From Valmet Mezzo to Valtra 6000 Series19.06.2007
The Valtra 6000 Series is justifiably considered the company’s success story, a model that has been continuously developed to meet contemporary demands and the specific needs of customers. Production of the 6000 Series will finally come to an end this year and its distinguished place taken by the N Series, which has rapidly achieved the same kind of popularity as the original Valmet Mezzo Series did in the early 1990s.
The Valmet Mezzo 6000 Series was awarded the Pro Finlandia Design Prize in 1992. This tractor combines beauty and performance.
The Valmet Mezzo 6000 Series was created to further improve on the Scandinavian Volvo BM Valmet tractor in certain areas. There were also concrete production reasons. Deliveries of the Volvo BM’s cabs and transmission gears were due to expire in the early 1990s, as the Swedish company was exiting the agricultural machinery business.
In 1986 a co-operation agreement was signed with Austrian company Steyr-Daimler-Puch AG for the joint development of tractor series in the 80 to 140 horsepower class. Although the agreement was terminated in 1989, a new series of engines had already been developed that was introduced into production at the Linnavuori factory in 1990. Meanwhile the cab concept was refined on the basis of the Volvo BM Valmet’s spacious cab with a modernised rounded design.
The aim with the transmission was to develop a gearbox with three-speed powershift, but for cost reasons Valmet developed a two-step powershift featuring a crawling speeds and synchronised forward-reverse shuttle, both of which customers were wishing for.
It has been calculated that 70 million Finnish markka were invested in the development of the 6000 Series, which corresponds to around twenty million euros in today’s money. These investments include the most flexible production line (FMS) in Europe at the time.
Introduced in two phases
The previous 05 model series was still in production, but it was lacking a 120-horsepower model. Therefore in autumn 1990 the six-cylinder Mega 8100 model was introduced offering a number of Mezzo Series features. The actual premiere of the Valmet Mezzo 6000 Series took place in February 1991 in Röros, Norway.
The Mezzo 6000 Series immediately won over the press and customers. It was an extremely attractive machine with its curved edges that still managed to maintain a sense of continuity from the previous generation. In 1992 the design of the Mezzo was awarded the Pro Finlandia Design Prize.
The transmission was completely new. Thanks to its helical gears it was very quiet. It offered 12 main forward gears and 12 reverse gears, and combined with the powershift the total number of gears was 24+24R. Valmet took a brave step by offering Autocontrol electronic linkage control as standard equipment on the Mezzo. This significantly improved the performance of the hydraulics.
The new generation’s 20 Series engine established a reputation for its torque and reliability. Steyr had paid half the engine’s R&D costs and began purchasing “Steyr-Valmet” engines from Linnavuori in 1993.
Continual improvement and success
A three-step Delta Powershift was introduced in 1993 on Mega 8400 and 8100 models, as well as on the largest Mezzo 6600 model, which had essentially the same transmission as the 8100 model. Around a year later the Delta Powershift was made available on other 6000 Series models.
The spacious cab allowed separate controls for working in forward and reverse, and the driver’s seat could be rotated 180 degrees. The TwinTrac model is still the least expensive and most functional solution for using tractors in both directions. For this reason the 6000 Series has always been particularly popular for forestry work.
When the Finnish markka was devaluated in the early 1990s and the specifications of the new tractor model refined it was time to conquer new markets. Valmet began establishing sales companies throughout Europe, and the Mezzo quickly established a positive reputation. Customers who had once bought a Valmet more often than not continued buying Valmets.
The custom-built manufacturing system was also introduced for the first time with the Mezzo Series.
Valmet’s tractor operations transferred to the fellow Finnish company Sisu in 1994. The new corporation added its square logotype to the Valmet name, and customers began referring to the products as “Sisu-Valmet” tractors. The “Valtra” name had already been reserved for tractor operations, however, and was to be introduced in 2001.
The Valtra name was actually launched in 1996, when the articulated Valtra City and Forest models were introduced. At the same time the first four-cylinder engine with intercooling was introduced, and power was increased to 115 horsepower.
In 1997 Sisu was acquired by Partek. It was subsequently agreed that the double name “Valtra Valmet” would be introduced in August of that year and that the Sisu logo would disappear. Since the rights to use the Valmet name expired in 2001, a strong Valtra identity was developed. At this stage use of the “sub-brand” Mezzo was phased out and replaced by the Valtra 6000 Series identity.
Already in the mid-1990s a HiShift button-operated clutch was introduced on Valmet tractors. The next step was to offer a hydraulic forward-reverse shuttle. The challenge for the R&D team was to ensure that the transmission operated in all temperatures and to prevent it from being operated incorrectly.
The safe and smooth HiTech transmission continues to be one of the best Powershift units on the market to this day. The transmission features a shuttle lever combined with an electronic parking brake. All the main functions are monitored by advanced electronics, the use of which has allowed improvements to be made by programming. Version 2.0 was introduced at the end of 1999 and featured a turbine clutch type feature that disengaged drive when the driver’s foot was released from the gas pedal or under braking; when the gas pedal was pressed again, the drive automatically re-engaged. The classic HiTrol turbine clutch was also available as an option.
The Powershift also offered two new alternatives: the factory-optimised Auto 1 program and the programmable Auto 2 program. At the same time the rear axle housings were enlarged to hold more oil. This allowed the oil level in the transmission to be lowered, which helped reduce power losses.
Valmet engines were renamed SisuDiesel engines during the Partek era. The reputation of these engines grew as many competitors began offering the same dependable diesels. Valtra came up with a new way of utilising these sturdy engines. The continuing rise in fuel prices increased interest among farmers and contractors in more cost-efficient methods. In response to this Valtra developed an attractive solution that reduced fuel consumption without sacrificing power, while at the same time offering a new relaxed way of driving.
The solution involved taking the engine version with the highest torque in each displacement and reducing the engine’s nominal running speed by 400 rpm. This allowed the SisuDiesel engines to operate at their most efficient speeds, which reduced consumption by around 10 percent.
The transmission and hydraulic pumps also operated at slower speeds where their power losses remained minimal. As a result, there was more power for work and less fuel was used to produce net output. The EcoPower 6750 model was introduced in 2000.
A model of versatility
The Valtra 6000 Series offers features that cannot be found in other four-cylinder tractors, such as the unique Aires front axle suspension. The turbine clutch, a solution that makes driving easier and prolongs the life of the transmission, can only be found on the smaller models of Valtra’s sister brand Fendt. The spacious cab offers unsurpassed comfort and versatility. TwinTrac reverse drive controls and forest cabs are also available.
The 6000 Series today has few if any components that are exactly the same as in the original Mezzo. The product has been continuously improved over the years, although models with over 100 horsepower were discontinued at the turn of the year when more stringent Stage 3A emissions standards came into force. Since the 6000 Series utilises many of the same parts as the high-output T Series, the lifespan of these tractors will be truly impressive.
The popularity of the 6000 Series is demonstrated by the fact that over 40,000 units have been produced since it was first introduced. The most popular model within the range has been the 6400.
Find out more about:
>> Valtra 6000 Series: http://www.valtra.com/Products/tractors/6000/1_1.htm
>> Valtra History: http://www.valtra.com/Company/history/1_1.htm
This sketch was made by E&D Design in 1987. The design of the cab is almost complete, and even the engine cover shares many of the features that were introduced on the Mezzo.