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Again versatile in the field: Buhler Industries goes back to its roots by rebranding tractor products and launching new row crop tractors.

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Probably more than any other part of the engine-powered equipment market, the agricultural machinery business is one in which tradition matters. Perhaps it's because in many parts of the world, farming is still a family-oriented industry and what was familiar to dad or granddad is still honored and sought after.

That could be why no matter what happens on the corporate side of an ag equipment manufacturer--no matter how many changes of ownership or branding or image that might occur over the years--what resonates most with farmers is the name they know.

From that perspective, the decision late last year by Buhler Industries to brand all of the products from its tractor division with the nearly 50-year-old "Versatile" name is a natural. And highlighting that move, the company has since begun production of two new front-wheel assist row crop tractors bearing that brand.

Those are clearly the most significant of the myriad changes the Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada-based manufacturer has seen since the majority of Buhler Industries (80%) was acquired by Russian ag manufacturer Combine Factory Rostselmash Inc. in late 2007. Other changes have included the addition of more than 100 people across various parts of the operation, including engineering, parts, service and technical publications, R&D and quality control.

"We are becoming more professional," said Director of Sales Eric Allison with a nod toward that activity. "When you play in the big leagues, you have to act like a big-league player, and up to now, we haven't been able to do that. We had a good product, we had a good name, but we lacked some of the tools, some of the professionalism, the customer service--all the simple things that make a good company.

"We compete against some of the biggest companies in the world. We'll never be number one and we realize that. But we can strive to be number one. We've got a young aggressive staff and we're resurrecting the Versatile name and the heritage it had before."

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"A lot has happened in the past year and we will continue to improve the health of the company," said Dmitry Lyubimov, president of Buhler Industries. "Our goal is to be a successful partner for dealers, while we strive to position Versatile tractors as a valuable investment for farmers."

Part of that positioning was the Versatile rebranding, which does not affect the Buhler Manufacturing divisions that build the Farm King, Allied or Inland family of products. "We recognize the history that is tied to the Versatile name," said Lyubimov. "There are still many older Versatile tractors at work on farms around the world. The name stands for well-built tractors that are powerful, simple and easy to maintain. It is the same philosophy we use today and we are proud of that heritage."

The company sought to reflect that philosophy in the new Versatile 250 and 280 tractors that have become available this spring. The new machines, which are intended to replace the Genesis 2180 and 2210 tractors, are both powered by Cummins turbocharged and air-to-air aftercooled QSC 8.3 L diesels, marking the first time in two decades that the entire Versatile line is using Cummins power. The existing HHT four-wheel drive tractors use Cummins QSX engines rated 435 to 535 hp, while the 4WD series tractors use QSM 11 engines rated from 305 to 400 hp.

All of the engines meet U.S. EPA Tier 3 emissions standards and equivalent Canadian regulations, the company said. The six-cylinder, 24-valve QSC diesel incorporates Cummins' new high-pressure common rail fuel system that combines Cummins pump technology with Bosch injectors. The electronically controlled engines deliver 250 hp and 830 lb.ft. of torque in the Versatile 250 and 280 hp and 1000 lb.ft. of torque for the Versatile 280 tractor.

"Our application engineers worked closely with the Versatile design team to tailor a specific engine calibration that is optimized for the most fuel-efficient operation across all farm working conditions," said Silvio Novaes, Cummins account executive, Agricultural Market.

The tractors' engine package also includes Delco Remy America starters, Sanden 12 V, 160 Amp alternators and Donaldson Powercore intake air filters with precleaners. Engine and hydraulic cooling are provided by Modine radiators and T-rad coolers, along with engine-driven Horton fans.

In both machines, the engine drives an 18-speed forward, nine-speed reverse powershift transmission assembled by Buhler using major components from Okuba Gear. Dana Spicer drivelines connect to a Buhler-assembled heavy-duty cast-iron rear axle housing that integrates a massive crown-and-pinion gear set and powers the 112 in. heavy-duty outboard planetary axle that provides the speed reduction from the transmission to the wheels. Maximum speed for both tractors is 25 mph.

An UltraSteer front axle is designed to provide a tight turning radius and high maneuverability. Traction and flotation can also be improved through an optional traction control system with front differential locks, the company said.

The Versatile tractors incorporate closed-center load-sensing HydraFIow hydraulic systems with a standard flow of 30 gpm. A higher capacity 55 gpm HydraFIow Plus system is also available. The systems use Eaton or Bosch Rexroth pumps, and other system components include a 31 gal. reservoir, Gates hoses, a Parker hydraulic filter, Eaton and Bosch Rexroth valves and three or four hydraulic remotes, depending on the system. All hydraulic cylinders used on Versatile machines are built in-house.

A fully independent PTO features multiplate, bronze friction clutches for smooth, shock-free implement starting. All models come with the 1000 rpm PTO as standard equipment. A Category 3, three-point hitch capable of lifting 15,000 lb. is standard and can also be specified with an optional quick-hitch feature.

Two doors access an ergonomically designed cab, which includes an adjustable side console that incorporates the shift lever, throttle, hydraulic controls and three-point hitch operation. A tilt/telescopic steering control that operates a Parker hydraulic power steering system is standard equipment on all Versatile tractors. A gas cylinder raises the steering column to the uppermost position when the lock is released, leaving a wide space between the steering column and seat for easier entry and exit.

The Versatile 250 and 280 tractors have gone into full production at the company's 700,000 sq.ft. Clarence Avenue facility.

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Title Annotation:AG EQUIPMENT
Author:Brezonick, Mike
Publication:Diesel Progress North American Edition
Date:May 1, 2009
Words:1039
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