A telehandler or loading shovel is not always the answer to everyone’s loading needs, so what is the alternative? James Rickard checks out Deere’s latest mid-sized 6R to see if it is up to the job.
While ‘big’ loader tractors will never find a huge market in the UK, with farmers and contractors favouring specialist machines such as telehandlers and loading shovels, there is no doubt they do have their place.
And for some operators it is the preferred setup, especially if large distances are to be covered and/or the versatility of a tractor cannot be done without. With that in mind, we decided to give John Deere’s new, mid-sized chassis, 6150R a test to see if its high-spec attributes are suited to loader work.
From a previous field test with its larger stablemate, the 6210R, it is clear the 6R series is very happy in the field, but what is it like in the confined space of a yard?
Equipped with the firm’s H360 loader we put it to test moving and carting muck. This gave us a chance to see what its manoeuvrability, stability, visibility and hydraulic response was like – all the things which make up a decent loader tractor. Also, hauling the muck revealed its lugging ability, pick-up hitch usability and driving comfort.
From the outset, the 6150R looks quite a bulky tractor, especially compared to the 6930 Premium model it replaces. However, climb aboard and you realise access is plentiful and its cab layout could not be more logical, withc most controls falling easily to hand. Its barn-like doors do take some pulling shut though, and they are a bit wobbly.
Visibility all-round is good for the most part, particularly aided by a roof window and a svelte-like cab frame which helps view the loader when it is in the air. It also features a second roof window which can be opened for some fresh air. Visibility to the bucket when it is on the ground is a bit challenging, not helped by a chunky bonnet and substantial loader framework. However, there is a gauge on the loader which shows when the bucket is level, and you can just about see the loader bracket when hooking up attachments.
Sightlines to the front wheels are also impeded by the loader’s high-mounted mechanical parallel linkage, which is a slight issue in confined spaces. Perhaps hydraulic parallel linkage, which is an option, might be the answer.
Transmission wise, the R scores well, using the industry-respected Autoquad transmission which is smooth and quick, affording 20 gears in five ranges. Its clutch is light and silky smooth and its shuttle provides effortless direction changes. Although, if you are new to this tractor you can occasionally mix up the dash-mounted shuttle lever with the indicator stalk.
To alter and set-up tractor functions requires delving into its touch screen terminal. Do not be put off by this. Unlike a lot of terminals, this one is one of the more user friendly types and is fairly straightforward to use with clear icons to help you navigate.
For convenience, the loader joystick is built into the armrest, which is adjustable. It also incorporates control for the powershift transmission, which is a real bonus when manoeuvring around the yard.
At low revs the loader is very responsive, hardly working the Deere’s six pots resulting in pretty quick cycle times. On most occasions the rev counter hardly exceeded 1,200rpm when loading the trailer from a heap.
The loader features a multi-coupler on the tool carrier designed to get attachments on and off quicker and easier, which it does. It is also better than faffing about with pressurised pipes which can be a nightmare, especially when it is cold.
A multi-coupler is also used when disconnecting the complete loader. No fancy locking mechanisms are used to hold the loader in-place, just two big, simple, confidence-inspiring pins. For storage, the loader incorporates two fold-down legs.
For loader maintenance, conveniently positioned grease points adorn the ends of each pin and pivot point. Boom suspension also provides a good level of comfort.
Carting the muck down a rough track revealed a comfy tractor to drive, aided by front, triple link suspension. When faced with a hill, the PowerTech engine just hunkered down and got on with it, providing a decent dollop of torque to the wheels.
As a loader tractor, the 6150R does not do a bad job. The combination is not going to suit everybody as we suspected, but then, it is not supposed to.
It is certainly too big as a loading machine around a livestock farm, but we can see it settling in on a large arable farm as a support loader to a specialised machine. It also has the advantage of being able to drop the loader off and be a very capable tractor in-field.
Contractors also might like it if long distances are involved where a loader is required but a telehandler or wheeled loader is not favourable for road work.
Its rapid hydraulics makes the Deere-made loader very responsive and stability is good from the ‘big’ tractor. Turning circle could be a bit better, as could visibility down to the attachments.
All in all, the 6R provides a very pleasant place to work.