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Case IH shifts gears

New transmissions debut in the Steiger and Maxxum tractor lines

Cole Carling, marketing manager for Case IH Maxxum and Puma tractors, was telling our group of farm machinery writers what’s going to be different in the 2018 Maxxum tractors we’ll see rolling off assembly lines starting this fall.

Carling was talking to us in Boone, Iowa in August, and said, “We’re introducing new styling… It’s something we’re calling functional styling. It has a purpose.”

For instance, the redesigned hood contributes to improved engine cooling and, along with some new engineering tweaks, helps reduce overall fluid consumption by five per cent, Carling said.

But what is more likely to grab the attention of potential buyers is a new dual clutch, 24×24 powershift transmission option set to be introduced in new-model Maxxums.

This new transmission offers high-end features which will bring CaseIH into line with some competing brands that already offer sophisticated powershifts with similar features in their comparable machines.

“ActiveDrive 8 is a brand new transmission for Case IH,” Carling said. “It has three ranges with eight powershift gears in each range.”

Shifting through the middle range allows an operator to choose working speeds between 2.4 and 10.7 m.p.h. without torque interruptions and without requiring range changes.

The Steiger 370 to 540 models become the first articulated tractors in the North American market to offer a CVT transmission.
photo: Case IH

The ActiveDrive’s “smart range shifting” feature can even do the gear selecting all on its own. The operator simply selects a faster or slower ground speed and the transmission will change to the most efficient gear to achieve that under the existing load.

Although buyers will find a clutch pedal in the usual place in Maxxum tractors equipped with the ActiveDrive 8 transmission, they won’t need to use it much. The “brake-to-clutch” feature allows an operator to just step on the brake pedals to stop the tractor. Then just release the brake and to start off again.

Shuttle shifting doesn’t require clutching either. Flip the lever and the tractor stops and changes direction. The memory shuttle feature means the tractor automatically shuttles into the last reverse gear used, which seamlessly provides the right forward and reverse speeds for repetitive operations.

The brand’s line of Steiger articulated tractors also gets a new transmission option for 2018. The 370 to 540 models now become the first to offer a CVT in a high-horsepower articulated tractor.

The decision to introduce a CVT was the result of customer demand, said Mitch Kaiser, marketing manager for the Steiger tractor line. “When you look at what customers want, they want to control their application more. So we’re offering the new Steiger CVXDrive. It’s strong, it’s smart, and it’s simple.”

Simplicity is a big part of why Kaiser thinks farmers will appreciate this transmission.

“There’s just two settings the operator has to remember to make it smart,” he explained. “We have a dual throttle design. The inside one controls the torque the tractor is running at, and the outside one controls your throttle setting. The CVXDrive is going to think for itself and give you the amount of horsepower needed at the lowest r.p.m. required to pull the load.”

In fact, Kaiser thinks the CVXDrive will expand the range of jobs a Steiger tractor can conveniently handle.

2018 Maxxum tractors will be available with ActiveDrive 8, 24×24 powershift transmissions that offer a variety of high-end features.
photo: Case IH

Just as you’d expect to find on any CVT tractor, a propulsion lever on the right armrest gets the machine moving. But a foot pedal will also make that happen, freeing up a driver’s right hand to control other functions like hydraulics. Shifting back and forth between forward and reverse can be done in a couple of ways as well, with a pair of buttons on the propulsion lever or via a shuttle lever on the left side of the steering wheel.

The transmission has three “cruise control” settings that will maintain tractor field speeds. It also has three sensitivity settings that create less responsive reactions to control inputs for delicate jobs like backing up to an implement to hitch it up.

Inside, the transmission uses four ranges to help the engine deliver maximum torque, and the transmission automatically makes those shifts internally, without any input from the operator. The operator doesn’t even notice them when they happen.

Engineers designed the CVXDrive to fit into the existing Steiger chassis, so it doesn’t compromise any other systems. Buyers can still get a PTO in all models along with up to eight remote hydraulic valves and a three-point hitch that lifts 20,000 pounds (9,090 kilograms).

And there’s even more flexibility here. With the CVX, the Steigers can inch along as slowly as three feet per minute or hit the road at up to 25 m.p.h.

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