7 April 2000

Manitou aims to maintain pivot steer advantage

The UK continues to be one

of Europes largest markets

for telehandlers.

Andy Collings attended the

launch of Manitous latest

contribution – the pivot

steer MLA 628T

THERE are rigid telehandlers and there are pivot steer telehandlers – and each type has its own loyal following, says Manitous Paul Bidwell.

"It is only rarely that customers change from one format to the other, convinced as they are that their original choice remains the best," he says.

Last year UK farmers bought 1600 telehandlers, of which about a quarter were of the pivot steer type. Although more expensive than rigid builds, the operating advantages of such machines are clearly appreciated by more than a few.

All round visibility from a central seating position – with the boom at any height – an ability to sideshift loads and less tyre wear are frequently cited advantages for pivot steers.

"In many respects, we have Matbro to thank for the establishment of the UKs pivot steer market," says Mr Bidwell. "The company spent several years marketing such designs at extremely competitive prices."

With the introduction of the new MLA 628T, Manitou clearly aims to sustain this situation.

Based on the companys existing MLA 627T machine, the 628 features several significant changes, principally in the transmission and boom departments.

To start with, the boom is 200mm (8in) shorter, which, says Manitou, creates a more balanced machine and reduces any tendency for it to pitch when travelling at speed on the road.

A new boom nose now has an external tilt ram connected to a Z-linkage providing the operator with a clearer view of an attachment. As with the earlier model, the 628s boom has a low pivot point well below the operators line of sight – the large, intrusive metal mound which used to be stuck directly in front of the cab windscreen is now history, it seems.

On the transmission front, the Clark 12000 powershift unit now has two extra gear ratios; the original first-to-fourth span has been retained, but extra ratios between first and second, and third and fourth have been made available.

That provides a closer ratio grouping and overcomes the objection that earlier models had been too highly geared.

Transmission operation includes a twist-grip to change up or down the box. Fifth to sixth gear is automatic and kicks in at about 12mph.

A button at the end of the twist-grip can be used to quickly change down a gear each time it is pressed. For some reason Manitou calls this system a kick-down facility, but no feet or pedals are involved.

There is also a transmission disengagement button – a hydraulic dump button – which is used when, say, a bucketful of grain needs to be lifted quickly over the side of a lorry and forward or reverse movement is not required.

It allows full engine speed to be maintained – for fast lifting – and avoids having to manually disengage the transmission. Releasing the button reactivates directional travel.

Other modifications include an improved cab ventilation system, enhanced engine cooling and better engine silencing. &#42

MANITOU MLA 628T

Maximum lift capacity 2.8t.

Lift height 5.2m.

Forward reach 3m.

Engine Perkins 1004.4 106hp.

Transmission 6-speed Clark.

Top speed 33kph.

Price £44,000.

Above: Manitous MLA 628T is more compact and better balanced, says the company. Note the new boom nose with its external tilt ram. Below: Twist-grip gear change is on the left of the steering wheel and the transmission dump button is on the joystick on the far side of the cab.