29 May 1998

JCBs sidewinder goes bigger

JCB topped out its Loadall

Farm Special telescopic

handler range earlier this

year with the introduction of

its 540-70. Ian Marshall

gave it a workout

WITH a maximum payload of 4000kg and a lift height of 7m (23ft), the JCB 540-70 Loadall Farm Special has been introduced, says the company, to cater for the large scale farmer/contractor market, where its lift capacity and fast cycle times can be fully utilised.

Although the highest capacity machine in the Loadall range, the 540-70 is not radically new. It is a higher capacity development of the 2.9t 530-70 introduced last year – JCBs first move into side-engined, low boom handlers.

Structural

Where modifications have been made, they have been structural to take the extra strains of the increase in lift capacity and crowd ram forces – the machines two-stage boom has been beefed up and has a deeper section, for example.

One of the major benefits claimed for side-mounted engines is ease of accessibility.

So first it was round the machine under the courteous eye of demonstrator Andy Finney, carrying out those checks which need to be a daily discipline.

Swing back the rear-hinged door and the hydraulic filler cap/dipstick is in front of you. Open the bonnet on its gas strut support and it is the same for water, engine oil, transmission fluid, radiator and the quick release air filter.

The low boom also brings pivot point grease nipples within easy reach from the ground and plenty of room to reach the nipples on the steering rams and attachment head.

Then its a swing up into the cab through the stable-type nearside door, whose hinge has been changed in response to immediate criticism from early users – it didnt take long for the two sections to get out of alignment. Hanging both sections on a single hinge, seems to have cured the problem.

The cab is comfortably spacious – even for a broadish 6.2ft, 15-stoner – and the seats adjustments for leg length, rake and ride, and a tilt adjustable steering wheel, make it easy to get the right driving position.

Turn the key and you can hear the 540-70s 1004 series Perkins 4-cyl turbocharged engine come to life – but not intrusively, even when working with the upper door section open.

Visibility

Looking around, visibility is good to the front and side: until the boom is raised to an angle of around 30deg, its low mounting gives the driver a genuinely unobstructed view over his right shoulder.

Cab and control layout is that of the 530-70, except for the absence of a pedal to operate transmission disconnect, which is now activated by a trigger on the face of the joystick for the main hydraulic control lever. Having it hand-controlled does make things less complicated and allows precise control when using it for inching work in combination with the brake pedal.

With the manoeuvrability of crab steer, clearing muck from cattle pens in a fairly confined space presented no problems and the ability to control boom and attachment simultaneously through the joystick certainly made the operation continuous.

Having to negotiate a tight gap between a Fastrac/silage trailer combination and a feed barrier wall, quickly demonstrated the ease of changing steering modes and the advantage of being able to change from front wheel steer to crab steer on-the-move.

Overall, in the 540-70, JCB appears to have retained the manoeuvrability of its smaller loaders yet increased potential output of the machine. &#42

The 540-70 takes side-mounted engine, low boom JCB Loadalls in to the 4t capacity sector of the farming market. Lift height is 7m.

Side-mounting the engine gives easy access for routine servicing. Greasing pivot points is also easier.

JCB 540-70 DATA

&#8226 Engine: Side-mounted 79hp Perkins four cylinder turbo.

&#8226 Transmission: Four-speed powershift/powershuttle.

&#8226 Lift capacity: 4t to 6m (20ft), 2.5t to maximum height of 7m (23ft).

&#8226 Reach: 1.5t to maximum horizontal reach of 3.7m (12.2ft).

&#8226 Steering: Crab, front and all-wheel steering.

&#8226 List price: £41,950.