15 March 2002

Deutz TTV takes bow

By Andy Collings

LAUNCHED in Germany last year, the Deutz TTV tractor with its continuously variable transmission (CVT) is now available in the UK.

Its introduction brings the manufacturer into line with the likes of Fendt, Case and John Deere, all of which include CVT tractors in their portfolios.

In Germany, the Agrotron TTV tractor range comprises three models – the 125hp 1130, 140hp 1145 and the 150hp 1160 – but Deutz has elected to initially offer just the 1160 version in the UK.

Company boss, Nick Kirby, says: "We will see how the TTV is accepted in the UK and then make decisions about bringing in smaller models later."

The 1160 is an identical build to the Agrotron 150 Mk3, apart from its transmission and control system, which was developed by Deutz-Fahr/ZF and provides stepless speed changes from 0-50kph.

As with other CVTs of its type, the TTV employs a combination of hydrostatic and mechanical drives united through a planetary drive. But unlike other transmissions, Deutz says the amount of the more inefficient hydrostatic drive is never more than 30%.

Incorporated in the system are four planetary drives, each of which are brought into action as speed increases. They can be considered as providing four working ranges for the tractor with the hydrostatic and mechanical drive ratio going through its changes before the next planetary drive is clutched into action. Just prior to the range change, the transmission achieves a 100% mechanical drive.

As with all CTV transmissions, the control system can make or break its popularity with the operator. There are some which clearly have overstepped this limit and, as a result, have become known as "one driver" tractors.

This potential problem has not been lost on Deutz engineers, who have strived to make the operating system as simple as possible.

On the face of it, they would appear to have achieved this by providing just two modes of operation – automatic and manual. But explore the operation of a few more buttons and, once again, its a matter of reaching for the instruction book.

In manual mode, hand or foot throttle controls engine rpm with speed increased in pre-set increments by pushing a joystick forward.

Driving engagement is initiated by pressing a "consent" button on the rear of the joystick while pressing a directional button to select forward or reverse. Pulling the joystick backwards slows the tractor with a useful degree of engine braking.

In automatic mode, the hand throttle sets engine rpm and the foot throttle increases tractor speed. This mode is designed to be used where a constant pto speed is required, but tractor speed needs to be increased or decreased to match conditions.

A second automatic mode allows the tractors to be driven in much the same way as a car with automatic transmission, with "gear" ratios being automatically selected in respect of load.

Within these modes there are further refinements. A cruise control mode for constant speed work, programmable acceleration rate and, through use of the tractors engine management control, the most economic and efficient setting of engine speed.

Also peppering the joystick are buttons for two of the tractors four spool valves, buttons for the rear linkage control, while a further button at the base of the joystick sets the transmission to neutral should everything go awry.

More buttons beneath the armrest are responsible for spool valve response speed, diff lock engagement, 4WD on/off, front suspension on/off and something called axle control management.

It is also possible to pre-programme forward and reverse speeds for headland turns and programme hydraulic functions to sequence when, for example, ploughing.

Once set up mode-wise, driving the 1160 TTV is a relatively simple and straightforward task. The engine is started, hand-brake released, consent and directional button chosen and we are underway. Pressing the engine management button brings the engine speed up to a pre-set level and then it is just a matter of steering.

There is little doubt that for tasks requiring very low controlled speeds, such as vegetable production, a CVT is a useful asset. For more general tasks, bearing in mind the price premium of CVT, there will be those who may find it difficult to exploit its ability to the full.

TTV aside, Deutz have also announced updates for the existing Agrotron tractor range. These revolve mainly around incorporating Mk3 styling to existing models, with the Agrotron 90, 100 and 105 models now benefiting from an improved cab with better air conditioning.

More power is now available to the Agrotron 106, 110 and 115 models, with the latter two now gaining an intercooler.

Deutz has also introduced a lower spec version of the popular 135 which retails about £3000 less than the standard model.

But the biggest shock in the series of updates is Deutzs decision to stop marketing the Agrotron 175 and 205 tractors in the UK. These two models are fitted with Same rather than ZF transmissions and apparently cause problems at servicing levels due in part to their low volume sell. Deutz says models of similar horsepower with ZF transmissions will be available in due course. &#42

First UK outing for the Deutz-Fahr Agrotron TTV, which employs a continuously variable transmission designed to use no more than 30% hydrostatic drive. That is claimed to give greater efficiency and fuel economy.

Joystick control for the TTV.