Visitors to the Cereals Event and to the Royal Highland Show, both in June, will have another opportunity to see Lynx Engineering’s stunning and impeccably restored John Deere 6800.
The restoration of this iconic 30-year old tractor, in itself a major undertaking demanding countless hours of time and the resourcefulness, skill and dedication of the Lynx team, is only part of the story. The project also demonstrates how virtually any make or model of tractor can be re-equipped with the latest add-on technology to transform its performance and versatility, give it a new lease of life, and ultimately increase its part-exchange value when the time eventually comes to trade it in for a new model.
Read on to find out more or scroll down to view the movie which, through slide-show and time-lapse video, records the major milestones in the restoration project, from receiving the tractor from the previous owner to rolling out the stunning finished article in December 2022.
Restored tractor steals the show
Having made its debut at LAMMA in January this year, where it attracted crowds of admirers and rave reviews from farmers, dealers and media alike, the tractor went on to win the Best Restored Tractor award in the 1976-2000 class at the Tractor World Show in March, beating almost one hundred concourse tractors in the category. The award providing further validation and recognition of the tenacity, skill and commitment invested by the Lynx project team of Greg Allen, Mark Purves and Sam Ewbank in restoring a modern classic to the most exacting of standards.
Why the JD 6800?
The restoration project was undertaken to mark Lynx Engineering’s 30th Anniversary and the choice of the Deere for the task was an easy decision to make. The 6000 Series was a completely new range of tractors when it was launched to wide acclaim at Smithfield in 1994. Lynx were ahead of the game having already taken all the key measurements for a front linkage and PTO kit to fit the tractor. By the time UK dealers took delivery of their first consignment, Lynx had a Zuidberg front linkage and PTO kit available and ready to go.
From acquiring the 6800 and taking delivery in late 2021, the project had to overcome a number of challenges. The Covid pandemic, problems associated with Brexit, and, not least, greatly extended lead times on parts delivery all combined to repeatedly delay the schedule of works. In addition, the Lynx team assigned to the project were working on the tractor alongside their main jobs.
On arrival at Lynx the tractor looked in reasonable condition for its age and many hours in the field. However, stripping it down to the chassis revealed underlying problems that had to be addressed.
Front and rear axles inspected and refurbished
Front and rear axles were disassembled to reveal a number of problems requiring remedial attention. A leak in the rear axle caused by a badly worn hose connector had to be repaired. In addition the team discovered that the oil guard for the hydraulic pump had undergone previous repairs but, although the welds were still sound, the works had failed to clean out swarf and fragments resulting in an odd noise from the pump. After a thorough clean by Lynx and further refurbishment, the axle could be reassembled.
Meanwhile, the front axle required new track rod end boots, track rod adjuster joints and new pivot bearings. Previously removed hubs were thoroughly cleaned out and everything was reassembled, ready for colour matching with new wheel rims.
Engine overhaul and turbo rebuild
At the heart of the tractor’s original success back in the early 90s was its 120hp, 6.8 litre power unit. But this one didn’t sound right and the team’s suspicion that the engine was running on 5 cylinders instead of 6 was confirmed. This issue was compounded by unreliable starting. The engine refurbishment included the removal and replacement of the injectors and new fuel lines but more work was needed.
Further investigation revealed that the turbo was in a bad way, age having taken its toll. So much so, that it had to be completely rebuilt by specialists AET Turbos of Wakefield. On return it was repainted before refitting and further engine testing.
Specialist outside help was also sought to make up and harden a new pivot point for the engine auxiliary belt tensioner. This replaced a pivot point badly damaged by worn bearings, which were also replaced. Outsourcing the pivot point task saved Lynx the time and expense of locating a complete new tensioner kit.
Gearbox issues shift schedule into reverse
The 16-speed semi-powershift gearbox fitted to the 6800 gave weight to John Deere’s claim that their all-new 6000 series embodied the latest technology of the day. Simply driving the tractor almost 30 years on suggested that the transmission was still in fine fettle for its age. However, when the project team stripped it down completely and gave it a thorough clean, they discovered that the gearbox was in need of some serious emergency surgery. In fact, with so many parts requiring replacement, the transmission system needed nothing less than a full rebuild.
The culprit for much of the damage caused within the gearbox was brake band failure. With the original part no longer available, the Lynx team were able to source a brake band from the later 6030 series and adapt it to fit. The bill for all the gearbox parts from clutch discs to brake band came to several thousands of pounds.
Cab gets a much-needed facelift
Once the delicate operation of removing the cab was successfully negotiated, the team set about securing cables and wiring with clips and clamps ahead of a painstaking makeover. The retrim included replacing the original soundproofing material and the cab headlining which had seen better days.
Unfortunately, the original version of the headlining was no longer available. Instead, after some extensive searching, Lynx finally managed to locate a fabric-matched replacement from another source. When all the sensitive parts, fabrics and electrics had been removed or covered, the cab was given a thorough clean.
Staying true to the original colours
Unbeknown to many of the Lynx team, John Deere green hasn’t always been exactly the same colour. In fact, the green applied to the 6000 series when new in the 1990s was a noticeably different shade to the green that identifies today’s John Deere tractors and ag machinery.
Keen to stay as true to the original as possible, the team obtained a colour sample from the inside of one of the tractor’s metal side panels. A paint specialist was then brought in to take a scan. This attention-to-detail, typical of the refurbishment works in general, would help to ensure that the finish matched, as closely as possible, the original colour applied in the John Deere factory.
Before the finishing coat could be applied all body panels and paint-bearing components were shot blasted and primed using a high quality, two-pack epoxy primer to ensure the best possible paint adhesion and a sound base for the top coat.
New shoes on and ready to roll
The tyres on the 6800 when it arrived on site were definitely on their last legs. The original 420/85 R24 front and 18.4 R38 rear wheels and tyres were replaced after a crack was discovered in one of the originals on strip down and inspection. A brand-new set of wider and chunkier adjustable rims with BKT Agrimax tyres, 540/65 R28 front and 650/65 R38 rears were specified. These are suitable for both on-road use and general tillage and in-field duties.
View the full restoration in less than 10 minutes
Improving on a classic
Works were finally completed in December last year. All that remained was to equip the Deere with brand new add-on kit to give it an extra dimension in performance and versatility.
The tractor has been fitted with the Stoll Next Generation ProfiLine FZ43-27 front loader, painted appropriately in the Stoll colours that would have been applied back in 1994, and equipped with the latest Pro Control electronic joystick. The original Zuidberg front linkage could not be saved so a new up to date system was specified with the addition of a front PTO, the linkage also being employed to carry the Zuidberg front override protector. The original Dromone rear pick-up hitch was sent back to the manufacturer for a complete overhaul. Lynx have also replaced the original viscous fan with a brand new Flexxaire reversing cooling/cleaning fan.
Read the full story in PROFI
If you’re one of those that loves to delve into the detail, PROFI magazine ran a series of 5 in-depth editorial articles, supported by lots of images, covering the highs and lows of the restoration project and how the Lynx team overcame the many challenges that came their way. You can read the full story, from Lynx taking delivery of the tractor all the way through to the stunning end-product, by clicking the image.
More from Lynx …
Other products to be featured on the Lynx stand (No. 938) at Cereals and at the Royal Highland will include dedicated displays of the latest Stoll ProfiLine front loader, Zuidberg front linkages and PTOs, Dromone pick-up hitches and coupling systems, a range of front-mounting weight units and the company’s own Streamline branded front press.