Reviews

Test: John Deere 6100D

Sometimes the simple things in life are just better, as many operators of the John Deere 6100D have discovered.

When it comes to buying a new tractor, the 100-horsepower market probably has more options than any other, with a massive range of makes and models to suit almost all demands and requirements. As time has gone on and technology has advanced, manufacturers have started to realise that, despite all the fancy options, there is still a strong demand for a basic, simple, no-frills tractor. 

So, with that market in mind, John Deere has designed and built the 6100D Series tractors in its modern production plant in Mexico and is exporting them around the world. I headed down to Rotorua to catch up with the guys from Cervus Equipment and take a 6100D for a test drive.

Engine

Under the hinged single-piece bonnet sits a 4.5-litre, four-cylinder John Deere Power Tech engine with a 100hp rated output. This engine has featured in many John Deere tractors prior to common rail engines.

The downside of this engine is that it’s not very clean and green. The upside is that you get an incredibly simple and economical engine that has more than proven itself, with a number still out there working the paddocks that have clocked-up over 10,000 hours with very few problems.

Although I didn’t have the means to really put it through its paces on the day of the test, it seemed perky and reactive with plenty of torque when climbing hills. The shear simplicity, easy access to the engine components, and the suggested 500-hour service intervals should appeal to most, with less downtime and lower running costs.

Transmission

To keep the 6100D simple, John Deere has opted for a nine-speed transmission consisting of three gears in three ranges. Ranges A, B, and C are on the left-hand side of the seat and are well-spaced, are not synchromesh, and require the tractor to come to a complete stop before changing.

Having only three gears in each range is somewhat inconvenient and requires you to change range often. However, I found the gears in each range to be smooth and easy to move through. A wet clutch ensures easy shifting and should give many years of trouble-free use.

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A left-hand shuttle power reverser is definitely a welcome surprise in what is otherwise a fairly basic transmission. It was very smooth to use, changing the direction of travel with very little lag and without the need to use the clutch — a big plus if the tractor is to be equipped with a front end loader.

Hydraulics

The 6100D’s cleverly-designed hydraulic system uses a gear-driven dual rotary hydraulic pump, giving an output of 66 litres per minute at 2830psi. This will prove adequate for most tasks and on the day the tractor had no problems tipping the trailer on the back.

A separate component of the pump is used solely for the hydraulic steering circuit. This draws from the main transmission reservoir and provides an additional 26 litres per minute to ensure there is always enough oil flow for the steering rams, regardless of the oil being used through the rear ports.

Two SCV valves are standard, with an option for a third. The two standard valves feature a locking float position and quick-push couplers, although there is no adjustment for the flow rate or lock for constant pump.

PTO and three-point linkage

The PTO is engaged with a simple mechanical linkage lever beside the seat. It includes safety features that prevent the tractor being started when it is engaged, and also an alarm if the operator leaves the seat with the PTO running.

A reversible PTO stub with different gearing gives the option of 540rpm or 1000rpm speed by simply removing the retaining circlip and reversing the shaft. The three-point linkage only features fixed ball arms, although hitching is made simpler as they are telescopic.

A turnbuckle sway chain holds the arms in place. A simple lever is used to control the lift of the implement, with adjustable stoppers to set the maximum and minimum height of the implement.

Layout

Sturdy steps leading up to a flat floor operator’s platform and an easily-adjusted steering wheel all make for easy access for the operator. Once in the comfortable adjustable seat, the operator’s visibility is excellent in all directions.

The 6100D’s controls are within easy reach of the operator, with clear labelling and colour coding that makes it relatively easy for anyone to jump onto the tractor and drive it. To the right of the seat are the three-point linkage controls, hydraulics, and the main gear shift, while to the left is the PTO, four-wheel drive, and the range gear shift.

On the steering wheel, the power shuttle is on the left of the column and is well positioned to be used without taking your left hand completely off the steering wheel. A large hand throttle on the dash to the right of the steering wheel makes it easy to set the engine rpm.

A simple dash uses a combination of dials for the engine temp, fuel level, and rpm, while an electronic hour clock, indicator, and warning lights make up the rest of the dash.

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The verdict

The John Deere 6100D gives you access to the benefits of many tried and well-tested John Deere components, such as its Power Tech engine and gear-driven dual hydraulic pump that will give many years of trouble-free operation and low maintenance requirements.

The lack of gears in each range is something I found quite limiting, with only three gears to choose from. I believe even one more gear would make a huge difference. However, the inclusion of left-hand power reverser and a wet clutch is definitely a massive positive for operators.

The age old saying of ‘you get what you pay for’ definitely applies here, as John Deere has only included the basic requirements on this model and size of tractor and nothing extra, which overall is a great example of an affordable 100-horsepower tractor requiring only minimal capital outlay.

Pros

  • Well-proven 4.5-litre turbocharged John Deere power tech engine
  • Suggested 500hr servicing intervals to reduce maintenance costs
  • Electro-hydraulic power reverser 
  • Wet clutch
  • Gear-driven dual hydraulic pump with separate steering and external outputs

Cons

  • Limited gears with three ranges of three gears
  • No option for radial tyres
  • Lack of hydraulic flow rate control or lock for constant pump

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Photography: Brent Lilley

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