Handler has good concept
A year has passed since
JCB introduced its first side-
engined, low boom
telescopic handler – the
Geoff Ashcroft spoke to
one of the first users about
I LIKE the concept of the machine, says Wiltshire farmer Steve Bush about his JCB 530-70 telescopic handler.
"Using a low slung boom and side-mounted engine is about right. Theres good vision all round and despite its 3t lift capacity and 7m reach, the machine is not too bulky for our buildings."
What appears at first glance, to have been an exercise in farm machinery styling, the JCB 530-70 has proved a valuable and practical asset to the 365ha (900-acre) Ebbdown Farm, North Wraxall, near Chippenham.
Spread over a 7-mile (11.2km) strip running along the M4 corridor, Ebbdown Farm supports 260ha (640 acres) of combinable crops, with 51ha (127 acres) under the countryside stewardship scheme and 53ha (133 acres) of grassland for 700 ewes.
"Weve good access to fields via farm tracks, though it calls for machinery capable of a good turn of speed," says Mr Bush. "The JCB is faster than the 12-year-old Sanderson Teleporter it replaced, though it really needs a good 40kph road gear."
Mr Bush points out the 530-70 is a heavy machine, which does help the ride comfort when towing trailers or carrying heavy loads – but says its not a machine you want running about on seed-beds.
With this in mind, and the improved lift and reach over the earlier Sanderson machine, Mr Bush now fills the fertiliser spreader and drill from the safety of the farm track, by simply reaching over the hedge.
Bought in Apr 97, the 530-70 is JCBs first venture into the side-engine, low boom concept and so far, Mr Bush is at ease with himself about buying an "all new" machine.
"Weve covered about 500 hours without major problems, though Ive been told the machine will be subject to updates and improvements as they occur," he says.
At the top of Mr Bushs wish list is a set of longer front mudguards to keep dirt from flying up onto the windscreen. Next is an improved door latch for when the top half of the cab door is pinned back, to stop rattling and third is a juddering boom which occurs when lowering at low engine revs.
"The diesel tank filler could do with a fresh look too. We have to fill slowly to avoid spilling – it takes about 8min."
On the plus side, Mr Bush reckons radiator cleaning is quick and easy, and general maintenance access is a doddle with the engine on the side. Though draining the engine oil called for a high-tech approach.
"Under the engine is a mesh screen to help cooling. Hinged on one side, it needs to be dropped down to reach the sump plug, but unless the machine is over a pit, or on blocks, the screen wont fall away from the sump far enough to get a container under the sump," he explains.
Not one to rush out and buy JCBs servicing adaptor kit, Mr Bush places a length of guttering under the sump, to run oil into a nearby container.
"Its a small point, but a bit more thought and the job could have been easy."
However, Mr Bush reckons he wont be disappointed as long as he continues to get the service and support necessary to iron out the bugs of having a brand new machine.
"But what was frustrating at the time of buying, was the fact that nearly all other handler manufacturers – except JCB – offered each others fork carriages to avoid spending a fortune changing attachments," he says. "And JCBs Q-fit carriage is very poor. The forks wont stay pinched on their cross shaft and attachments do float about a little when locked in place."
Despite occasionally needing a faster road gear and a little extra reach for those hard-to-get-to places, Mr Bush is more than pleased with the performance of the 530-70. "If it lasts as well as the previous machine, I will be extremely satisfied."
Ebbdown Farms machine operator Graham Leonard is pleased with the performance of the JCB 530-70.
"I can live with niggly problems on such a new machine, as long as theyre ironed out eventually," says Steve Bush of his JCB530-70.
JCB 530-70 DATA
• Engine: Side-mounted 106hp Perkins four-cylinder turbo.
• Transmission: Four-speed powershift/powershuttle.
• Lift capacity: 3t to 6.65m (21.8ft), 2.4t to maximum height of 7m (23ft).
• Reach: 1.25t to maximum horizontal reach of 3.7m (12.3ft).
• Steering: Crab, front and all-wheel steering.
• List price: £37,865.