10 May 1996

Building trade spin-off again

By Michael Bird

THE majority of specialised handling machines employed in agriculture today have found their way into the farming market via the construction and allied industries.

At the launch of its latest tracked mini excavators and compact wheeled loaders, Kubota acknowledged that very few will be sold into agriculture straight from the dealers showroom. Sales director, John Woodward, commented that farm users will be more inclined to wait until they appear on the "pre-owned" market.

Models for farming

Of the five machines being launched by Kubota at next weeks SED 96 construction machinery event near Milton Keynes, there are three models which deserve the closest attention of the prospective agricultural user. These are the top models in the companys new tracked mini excavator range and both of the compact wheeled loaders, all built at Kubotas factory at Zweibrucken, Germany.

Kubota claims to have pioneered the mini excavator concept in the UK, introducing its first machine in 1979. The latest range, designated KX-2, will compete in the popular 3-5t class of a sector for which total sales of 3200 are forecast this year. Around 35 were bought for agricultural use in 1995.

Powered by a 40hp Kubota E-Series, low emission diesel engine, the top-of-the-range KX161-2 incorporates a number of novel features designed to reinforce Kubotas market-leading position.

One gear-type and two variable displacement hydraulic pumps are used which match oil flow to load, giving a maximum travel speed of 4.5km/hour (2.8mph) and bucket breakout force of 3.3t, said to be among the highest in their class. Combined with Kubotas Hydraulic Matching System (HMS), the total oil flow capability enables continuous straight line travel with simultaneous operation of the boom, dipper arm or standard dozer blade. HMS also cushions shock loads when stopping or starting the 360í slew or travel circuits.

Boom cylinder leak-back has been minimised so that gravity fall on the boom is around 90% slower than normal. A further useful feature is a hydraulic accumulator which allows the boom to be moved with the engine switched off. Maximum reach and digging depth are 5.7m (18.7ft) and 3.6m (11.8ft), respectively.

A major feature of all Kubotas mini-excavators is the exceptionally low noise levels both outside and within the cab. The latter includes a seat which can be adjusted on its own or with the controls to provide the best working position.

Price of the new KX-2 range starts at £30,800, with the cabbed KX161 retailing at £49,143. Rubber tracks are a no-extra-cost option.

Kubotas new 20 Series all-wheeled, compact articulated loaders are the companys first machines of their type without a backhoe loader. Featuring equal-size wheels, centre pivot steering and dual range load-sensing transmission, the new R420 and R520 front loaders take Kubota into a completely new sector of the industrial market.

Low emissions

Their manoeuvrability, load capacity and low emissions are expected to draw interest also from agricultural users working in and around crop stores and livestock buildings.

Powered by a Kubota 49hp diesel engine, the R520 shares its hydrostatic powershift transmission with the smaller 43hp R420. The change-on-the-move unit provides positive engine braking and a maximum speed of 20.1km/hour (12.5mph), with a push-button travel speed limiter to 4.8 km/hour (3mph) for safe work in constricted areas. Limited slip differentials are fitted to both driven axles.

Dump clearance heights are 2.6m (8.5ft) on the 520 and 2.2m (7.2ft) on the 420 with maximum load capacities to full lift height of 1.8t and 1.45t respectively. Clever features include an automatic return to dig position at full bucket drop and an auto-levelling system for the bucket at all heights.

In-cab sound levels are 82db (A), with entry provided on both sides via full-length doors which can be held open for greater ventilation.

Available with bucket capacities of 0.4 to 0.7cu m (14-25cu ft), the Kubota 420 costs from £28,200. The 520 can be used with a maximum 0.87cu m (31cu ft) bucket and costs from £36,860.

Sand, soil or muck: The new Kubota R420 articulated wheel loader appears to be equally at home on the farm or the building site.