Based on the outskirts of Balla in Co Mayo, the Duffy family have been contracting for almost 50 years. From a young age, 29-year-old Eoin Duffy had set his sights on one day owning a Zetor 16145.

“I’ve always had a soft spot for Zetor tractors,” says Eoin. “I remember sitting in the cab with my father baling in our Zetor 12145 with a Claas Rollant many years ago. I have fond memories growing up with Zetor tractors.

“I first learnt to drive in a Zetor 8211. Around 13 or 14 years ago, there was a huge go on the export of clean original tractors being bought up and shipped to Poland. I was a young lad at the time, and I tried to buy an 8145 with a Duncan cab, but I was outbid.

“Ever since then, I’ve been on the lookout for a suitable tractor. I’ve looked at many all over Ireland, but up until this 16145, I had never found anything suitable.”

"Between transport in Australia, the shipping, transport from Belfast to Mayo, and registering the tractor on Irish plates, the total process cost €12,000,” said Eoin.

Having started the contracting business many moons ago with a Ford 2000, the family have run David Browns, Zetors, Landinis, Sames, Deutzs, John Deeres and New Hollands.

“We never really considered ourselves as full-time contractors, our work was largely seasonal, and was during the summer months,” says Eoin’s father, Robert.

“We always dealt with two or three local dealers for our tractors, namely Jacobs, Keanes and O’Briens. When you’re contracting, you need to have good dealer backup.”

The family bought their first Zetor in the 1970s. It was a second-hand 2WD 8011 Crystal bought to pull a trailed single chop silage harvester, which worked alongside three David Brown 996s.

The 8211 was traded for a Case IH 1494, but bought back less than 12 months later. In 1989, a new Zetor 12145 and a new 82-11 was purchased. In 1992, a used Zetor 12145 was purchased from a local dealer, who had imported it from England. In 1994, the Duffys bought a new Fonterra 105, while a fresh used 6340 was the last Zetor acquired.


“The Zetor factory (in the Czech Republic) went from being state-owned to being privately owned, and there was a period when it was difficult to buy a new Zetor – they were scarce and the price had shot up. Otherwise we wouldn’t have moved away from Zetor,” says Robert.

The odometer is working perfectly, and is registering 5,492 hours from new.

“The Zetor was an underrated tractor, the ZTS engine and gearbox was bulletproof. The gearbox that came in the 12045, the 12145 and the 12245 series in the 1980s had an oil pack and a torque system, something that was unheard of at the time. The 12145, the 14145 and the 16145 all had the same engine and chassis. Those tractors would pull for Ireland; they were very well geared and were well weighted.

“The Zetors of that era were assembled and sent out, and new tractors always had some oil leaks. When those leaks were sorted by dealers who knew what they were at, them tractors were seriously reliable machines,” says Robert.

L/R - Eoin and Patrick Duffy.

In 2019, Eoin, who is a mechanical engineer, got a job in Australia selling farm machinery for PFG, the Australian distributors of brands such as Deutz-Fahr, McHale, Kverneland, Versatile and Maschio.

“I was selling machinery direct to dealers, and used to do a lot of travelling,” he recalls. “One day I was travelling in a rural area, two hours north of Melbourne. I passed by a small used machinery dealership and I spotted a Zetor cab sticking over the hedge. I decided to turn the car around and called in and I couldn’t believe my luck.

“Sitting in the yard was an immaculate, totally original Zetor 16145, the flagship model of that era. It was my dream tractor, everything worked perfectly in it – from the lights to the radio to the wipers.

“ It was even on the original tyres from new. It was fitted with silver grilles, which were celebrating 25 years of Zetor in Australia. I got chatting to the salesman and bought it there and then. I remember calling my father, despite it being the middle of the night in Ireland. I don’t think he was overly pleased at the time,” laughs Eoin.


“The tractor was a one-owner from new machine, and came from a large tillage farm near Queensland. The deal was that the tractor had to be taken off the premises within three days. I arranged transport and had it taken to the PFG depot in Melbourne. At the same time, COVID-19 was just kicking off, and I ended up coming home from Australia myself, having just been in the country for the nine months previous.

“The tractor just about fitted into a high shipping container. The sunroof, exhaust and the aerial had to be taken off, and the air had to be let out of the tyres.

“It cost €6,000 for the use of half the shipping container to bring the tractor to Ireland. The tractor was on the boat for six weeks, before docking at the port in Belfast. Between transport in Australia, the shipping, transport from Belfast to Mayo, and registering the tractor on Irish plates, the total process cost €12,000,” says Eoin.

‘Show piece’ tractor will be spared the heavy work'

Eoin has used it to bale with his McHale Fusion 3+, spread slurry, pull a 13t digger and pull his Keltec bale chaser. \ Photo: K&K Agri Videos.

Tractors in Australia typically use a higher mounting hitch in comparison to what we use in Ireland, so Eoin’s first task was to source a Dromone pick-up hitch to fit the tractor. He found a second-hand unit in Zetor dealership, Brogans of Ballymoe.

The tractor came from the factory with two spool valves. However, as it pre-piped for a third, Eoin said it was relatively easy to fit the additional spool valve. Unusually, the tractor didn’t come from the factory fitted with trailer brakes, so Eoin fitted trailer brakes and a free-flow return valve.

Just to try it out, Eoin has used it to bale with his McHale Fusion 3+, spread slurry, pull a 13t digger and pull his Keltec bale chaser. However, he said that the tractor is really a ‘show piece’, and won’t be used for any heavy work.

He has taken part in some tractor pulling competitions, and has re-conditioned the diesel pump, with the injectors next in line. On a recent dyno-test, the tractor is turning out 186.9hp on the PTO shaft with 1,028lb-ft torque.

The odometer is working perfectly, and is registering 5,492 hours. Since bringing the tractor home in 2020, Eoin said that he wouldn’t have clocked 100 hours.