Second look at telescopics
By Andy Collings
CATERPILLAR is poised to make another attempt at capturing a slice of the agricultural telescopic loader market – a market which amounts to about 1200-1500 models a year in the UK.
Three years ago the company introduced a range of machines which, on its own admission, had their problems – particularly in the electro-hydraulic control systems.
But now, with the launch of the new TH series, Caterpillar believes it has it right.
Key feature of the five-model range is the machines low boom pivot point which enables an operator to have an almost unobstructed view, both to the front and rear and to either side of the vehicle.
The reason? A side-mounted engine which provides space for the boom to be mounted low down on the chassis, in a gap created between the engine compartment and the cab. Not entirely original – a similar configuration is used for the hydrostatic Merlo loaders – it is a solution to a problem which telescopic loader manufacturers have wrestled with since such machines were first introduced.
Assembled at Desford, Leics, the TH range is powered by 101hp Cat 3054 turbocharged engines.
Interestingly, these engines are built for Caterpillar by Perkins at Peterborough. And perhaps of greater interest is to know that Caterpillar relies on outside contractors to fabricate all the TH loaders parts.
With the engine mounted parallel to the propshaft, and some distance away from it, the drive train clearly taxed the ingenuity of designers who were keen to employ a mechanical drive system rather than a more simply installed hydrostatic drive.
The engine tailshaft connects first to a torque converter and then to the powershift transmission. A drop box conveys the drive vertically downwards before three gears take the drive across to the propshaft.
Four gear ratios can be selected from the powershift. A twist grip on a steering column stem allows the appropriate gear to be chosen both simply and conveniently. The same lever is also employed as the machines shuttle control.
Still in the cab, a single joystick is used to operate all of the boom functions – including a single external function.
As with most modern telescopic loaders, four-wheel-steer – opposite, crab and front only – is a standard feature, with turning radius in full opposite mode stated at 3.79m (12ft 5in).
With Caterpillar now organising a dealer network to market the TH series, it will be interesting to see how these new machines will be received. Starting price for the TH62 is about £35,000.
Caterpillar TH loader series
Engine101 DIN hp Caterpillar four-cylinder turbo
TransmissionFour forward, three reverse powershift gearbox with torque converter
Drive trainTransverse transfer gears to propshafts; rigid front axle with lockable differential, pivot rear axle; permanent four-wheel-drive.
SteeringFront-wheel, four-wheel and crab-steer
HydraulicsLoad sensing variable flow pump
Boom controlSingle lever
Rated lift capacity3000kg4000kg3000kg4000kg5000kg
Capacity to full height1500kg3500kg2500kg3500kg4000kg
Lift at max reach1330kg1680kg1540kg1500kg2200kg