26 June 1998

This telehandlers built with the farm in mind

Not satisfied with current

telehandler designs on the

market, Ken Heard decided

to design and build his own

– one that would

specifically suit on-farm work. Ian Marshall reports

WANTED: Manufacturer to put new concept materials handler into production.

Interested parties should contact farmer/contractor Ken Heard, Thistle House, Three Gates, Leics, who, together with his son Andrew, has designed and built a telehandler, the Teletrak, specifically to carry out farming operations.

Mr Heard farms 400ha (1000 acres) of combinable crops at Thistle House and runs a contracting business, a big part of which is a field clearance service involving the handling and carting of 50,000 straw bales produced by three D1000 balers.

As with most farmer inventions, the birth of the Teletrak was the result of a requirement for a specific type of machine. In Mr Heards case, a materials handler that had all the accepted features of a modern machine combined with good visibility and a high speed towing capability.

"Centre boom pivot steer materials handlers can provide the degree of all-round visibility we need, and can cope with our lift capacity and reach requirements," he explains.

"But with their torque converter transmissions, lack of engine braking and rear-wheel steer, they are unsuitable for towing our 13t capacity trailers at high speed on the road.

"Tractor-mounted front end loaders, while capable of 40kph have lift height, reach and weight limitations and lack manoeuvrability. To get the combination of features we needed, our only avenue was a clean-sheet approach: Design and build a machine ourselves."

The end result, after three years of designing, building and testing, is the Teletrak, a handler with a maximum lift capacity of 3t, a lift height of 6.8m (22.3ft) and the ability to lift 1t at a maximum forward reach of 4.4m (14.4ft). It will also tow a loaded trailer at speeds of up to 25mph. "And," points out Mr Heard, "it is classified as an agricultural vehicle and so is exempt from the telehandler towing restrictions."

All-round visibility comes from a cab located at the rear of machine and a driving position above the pivot point of a three-section centre-mounted boom, which also gives good sight of the load throughout boom extension and retraction.

Power, road speed and safe towing capability is provided by a 106hp turbocharged 4-cyl Perkins 1004 engine, driving to the front steering, axle through a 25mph Ford 40 series 12/12 tractor transmission with a range splitter and shuttle reverser.

Added traction comes from selectable four-wheel drive, and all-round hydraulic braking is through two separate systems. Electrically engaged four- and crab-wheel steer modes provide confined space manoeuvrability.

To give maximum stability, the engine (located under the cab) and back axle, plus an adapted Lynx three-point linkage and a John Deere hydraulically retractable pick-up hitch, are all mounted on the rear part of a two-section chassis. This is joined to the front section, on which the boom mounting is located, by a pivot pin about which the two sections move to give a degree of lateral oscillation.

Steering and braking work off a single, 125 litres/min (27.5gal) Danfoss variable displacement pump, as are all boom functions, which are controlled via a joystick.

Field testing, to date, has come from the Teletrak clocking up 1700 hours during the past two seasons carting and handling 40,000 big bales, in addition to grain carting, loading bulkers with a 2t capacity grain bucket.

"We have had no major problems and we feel the concept has proved itself," says Mr Heard of the Teletrak. "If a company was to take up the design and produce it commercially, it would be a vindication of the concept – and help recover at least part of my investment." &#42

TELETRAK SPECIFICATION

&#8226 Lift height 6.8m (22.3ft)

&#8226 Max outreach 4.4m (14.4ft)

&#8226 Max lift capacity 3000kg (3t)

&#8226 Max lift at max outreach 1000kg (1t)

&#8226 Engine 106hp Perkins

&#8226 Transmission Ford 12/12 + range splitter & shuttle reverser

&#8226 Drive 2WD/4WD

&#8226 Max road speed 25mph

&#8226 Overall length 4.95m (16.2ft)

&#8226 Overall width 2.63m (8.6ft)

&#8226 Overall height 2.70m (8.9ft)

&#8226 Tyres Michelin XM27 19.5LR24

&#8226 Outer turning radius 4m (13.1ft)

&#8226 Fuel tank capacity 180 litres (39.6gal)

&#8226 Hydraulic tank capacity 160 litres (35.2gal)

Farmer/contractor Ken Heard and his Teletrak. A new concept in materials handling featuring four-wheel-steer, all-round visibility and an ability to tow heavy loads on the road at speeds of up to 25mph.

Shifting 2t of fertiliser poses little problem for the Teletrak handler. Note the clear view that the operator has of the work in hand.

Unobstructed vision in all directions from the Teletrak cab – at all boom heights