31 March 2000

Revamped range heralds return of Matbro banner

Just over three years have

passed since Matbro ceased

production of its telehandler

range. From April this year

its new owners Terex Lifting

UK will assemble and

distribute two revamped

Matbro machines – the

TM200R and TM250R –

plus three Italian-built

Agrilift models. Andy Moore

test drove the prototype

TM250R model

SHOCK was the common reaction when Matbro ceased production of its telehandler range in January 1998.

With a market share of 40% in its heyday and a 3000 machine a year factory output, many could not understand why Matbro went under.

Dead but by no means buried, Matbro is now back with a vengeance – under new owners Terex Lifting UK, which bought Matbros parent company Powerscreen last August.

The aim of the acquisition was to consolidate Terexs existing core business of lifting equipment such as cranes and scissors lifts in both construction and agricultural markets. These markets will be further bolstered with a range of three Italian-imported telehandlers – the Agrilift 236, 357 and 359 – which will be available in limited numbers this year.

Under the old Matbro banner, Terex will take on assembly and distribution of revamped TR200 and TR250-110 models which are now badged the TM200R and TM250R. At face value, the machines are almost identical to the former Matbro models, apart from Terex white/grey livery and the inclusion of a rigid boom. But why a rigid boom?

When John Deere bought the design rights to Matbro telehandler designs, the construction of a telehandler by Powerscreen, and now Terex lifting was barred until Apr 2001. According to Bob Halls, managing director of Terex Lifting UK, the restriction should not hold back sales of such a machine.

"We have carried out research and found that only 20% of telehandler operators actually use the telescopic boom functions on their machines," he says. "In most cases, the telescopic boom is only used when the operator wants to stack bales high in sheds. The boom is used more when fully retracted for general farm utility jobs. We intend to make 50 of each rigid boom model starting in April this year, continue them as basic specification models next year, and then introduce equivalent telescopic versions."

In basic rigid boom format, Mr Halls says the telehandlers will be priced about 10 to 12% less than telescopic boom models – accounted for by the absence of an inner boom, pads, hydraulic rams and associated pipework.

For the TM250R rigid boom model, the maximum lift height is reduced from 5.3m to 4.3m, allowing a 2.5t lift capacity throughout the full lift arc. To compensate for the reduction in boom metal and to improve machine stability, Terex has added a 300kg rear counter weight, which will be later incorporated into the main ballast weight.

farmers weekly caught up with the TM250R working at Manor Farm near Tetbury, where a peak beneath its panels and a punishing test drive revealed there is more to the machine than just a rigid boom and white paint.

At first glance, opening the rear bonnet exposes the same in-line mounted four pot Perkins engine – but at second there is more to it than meets the eye. To adhere to new emission legislation, the unit has been chopped in for an environmentally friendly 1004 model which uses a catalytic converter type box. Power is rated at 114hp.

For engine cooling – an area which was considered a problem on earlier Matbro models – the radiator is now larger and features widened cores and fins to reduce the incidence of blockage. The radiators header tank has been repositioned to the offside of the engine.

On the bonnet itself, Terex has done little to address the air cleaner sprouting proudly out of the top, although experienced Matbro operators will note a better quality of paint finish, as used throughout the rest of the machine.

Another improvement is the use of heavier-duty new Clark axles, which have larger diameter half shafts.

On the cab front, appearance and interior remains identical apart from air conditioning which is now optional instead of standard. Cab access is from the same two sturdy steps – a left-hand grab bar providing grip for the operator to pull himself up through the spaciously wide doorway.

Once in the cab, the operator is surrounded by the familiar level of 360deg glass, allowing good visibility, although the rear air cleaner and bulky cab pillars restrict vision from its full potential.

Turning the ignition requires a stretch, but once in start mode, the four-cyl Perkins roars to life with the wastegate turbo making a characteristic whistle.

Forward/reverse directions are selected using the steering column shuttle, while speeds can be selected from one of three ways. Operation from the shuttle twist grip will allow control of speeds one to four, while a button on the end of the stalk or side of joystick enables selection of the speed below pre-set speeds two and three.

In operation, with the extra horsepower, wastegate turbocharger – and minus the heavy two-stage boom – the TM250R seemed to take on a new lease of life in heavy muck shifting work. The engine powered the telehandler effortlessly into the heap with apparently limited "soak up" of the hydrostatic transmission, while the twin lift cylinders powered up the boom and loading bucket with little affect on stability.

Overall, the TM250R should appeal to the producer or smaller grower seeking a basic specification, low cost machine having a reasonable loading capacity. &#42

TEREX TM250R

Engine 114hp 4-litre 4-cyl turbo

with wastegate.

Max Torque 448Nm @ 400rpm.

Trans Hydrostatic 4Fx4R

with button selection.

Lift Capacity/Height

2.5t to 4.3m.

Price £30,000.

The rigid boom reduces maximum lift height from 5.3m to 4.3m and allows a 2.5t lift capacity throughout the full lift arc.

Cab interior remains untouched apart from air conditioning offered as an optional extra instead of standard; speeds are selected using a twist grip, or by shuttle or joystick buttons.