9 January 1998

Narrow passages wont deter Merlo telehandler

Italian handler maker Merlo

has extended its seven

model telehandler range with

the narrow P26.6 EVT.

Geoff Ashcroft gave it a

workout

IGNORING the pint-sized Super Compact P23.6 EV-SC, Merlo has traditionally targeted the 7m (22ft) and 9m (29.5ft) telehandler markets with its high capacity Turbo Farmer range.

Enter the P26.6 EVT, nestling in at the bottom end of the Turbo Farmer range.

Lifting 2.6t to a height of 5.98m (19.6ft) and reaching 3.2m (10.4ft) with a 1.3t load, the P26.6 is said to be a combination of Super Compact and Turbo Farmer models. Merlo says the machine offers livestock farmers a manoeuvrable and capable handler for working in narrow feed passages with low roof heights.

Using Merlos proven low boom design layout, the P26.6 offers a side-mounted 114hp turbocharged Perkins engine driving a twin range hydrostatic transmission. On the road, its good for 24.9mph (40kph).

Where the P26.6 differs from larger Turbo Farmer models is in its use of a narrower chassis, and the use of cast housings on its "drop pinion" axles to maintain a generous ground clearance. As a result, overall width is 2m (6.5ft), while ground clearance is 50cm (20in). Larger Turbo Farmermodels have a 2.2m (7.2ft) width.

Hopping into the seat it becomes clear that the cab has been taken from the smaller Super Compact model and this results in a low overall height of 2.19m (7.1ft).

Once seated, theres a feeling of cosiness from the narrow cab, but no shortage of headroom. And with the seat comfortably adjusted, its time to put the P26.6 to work.

In addition to the usual controls and main loader joystick, close to the right elbow are three short hydraulic levers. These allow the selection of rear axle diff-lock, transmission low/high ranges and one of three steering modes. A twist of the key and the 114hp Perkins motor fires first time.

The handbrake is now a "spring on/hydraulic off" affair and is failsafe – switching off the engine automatically applies the brake.

With forward selected on the steering column-mounted control lever, a firm push on the throttle gives instant response from the hydrostatic transmission.

The four-function joystick control however, requires a fair degree of manual dexterity to operate. Apart from being unable to adjust the levers position in relation to seat and steering controls, the rounded black joystick will suit large hands – but the micro-switch-type push buttons on the front and side of the joystick wont.

Pressing the button

The two buttons on the front edge of the joystick are primarily used to operate boom extend/retract functions – pressing the button on the side of the joystick changes their operation to control auxiliary functions. In this instance they control the grab. And you need to maintain pressure on the side button while operating the two main buttons to use this auxiliary function.

Trying to crowd and lift while simultaneously grabbing muck is a fine skill to have – if you can co-ordinate all functions of the joystick.

From the seat, the most noticeable restriction from this side-cabbed machine is positioning the front offside corner of the muck fork, with the boom lowered – the low cab position not helping the view to this front corner.

When reversing however, the low boom presents an altogether different picture. Backing out of a shed and manoeuvring to the offside is never likely to be easier in a rigid chassis telehandler than with the Merlo.

Merlos narrow P26.6 EVT has been introduced to suit livestock buildings with narrow feed passages and low roofs.

MERLODATA

&#8226 Model: P26.6 EVT Turbo Farmer

&#8226 Engine: 114hp Perkins four-cyl turbo

&#8226 Transmission: Twin range hydrostatic

&#8226 Maximum lift: 2.6t to 5.9m

&#8226 Maximum horizontal reach: 1.3t to 3.2m

&#8226 Price: £33,600