20 November 1998

WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A USED FARM LOADER

A new telescopic

loader, a versatile tool

on both livestock and

arable farms, is not

necessarily a cheap

option. First time buyers

could be tempted in

taking the second

hand route. Ian Marshall

gets some tips on the

critical points to look

for when buying a used

Manitou MLT 527

AS THE saying goes, a book should not be judged by its cover. The same can be true for a used telescopic loader. What really counts is its condition under the bodywork – not necessarily its outward appearance.

"In the current market, a three-year-old handler with highish hours, depending on its condition, will cost approximately £15-£18,000, against an equivalent new machines retail price of £34,500," explains Simon Toone, sales manager for Sharnford Tractors, Sharnford, Leics.

"There is a lot of working life in a machine of that vintage with around 4000hrs on the clock, whether it has a livestock or an arable background, providing it has been well-maintained and serviced regularly."

And buyers should remember, on these machines high hours does not always indicate they have been thrashed, insists Mr Toone.

"These handlers generally have higher hours due to the fact that they are fitted with electric clocks which record the actual time the engine has been running, not the time it has been running at a given number of revs," he explains.

But if the machine is being bought at auction, find out if possible where it came from and get an idea of how hard it has been worked.

"Filling and rolling silage clamps and towing are the operations which really test the whole machine," says Mr Toone

"Also get the machines service history. Superficial wear-and-tear do not normally affect performance, as long as it has been serviced.

"It will have been serviced at the manufacturers specified intervals for its first years warranty. From then on, most users do intermediate services themselves and, on average, put the machine into the dealer for a major service every 1000hrs."

But the general condition of the machine is the first indication of how it has been driven and looked after.

Collisions with walls or other obstacles are generally indicated by broken wing mirrors and dented side panels. If the offside panel has been damaged, see that it opens properly.

This also gives an opportunity to check for oil leaks on the boom compensator ram and the amount of play in the pins and bushes.

"These – and those in the boom head – are slow moving components and the pins are of a large diameter which do not turn in their housing," says Mr Toone. "So as long as they have been greased regularly, they are basically problem free."

When going round the handler also check the rear light clusters are intact and that the plastic surround on the radiator grill is undamaged, it will cost around £200 to replace.

Inspect the engine for oil leaks – lifting the bonnet reveals all hydraulic hoses, fuel filters and air pipes.

"Apart from sheer abuse, at 4000hrs a Perkins engine will still be in good condition – it is built for the type of work the handler does," says Mr Toone.

Inspect wheels for rim and tyre damage. "If the tread area is badly cut it shows the machine has been wheel spinning, which is a pointless exercise," comments Mr Toone.

"And while inspecting the tyres, check they have worn evenly all round. Due to the Manitous front/rear weight distribution and permanent four wheel drive, if there has been a puncture, the tyre should have been replaced with one of equal tread wear to the others."

Start her up

Then it is into the cab and start her up.

To check wear in the track rod ends, select four wheel steer and rock the steering wheel both ways, wheel response should be immediate.

Test the seals in the attachment head compensator ram by raising the boom to its full height and lower it – the attachment should remain level throughout the arc.

For the main boom seals, raise and extend the boom and switch off the engine – there should be no further boom downward movement through the control lever.

To assess whether the main boom upper and lower wear pads need shimming, extend the boom fully and take the weight of the machine on the attachment. There should not be an excessive amount of play.

Make sure the boom dampener valve is operating by retracting the boom rapidly – the inner sections last 75mm (3in) or so of travel should be visibly cushioned.

Finally, drive the handler.

Select fourth gear – if she pulls away easily, the transmission is sound. Drive the machine in all three steering modes – two wheel, crab and four wheel – to make sure they engage and in four wheel steer visually check that the wheels in stay in alignment. &#42

Left: Unscathed after three years work and 3900hrs on the clock, with a lot of life in it yet. A 2.7t to 5.2m Manitou MLT 527 in this condition carries a price tag of around £18,000,

says Simon Toone.

The general condition of the machine indicates how it has been driven and looked after. Its important to get hold of the machines service history too.

Make sure that the rear axle trunnion pin has been greased through both its front and rear nipples. And a servicing tip: Jack the rear wheels off the ground before greasing to enable the lubricant to get all round the pin.

Check track rod end wear by rocking the steering wheel backwards and forwards when in four-wheel steer.

Above and inset right: Wheels and tyres should not bear the marks of collisions and tyre wear should be even all round, says Simon Toone.

Above: To assess whether the main boom upper and lower wear pads need shimming, extend the boom fully and take the weight of the machine on the attachment.

Left: As long as they have been greased regularly ram pins and bushes are basically problem free.