Meet, from left to right, Sam Ewbank, Mark Purves and Greg Allen. These are the guys who made up our project team responsible for stripping down, refurbishing and rebuilding an iconic John Deere 6800 to mark Lynx Engineering’s 30th Anniversary. The stunning result of their labours can be seen here in our news section or, better still, in all of its gleaming, fully-restored glory on the Lynx stand (Hall 20: Stand 20.520) at LAMMA 2023.
The choice of the Deere for the anniversary project was a nostalgic one but also made perfect sense. Launched to wide acclaim in the UK at Smithfield in 1994, the 6800 was one of the larger models in the 6000 Series, a completely new and, in many respects, pioneering range of tractors. 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, we had a Zuidberg front linkage and PTO kit available and ready to go. It was the first tractor we supplied kit for.
The tractor that changed everything
In its heyday, the 6800 represented a major advance in tractor design and manufacturing that went way beyond its radical styling. Following a decade of research, development and prototype production, the 6000 Series featured a main frame chassis design that would revolutionise tractor production around the world. Gone were the rigid load-bearing castings that had been the norm for all tractor manufacturers. In their place was a strong, flexible steel chassis designed to utilise modular components.
The introduction of a heavy-gauge steel chassis was a game changer. It meant that major components would no longer need to be load-bearing and could be manufactured using lighter materials such as aluminium. The modular concept enabled the engine, transmission, PTO and hydraulics to be grouped into separate units, and then linked as they were assembled in the frame. This in turn led to much greater agility and flexibility on the production line, dramatically speeding up processes and responses to changes in specification.
Complementing, the powerful and efficient 120hp, 6-cylinder 6.8 litre engine, the 6800 boasted a new transmission. It featured four-speed powershift with a 25mph road speed and a forward/reverse shuttle. A new electronically controlled closed-circuit on-demand hydraulic system was also introduced, with external lift cylinders on the rear linkage. The cab had also been completely redesigned. The all-new two-door design offered 40 per cent more internal space than its single-door predecessor and featured a high-spec ventilation system with optional air conditioning.
Little wonder then that the John Deere 6800 is still, today, rightly regarded as a classic icon that set new and enduring standards in tractor design and manufacture.
Rising to the challenge
So, restoring a tired, well used, near 30 year-old example would prove to be a challenge even in normal circumstances. That challenge was to prove even more daunting however, as Covid, issues surrounding Brexit and greatly extended lead times on parts delivery combined to delay the schedule of works well beyond the anticipated date for completion. In addition, stripping the tractor down to the chassis uncovered a whole range of issues that needed to be addressed and far more cleaning, blasting and painting than originally planned for.
It was often tough, sometimes frustrating, but all the hard work has paid off in spectacular fashion. You can read an overview of the project here where you can also follow a link to obtain copies of 5 in-depth, technical articles by PROFI who have been tracking the progress of the project from start to finish.