There’s a special story behind Hy-Tran
In the early 1960s, International Harvester introduced new tractors with integrated transmission and hydraulic systems. This advanced new design included a common sump to hold one “do it all” tractor fluid, rather than separate gear, drive and hydraulic systems with separate fluids.
Mindful of the new demands for this tractor fluid, International Harvester lubricant engineers developed specifications for it that greatly exceeded any product on the market at the time.
A chemical engineer, Woodrow “Woodie” Hoch, owned a small specialty lubricants company called Viscosity Oil, which supplied IH’s test labs with oils and greases. He was intrigued by the challenge to meet the specs International Harvester set for its new tractor fluid.
“The specs were such a departure from anything the lubricant industry had seen at the time that there were very few takers,” recalls Jeff Hoch, Woodrow’s son and now president of Viscosity Oil.
The tractor fluid serves multiple roles. It must transmit power, cool and lubricate, protect against corrosion, and provide friction for the brakes. And, the IH engineers wanted an unprecedented level of water tolerance - the ability of the fluid to perform when contaminated with water.
Water finds its way into these systems, primarily through condensation, hitch couplers and worn hydraulic cylinder wiper seals. The water separates from the oil and takes the oil’s additives that provide its performance qualities with it. Through this separation of additives, and the various molecular changes that occur because of the water, the performance of the oil and the additives is reduced.
“Finding a way to prevent the oil and water from separating was the biggest hurdle,” says Hoch. “My dad spent two years of trial and error working with base oils and various additives to meet International Harvester’s specification.”
His persistence paid off. The formulation that ultimately passed IH’s water tolerance test also met the company’s other stringent performance requirements.
Hy-Tran was born, along with a special relationship that has evolved to represent a mutual commitment to quality and consistency. The senior Mr. Hoch’s small company became the sole producer of Hy-Tran, with the expectation that it provide an unwavering supply of Hy-Tran to International Harvester and its dealer network, a relationship that continues today.
In turn, IH and subsequently CNH have based many hydraulic and power transmission product designs on the performance of Hy-Tran. Among the many successes include the enviable performance record of Magnum tractor transmissions, made possible in part by the performance qualities of Hy-Tran.
“It’s no secret that equipment manufacturers set oil and lubricant specifications for the products; then oil companies blend those specs and supply the products as private label,” explains Hoch. “And, it’s not uncommon for these suppliers to change every few years as a result of competitive bidding. But Hy-Tran is unique. It’s produced by the same company that formulated it more than 40 years ago.”
That’s not to say the product hasn’t changed. Performance specifications change as new metals and other materials appear in equipment systems, and performance demands increase. Hy-Tran formulations are modified to meet them.
“All Hy-Tran changes are put through extensive testing. It’s a very robust approval process,” says Hoch. “With Hy-Tran, nothing is left to chance.”
Today’s Hy-Tran Ultra continues to have the industry’s highest level of water tolerance. Its additive package is zinc-free which is an advantage for older equipment, and it has exceptional resistance to shear for responsive hydraulic performance under high pressures and water load. It provides superior protection against corrosion and gear surface pitting, and its viscosity remains stable over a wide temperature range.
And, it’s a testament to Case IH’s commitment to provide parts and service products that assure original performance. “Hy-Tran is an amazing success story,” says Hoch. “There’s terrific loyalty from Case IH dealers and customers alike because the product works. It’s reliable. It has stood the test of time.”