It isn't easy starting a new company these days. Today's entrepreneurs face a multitude of issues — many involving the alphabet soup of Washington bureaucracy — that visionaries like Thomas Edison and Cyrus McCormick never dreamed of.

So it was with a great deal of satisfaction that the newest entry to the agricultural machinery world announced it will be introducing a full line of 230- to 280-horsepower tractors after the first of the year. The introduction keeps a promise it made shortly after its launch two years ago.

“McCormick International USA is meeting its commitment to produce a full range of tractors with the launch of the ZTX series,” said Joe Michaels, managing director of McCormick USA.

“The ZTX project has involved a lot of time, effort and investment to bring it to the market. But we promised to have a world-class contender in this important power sector and now we are delivering on that promise. McCormick clearly will have a full range of tractors to meet any customer need.”

Speaking at McCormick USA's headquarters in Pella, Iowa, Michaels said the ZTX series combines proven components and McCormick's own engineering and design.

As farm equipment enthusiasts know, the McCormick name is one of the oldest in the industry. Cyrus McCormick invented the first mechanical reaper in 1831 and went on to found the company that became International Harvester. IH was one of the dominant farm machinery companies through most of the 1900s.

J.I. Case Co. purchased IH in 1985. That company was bought by Fiat, which combined it with its New Holland Tractor in 1999. The European Union required Case New Holland to divest several of its assets, including the “Maxxum” line of tractors from Case and the Doncaster, England, tractor manufacturing plant.

The Morra Family of Italy acquired those assets and CNH's transmission plant in St. Dizier, France, through its ARGO Group subsidiary in 2000. In 2001, ARGO's new McCormick Tractors International Ltd., partnered with Vermeer Manufacturing Co., in Pella to begin its U.S. operations.

McCormick USA introduced its first — mostly lower horsepower tractors — in January 2001 and began lining up dealers. It signed up its 100th in October 2002 and now has more than 200 dealers selling McCormick tractors.

The ZTX tractors — which will be formally introduced at farm shows in Louisville, Ky., and Tulare, Calif., in February along with a series of other new, all-McCormick model numbers — will give the company its first full-line of tractors.

“McCormick USA and our dealers are very excited about the introduction of the ZTX series and our move into the higher horsepower class,” said Michaels. “McCormick isn't resting on our original product line; we are continuously developing new products that will provide customers with reliable, proven and practical tractors.”

For openers, the ZTX series will have a Cummins QSC 24-valve, 8.3-liter engine that is one of the most technologically advanced engines available today.

“The Cummins QSC engine has full-authority electronics and 24-valve technology, making it one of the most powerful engines on the market, while still meeting the Tier II/Stage 2 emission requirements from EPA,” says Tom Ogle, product manager for McCormick.

Its full-authority electronic fuel control system, named the Cummins Accumulator Pump System or CAPS, provides a constant pressure fuel system, which precisely controls fuel quantity and injection pressure independent of engine rpm. The result is higher combustion efficiency and an increase in torque.

This system eliminates the traditional plunger pumping elements and incorporates a rotary distribution system. An accumulator ensures that the correct amount of high pressure is maintained, while an electronically controlled solenoid injection control valve determines the right time to inject fuel, according to Ogle.

Ogle says the “power bulge” characteristic of the engine results in power output rising by 15 horsepower on the ZTX230 and by 20 horsepower on the ZTX260 and ZTX280 as engine speed is pulled down by increasing load.

“Operators will be impressed with the full power shift transmission consisting of nine clutches, with seven drive shafts providing 18 forward and eight reverse speeds,” said Ogle. “All gears are helical-cut for quiet, positive drive transfer; 10 speeds are available within the crucial working speeds of 2.5 to 7.5 mph.”

He said the new tractors have a speed matching feature that is activated by pressing the clutch pedal to match the gear to the ground speed and engine rpm. “This feature will allow the transmission to automatically select an appropriate gear to match the ground speed and allow the engine rpm to increase,” says Ogle, who owns a small farm near Pella. “Speed matching can be utilized between gears 13 and 18.”

The ZTX offers a unique feature called “Triple Shift” to quickly move through the power shift speeds. By pressing both the “Triple Shift” and the power shift button simultaneously, the transmission performs three gear changes, reaching operating speed quickly and effortlessly. Triple Shift works from gears 1 through 15 when moving up through the gears and from gear 13 when downshifting.

“All three ZTX models come standard with four or optional five electronic hydraulic remotes delivering 40 gallons per minute of flow with easy adjustment of flow rate and flow timing using dials located beneath a cover set into the driver's seat armrest,” says Ogle. “Four of the remotes are operated using a pair of short joysticks mounted on the armrest; the fifth valve is controlled using buttons on the seat-mounted multi-controller.”

The ZTX heavy-duty rear axle will be complemented by a choice of two front axles, both featuring a hydraulic locking differential to provide genuine four-wheel drive and maximum traction.

The three-point linkage is a heavy-duty design using two large-diameter external cylinders to generate up to 24,255 pounds of lift, says Ogle. “A microprocessor-controlled electronic system provides sensitive draft and accurate position control, and these are set using simple dial and slider controls on the tractor's right-hand console.”

For more information on the ZTX series and other McCormick tractors, visit www.mccormickusa.com.


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