29 March 1996

Four-wheel steer to tempt stock farmer

By Andy Collings

STOCK farmers still debating whether to dispense with a tractor/loader and purchase a purpose-built telescopic machine now have some serious thinking to do.

For JCBs latest contribution – the four-wheel drive, four-wheel steer 520-50 Farm Special Loadall – is aimed directly at them.

Compact dimensions, but not at the expense of adequate power and lift capacity, the company feels it is now equipped to tackle the relatively untapped, yet potentially lucrative livestock sector.

The new, single chassis machine weighs in at about 4.5t. Width is 1.8m (6ft) and height 2.12m (6ft 11in) – diminutive dimensions when compared to many other machines, enabling it to operate in narrow feed passages and low buildings.

Lift capacity is rated at 2t to a maximum height of 5m (16ft 5in) with 0.7t being handled at a full horizontal reach of 2.7m (8ft 11in).

So much for the statistics – useful and clearly sufficient to meet the requirements of most. But it is the innovative construction of the machine which is its most appealing feature and could perhaps ensure its future.

Bearing in mind telescopic handler manufacturers have wrestled with the problem of all-round operator visibility since the concept was first introduced, JCB appears to have arrived at a solution.

Borrowing design technology used in the companys Robot skid-steer loaders, the boom of the 520-50 runs along the right-hand side of the machine at a low level, its main pivot points, as with the skid-steer, across the back of the machine. A right-angle bend at the front of the machine brings the implement attachment point into line.

The result is a centrally mounted cab and all-round visibility. It also enables the 71hp Perkins Series 1000 engine plant to be mounted in line with the drive train, avoiding any complicated transverse transmission systems. Based on JCBs 2CX back-hoe loader, the transmission comprises a 4-speed synchro shuttle with torque converter.

In the cab though, operators might still find room for improvement. Boom raise and bucket crowd controls are on a single lever, a second lever is responsible for boom extension while a third is used for external operations – muck grab tines, for example.

Despite a certain in-cab "untidiness", JCB has produced a machine which should find favour with stock farmers looking for a versatile machine capable of a wide range of tasks – tasks performed in confined spaces where a tractor/loader may be inoperable.

&#8226 Power: Perkins 1000, 71hp.

&#8226 Transmission: 4-speed shuttle.

&#8226 Lift capacity: 2t to 5m.

&#8226 Lift at full reach: 0.7t at 2.7m.

&#8226 Steering: Permanent opposite steer.

&#8226 Price: £23,855.

Compact , but the new JCB520-50 still offers a 2t lift capacity to a height of 5m (16.4ft). Far right:An offset boom allows for a centrally mounted cab and all-round visibility when lowered. Note the design of the boom-end.