The Bamford family that owns equipment manufacturer JCB also runs a large farming operation in England, not far from the brand’s World Headquarters facility at Rocester. (JCB is actually company founder Joseph Cyril Bamford’s initials.) So the farm is a handy place to test and prove the machines the company puts its name — or, at least, Joseph’s initials — on. In October it also made a great spot to take reporters to give them a chance to try out those machines during the company’s new-product launch event.
By offering wheel loaders and telehandlers designed specifically for the ag market, JCB has been carving out a niche for itself in the on-farm materials handling segment since 1981. That’s when the first agricultural Loadall was introduced. Lately, JCB has been making an effort to further boost its presence in the farm loader market in both Europe and North America. As a result, this year the brand introduced more refinements to its line of ag-oriented material handlers.
Journalists attending the company’s new product launch were shown updates to the TM320 telehandler and 411 and 417 AGRI wheel loaders. And new examples of those machines were waiting at the Bamford estate ready for reporters to get behind steering wheels and see how they handle.
What’s new with those models for 2017?
To start with, they make the jump to Tier 4 Final engines. The 4.4 litre JCB EcoMAX diesels used in both 2017 AGRI models and the TM320 will rely on an SCR exhaust emissions treatment system, but not diesel particulate filters. So owners won’t have to worry about regeneration cycles or filter replacement costs.
All three machines get improvements to their cabs, as well, with more internal space, new gauge layouts and lower noise levels.
The TM320 also gets improved boom extension cylinder end dampening for more gentle movements when adjusting boom length. And the main bearings in the boom are now made of a much more durable bronze-graphite material. The TM320 can be ordered with tires that offer a new block tread design for better wear life. To improve engine cooling, a reversible, hydraulically-driven fan can better keep radiators clean in dusty environments. And a new LED lighting package allows for 360-degree lighting.
Compact 403 articulated loader
Although JCB marketers said the compact 403 articulated loader won’t be
part of the brand’s standard product line in Canada or the U.S., they did give journalists a chance to try it out. On the Bamford farm I put the 403 to the test by navigating it through some very narrow alley ways in a stock barn, even turning it completely around in cramped quarters. The machine proved to be much more maneuverable than I expected. It obviously couldn’t turn in as small a circle as a skid steer, but it came pretty close.
The members of the marketing staff on hand commented that if I really liked the 403 and wanted to buy one, they could arrange to get one shipped over. They were actually serious. If it’s a machine that suits your on-farm needs, maybe you could convince them to supply you with one!