Motor Graders Reengineered from the Ground Up

By Rod Sutton, Editor in Chief | September 28, 2010

Volvo G900 motor grader
Volvo paired its V-ACT diesels with its own transmissions in the new G900 motor graders.
Moldboard of Volvo G900 motor grader
The graders are designed with the transmission ahead of the articulation joint, an engineering feature that adds weight to the moldboard and enhances productivity, according to Volvo.

Goderich, Ontario, was the home of Champion Motor Graders for many years, and it has remained the site of Volvo Construction Equipment's motor grader operations since the company's purchase in 1997. Last month, Volvo invited us to Goderich to show off its new G900 series of graders. According to company officials, this is the first line that can truly be called Volvo, as it was engineered starting from a clean slate.

That's not to say Champion has been forgotten. In fact, says Brian Lowe, product and communications manager for the motor grader line, Volvo has integrated Champion technology into the Volvo G900 Series. The key example of that, Lowe says, is the configuration of the drive train within the grader frame.

The engine and final drive are behind the articulation joint; the transmission sits ahead of it. With the transmission forward, more weight is added to the blade. Weight and horsepower combine to provide production power, Lowe says.

Horsepower for the line comes from Volvo's own V-ACT diesels; the D9A powers the G970, G976 and G990 and the D7D powers the G900, G930, G940, G946 and G960. Both are Tier3/Stage IIIA compliant.

The power train, says Pat Olney, president of Volvo Motor Graders, is the best example of why these new graders are true Volvo machines. Volvo took the V-ACT diesels and paired them with the company's transmissions. Grader engineers, who had come from the Champion side, worked closely with Volvo engineers in other product groups to develop the G900 series power train.

The result is impressive. The optional HTE1160 transmission is the industry's first 11- speed grader transmission. The additional gears allow Volvo to increase travel speeds and provide additional fine-grading speeds. Numbers for the G940 show travel speed of 31 mph at rated rpm and a low-end speed of 1.2 mph at peak torque rpm.

The HTE1160 has standard Autoshift, and the machines we operated proved to be smooth- shifting. In creep mode, used for fine grading, we were able to maintain about 0.2 mph without jerking. Forward to reverse was effortless, and the shuttle shifting was high on the list of features Volvo's customer research revealed as important. The transmission automatically downshifts when stopping.

Standard transmission is the eight-speed HTE840, with eight forward and four reverse gears. The HTE1160 has 11 forward and six reverse. Volvo told us that about three-quarters of the machines are being ordered with the 11-speed transmission.

Volvo is targeting the line at contractors and municipal government groups, end-users that recognize the value in the engineering and are willing to invest in the additional productivity features, Volvo says.

Volvo G900 Series Motor Graders
Grader Model Engine Model Net Engine Power, First Gear (HP) Moldboard Length (ft.) Operating Weight (lb.)
G930 D7 155 12 34,300
G940 D7 175 12 35,200
G946 D7 175 12 36,700
G960 D7 195 12 36,800
G970 D9 210 12 39,000
G976 D9 210 12 40,500
G990 D9 225 14 46,300