Proficompared performance specs for seven European front-end loaders. Even if you don’t have these brands available nearby, this comparison will help you ask the right questions when shopping

Let’s start with the blindingly obvious. The performance of any given loader is hugely influenced by the tractor to which it is attached. This single fact has proven the major stumbling block to us conducting a profigroup loader test in the past. Bottom line is that if the tractors are not identical, any comparison between several different loader designs is compromised. For this reason we need to thank Claas for providing us with seven identical Ares 557 tractors for this, our first ever profigroup loader test.

Each of the supplied 100-hp tractors was booted up with 480/65 R28 front and 600/65 R38 rear footwear. We also checked that the tractors pumped out similar outputs from their hydraulic remotes. We left the fitting and setting up of each loader to its respective manufacturer.

THE TEST CANDIDATES…

In all we had seven loaders from six manufacturers: Al Trima +4.0P; Al Quicke Q55; Hauer P-O-M S 110; Hydrac AL 2300 P; MX T10; Stoll Robust F 35 HDPM; and Zenz Super 160 P.

Each loader was fitted with an auxiliary third service and mechanical parallel control with a Euro quick-attach carriage. Other common features included selectable boom suspension, multi-coupler hose connection, cable joystick control, a rear axle support bracket and tractor hood guard.

In addition, the MX T10 featured hydraulic parallel control (it’s standard on the T range), and the Hydrac AL 2300 unit had its own Auto-Lock system, the latter setup enabling the boom to be fitted and removed without the operator having to leave the tractor cab.

TEST 1: LIFT AND BREAK-OUT

We measured the lift capacity (boom ram force) at three different heights from the ground. This was repeated at 60 cm out from the heel of the supplied pallet fork.

Maximum lift force peaks at ground level on all loaders except the MX T10.

In terms of basic lift, clear capacity leader is the Hydrac P-O-M, which generates 2,800daN of force at 2.0 metres high. (Editor’s note: One decaNewton, daN, the metric unit of force, can be compared to one kilogram of lift force or 2.2 pounds. So 2,800 daN is equivalent to 6,160 pounds of force.) Next up is the Zenz Super at 2,600daN. Both Al booms and the Stoll Robust F 35 come next with 2,300daN. All of the above have ample resources to lift over two tonnes (4,400 pounds).

The Hauer and MX T10 develop 2,100daN and 1,980daN/2,210daN respectively. In the case of the MX T10, the position of its parallel control ram influences the T lift capacity, hence the two figures. Move the MX’s ram from its bucket position into its pallet position, and the overall lift force increases by about 200daN.

Allowing for the fact that the highest force is required to hoist a load from ground level, it proved interesting to measure the loaders’ continuous lift capacities. So when looking again at the MX T10, its lift force is 1,950daN at ground level, but this lift force is maintained right up to 3.30m (10 feet).

At height, the parallel control ram has no measurable influence upon capacity.

This “continuous” performance places MX on a par with the other test candidates, its overall lift force rating as high as the lift of the two Al loaders. The only model to achieve an even higher continuous force is the Stoll Robust at 2,100daN. The Zenz Super 160 P, Hydrac AL 2300 P and Hauer P-O-M S 110, are closely matched with a continuous lift force ranging from between 1,790daN and 1,860daN.

Break-out force (tilt ram capacity) is a critical indicator of bucket-filling ability. The two Al front-end loaders dominate this category, delivering 2,600daN breakout force, followed by the Stoll Robust with a creditable 2,470daN.

TEST 2: LIFT AND REACH

Maximum lift height is usually measured on the carriage pivot pin. Hauer, MX and Stoll stretch up to 4.0m, the Zenz a little bit more at 4.05m. (Editor’s note: one metre is 40 inches, so 4.0m is 13 feet, four inches). Middle of the pack are Trima and Quicke at 3.96m, with Hydrac’s AL 2300 bringing up the rear at 3.88m.

Hydrac can offer an alternative XL boom, incidentally, which lifts to 4.10m but with a slightly reduced overall lift capacity.

Next up are the overload heights (level bucket base), which range from 3.64m (Al) up to 3.87m (Stoll), and max dump heights. The latter are measured at a 40 dump angle. The MX, Stoll and Zenz units have maximum dump heights of 3.20m, with Al, Hauer and Hydrac coming in at 3.10m. The dump heights are obviously influenced by the length of the bucket.

Forward reach is a factor of boom length, pivot pin height and overall lift height. We measured the distance between the bucket lip and front of the tractor at maximum lift height and a 40 dump angle.

Although the two Al loaders are essentially the same, the Trima carriage extends further forward. So whilst both the Quicke Q55 and MX T10 offer a limited 0.80m reach, the Trima shares a rounded 1.0m reach with the Stoll. Of the other contenders, the Hauer manages a reach of 1.17m, Hydrac 1.25m and Zenz 1.30m.

Digging depth with a level bucket base ranges from 130mm for the Hydrac to just over 200mm for the Zenz. These minor differences are pretty academic, though, as it is

easy to increase the dig depth by tilting the bucket.

TEST 3: DUMP/CROWD ANGLE

Wide crowd (fully up) and dump (fully down) angles make it easier to win and rapidly tip a full bucket. With this in mind, we measured the crowd angle at ground level and dump at full height. The Zenz loader boasts both the greatest crowd and dump angles at 52 and 57. Next is the Stoll with 52 and 47, the Hauer notching a 48 crowd plus a 53 dump. The Al loaders supply a modest 42 of crowd but a decent 56 of dump, while the MX delivers a similar 41 crowd and 54 dump.

Interestingly, both the Al and MX crowd angles can be increased via the joystick after the boom is lifted. On the MX, the hydraulic parallel control means that its crowd angle alters relative to lift height.

Both Al loaders allow the crowd angle to be increased to a useful 55 but only up to 0.50m of lift height.

That leaves the Hydrac AL 2300. This is the dump champ with 68 on offer. Clearing a sticky load from this loader’s bucket was the easiest as a result. Hydrac flipside is its less-than-generous 38 of crowd.

Parallel control can make a big difference to productivity, so we were keen to assess just how well the parallel systems worked with a fully crowded bucket and loaded pallet fork. The results are pretty mixed, and none of the assembled test models score top marks.

With the pallet forks, the most accurate auto control is delivered by the Hydrac, Stoll and Zenz loaders; pallet tilt-forward is just 2 on Hydrac and tilt-back 4 on both the Stoll and Zenz. Forks-back +6 is the Hauer stat, the Al loaders angling back +11 as the pallet is raised. The MX tilt-back is 21, although it’s important to point out that this figure was recorded with the MX’s parallel ram in its bucket position. When we altered the setting to pallet position, the MX stat returned an impressive +1.

Both Al loaders can be set to push a level fork under the pallet, but this level is lost as the load is raised. That said, a degree of adjustment is needed on all the loaders. Flexing tires and wheels sinking into soft ground making any automatic system fallible.

Working with a full grain bucket, the parallel control systems of the Hydrac, Stoll and Zenz lead to the greatest level of spills. These three all tip the bucket forward by 6 to 7. The Stoll is the biggest offender, the loader also crowding the bucket back at a stage of its lift by +4. In reality we find the +6 to +11 of bucket crowd back shown by the Al, Hauer and MX loaders easier to handle. This is because the bucket is seldom fully filled along its back edge, thus minimising the chance of a rearward spill. In other words, a front spillage is, as a general loading rule, more likely when relying on parallel control.

As mentioned above, the MX’s parallel control ram loader can be installed in either a bucket or fork position.

Nice idea, but it’s a fiddle to swap. Nonetheless it does work: The T10 loader keeps a pallet level throughout its lift arc, tipping back by a slight +1 at full height. Downside? Keep the rams in the pallet position, and a bucket tips forward by 27 as it lifts. If

MX was to come up with a quicker method of altering the ram’s position setting, this approach would be a winner; as it is, we reckon most operators are unlikely to bother to make the change. To be fair, though, if 90 per cent of a loader’s work is with a bucket, the T10’s user will leave the ram in bucket position and be happy with its operation.

TEST 4: WORK CYCLES

We measured the critical lift, lower, crowd and dump cycle times with the Claas Ares tractors running at 1,500rpm. The fastest no-load rise to full height comes from the Hauer at 0.84m per second (m/sec), the Hydrac recording 0.72m/sec. In practice, this means that the Hauer is just 120mm ahead of the Hydrac, so there’s not much in it. In fact, all the loaders reach full height in around five seconds, and the same applies to rate of drop. Here the difference between the fastest model — the MX at 1.18m/sec — and the slowest — the Hydrac at 0.97m/sec — is far more noticeable.

A larger gap opens up when we switch attention to dump speeds. The fastest is the MX T10, with crowd and dump speeds of 69/sec and 93/sec. This model also has the widest range of articulation at 185. Al, Hauer, Stoll and Zenz loaders crowd at between 48/sec to 61/sec and dump at 51/sec to 64/sec.

TEST 5: BOOM SUSPENSION

All of the test loaders were equipped with boom suspension, which is designed to offer shock load protection. All systems can be switched off as required, such as for pallet work. This switching-over job is done from the cab on Quicke and Hydrac loaders, while the others rely on a boom-mounted lever. Al, Hauer, Hydrac and Stoll use a pair of nitrogen dampers, MX and Zenz just the one.

In work, the different boom sus-

The loader has a break-out force of 9,271 pounds (40.0 kN). Combine that with a category II three-point hitch lift capacity of 2,612 pounds (1,187 kg) and the U80D could carry up to four bales at a time.

That kind of capacity means carrying multiple bales won’t come close to the tractor’s maximum load rating. “You’re not anywhere near its maximum capacity,” says Bouchard. “The robustness is there.” The same load would meet or surpass the rating on an ag tractor with front-end loader, leading to excess wear.

A construction-grade tractor like the U80D will also bring a better resale value. “You can easily get 12,000 to 15,000 hours on a construction machine,” says Bouchard. But an ag tractor with a loader that has seen heavy lifting will likely get discounted, even with only 4,000 or 5,000 hours on the clock.

The rear scraper option offered on the U80D means producers can easily scrape frozen manure clumps off of driveways or in cattle pens to make moving machinery in and out smoother, which eliminates the potential for equipment damage from bouncing over them.

Getting in and out of a U80D is a much easier chore than climbing into a wheel loader. If you have to open a lot of gates or get out frequently, that saves a few aching muscles at the end of the day. “They can open the door, take two steps and be on the ground,” says Bouchard.

OTHER BRANDS

New Holland isn’t the only manufacturer to offer a tractor like the U80D. Caterpillar and Deere have their versions, too. Cat’s new 414E offers 74 engine horsepower or an optional 89, making it roughly the same size as the U80D. Loader break-out force is 8,980 pounds (41.2 kN) and at maximum lift height the load capacity is 5,453 pounds (2,478 kg), which gives it similar muscle. Cat offers a hydrostatic PTO on the 414E, too, which puts out about 50 hp.

George Maneluk, sales manager with Battlefield Equipment in Winnipeg, says his dealership has also been showing the 414E to farmers, and the response is encouraging. “Since we’ve had it out, we have seen interest from that market,” he says. Expect to see a 414E make appearances at ag trade shows this year, he adds. Depending on options, Maneluk estimates the 414E will set you back about $80,000.

Deere’s 210LJ also has an optional PTO, but it, too, offers only a maximum of 44 continuous horsepower on the shaft. Engine horsepower is 84. Deere claims that the 210LJ is a purpose-built machine rather than a variant of its backhoe model. But despite a competitive engine horsepower rating, the 210LJ’s hydraulic and lift-capacity specifications are the lowest of the three models.

According to the sales staff at Brandt Tractor in Regina, a 210LJ will likely cost a little more than the U80D because of its features. Exact retail prices will vary with the strength of the Canadian dollar, but expect to pay between $85,000 and $90,000, depending on options of course.

Although the Mazer dealerships have just started showing their U80D to farmers as a viable alternative to wheel loaders and ag loaders, Bouchard says farmers have been taking notice. And the company hopes to get demonstrator models into farmyards this season.

Bouchard believes once farmers get a chance to sit behind the wheel and put a U80D through its paces, they’ll be convinced construction-grade loaders the way to go. “I’ve never had one guy trade a [construction] loader back and buy a farm tractor again,” he says. “They all say I should have done this 15 or 20 years ago.”

Scott Garvey specializes in writing about tractors and farm machinery technology for publications in Canada and Great Britain. He’s also a former affiliate member of the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE). He farms near Moosomin, Sask.

The loader has a break-out force of 9,271 pounds (40.0 kN). Combine that with a category II three-point hitch lift capacity of 2,612 pounds (1,187 kg) and the U80D could carry up to four bales at a time.

That kind of capacity means carrying multiple bales won’t come close to the tractor’s maximum load rating. “You’re not anywhere near its maximum capacity,” says Bouchard. “The robustness is there.” The same load would meet or surpass the rating on an ag tractor with front-end loader, leading to excess wear.

A construction-grade tractor like the U80D will also bring a better resale value. “You can easily get 12,000 to 15,000 hours on a construction machine,” says Bouchard. But an ag tractor with a loader that has seen heavy lifting will likely get discounted, even with only 4,000 or 5,000 hours on the clock.

The rear scraper option offered on the U80D means producers can easily scrape frozen manure clumps off of driveways or in cattle pens to make moving machinery in and out smoother, which eliminates the potential for equipment damage from bouncing over them.

Getting in and out of a U80D is a much easier chore than climbing into a wheel loader. If you have to open a lot of gates or get out frequently, that saves a few aching muscles at the end of the day. “They can open the door, take two steps and be on the ground,” says Bouchard.

OTHER BRANDS

New Holland isn’t the only manufacturer to offer a tractor like the U80D. Caterpillar and Deere have their versions, too. Cat’s new 414E offers 74 engine horsepower or an optional 89, making it roughly the same size as the U80D. Loader break-out force is 8,980 pounds (41.2 kN) and at maximum lift height the load capacity is 5,453 pounds (2,478 kg), which gives it similar muscle. Cat offers a hydrostatic PTO on the 414E, too, which puts out about 50 hp.

George Maneluk, sales manager with Battlefield Equipment in Winnipeg, says his dealership has also been showing the 414E to farmers, and the response is encouraging. “Since we’ve had it out, we have seen interest from that market,” he says. Expect to see a 414E make appearances at ag trade shows this year, he adds. Depending on options, Maneluk estimates the 414E will set you back about $80,000.

Deere’s 210LJ also has an optional PTO, but it, too, offers only a maximum of 44 continuous horsepower on the shaft. Engine horsepower is 84. Deere claims that the 210LJ is a purpose-built machine rather than a variant of its backhoe model. But despite a competitive engine horsepower rating, the 210LJ’s hydraulic and lift-capacity specifications are the lowest of the three models.

According to the sales staff at Brandt Tractor in Regina, a 210LJ will likely cost a little more than the U80D because of its features. Exact retail prices will vary with the strength of the Canadian dollar, but expect to pay between $85,000 and $90,000, depending on options of course.

Although the Mazer dealerships have just started showing their U80D to farmers as a viable alternative to wheel loaders and ag loaders, Bouchard says farmers have been taking notice. And the company hopes to get demonstrator models into farmyards this season.

Bouchard believes once farmers get a chance to sit behind the wheel and put a U80D through its paces, they’ll be convinced construction-grade loaders the way to go. “I’ve never had one guy trade a [construction] loader back and buy a farm tractor again,” he says. “They all say I should have done this 15 or 20 years ago.”

Scott Garvey specializes in writing about tractors and farm machinery technology for publications in Canada and Great Britain. He’s also a former affiliate member of the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE). He farms near Moosomin, Sask.

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