14 April 2000


WITH its central cab giving good all-round visibility, the articulated-steer telescopic handler is often the preferred choice of machine for livestock farms.

Compared with their side-cab counterparts, there are fewer blind spots behind and to the right-hand side of these machines, while the articulated chassis steering gives the opportunity to accurately position bales into a stack or feed into a trough without having to shuttle back and forth.

The Matbro TR250, which pioneered this telehandler concept and is still in widespread use on UK farms, is no longer produced. Its design went to John Deere as part of the production rights sell-off and there is little sign that a successor will be part of the new Deere range when it is launched later this year.

The TR250 itself – or at least a near cousin – is likely to make an appearance before long, however, following the acquisition of Matbro parent Powerscreen by the giant crane and earth-moving manufacturer Terex.

The US corporations Terex Lifting division, based in the former Matbro factory at Tetbury, Glos, has indicated its intention to join the telehandler fray once manufacturing restrictions that form part of the John Deere deal have elapsed. It is already producing TR-like machines but with a fixed rather than telescopic boom.

Claas, meanwhile, has dropped the Teleporter 945GX articulated steer telehandler (citing insufficient market demand for what is a costlier model to build) ahead of its planned sale of the entire Teleporter range to Caterpillar – albeit with Claas continuing the market the machines to agricultural customers.

These changes leave JCB and Manitou in a head-to-head confrontation for sales of full-size centre-cab telehandlers, with German manufacturers Kramer, Schaffer, Weidemann and Bidell (with its Mengele machine) catering for smaller farms with a line up of mini and midi handlers.

JCB and Manitou are both heading into the new sales season with upgraded models. The JCB TM270 gets a revised version of its 106hp Perkins four-cylinder turbo engine with cleaner exhaust emissions and a useful 23% increase in torque output.

The drive system, comprising a four-speed gear box and torque converter put together by JCBs own transmissions division, is upgraded to heavier duty specification.

Other detail changes include an engine air pre-cleaner and an open core radiator with larger diameter cooling fan; a larger capacity hydraulic valve blocks; and subtle cab modifications aimed at improving cab entry/exit and rear visibility.

Handling performance is unchanged at 2700kg maximum lift, which it manages to full loading height of 5m.

Manitous package of changes for the MLA Maniscopic (now the 628T rather than the 627T) include a redesigned boom end which is said to improve forward visibility while reducing overall length by more than 200mm. Lower exhaust noise and improved engine cooling are also included but operators will find most change in the transmission department.

The Clark 12000 Series gearbox is used again but this time has six rather than four speeds. This provides a greater choice of ratios for handling operations, particularly filling silage clamps and gathering and loading bales, says Manitou.

A transmission disconnect button has been added to the Mono-Ultra joystick hydraulics control for easier loading and close-quarter handling.

Manitou rates the MLA 628T Maniscopic at 2800kg with Matbro-style FEM carriage, with the companys own fork tipping carriage reducing that to 2500kg. Rated lift at 3m forward reach is 1480kg and 1380kg. Lift height is 5.2m.

JCBs TM200, the Schaffer 870T and Weidemanns 4002 Telescop face up to each other when it comes to midi centre-cab telehandlers. The first two are rated at 2000kg, with Weidemann at 2400kg, with the two German machines offering a little more lift height at 4.9m compared with the TM200s 4.36m.

The Schaffer 870Ts choice of 110hp (four-cylinder Deutz) and 75hp (five-cylinder Kubota) engines neatly straddles the TM200s 96hp four-cylinder Perkins, while the Weidemann is potentially left a bit floundering with 65hp Perkins under its bonnet.

And while the JCB uses a four-speed gearbox and torque converter set-up, the Schaffer and Weidemann machines have two-speed hydrostatic four-wheel drive.

Hydrostatic drive also features on Kramers 418T telehandler which is alone among centre-cab machines in having all-wheel steering rather than an articulated chassis.

Rated at 1800kg, which it will take to full lift height of 4.55m, the Kramers hydro drive is powered by a 60hp Perkins engine slotted sideways into the tail.

If a more diminutive telehandler will do the job, then Schaffers Kubota engined 1750kg 550T and 1200kg 450T and Weidemanns Perkins-powered 790kg 1090 and 1880kg 3110 models could be just the thing. The two smallest models in each range are less than 1400mm wide, while the others slot in at around the 1600mm mark. &#42

Kramer 418 Telescopic is the lone centre-cab telehandler to have

four-wheel rather than articulated chassis steering. Hydrostatic

drive is powered by 60hp

Perkins motor across the tail.

Below: Latest Manitou MLA – the 628T – has a six-speed transmission. Sixth is an auto change from fifth once the machine is going fast enough; the extra intermediate gears are said to help improve performance.


Eberhardt UK (Mengele) 01908 616141

JCB Landpower 01538-755641

Kramer Allrad 01748-850232

Manitou 01202-825331

PLG Loaders (Weidemann) 01603-864404

Websters Hydraulic Loaders (Schaffer) 01455-221015

Schaffer 550T is middle of three models from the German manufacturer. Rated at 1750kg to 4.3m, its hydrostatic drive is powered by four-cylinder Kubota engine developing 50hp or 60hp.

JCBs TM270 articulated-steer telehandler gets a more robust transmission and torquier engine as part of an upgrade package that also sees engine cooling

and cab tweaks.

Above: As small as they come… Bidells Mengele K1 and K2 has a hydraulically extending front axle to preserve sideways stability.

Below: Weidemann 1090 is smallest of a three-model range, lifting loads to 4.16m. In the tail sits a 48hp four-cylinder Perkins motor.

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