5 June 1998

Better view is deciding factor

Some 10 months ago JCB

moved into the pivot steer

telehandler market with its

TM270. Ian Marshall got

the driving impressions of

one of its first users

ALL-ROUND visibility was the deciding factor in Tue Farmings decision to buy a JCB TM270 pivot-steer telehandler.

The machine meant a change from the design used for the previous seven years – JCBs Loadall.

"We thought the pivot-steer layout combined all the plus points of the old machine with better vision, especially in restricted areas, which was the only real criticism we had of the Loadall," says director, Alex Tue.

The TM270 arrived at the Tues 263ha (650-acre) Bromley Farm, Worthy, Sheffield, last August. During the past nine months, it has clocked up more than 850 hours with its work split 50/50 between agricultural and construction work.

On the building side, it is the workhorse moving materials about during the construction of new housing for the companys 1300 pedigree breeding sows. When it is not doing that, it is employed moving pallets, unloading fertiliser wagons, feeding stock, muck shifting for spreading on the farms arable land, or loading crated pigs on to lorries for export.

It is a varied life and the TM 270 has more than lived up to expectations. Gary Armitage, Bromley Farms arable foreman is the man who sits most in the driving seat.

"It is comfortable in the field and has a combination of speeds for yard and field work. Visibility is definitely better than on the Loadall – there isnt the high boom pivot and you are sitting above the job.

"Instruments are well laid out and the joystick gives you good control of boom functions. But I did have to get used to left foot braking. It is not like the Loadall, where the throttle and brake pedals are worked with the right foot," he says.

Manoeuvrability in most situations is considered to be better than that of the Loadall. "But you have to watch it in some tight situations. If you are not careful you can drive yourself into a corner and you do not have the Loadalls four-wheel or crab-steer to get you out," points out Mr Armitage. "Traction tends to be good too due to the pivot, which allows even weight distribution. As the machine articulates in the centre, ground contours are followed accurately."

Although the TM270 has a slightly shorter reach than the Loadall, it has not proved too great a handicap doing construction or field work. "It is very stable and has a reasonable working stretch," says Mr Tue, who adds that the machine is excellent on ripping work. "When tearing out muck, it performs more as a wheeled loading shovel."

The loaders operation might be satisfactory, but the design of the pallet fork attachment is, in Mr Tues opinion, not so. "It is a shocking design, especially for a piece of JCB equipment," he says.

"The tines are very heavy components which have to be manually lifted on to their cross shaft, where they are meant to be held in place by spring latches which do not hold. They are dangerous, finger-smashing, and need to be redesigned to fit on to a quick-fit attachment frame." Regarding reliability, there are few complaints. "There has been no wear on any bushes or pivot points and we have had no mechanical problems, not even an oil leak. It is easy to service, and you can reach all the components easily," says Mr Armitage, a qualified fitter who does all the maintenance work on the farms machinery.

There are a couple of other improvements which they think would improve the operators lot. "The removable radio-cassette players bracket design is a niggly but an ever-present irritation," says Mr Tue.

"When you brake hard, it slides out of its bracket and gets you around the temple – the retaining frame needs redesigning."

Mr Armitages bone of contention is the lack of a rain gutter outside the cab. "When it rains, water runs down the frame and on to the operator. JCB has a kit, but you should not need one on a machine of this price."

They would also like to see a larger fuel tank to enable it to handle a 12-14 hour stint loading muck spreaders without refuelling.

But, that said, the TM 270 is now the farms preferred design of materials handler.

"We will be looking to change the TM 270 in a couple of years. If it is financially viable, it will be replaced with another pivot steer machine," says Mr Tue. &#42

Tue Farmings machine operator Gary Armitage is comfortable with the controls on the TM270, which he reckons has better all-round visibility than the Loadalls he has been used to.

JCB TM270 DATA

&#8226 Engine Rear-mounted 106hp Perkins 1000 four cylinder turbo

&#8226 Transmission Four-speed powershift/powershuttle.

&#8226 Lift capacity 2.7t to max height of 5m (16.4ft).

&#8226 Reach 1.25t to max horizontal reach of 2.85m (9.3ft).

&#8226 Steering Articulated pivot.

&#8226 List price £41,665.