THF Introduction (the following material is from Feb. 2012 Lubes ’N’ Greases Magazine article THF - The Yellow Bucket)
and Presented by MotorSport Oil – An Amsoil Synthetics Dealer
THF or Tractor Hydraulic Fluid is a unique multifunctional lubricant primarily used in farm and industrial tractors. In short, it’s a hydraulic fluid, transmission fluid and gear oil all in one. U.S. demand estimated was 63 million gallons in 2010.
Numerous specifications define the performance of THF, and most are OEM specific. A THF label may list more than 25 specifications from as many as 14 OEMs, including Massey Ferguson, Allis-Chalmers, Case, Kubota, Caterpillar, Duetz, Dresser, New Holland and others. Some specifications may look impressive, but may be deceiving and misleading, since some of the citations are often obsolete. As a result, farmers and others may pay less per gallon, butcould end up paying significantly more in equipment repairs if they buy their THF without reading and understanding the label.
Examples: the many THFs labeled as satisfying John Deere’s JD-303 and JDM-20A specifications and Quatrol brand requirements. Deere dropped the JD-303 spec in the 1970’s. JDM-20A has been defunct since the early 1990s; it was superseded by JDM-20C and listing “Quatrol” on labels can also be misleading as it was discontinued as JDM-20A.
Result: absent any policing, some blenders reportedly take the additive package designed to meet JDM-20C and use it at a lower treat rate to make fluids they claim meet JDM-20A (the defunct spec). Since JDM-20C replaced the older JDM-20A specification, they seem to simply down-treat with the JDM-20C package.
These oils are then sold to unsuspecting farmers as a THF meeting the needs of older equipment.
Also: when Deere upgraded to JDM-20C, its aim was to capture the requirements of the Allison C-4 specification; it did this by adding an oxidation and seal test for the formulated lubricant. All of the other tests carried over from JDM-20A. As a result, THF additive packages met the new specification without reformulation.
Thus: the JDM-20C packages likely yields a fluid that flunks the defunct JDM-20A Performance requirements.
And: As a result, farmers using these THFs may be buying themselves cold-flow problems: starting, starvation, and/or hot operation problems (high pump leakage, excessive gear wear and others). In addition, their oxidation resistance may be very poor, and this could lead to deposits, sludging, oil thickening, shortened service intervals and reduced equipment life.
By taking a closer look at the wording on THF labels, many fluids on the market don’t even say the products meet Deere, Case and other OEM specifications. Instead, they use phrases as “recommended for,” “commonly used,” “typically used,” or “can be used where the following recommendations are made.”
Lastly: there continues to be a market for these products. The THF’s in question are priced well below legitimate products. For farmers a cut-rate fluid may not meet specifications and could cost them much more in the long run.
Protection in Temperature Extremes
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Dealer Jeff Hubbard – Owner MotorSport Oil
Amsoil Synthetics T-1 Certified Dealer, Sturtevant, Wisconsin 53177
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