Farm Classics with Peter O'Brien
The early 90s saw a new level of technology enter tractor manufacturing industry.
Powershift transmissions were by no means a new concept, with many manufacturers offering a mechanical power shift option by means of moving a lever through the gear ranges, typically 1-4. However, a full electronic power shift gearbox was being spearheaded by Ford to fit the tried and tested heavyweight TW series.
These tractors were launched in 1990 and badged as the 30 series, not only offering Fords bullet proof constant mesh Dual Power gearbox but also the all new powershift transmission.
Progressing from the TW to the 30 series, physically and mechanically, the tractors are very similar. Power comes from Ford’s 6.6l 401 engine, which had reached its design limit.
Turbocharged and intercooled, the 8830 churns out 188hp and takes over the reins from the TW-35. Manufactured at the Ford plant in Antwerp, Belgium, the 8830 was the most powerful tractor Ford had to offer in the offer in the early 90s.
Further stretching its design life, the Super Q cab is homely and familiar to any Ford operator with its easy-to-read digital dash with performance monitor.
Servicing is a straightforward task, thanks to panels that slide forward when unlatched to reveal the engine.
The air seat and pull down mesh sun visor are welcome comforts as well as optional air conditioning. Other cosmetic refinements included a black front grill and black plastic cab mudguards.
The unique feature of the 30 series was the powershift gearbox option.
Produced by Funk transmissions (a company purchased by John Deere in 1989), 18F and 9R gears were on offer.
Interestingly, Funk had to design the gearbox around the already established TW series and its housings which was a great feat of engineering.
Replacing the two gear sticks of dual power the gearbox is a console mounted lever-controlling gear changes as well as direction changes.
Pushing or pulling the lever sideways initiates gear changes, while pulling toggle ring and moving the lever forward or back selects forward or reverse – all of which could be achieved without pressing the clutch pedal.
A backlit LCD screen in the console informs the operator of the selected direction and gear.
Other features included continuous gear shifting by holding the lever, as well as preselecting a starting gear for directional changes.
The powershift gearbox proved popular with operators allowing for effortless gear changes – especially in compassion to the ‘crash’ dual power alternative – reducing driving effort, paving the way for future Ford New Holland electronic operated transmissions.
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