When purchasing a tractor, there are lots of things to consider. One of the major decisions to make is what type of transmission is best for you. Transmissions have come a long way over time, evolving from low-tech and basic to having many more capabilities that give you a much better and more comfortable ride. Selecting the type of transmission that fits you and your work has become just as important as selecting the tractor itself.
While there are many types of transmissions available that can vary quite a bit in price, there are some selections that remain most popular. Those are:
1. Standard/Manual Transmissions are the types of transmissions in which you do all the work by pressing the clutch and shifting gears. The operational concept is much like driving a stick-shift vehicle, except for one thing-you do not have to shift through each gear as you accelerate and can actually start in whichever gear you wish to use. Standard transmissions come in sliding gear (where you move the gear into position with a shift fork) or collar shift (stacked gears manipulated via shift collar) and are less expensive than other types of transmission. They are also quite durable and best for work that involves use of plows or shredders.
2. Hydrostatic Transmissions used to be much more expensive but as their popularity and durability rose, the price came down to a more attainable level. These transmissions use oil to transmit power via linear or rotary motion through a closed loop pump system. To change ground speed or direction, just reverse the direction of flow from the pump, causing the motor to operate in the opposite direction. This type of transmission is idea for work that requires frequent starts and stops, especially if you need speed in between stops. It is also very precise in terms of achieving the exact speed you wish to use.
3. Synchro-Shift Transmissions are exactly what they sound like-transmissions with synchronizers to enable on-the-go shifting. The synchronizers balance the speed of the gear you are leaving with the speed of the gear you are moving into (with a neutral gear in between). Some tractors only have this option on a couple of gears while others have it on all gears. You can even step up to a Shuttle-Shift Transmission that synchronizes gear movement from forward to reverse, which is handy when using your tractor's front end loader. While this transmission offers many conveniences and reliability, it also has a lot of complex components and moving parts that can require maintenance from time to time.
4. Hydraulic Shuttle Transmissions allow shifting from forward to reverse via a lever usually mounted beneath the steering wheel without necessitating the use of the clutch for that particular transition, although clutching between gears is still necessary. This type of transmission is typically offered on larger tractors due to the impracticality of hydrostatic transmissions on those tractors (hydrostatic is generally used on tractors with a horsepower rating of 50 or less).
With several transmission options from which you may choose, the best thing to do is evaluate your work needs and go from there. If you most commonly perform maneuvers involving forward and backward movement, perhaps a Shuttle-Shift is best for you. When it comes to work requiring speed combined with stops and starts, try out a Hydrostatic Transmission. Whatever your needs, there is a transmission out there to fulfill them. All you have to do is try it out and take it home!