17 May 1996

Innovation sets loader apart from the herd

By Andy Collings

A NEW skid steer loader slides into the UK agricultural market this week. Built by Derbyshire-based Belle Engineering, the new 761 offers several innovative features which the company believes sets it apart from other machines.

Out go conventional chain drives and, in their place, come individual hydraulic wheel motors. It is a transmission system not only claimed to increase lugging power but, with no need for chain carriers, also enables ground clearance to be improved.

Power for the 761 is provided by a four-cylinder, water-cooled Perkins engine rated at 46hp – other Belle machines have used Kubota blocks. Linked to a Sauer hydraulic pump, oil is fed to four Danfoss motors positioned in the wheel hubs.

Conventional control

Control is conventional to a degree. As with other machines, the operator needs to lower a safety bar to release boom and transmission controls. The 761 has mechanical locks on all functions. An interesting feature is that when driving the machine in a situation which does not require any violent directional changes – when driving into a long poultry house, for example, only one lever needs to be held.

Boom controls are positioned on the ends of the two main levers with crowd on the right and raise on the left. A separate foot pedal is used for external hydraulic services.

The boom itself differs from earlier designs in that the ends sweep together slightly at the front to allow the operator greater visibility. The implement attachment point is universal and can accommodate buckets, forks etc, manufactured by competitor makes.

A lift capacity of 625kg (1380lb) to a bucket hinge pin height of 2.8m (9ft 4in) is believed by Belle to be sufficient to satisfy most farm requirements.

Decked out in a new livery of aquatic green and white, the company has clearly set its sights on cornering a greater slice of the growing agricultural market.

"Sales of skid steer loaders into the agricultural market have more than doubled over the past three years," reports sales and marketing director, Nick Taylor.

"Last year we sold nearly 700 machines – 65 of them into agriculture with the total agricultural market now accounting for about 500 each year. It is a situation boosted by the BSE crisis which has increased interest in pig and poultry production – the market where such machines are increasingly used." &#42

&#8226 Engine: Perkins 46hp.

&#8226 Transmission: Hydrostatic wheel motors.

&#8226 Height: 1.9m (6ft 3in).

&#8226 Width with bucket: 1.5m (4ft 11in).

&#8226 Length with bucket: 3m (9ft 10in).

&#8226 Maximum lift: 625kg (1380lb).

&#8226 Maximum height: 2.8m (9ft 2in).

&#8226 Ground clearance: 245mm (9.8in).

&#8226 Price: £17,020.

New colours, new boom, new skidsteer. The Belle 761 goes through its paces at the firms base near Buxton, Derbyshire. Price is £17,060.