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Benefits promised by new transmission A product launch in Slovakia by Case IH featured new transmissions for the Quadtrac and Maxxum and updates to the Puma range.

Why CVT?

The press launch and demonstration of a brand new transmission for the Case IH Quadtrac was attended by Farmers Guide recently. David Williams reports. The Quadtrac celebrated 20 years’ production last year and has been one of the manufacturer’s biggest success stories, popular with large farms and contractors. More than 15,000 Quadtracs are working and, having had the market almost to itself for most of its life so far, in recent years it has attracted competition from several major brands. The launch of a revolutionary new CVT transmission promises to set the Quadtrac apart from alternatives on offer and is bound to be popular with users promising greater ease of use and improved productivity.

Purpose-designed The Quadtrac range includes five models from 550–650hp in two chassis sizes. Until now only powershift transmission has been available, but the new Agcom 4.0 CVT transmission, jointly developed by Case IH and ZF, is available on the three smaller models; the 470 CVX, 500 CVX and 540 CVX. The hydro-mechanical CVT transmission has four mechanical ranges, which change automatically, and drive through double clutches to maintain uninterrupted torque during changes, even at maximum pull.

Optimised performance Infinite speed control from 0–40kph forward and 0–18kph in reverse is available through the CVT box and the tractor is equipped with Case IH Automatic Productivity Management (APM) optimising engine and transmission settings for maximum efficiency while letting users set a target speed or required engine speed for a task. Maximum 40kph is achieved by the CVT version at just 1,650 engine rpm, down from 2,200rpm on powershift models.

Features aid user A new feature available through the new transmission is Active Hold, allowing the tractor to remain stationary on a hill without the foot or handbrake applied. Activated by pressing the clutch pedal, the feature is handy for pulling away from junctions on inclines for example, and if the tractor remains stationary for more than 45 seconds then the park brake is automatically applied. Because the transmission constantly adjusts for best performance the standard foot throttle, which usually controls engine revs, becomes a drive pedal,

The 540 CVX, with up to 613hp, becomes the world’s most powerful CVT-equipped tractor.

of use, particularly during headland turns and heavy cultivations where stepless shifting avoids the jerkiness of a powershift as it adjusts to suit the load. For tasks such as drilling where the ability to maintain a precise speed is essential the CVT box offers the greatest advantages over powershift, but Case IH engineers acknowledge that for the heaviest draft tasks the better mechanical efficiency of powershift could be an advantage, which is part of the reason that the two larger Quadtracs don’t currently have the CVT option.

The Qudtrac CVX retains the same control layout as standard Powershift-equipped machines but the foot throttle becomes a drive pedal, used to set travel speed while the engine speed and transmission ratio adjusts automatically to optimise efficiency.

used purely to control ground speed. Maximum speed can be adjusted by a thumb wheel and speed range buttons, and up to four virtual ranges can be set, allowing precise speed control by small increments.

Impressive performance The demonstration included an opportunity to try out the new transmission on the road where the most impressive feature was its response and ease of operation. Case IH product engineers explained that the new CVT transmission offers only slightly reduced mechanical efficiency compared to the fully mechanical powershift unit and an acceleration run from standstill to 40kph in just over 11 seconds appeared to confirm this, with time saved by avoiding gear shifts. Internal range changes are barely noticeable and the transmission is incredibly smooth. Travel speed changes were dealt with effortlessly with immediate response from a press on the drive pedal. When target speed is achieved the APM keeps an eye on engine revs, reducing them as far as possible to save fuel, and all this occurs without any operator intervention. The new CVT is very impressive. Owners will appreciate its ability to constantly select the optimum combination of engine speed and gear ratio for the task to save fuel while operators will enjoy the ease

“CVT popularity for conventional tractors is increasing,” explained Case IH product marketing manager for Steiger and Quadtrac in the UK, Paul Freeman. “We offer it as an option on Magnum tractors, and almost 90 per cent of those sold in the UK have it fitted. I am frequently asked by potential and current Quadtrac users about its availability for the range as they have it already on their Pumas and Magnums and see it as an obvious upgrade for Quadtrac too.” Paul said that speed matching is one of the biggest benefits of CVT over Powershift. “It’s an opportunity to improve productivity,” he said. “We have superb torque back-up on the Quadtracs but with a powershift transmission the APM system can only increase or decrease the amount of diesel injected to vary engine speed and power, or change the gear ratio to keep as close as possible to the target ground speed. For large-scale planting and drilling where the best results are from precisely maintaining the target speed CVT is unbeatable, but there are also considerable productivity benefits from the system’s ability to constantly optimise gear ratio and speed during transport, light and heavy cultivations and even when turning on the headland.” He added that advantages for transport include stopping and starting using only the brake and drive pedals. “Pulling up to a junction and just pushing the brake pedal or pulling back the joystick, then pulling away again with just a push on the drive pedal or stick, with no gear selection or changes to make is a big improvement for the operator. There is no concern over stalling and the operator has only to watch the road,” he said.

Testing market Asked how availability of CVT on the three smaller models will affect overall range sales, Paul commented continued over...

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