26 March 1999

Sharper design adds to comfort and efficiency

With its MLT range, Manitou

joins the band of telehandler

manufacturers who have

exploited the benefits of a

side-mounted engine in their

agricultural specification

telescopic boom machines.

Ian Marshall put the latest

top of the range model

through its paces

PERFORMANCE and operator environment, two key elements of machine design Manitou insists it has significantly improved on its latest generation of telescopic boom materials handlers.

Unveiled in February (Machinery, Feb 19) and launched at the Sima Show in Paris, the MLT range is offered in three models. The MLT 629 and 633 have respective lifts of 2.9t and 3.3t to 6m (20ft) and 1.2t and 1.5t to a forward reach of 3.25m (11ft); the MLT 730 takes 3t to 6.5m (21ft 6in) with 1t to a forward reach of 4.16m (14ft).

Design objectives for the new range, says Manitou, were increased output, better visibility, improved operator comfort, and compactness.

To achieve them, the company has turned to a side mounted engine, although new to its agricultural machines, it is a layout used for the past four years on high lift construction models.

Power comes from the latest Perkins environmentally friendly 1004.42 engine, with a choice of outputs, starting at 90hp from a naturally-aspirated block, lifting to 106hp with turbocharging and 120hp with the addition of intercooling.

A four-speed torque converter transmission is standard across the range, with a five speed powershift available on turbo versions of the MLT 633 and 730.

Hydraulic controls come in the form of a direct mounted joystick on naturally aspirated models. On turbo machines, users have a choice of Mono lever electro-hydraulic control or Mono Ultra with load sensing, which allows the simultaneous operation of all boom and attachment functions.

farmers weekly caught up with a top of the range MLT 633-120 LS powershift – 120hp and 144 litres/min hydraulic pump with load sensing – at Manitous headquarters in France.

As with all the models in the new range, the 633 is completely different from its predecessor. By comparison the MLT 628 is stylistically challenged.

Side-mounting the engine has allowed the 633s boom pivot point to be moved to the back of the machine and lowered by some 25cm (10in) and the chassis to be narrowed by 12.5cm (5in); integrating the drawbar into the rear counterweight has cut 19cm (1ft 8in) off the machines length (from rear to attachment carriage).

The sense of compactness is added to by a contoured engine cover and a sleeker, more rounded cab, which has brought the overall height of the machine down by 60mm (2.5in) on standard 24in tyres. Under counterweight ground clearance remains at 44cm (1ft 6in).

It is a short step up into the cab, although a grab handle on the right-hand door pillar would help. Operators will welcome the brightness that comes from floor to ceiling glass and light grey trim, and the roominess of an additional 25% of interior space.

Switches are neatly laid out on a panel to the right of the steering wheel and the, now progressive, load indicator is easily seen in its position at the base of the offside A-pillar.

Adjust the cloth covered seat and steering wheel, look around and one of the benefits of side mounting the engine becomes apparent immediately – genuine 360í visibility with the arm lowered in the transport position.

And the operators all round vision throughout the boom lift arc is as good as possible, given the constraints of a rigid chassis, side boom design.

Start the machine and into gear, achieved by turning a four position twist grip on the column-mounted shuttle reverser lever: Anti-clockwise to go up the box, clockwise to come down.

Although easy, it is an uninstinctive progression, but no doubt one operators will soon get accustomed to with use.

The ability to go up and down a gear by simply pressing the powershift button on the end of the stalk is a handy feature when manoeuvring and gives the machine a fair turn of speed when used as a fifth overdrive.

Time spent on pallet work also showed Manitous engineers have gone a long way to succeeding in their aim of enabling operators to achieve good cycle times in the field.

All boom and attachment functions are controlled effortlessly by simple wrist movements via the Mono Ultra hydraulic control lever, the 144 litre/min hydraulic pump giving instant response.

Speed and ease of operation is also improved by the combination of load sensing and the innovative drop-nose boom, the ability to position the boom and see the right-hand side of the attachment cuts down time spent positioning the machine before a load is lifted or placed.

The MLT 633-120 LS and its 629 and 730 stablemates will make their UK debut in late April, when their new design and technical strengths will certainly attract the attentions of a wide cross section of farmers and contractors. &#42

MANITOUMLT 633-120 LS

&#8226 Engine: Side mounted 120hp Perkins 4-cyl turbocharged and intercooled

&#8226 Transmission: Four speed with torque converter, shuttle reverser and powershift

&#8226 Drive: Permanent 4WD

&#8226 Steering: Two wheel, four wheel and crab

&#8226 Lift capacity: 2.9t to 6m (20ft)

&#8226 Reach: 1.5t to maximum horizontal reach of 3.25m (11ft)

&#8226 Outside turning radius*: 3.70m (12ft)

&#8226 List price: About £43,500

*On standard 17.5 LR 24 tyres.