No low points in
By Andy Collings
GOOD visibility, stability and reliability are the predictable demands of buyers of all telescopic loaders. And the Caterpillar TH62 would appear to achieve all three.
First sight of this latest Cat creation is to believe it is significantly longer than most other models available in the UK. But this is an illusion. A low level boom and low cab clearly deceive those who have preconceived ideas of telescopic loader proportions. But these are the only "low" points in a design to which Caterpillar has clearly put considerable thought.
Powered by a Perkins-built Cat 109hp, four-cylinder turbo, its mechanical transmission offers four forward, three reverse speeds with change-on-the-move.
Lift capacity is rated at 3000kg to a maximum height of 7.6m (25ft) and 1330kg at a full extension of 4.12m (13ft 6in).
So what is the TH62 like to drive? A climb into the cab is to instantly notice the all-round visibility afforded – not so much from the design of the cab but from the positioning of the boom. An inherent problem for most telescopic loader designs, it is one which Caterpillar has overcome by mounting the boom between the engine compartment and the cab – a design which has called for a certain ingenuity in the transmission department.
The engine tailshaft is joined first to a torque converter and then to the powershift before a drop box conveys the drive vertically downwards. Three gears then take the drive across to the propshaft.
Time to take stock of the controls. To the left of the steering wheel, on a stem, is the shuttle lever with twist grip selection of the gear ratios. The floor offers a left-foot brake, a differential lock for the front axle and a throttle. All OK so far.
The "pilot" lever for boom control takes a little longer. Conn-ected directly to a low pressure spool box which activates a high pressure box, boom raise and lower and crowd forward and rearward are instigated by moving the lever in one of the four quadrants. Boom extension requires a button to be pressed on the lever as it is moved to the left and right. Auxiliary hydraulic services are activated by a rocker switch on top of the lever.
And so to action. Engine start up, good look round, shuttle lever pushed forward with 2nd gear selected and… nothing. The handbrake in the "on" position has a transmission cut-out ensuring it is always pulled off before work starts.
On the move. Lively response to throttle. A change up through the gears by twisting the shuttle lever; a quick stop to test the inboard-mounted four-wheel brakes, and a change of direction into reverse.
With four-wheel-steer selected – there is also crab- and front- wheel only selected from a dashboard-mounted switch – manoeuvrability was impressive and allowed obstacles to be negotiated with reasonable ease.
Full power at tick-over
Time to try the loader. Pallet forks and two 500kg fertiliser bags proved to be little problem. It was noticeable how the hydraulic circuitry allowed almost full power to be produced at the rams even when the engine was on tick-over.
On with a bucket to provide some tough work with a pile of hardcore. Subtle use of the crowd and lift rams enabled reasonable bucketfuls to be achieved, although, as with other machines of its type, it was difficult to judge the buckets angle of attack. Pushing out the boom horizontally to its full extension with a full bucket failed to cause any stability problems – a progressive series of warning lights, receiving their instructions from sensors on the boom (not the back axle), provided ample warning of any trouble.
A useful feature when carrying out such heavy work is a trans-mission disconnect button which, when the brake pedal is depressed, allows engine power to be used to drive only the hydraulic system rather than trying to provide movement when it is not required.
It means a saving on tyres, undue wear on the transmission and an aid to driver comfort – providing he remembers to reduce engine speed before releasing the brake pedal, at which point the drive is reconnected.
Auxiliary services were tested through the use of a bale grab. Again, a simple enough operation for an experienced operator who knows the correct direction for button and lever.
Overall, Caterpillar can be pleased with the TH62. It is a machine which has style, comfort and, with the right operator, one which should be capable of meeting the needs of both arable and stock farmer.
Daily servicing – oil, water and hydraulic oil levels – is simplified through the convenient positioning of all filling points under the engine cowling.
And in terms of pricing, at £35,000 list – a price which includes pallet forks – it is claimed to be competitive. *