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Integrated auxiliary hydraulic circuit hose connectors enable this T650 to power a productive WS24 road saw.

Bobcat moves forward


Nick Johnson reports on Bobcat’s latest skid steer and compact tracked loaders, and their distinctive design improvements.

Whilst the extensive Bobcat product portfolio contains various compact machine types, the company is best known for its skid steer loaders. Indeed, for many people, ‘Bobcat’ is the generic name for these multi-purpose tool carriers.

Now, to strengthen its leading position in both the skid steer and the increasingly important compact tracked loader markets, Bobcat is progressively introducing ‘new generation’ machines. The first newcomers were the S630 and S650 wheeled skid steers and the tracked T650 that had their European exhibition debut at Bauma. Recently they have been joined by the same-style S850 and T870, which are, respectively, the most powerful Bobcat skid steer and compact tracked loader to date. The most apparent visual feature of the new loaders is that the cabs are positioned further forward than was the norm, which greatly improves visibility, particularly at the front of the machine.

The S630 is a radial arm skid steer with a rated operating capacity of 989kg which replaces the S220 model. The 1220kg capacity S650 is a vertical lift path machine superseding the S250, while the tracked T650 (with a 1166kg capacity) replaces the T250.

Bigger and longer

The lower and more forward mounted cabs greatly enhance visibility to the front.

The latest ‘big brothers’ are the S850 and T870 vertical lift path machines with operating capacities of 1760kg and 1508kg respectively. Bigger and longer than Bobcat’s established large frame models (the S300/S330 and T300/T320), both these flagship machines have maximum lift heights (to bucket hinge pin) of 3557mm. Fitted with Kubota V3800 DI-TE3 engines, they have potent power ratings of 68.6kW (92hp) and 74.0kW (99.2hp). When fitted with the optional high-flow auxiliary


hydraulic circuits (which provide maximum flow rates of at least 140 litre/minute), these big 800 series machines can power large attachments such as wheel saws and planers.

During a test drive of the more general sized S650 and T650 models, I was impressed by the ease of entry into the new cab, which features a lower threshold. Operators will also appreciate the 10% increase in space, the extra 50mm longitudinal seat adjustment, and the reduction in internal noise levels.

Visibility has certainly improved compared with the machines’ predecessors. The overall height of the rear loader arm support towers has been reduced, for both the radial and vertical lift versions, and the glazed area on the door is 45% larger. Larger rear, side and roof windows are fitted and are sensibly mounted on the outside of the Roll-Over Protection Structure (ROPS) to make cleaning easier.

The three 600 series machines are powered by fuel-efficient Kubota V3307-DI-TE3 turbocharged four-cylinder diesel engines rated at 55.4kW (74.3hp). The fuel tank capacity of the S630 and S650 skid steers has been increased by 18%, and the hydrostatic transmission on the new 600 series machines provides 20% more tractive effort. There are two travel speed ranges on the S630 and S650 - up to 11.4 km/h in low range and a maximum of 19.8 km/h when high range is selected. Tractive effort from the hydrostatic transmission in the T650 tracked loader is 15% more than the previous model.

An effective improvement on all the new models is that the quick- connect auxiliary circuit hose couplings are neatly integrated into the nearside loader arm. This improves accessibility whilst giving better protection against possible site damage. A removable hydraulic hose guide makes it easier to change attachments.

The machines also have better hydraulic filtration and an enhanced charge hydraulic oil cooling system. When the 600 series machines are purchased with standard flow hydraulics, the flow rate is 87.1 litre/minute. If the optional high-flow hydraulic system is selected, this increases to 115.5 litre/minute, allowing the use of a greater range of powered attachments. To facilitate maintenance, access to the battery is enhanced and the hydraulic filter is now better placed at a higher level. And plant hirers will appreciate the provision of a new rear bumper to help reduce the risk of site damage.

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