s a name that’s becoming familiar to landscapers across the country. Merging with Kukje Manufacturing of Korea in November 2003, Branson has one assembly plant in Rome, Georgia, another in Stockton, California, and 250 dealers in the United States and Canada. Total Landscape Care selected Branson’s mid-size 4220i, and asked landscape contractor Cole Deason, owner of Cut-N-Edge Unlimited in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, to put it through its paces.
The little things
“It’s a good workhorse – a good starter tractor,” Deason says. “As with most equipment, it comes down to the nitty-gritty. You have to look at the small things.”
The comfortable spring suspension seat adjusts for operator weight and slides forward and backward to assist in mounting and dismounting as well as providing operator comfort. Tilt steering is also standard, making it easier to climb in and out of the driver seat.
Deason notes that visibility was well-addressed by the engineers. “I like how the rear attachments extend out so they’re easy to see, and the clear splash shields are a nice touch,” Deason says. Mounted at the front edge of the floorboard, the shields protect the driver from debris slung by the front wheels and allow for good visibility of the ground out front. Enclosing the muffler beneath the hood reduces noise and provides an unobstructed forward view.
Out front, a self-leveling bucket keeps loads level, while a quick-attach system allows for easy changes. And the fuel fill is located beneath the driver platform in an area accessible from ground level and away from hot parts and painted surfaces.
Beneath the hood
The Kukje engine features special balancing shafts to cut down on engine vibration. The 42-horsepower engine has a maximum speed of 2,600 rpms, which improves fuel economy and extends engine life while still delivering plenty of power when called on.
“The power is good, and it’s pretty tough,” Deason says. “It’s a competitive tractor. You can tell it’s built with heavy-gauge steel.”
Branson says it uses one of the heaviest chassis on the market. This added weight transfers the horsepower to the ground to prevent loss of traction without the need to purchase separate ballast weights. A differential lock pedal located near the right foot can be engaged to improve traction on slippery surfaces.