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On test: JCB TM170 and TM220 pivot-steer telehandlers

JCB has launched two pivot-steer telehandlers to the UK agricultural sector, and Farmers Guardian’s James Lane took a chance to test out the TM170 and TM220 models on the company’s farm in Staffordshire.

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Drivers of telehandlers fall into two camps it seems. You either prefer a pivot-steer or rigid chassis machine, and never the twain shall meet.


JCB has decided that it is those who favour a bendy machine who now get more choice as the UK-based manufacturer adds to its sole pivot-steer offering, the TM310 Agri, with new TM170 and TM220 models.


Those who have older TM200’s take note – these are both aimed at replacing your five-to six-year old machines.


Demand from the UK, Germany, France, Hungarian and Austrian markets has led to the development the TM170 and TM220, says Ed Roach of JCB. “Many TM200 machines, which are out working, need to be replaced and we wanted to build these new models before Tier 4 came into the equation,” he says.


“Our competition is Kramer, Weidemann, Atlas and Schaffer, and we feel the TM170 and TM220 will meet the requirements of competitive users who have these machines, or older JCB TM200s.”


The number designations roughly identify the model’s lift capacity – 1.7 tonnes on the TM170 and 2.1 tonnes on the TM220. But from September 2010, JCB along with all other telehandler manufacturers will be required to fit longitudinal load movement limiters to all telescopic machines as per EN15000 legislation.


This is a progressive cut-out system, which prevents operators from extending beyond the machine’s stability capability, and cannot be turned off, unlike most of the overload warnings now fitted.


Despite this limiting factor after it starts production in September 2010, what do you get for your money?


On the power plant front, JCB has gone for a four pot Deutz D2011 oil-cooled engine, which on the smaller machine is naturally aspirated and kicks out 62hp (42kW) and 190Nm of torque.


The larger machine uses the same powerplant but, with a turbo, it generates 75hp (56kW) and 250Nm. Service interval is 500 hours on the TM220 but a massive 1,000 hours on the non-blower TM170.


Drive is from a Rexroth hydrostatic unit, which propels the TM170 from zero to 6kph in low range, or zero to 30kph in high while the TM220 will reach 40kph. More on that later.


Cabs on both machines will look familiar to those ‘au fait’ with the company’s loading shovel range, as will the whole back end behind the pivot point. This is because JCB has utilised this part of its two smallest compact wheeled loaders, the 406 and 409.


The cab, to be fair, has actu-ally been modified with a roof window, fully opening and swing back right-hand window, plus additional storage for all of those tickets that accumulate in a farm loader.


To aid vision, the boom tower’s pivot point has been lowered over previous machines, with lift hoses and rams below the boom and only the extension ram on top. This boom is common to both machines, and is 300mm wide aiding in the view from the cab.


Controls for UK specification machines will be standard in single lever guise with proportional servo flow control and single auxiliary output, with option of a lower specification system on the TM170.


High specification hydraulics gives 60 litres per minute on the smaller model, with 78 litres per minute on the TM220. Flow was 60 litres per minute on the TM200 incidentally. Up front and carriage options are pin and cone, compact Loadall type or, interestingly, a EuroHitch type, which will fit certain front end loader attachments.


The joystick also features the now familiar trigger forward/ neutral/reverse shuttle control and rockers for boom and auxiliary flow.


Above this pair of switches are the high and low selectors for the hydrostatic, so easy to switch from travel speed into low speed, higher torque mode when into the muck heap.


On the subject of speeds, the TM220 tops out at 40kph as mentioned earlier. This is achieved by what JCB calls a ‘shift on the fly’ system, which can be activated by a switch on the right-hand console once the machine reaches above 6kph.


Aiding in road travel is the optional Smoothride system found on the company’s rigid body telehandlers.


So are JCB’s new kids on the pivot-steer block worth a look? Yes, if you have an older TM200 or Matbro pivot that has passed its sell by date or if you are open minded and looking for an alternative to your rigid telehandler.


One suspects, however, those in the rigid camp will stick their ground and leave the pivots to those in the know.


Testing the TM170 and TM220

Testing the TM170 and TM220

So what is it like to drive these new models? For a driver not used to a pivot steer (notably me), the sensation of the front end moving when turning the wheel was a bit bizarre at first but you really get used to the vision and angles you need to work at quickly.


Lining up with the target becomes easy, but is totally different to the four wheel steer on a rigid telehandler, although the pivot’s ability to almost side shift comes in useful.


Stacking Hesston straw bales in a shed, the TM220 could achieve five high with a bale spike, but with a twin grab this would gain you another layer.


For loading into a feeder wagon, you sit so high up you can almost see in, and it is that excellent vision which really ticks boxes with these machines.


The seating and steering positions are easily adjusted, and with the right hand window fully opening back, it is a nice airy cab to be in. The roof window is an added bonus and when loading bales up high it was clear enough to show where you were aiming although to get a good look at both sides required a slight lean to peer up out of the side windows.


On full lock, this is nominal and will aid in accurate placement in barns and stacks. The higher specification rocker switch controls really felt responsive and there seems to be plenty of grunt from the gurgling Deutz engine behind you.


In a fairly packed pile of Sir Anthony’s red deer muck, both machines had plenty of power to both tear out and lift although traction did wane somewhat when working into the pile as one would expect in wet, matted conditions.


But, in terms of capability, both machines will be ideal for mucking out jobs, loading wagons and general duties around both livestock and smaller arable units. Reach is very good, and load heights of 4,508mm (TM170) and 4,562mm (TM220) will enable most bulkers to be filled.

On the road

On the road and the higher speed transmission on the TM220 really comes into its own.


Once you get over the slightly odd noise and a delay of just under a second after activating the side console switch, the higher speed is engaged, indicated by a road symbol on the dashboard.


The hydrostatic drive takes its time but it does get up to the specified 40kph speed, and of course slows as you let your foot off the pedal with the left foot brake/inching pedal as backup.


Driving at this speed in a pivot steer takes some getting used to, but with Smoothride boom suspension fitted, as on the test machine, it becomes very comfortable and easier than you would think.

JCB pivot steer models - on sale September 2010





Engine Deutz 62hp oil cooled Deutz 75hp oil cooled, Turbocharged
Transmission Two range hydro - 0-6kph, 0-30kph Two range hydro - 0-6kph, 0-20kph with 40kph extra speed
Hydraulics Single lever servo with proportional control, plus single auxillary Single lever servo with proportional control, plus single auxillary
Operating weight 5,610kg 6,040kg
Lift capacity 1,700kg 2,100kg
Maximum pallet loading height 4,508mm 4,562mm
Height over cab 2,471mm 2,634mm
Width over tyres 1,752mm 1,902mm
Tyre Specification 400/70R18 400/70R20
Cab Full, with fold back door and right-hand window, roof window and suspension seat Full, with fold back door and right-hand window, roof window and suspension seat
Price (RRP) £45,905 £51,380
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