21 February 1997

Few gripes for busy loader

Autumn 1995 and Manitou announces the launch of its MLA 627 telescopic loader. One of the first to purchase was Philip Hoddy, farm manager of a North Yorks estate. Andy Collings went to find out how it was doing

"THERE is always something that could be improved on a new machine," is the opening response from Philip Hoddy when asked his impressions of the Manitou MLA 627 Turbo telescopic loader he bought last year.

"Few manufacturers get things absolutely right when they launch a new machine, and the 627 is no exception."

Comments which could lead one to believe that Mr Hoddy is not over pleased with the performance of the machine. Far from it. In terms of work capabilities and reliability he has little to offer by way of complaint.

Running 485ha (1200 acres) at Wharram Le Street, eight miles south of Malton in North Yorks – an enterprise which includes 385ha (950 acres) of winter sown cereals and 2000 head of cattle – a good, purpose-built telescopic loader is considered to be an essential piece of kit.

The Maniscopic MLA 627 is an articulated machine which replaced a Matbro Teleram last August. The Matbro had clocked up 4750 hours.

"I wanted a loader which could match the specification of the Matbro," he explains. "In terms of transmission, handling and engine power the Matbro was hard to beat." So why change breeds?

"Well, the boom snapped. A weld on the main pivot point broke causing the whole boom to fail. It was a nasty moment which could have been dangerous.

"I believe the Manitou boom to be stronger – plus it has a different crowd ram assembly which does not place stress on the boom end," he says. But having said all that, Mr Hoddy admits he had a hard look at a few non-articulated loaders before settling on the Manitou. For all of them it was a question of visibility which brought most criticism.

"However hard manufacturers try to produce a rigid telescopic loader with good, all-round visibility, there will be problems," he says. "You might be able to see reasonably well with the boom right down, but at some point, the boom has got to pass the window, which prevents you seeing over to the offside. When bedding yards with cattle in you have got to be able to see at all times."

Mr Hoddy is clearly an advocate of the articulated loader concept. With such a large beef cattle enterprise straw is an important commodity. Harvest sees over 2500 big Hesston bales being brought into the barns, with the 627 responsible both for field clearance and stacking operations. Mucking out the yards, feeding and bedding keeps the machine busy during the winter and loading fertiliser and seed takes it through the spring.

"There is not a day the machine is not asked to do something," says Mr Hoddy.

For operator, Colin Parker, the 627 finds favour in several departments. "The single joystick control is logical in its actions – forward and back for boom lift and lower, and left and right for bucket crowd. Buttons on the joystick operate boom extension and an external hydraulic service."

But the buttons have had to be modified to prevent sticking. A rubber cover now stops dirt working down their sides.

Mr Parker also pays tribute to the high seat back which, he says, gives him support when changing direction during repetitive shuttle work. "It is a comfortable, roomy cab with ample all-round vision and the machine is easy to operate," he concludes.

So what are these "new machine improvements" Mr Hoddy refers to?

"A look at the engine compartment with its side swinging battery and easily cleaned radiators is, at first glance quite an open, accessible place," he says.

"But why cant the air cleaner be lifted clear with the hood to allow more room to the offside of the engine? And anyone who manages to check the level of the hydraulic oil on a daily basis without a good lead light is doing well.

"It would have been quite possible to have put a dipstick on the filler tube rather than having to study a sight glass buried halfway down the side of the engine block."

Is that all? "No. There is one grease nipple on the rear prop-shafts UJ which is totally inaccessible. We havent managed to get any grease in it at all."

Overall impressions?

"I am pleased with it. It manages to do all the work we ask and if it lasts as long as the Matbro I shall not be disappointed." &#42

Philip Hoddy with loader operator Colin Parker, who used the machine to load and stack over 2500 big Hesston bales last summer.

The offending air cleaner. "It should lift clear of the engine as the hood is raised," says Philip Hoddy. "A dipstick in the hydraulic filler would also help."

Approval for the battery location, which swings out to allow access to the nearside of the engine for oil checks and filter replacement.


MLA 627 TURBO


Engine Perkins 110hp

Transmission Powershift Clark 4×3

Max lift 2.7t

Max lift height 5.45m

Forward reach 3.23m