This electronic brochure highlights our capabilities and activities in the area of Research and Development in Tractor Technology. Please sign our guestbook. For additional information, e-mail Michael D. Lochte, Southwest Research Institute

Research and Development in Tractor Technology

Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) is actively involved in almost every aspect of tractor component, transmission, and hydraulic fluid evaluations. Specialized test fixtures and complete tractor assemblies are used for manufacturers' fluid specifications tests, as well as SAE and ASTM procedures. Typical programs and capabilities include:

  • Design and fabrication of a towing dynamometer with a capacity in excess of 100 horsepower
  • Dynamic field evaluations of the tractive effects of various agricultural tire designs
  • Design, fabrication, and operation of a tractor chassis dynamometer
  • Durability and performance tests of prototype components, production prototype tractors for manufacturers' proprietary tests, and for SAE test procedures

SwRI serves leading tractor manufacturers as a designated laboratory for transmission and hydraulic fluids specification testing. Fluid Testing Tractor hydraulic fluids are tested to ensure compliance with performance standards.


In addition to standardized tests, SwRI performs customized programs. Using a series of tests specified by the manufacturer's German engineering facility, the Institute evaluated the effects of newly formulated tractor hydraulic fluids and Super Tractor Oil Universal on a German-manufactured tractor.


The physical and chemical characteristics of these fluids are tested for effects on:

  • Dynamic corrosion
  • Brake noise and capacity
  • Power take-off clutch friction
  • Gear wear
  • Clutch slippage
  • Power shift transmission shift feel and durability

The Institute is recognized as the leading independent laboratory for the qualification of hydraulic and transmission oils. A full range of programs enables petroleum refiners and marketers to qualify their products for use in manufacturers' equipment.

Testing Effects of Tractor Hydraulic Fluids on Gear Wear Protection

As part of its fluid-testing program, SwRI evaluates tractor brake chatter, capacity, and durability in the JDQ-96 1400 test series. For these tests, technicians use a John Deere 4640 tractor with a modified power shift transmission to drive a John Deere 1400 series industrial axle equipped with annular wet disc brakes. The brake chatter test consists of 30,000 brake engagements. After 1,000, 10,000, 20,000, and 30,000 brake engagements, a series of brake chatter tests is performed at different wheel speeds, brake pressures, and brake temperatures.


A dedicated test stand measures gear wear according to John Deere specification J-20C/D.


The JDQ-95 spiral bevel/final drive gear wear test evaluates effectiveness of tractor hydraulic fluids in protecting the spiral bevel gears from scoring and the final drive planetary reduction gears from surface distress and wear. In this 50-hour test, a John Deere engine and power shift transmission drive an industrial axle that houses the test gears. High-torque dynamometers provide the load.

Testing Effects of Tractor Hydraulic Fluids on Wet Clutch Friction

SwRI uses a number of tests to evaluate the effects of hydraulic fluids on tractor clutches. These tests include:

  • New Holland high-energy clutch test

The universal tractor axle dynamometer is used to perform driveline and clutch endurance tests such as the New Holland high-energy clutch test and the Jenkins cycle test.


Component and Vehicle Testing

Using sophisticated equipment and industry-recognized procedures, experienced SwRI personnel perform a variety of tests on tractors and their components. Typical tractor test programs include:

  • Reliability and performance testing
  • Drivetrain endurance
  • Simulated cold-weather operation
  • Emission studies
  • Evaluations of coolant, engine oils, tires

SwRI engineers designed and assembled a chassis dynamometer for endurance testing of compact utility tractors.


In addition to performing tractor test programs, SwRI evaluates all electrical and mechanical vehicle components, systems, and structures according to client-specific and industry standards and specifications. The Institute's integrated testing programs include:

  • Noise and vibration studies
  • Structural dynamics
  • Electromagnetic compatibility
  • Physical testing and evaluation, including metallurgical examination
  • Nondestructive evaluation, such as damage assessment and stress measurement

Field Testing

Agricultural and industrial tractors are operated under Institute test programs.

Field tests may involve simultaneous testing of several agricultural tractors, operated in several different climates, to evaluate engine oils, hydraulic oils, and related components. Tractors often accumulate more than 1,000 test hours each in 12 months.


Customized tests are performed on a test track according to client requirements. With an SwRI-converted commercial tractor serving as a towing dynamometer, technicians create a controlled and measured drawbar load for the test tractor.


SwRI has 50 years of experience in the automotive and tractor industries. The Institute's tractor-related services are in increasing demand because of the following reasons:

  • Outsourcing by original equipment manufacturers
  • Trained staff
  • Special facilities
  • Willingness to prepare special tests
  • Rapid response to inquiries
  • Multidisciplinary team approach
  • Quotes without obligation
  • Step-wise approach to limit costs
  • Ability to redirect efforts
  • Impartial comprehensive reports
  • Test plan consultations
  • Confidentiality
  • Patent assignment
  • Adherence to realistic time schedules
  • Quality system stressing continued improvement
  • ISO 9002 registration
  • ISO Guide 25 accreditation
This brochure was published in August 1998. For more information about tractor technology, contact Michael D. Lochte,  Director, Specialty Fluids Section, Fuels and Lubricants Research Division, Southwest Research Institute, P.O. Drawer 28510, San Antonio, Texas 78228-0510, Phone (210) 522-5430, Fax (210) 680-1777.

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