18 January 2002

JD pivot steers arrive

Comfort, reliability and

manoeuvrability are claimed

to be among the key features

of John Deeres new pivot

steer loaders. Andy Moore

put the flagship 3800

through its paces

WAIT and see has been John Deeres response from the outset when discussing its new pivot steer series, which first saw the light of day at Smithfield 2000.

And if that seemed a long time ago, there were whispers that the company was developing the machines four years ago.

But now they are here for real – two mean green machines which John Deere believes will take a healthy slice of the now expanding pivot steer sector.

The result is the flagship 3800, which is available immediately, and the 3700, which will come on stream this autumn. Both loaders inherit the same transmission, hydraulics as Deeres two rigid chassis machines and have similar engines. They are also built at the same Zweibrucken factory in Germany.

The 3700 boasts a maximum lift capacity and height of 2000kg and 4.71m, while the 3800 is capable of 2500kg and can lift up to 5.32m.

farmers weekly caught up with the 3800 – a machine which the company expects will command two-thirds of its pivot-steer sales. At close quarters, it is fair to say that Deere has not gone right back to the drawing board when designing and assembling the loaders. More than one of its components can be traced to other John Deere machinery.

Lifting the one-piece bonnet displays a 117hp 4.5-litre PowerTech borrowed from the companys 6420 tractor, which is mounted further forward to accommodate the new Dual Temperature cooling system fitted throughout the 6020 range.

With telehandlers renown for getting hot under the collar, Deere says the system and separate oil coolers are a key development.

Moving away from the powerhouse, the most striking feature on the pivot-steer is its conservatory-sized cab.

Promising acres of space, the cab does not disappoint once you have climbed in past mudguards which could, it seems, benefit from a little strengthening.

Greenhouse levels of glazing – air con is optional – provide good all-round views, although they could be maximised by repositioning the exhaust away from the rear window.

But forward vision is impressive despite Deere opting for a high boom pivot point to allow a lofty lift height and 3.18m forward reach. This has partly been achieved by mounting the extension ram outside rather than inside the boom.

Back in the cab, there is a host of goodies for gadget enthusiasts.

A spacious right-hand dashboard with large holes offers enough room to accommodate industrial sized flasks, a sheep dog and all manner of paraphernalia.

At the front of the operators station, the steering column and shuttle is borrowed from the 6020 series tractors, while the CommandArm console is taken from the companys combine range.

Gear selection, hydraulics and the boom are all controlled from the joystick, which, conveniently, is incorporated in the seat armrest, allowing the driver, seat and controls to move up and down together.

It would seem likely that such a console design and positioning must now be the route for all manufacturers to take. Speed selection and movements can be made from rocker switches on the joystick without committing the left hand to a twist grip or an inaccessible gear stick.

Like the rigid chassis models, the pivot steers come with a torque converter Turner transmission which delivers permanent 4WD power through a limited slip diff to a pair of ZF axles.

The 3800 sports a 5F/3R PowerShift transmission with a top speed of 32kph, while the 3700 is equipped with a 4F/4R synchronised version rated at 35kph. Both transmissions can be interchanged on each loader.

So, how does the loader perform? With the PowerTech purring like a cat, all the driver needs to get going is release the handbrake and push the shuttle forward.

Easy enough? Not quite. The operator has to remember to slide his hand through a "dead-mans" guard on the joystick so the transmission and boom can be operated. Hardly an inconvenience, the guard is an important safety feature, and speeds can also be selected by a rocker switch on the console during transport.

Selecting speeds by the trigger on the joystick takes a bit of getting used to at first; press the switch once and nothing happens. The operator has to hold the trigger down for over 2 secs before the transmission decides to select another gear indicated on a display on the front right corner post, alongside the load monitor.

Talking of load monitor, the device hardly made a sound throughout the entire test – even when digging into a sodden pile of chicken manure with the boom at full extension.

The more the 4cyl PowerTech is wound up, the more the load sensing hydraulic system and constant flow pump delivers the goods.

And the verdict? Combining a luxurious cab with serious levels of hydraulic power, the loaders might take a significant slice of the pivot steer market. &#42

Here at last… John Deeres Zweibrucken-built 3800 gets to grips with muck-shifting.

The one-piece bonnet reveals a 117hp 4.5-litre PowerTech block.

The CommandArm console is home to the joystick which controls the transmission and all boom movements.