Valmet 604 Tansania

1980 Valmet 604 – Made in Tanzania

Tanzania is Finland’s longest standing partner in development co-operation, which started officially in 1962, and today Tanzania is one of Finland’s eight long-term development partner countries and amongst the main receivers of aid. Back in 1980, Valmet signed an agreement with the State Motor Corporation (SMC) of Tanzania to establish a tractor plant there. The project was supported by the governments of both countries and led to the founding of TRAMA, Tanzania Tractors Manufacturing Company Ltd.

The tractor model chosen for the Tanzanian market was the Valmet 604 due to its simplicity and reliability. Expectations were high, and it helped that investments were targeted on tractor production and not on green field production facilities. Instead, the tractors would be assembled at the local Scania truck factory. The first two hundred Tanzanian Valmet tractors were manufactured in 1983, followed by 414 in 1984 and a record 729 in 1985.

In 1986 a structural adjustment programme was imposed on Tanzania by the International Monetary Fund, making it more difficult to secure financing to import components. The share of local fabrication was extremely small, amounting to no more than 12 percent of the value of the tractor. Local components included the front tyres, exhaust system, additional weights, a few steel parts, paints and oils. The open cab was also assembled locally.

In Finland the successor to the 604, the Volvo BM Valmet 405, was unveiled in 1985. The new model featured an 8+4R transmission. In Tanzania the new model continued to be sold as the 604 for marketing reasons. The tractor was powered by a Valmet 311 C/D engine. Four-wheel-drive and turbo versions were also introduced.Initially a few technical problems were experienced with the Tanzanian Valmets. Water pump damage was common, as customers often used unclean water for a coolant.

The design was accordingly changed, and TRAMA’s service organisation carried out a strong campaign to eliminate the problem in the field. TRAMA’s spare parts service and maintenance training were the best in the country and were also made possible thanks to Finnish development aid.

Suitable implements for the Valmet 604 were not manufactured in Tanzania, so TRAMA had to source disc ploughs from Zimbabwe and disc harrows from Brazil. In addition, a Yugoslavian trailer factory had been set up in Tanzania. The Valmet 604 proved to be quite a popular people carrier thanks to its flat mudguards.

The financial problems persisted, however, and production began to wane. Local production finally ceased by 1990. Altogether around two thousand Valmet 604 tractors were manufactured in Tanzania, of which 50 were exported to Sudan.

Valmet 604 Tanzania

The Valmet 604 was powered by a 3.3-litre three-cylinder engine producing 61 horsepower. The original transmission was based on a portal 6+2R gearbox. In 1987 this was replaced by a modern 8+4R planetary gearbox and wet multidisc brakes.

1980 Valmet 604

The Tanzanian Valmets were assembled at the local Scania truck factory, which had more than enough capacity to handle tractor production. This tractor has the new transmission and bigger mudguards with railings to enhance passenger safety.