Sales of wheeled loaders of all types are at something of a cross roads here in Ireland. Yes, everybody can see the advantages in them, but they have yet to reach take off in point of terms of sales volume.

However, they are obviously selling in good numbers elsewhere for the manufacturers are putting a great deal of time and expense into developing them and some fruit of their labours was to be seen at the Farm Tractor and Machinery Trade Association (FTMTA) show during the week.

Plenty of choice

There were several major displays of loaders at the FTMTA show, with JCB and Claas showing models which, although not particularly new, have not received the attention they deserve.

JCB loaders machinery silage pit
The biggest JCB loader yet comes properly equipped for farm work

The big news from JCB is its largest loader yet, the 457S Agri Wheel Loader, which, the company is keen to point out, has a full agricultural specification and is not just a construction machine with cleated tyres.

Climbing up the soft face of silage clamps is hard work, especially when carrying a 3.3m3 load of of grass, which is as the maximum capacity of the MDE folding fork.

Tough loaders for farm work

This calls for a heavy duty drive train to get the 282hp to the wheels, and so axles and differentials have to be beefed up to cope with the stresses not normally found in construction-orientated machines.

The first example of the production line was sold to Mark Troy of Co. Cork and it was diverted to the FTMTA show for display before heading down for a busy time with Troy’s second cut.

It has a gross weight of 19.5t and a full turn tipping load of 10.5t.

Telescopic for tillage work

Alongside it, and also with full agricultural specification, was the company’s latest articulated telescopic unit, the JCB TM420S.

Although quite capable of working on a silage pit, the importers, ECI, suggest that it is more of a tool for tillage farmers with large amounts of produce to load quickly onto transport.

machinery telescopic loaders JCB
The latest JCB telescopic model is ideal for tillage farms

The lift capacity, of 4.1t, coupled with a hydraulic pump delivering 160L/minute, will make short work of filling a grain lorry.

For stacking bales its boom will extend to 5.45m and it can travel up to 50km/h on the road, powered by its 173hp Tier V engine.

Claas debut latest loaders

Meanwhile, over on the Claas stand, the company was showing off its latest Sinus range of loaders with a novel steering arrangement.

Claas Sinus agricultural
The Claas Sinus range is semi articulated with steering rear wheels

There is a broad divide in loader design between ‘all wheel’ and articulated steering. The latter has certain operational advantages, while the former boasts greater stability as its main feature.

Hybrid is a word that is being applied to an ever greater range of vehicles, but it would appear to describe exactly what Claas has created with the steering arrangement on these loaders.

Taking the middle ground

Claas has made a working compromise between the two basic design types by the simple expedient of connecting the front half of an articulated machine to pivoting rear wheels, thus greatly reducing the angle of articulation while retaining a tight turning circle.

The body articulation is limited to 30° while the rear wheels can turn by 25°, dramatically increasing stability with a high load and even reducing the turning circle in comparison to either type of standard machine.

Steering loaders Claas
A steering rod from the front half of the loader turns the rear wheels when articulating

Power for the Sinus range comes from either a John Deere unit in the larger machines, or courtesy of Yanmar in the smaller models.

The Sinus name may appear a little unusual, but it is from this Latin word that the trigonometrical term ‘sine’ is derived, and we can only assume that this was what the marketing folk had in mind, rather than a blocked nose, when they christened it thus.

Big brother for pit work

Not to be left out in the mega pit-loader market, the company was also showing of its latest Torion 1511p which is powered by a 225hp John Deere engine mounted right at the rear to act as counter balance.

Claas loaders Punchestown
Launched at the FTMTA show the Torion 1511p is the biggest loader from Claas yet

This to comes in full agricultural spec and has a 228L hydraulic pump at its heart.

As noted , climbing silage pits all day is hard and thirsty work, so a 300L diesel tank is to be welcomed, except perhaps, when it comes to paying for it to be filled.