8 August 1997

How does JCBs pretender rate against rest?

The pivot steer telehandler market was recently increased by one as JCB introduced its TM270. Geoff Ashcroft gave it a workout

JCB makes no bones about the development of its TM270 pivot steer handler: It recognises Matbro has opened up a significant market for such a machine and decided to gain a slice of the action.

The firms interpretation of the 2.5t pivot steer market makes interesting reading. Of the 450-odd units sold each year, Matbro accounts for 79% with its TR250-110, Manitou is a not so close second with 11% for its MLA627 and Sanderson 9%, with the GX525.

With the TM270, JCB hopes to expand the market – based on its own reputation – while taking sales from Matbro and JCBs own smaller pivot steer machine, the TM200.

The first TM270 models are already out and initial customer reaction is described by the company as encouraging. So where does it score? farmers weekly went to JCBs headquarters at Rocester for a test drive.

First impressions count and the majority of these are formed in the driving seat, so thats where well start.

The first thing that hits you is the lack of boom pivot point staring you in the face. This clear view over the front of the handler has been achieved, says JCB, by trading off some of the lift height.

It means the TM270 lifts 2.7t to a maximum height of 5m (16.4ft) and 1.25t to a maximum forward reach of 2.85m (9.3ft).

Once nestled in to the TM270s KAB 411 adjustable seat, one immediately appreciates the driving position of a pivot steer handler. A curved front screen helps the visionary field, though looking into the pivot area would be much improved with a full-length glass screen.

Rearward vision is also complemented by a curved screen (and no C-posts), enabling rear corners of the diesel and hydraulic oil pannier tanks to be seen when reversing in confined spaces – but judging the distance over the rear of the bonnet still takes a little guess work.

Again, JCB describes the high bonnet line as a trade-off, but this time against plenty of ground clearance – 44cm (1.5ft).

A pick-up hitch is also planned for the TM270 and no doubt an accompanying mirror will ease the task of hitching up.

The cab is taken from the firms BZX loading shovel range – modified to accept a roof light to suit agricultural requirements.

Internal width is not the most generous and without air-conditioning (a planned late autumn option) the cab doors are swiftly pinned back against the engine cowling.

Doors – yes, there are two on the TM270, although the offside door can be considered to be more of an emergency exit than a regular point of entry. For those of slight build who insist on using it, however, the armrest mounted joystick control must first be raised to the vertical before access can be gained.

A couple of safety points here. When the armrest is raised, the hydraulic circuits to the joystick control are immobilised, and when the handbrake is applied, it automatically disconnects the transmission if the loader is in gear.

Majority of switches are carried on the armrest control, while the turn signals and dip/main beam are housed on the right-hand steering column control stalk.

The left-hand stalk is the industry standard transmission control lever, and on the TM270 this amounts to forwards/reverse shuttle and a twist grip to select the four powershift speeds.

Driving force for the TM270 is a 106hp Perkins 1000 series unit. Torque is 257lbf/ft at 1400rpm, and combined with the optional limited slip differentials, translates into some serious muck shifting ability.

Machine longevity hinges on a number of things – not least, the pivot assembly. And on the TM270, JCB designers have gone out of their way to make sure theirs is more than adequate for the job.

A forged steel pivot, it is also the point at which the chassis oscillates, rather than at the rear axle as on traditional designs.

It too, is a design taken from the firms B-series loading shovels and JCB claims makes the TM270 more stable than machines using an oscillating rear axle.

Clearly, the JCB TM270 has some way to go before it knocks Matbros TR250-110 off the podium. But at £40,622 (the list price of our test vehicle equipped with limited slip differentials) it could net JCB a suitable slice of the cake.

Latest contender in the pivot steer telescopic handler market is JCBs TM270 – 2.7t to 5m lift height and 1.25t to 2.85m forward reach.

Forged steel pivot assembly enables chassis oscillation as well as standard steering function. Said to be safer than axle oscillation.

Loader controls via single joystick which uses low pressure hydraulic system for main functions. Push buttons on stick are electro-hydraulic and used for boom extend/retract and auxiliary service.