Coming from a construction background, Italian-built Venieri wheeled loaders are now being imported into the UK by Powys machinery dealer RVW Pugh. Geoff Ashcroft finds out more with a test drive.
Venieri is a new make of wheeled loader being brought into the UK to provide farmers and contractors with yet more material handling options.
While the full line-up includes machines extending from the compact, 50hp VF 2.63G up to the 225hp VF 18.63, importers, RVW Pugh has started tentatively, and is bringing in just two models initially.
These are the 67hp VF 3.63G with an operating weight of 5.3 tonnes and the 177hp VF 13.63 with an operating weight of 14.6 tonnes.
Robert Pugh, managing director RVW Pugh says; “We are experiencing high demand for a machine that is bigger and better than a telehandler.
“Given the amount of AD plants in this area, plus contractors too, we believe that a wheeled loader is the next logical step to improve material handling productivity.”
Based on the success of the first two models to arrive, Mr Pugh says he will consider bringing larger and smaller loaders into the UK to suit customer’s requirements. He is also looking to appoint a dedicated construction equipment sales person to support industrial sectors beyond the local agricultural market.
And he has not ruled out sub-distribution through other dealers to broaden the availability of the Venieri range across the country.
The biggest seller is expected to be this 13.7 tonne VF 13.63, which packs 177hp from its 6.6-litre Perkins Stage 3a six-pot engine. As a small-scale manufacturer working with engine flex credits, Venieri still has a few Stage 3a engines to use up. It is viewed as a cost effective alternative to the Stage 3b Deutz power unit already available.
Those opting for the AdBlue-equipped, Deutz-powered version will pay about £4,000 more and Mr Pugh says a lot of his customers are resisting the move to AdBlue engines when less complex alternatives remain available.
Daily checks and filter access could be better – fixed rear mudguards make it awkward to get to the engine, though a set of fold-out steps at the rear simplify access to the cooling pack for cleaning.
The bonnet is opened using a cable release located inside the cab and is raised on gas struts. Service intervals are 500 hours for the engine and 1,000 hours for the transmission.
Hydrostatic transmissions are used across the range and this is something that Pugh sees as an advantage over torque converter systems.
“We have a lot of experience and familiarity with hydrostatics from selling Merlo handlers – we look after over 400 of them,” he says.
The 13.63 gets a 40kph travel speed and a triple-range hydro, with traction boosted by the inclusion of limited slip differentials in both axles.
Venieri is keen to promote a mechanically straightforward machine and the exclusion of electronics, with the exception of those needed to run the engine, will be a move welcomed by many.
As a result, low-pressure pilot controls sit beneath the joystick and give a direct feel to the loader lever. The hydraulic system uses a twin pump, variable displacement system offering a maximum flow of 175 litres/min.
Up front, 3rd and 4th line auxiliary services are piped ready for attachments, and the loader arms use a Z-bar linkage system. The attachment carriage is one which matches Volvo’s pattern.
In the cab, a traditional shuttle control resides on the left-hand side of the steering column, though the use of a rocker switch allows operators to choose to move F/N/R onto a thumb switch on top of the joystick. Two buttons on the face of the joystick are used to control the attachment locking pins, while a separate lever on the right-hand console gives control, in this instance, of the folding fork. These would be much more convenient if swapped round.
Added functionality comes from a transmission kick-down button on the back of the joystick.
On the clamp, the transmission is set in its lowest range and the 13.63 does a good job of getting its power down. But up on the clamp, its relatively narrow 620 tyres cut in too much, hampering progress unless you work in thin layers.
Flicking between forward/reverse is easy and progressive, though it lacks the responsiveness of a powershift transmission, which would be keener in engaging drive. There was a delay in taking up drive when changing direction, no doubt a result of the hydrostatic driveline needing plenty of revs to deliver torque to the wheels.
While the joystick offers good feel for what is happening up front, the big fork proved a touch awkward when spreading and levelling grass.
That said, the cab is a pleasant place to sit despite the faux-leather looking brown interior, and noise levels are reasonably well controlled. Despite that shallow rear window, the seating position and stylish rear end make it easy to see down the sides of the loader when reversing.
Our clamp experience proved that the VF 13.63 is a machine that is unlikely to disappoint.
Without electronic intervention – only the engine has electronic management – there is a direct feel to the joystick and the machine’s driveline. Though the greedy Albutt fork fitted to this test model could have done with shorter tines to improve grass spreading and flicking of the fork carriage, as this was an area where the hydraulic system struggled to keep up.
Wider tyres than the 620/70 R26’s fitted would have prevented the machine from sinking into the clamp, so care is needed when choosing spec. Visibility is good, though the machine’s swooping body lines and stylish curves are an acquired taste.
The location of Pugh’s three depots – Churchstoke, Holmes Chapel and Market Drayton – will naturally restrict nationwide acceptance of the brand, unless sub-dealers are appointed. While the price of this VF 13.63 is an attractive starting point, it will be residual values combined with used equipment demand that will ultimately influence its acceptance.
Italian equipment maker VF Venieri is better known in Europe in the construction sector.
Based in Lugo, Italy, the company now produces a range of all-wheel steer and articulated backhoe loaders in addition to its 11-model range of wheeled loaders.
Owned by the Venieri family, the business has been building machines since 1947, when Ferdinando Venieri created his first crawler tractor. The business started to produce forklift trucks and earthmoving equipment – the latter included tracked and wheeled loaders.
The compact 67hp VF 3.63G (pictured) is one also of two Venieri loaders being imported by RVW Pugh.