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Challenger tractors boost productivity

Less than two years after the introduction of its MT500 Series tractors, Challenger has set a new benchmark in power, comfort and control with the MT500B Series. The first hint of change is in the new styling, redesigned cab interior and wider fenders. But as they say, “Beauty is more than skin deep.”

Beneath the tough exterior, customers will also find new Tier II Caterpillar engines, an advanced hydraulic system and Challenger's new TechStar CVT (continuously variable transmission).

“Customers have to experience the new MT500B Series tractors for themselves to really appreciate the comfort and control,” says Doug Durand, Challenger general marketing manager for mid-range and high horsepower wheeled tractors. “Driving a TechStar-equipped MT500B is like driving a luxury automobile equipped with an automatic transmission; except there's a lot more power at your fingertips.”

The new Challenger MT500B Series offers more than smoother, quieter operation, though. The series also includes two more models to fill out a full range between 95 PTO hp and 145 PTO hp. They include the new MT525B at the bottom end of the range at 95 PTO hp and the MT555B, rated at 130 PTO hp. The other models are rated at 105, 115 and 145 PTO hp. Productivity on all units is based on a 6-liter (366 cu. in.), 6-cylinder Caterpillar diesel engine that features electronic engine management and two pre-selectable engine speed memory settings.

New transmission

The most exciting advance, however, is the new TechStar transmission, which has the potential to go from zero to 32 mph while constantly adjusting for the most efficient combination of engine speed and transmission ratio, making it easy to optimize performance. Models equipped with the TechStar option, that do not have the optional front axle suspension system, offer the same productivity features, but are limited to a maximum speed of 25 mph.

“Despite its advanced technology, the TechStar transmission is surprisingly easy to operate,” says Durand. “The operator simply moves the power control lever, located on the left side of the steering column, to select the desired travel direction. This lever also serves as the shuttle control lever, which, when activated, causes the tractor to automatically slow to a stop, reverse direction and accelerate to the programmed speed shown on the dash display.

“A second lever on the armrest console controls the ground speed,” Durand adds. “The farther you push the lever, the faster you accelerate.”

If desired, the operator can also shift mode and speed selection to a foot pedal. Other features include two “speed and velocity” dials for pre-selecting often-used operating speeds; a range selector switch, and a supervisor function, which automatically adjusts the forward speed of the tractor in response to engine speed loss.

MT500B tractors with 2WD or 4WD can also be ordered with the award-winning AutoPower IV 32F X 32R transmission, which combines 4-speed powershift convenience with 8-speed synchromesh economy. Standard features, like automatic powershifts, speed matching and clutchless forward/reverse shuttle control optimize field and transport performance in a wide variety of conditions. The MT500B Series' electronic engine management (EEC) system even regulates clutch engagement for smoother shifts and greater operator comfort.

Comfort was an even bigger priority, though, in the redesign of the MT500B Series cab. It starts with a maximum interior sound level of only 71 decibels, for reduced driver fatigue and enhanced productivity. Other creature comforts include an optional climate control system that automatically maintains temperatures at preset levels, and a standard exterior light control panel that illuminates lamps on a diagram to indicate which lights are on. Power adjustable mirrors with defrost are an option that further enhance operator convenience and safety.

In another development, the new MT400B Series tractors from Challenger offer advanced styling and even more productivity features than their predecessors.

While comfort and convenience were paramount in the design process, the Challenger MT400B models, which replace the original MT400 Series, are especially noted for their advanced engine and powertrain technology. Four models cover the power spectrum from 60 to 90 PTO hp in 10 horsepower increments.

“Available in cab or open platform versions, and a choice of two- or four-wheel-drive, MT400B tractors are ideally suited for jobs that require that extra level of hydraulic capacity and an exceptional power-to-weight ratio,” says Doug Durand, Challenger general marketing manager for high horsepower wheeled tractors. “Thanks to their excellent visibility, easy maneuverability and exceptional lift capacity, MT400B tractors are especially well suited for loader work. However, producers will find them equally adept in tillage, mowing and haying applications.”

Caterpillar diesel engine

Productivity starts with a rugged 269 cubic inch (4.4 L) Caterpillar diesel engine as standard equipment on all four models. Putting that power to the ground is a standard 16F X 16R transmission that combines a two-range, four-speed gearbox with a two-speed powershift in each gear. Gear and range selections are conveniently controlled by the same lever, while forward/reverse shuttle shifting is relegated to a lever to the left of the steering column.

Again, customers have a choice, allowing them to better tailor an MT400B to their specific needs. Selections include a manually operated mechanical shuttle or a hydraulically operated shuttle for fast, clutchless shifting. For more speed selections in each direction, customers can add the Creep or Super Creep option for 24F X 24R and 36F X 36R speeds respectively.

When it comes to productivity, the MT400B Series is also the hands-down leader in hydraulic capacity. With a total hydraulic flow of 34.8 gpm, with 26.4 gpm available at the remotes, MT400B Series tractors offer 66 percent to 123 percent more flow than other competitors — which comes in especially handy for loader work. Two remotes are standard, with up to four optional.

Meanwhile, an electronically controlled 3-point hitch features electronic draft sensing and a standard lift capacity of 6,600 pounds A 540/1,000 rpm PTO is another standard feature on all models. For operations that frequently encounter light loads, an economy 540/1,000 rpm PTO is an option.

“MT400B Series tractors aren't without their soft side, though,” says Durand. “Whether you select a cab or open platform model, the MT400B Series delivers exceptional comfort combined with plenty of legroom. Conveniently located controls, arranged by function, further add to the productivity.”

For more information on these new challenger tractors, visit

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