Materials handling: Giant wheel loaders

Although telehandlers and wheel loaders are not as prevalent on New Zealand farms as they are overseas, as more New Zealand farmers opt for high input systems, supplementary feeding, feed pads and wintering sheds, they are sure to become a regular fixture.

Knowing we had a materials handling feature coming up, I went to the Mystery Creek Fieldays in search of something new and (hopefully) interesting to test. After a conversation with John Hansen from Forestquip, I was hot on the trail of the Giant articulated wheel loaders he has been importing over the last 12 months and before I knew it, I was heading to Canterbury to put the Giant loader through its paces at Forestquip’s yard in Rolleston.


While there were three loaders lined up to test, for the purpose of this article I chose to focus on the two larger, very similar models — the V6004T and the V6004T Tele, with one featuring a telescopic boom, which will be at home on farms in New Zealand.

The articulated design uses two separate steel chassis, one at the back with the engine, cab and rear wheels, and one at the front with the boom, front axle and the diesel tank cleverly built into it. The chassis are joined in the centre with two heavy-duty ball joints to create a pivot point that allows not only a 30-degree turning angle with the help of hydraulic steering rams, but also 12 degrees of lateral twist movement allowing the front wheels to follow the ground independently of the rear, helping improve the stability on uneven ground.


The two models are largely the same except when it comes to the boom setup — the V6004T uses a fixed lifting boom built out of two heavy-duty steel arms, with the crowd movement of the bucket taken care of with a double ‘Z’ linkage. This creates a perfect parallel movement, keeping the bucket level when lifting and creating a greater breakout force when digging with minimal obstruction of the operator’s view. Both loaders use heavy-duty greaseable pins in the boom and feature a Giant headstock on the front as standard, but they can be equipped with virtually any hitch available, even a Euro hitch, to make the most of your current attachments.


The engine is tucked away under the hood at the rear of the machine to help keep the loader evenly balanced when picking up heavy loads and it was a pleasant surprise to find Giant has used a Kubota V2403 engine, this is a 60hp, 2.4L, four-cylinder, turbocharged diesel engine.

From a practical point of view, it was easy to access all the necessities, such as the dipstick, oil filler, filters and air cleaner. A good-sized radiator is squeezed in at the very rear of the engine bay and, although it was easy enough to access to clean, it would be nice to see the option of a reversible fan, common on other machines when you’re working in hay, straw and dust.

Transmission and hydraulics

The drive system is fully hydrostatic and uses heavy-duty planetary end drive axles in the front and rear in full-time 4WD. There are two selectable ranges: high, with a top road speed of 28km/h; and low, which is excellent for loading and precision work. An electronic hydraulic differential lock is operated with a push button on the joystick and locks both the front, and rear axles. This really proved itself as an exceptional feature when digging into a pile of crushed concrete by locking the wheels and pushing into the pile.

The hydraulic system powering the whole machine uses top quality and well-proven Bosch components. With a pump putting out an impressive 135L/min to the hydraulic drive system and a further 65L/min for the lift, crowd, and auxiliary system, there is plenty of oil to meet demand. A hydraulic oil reservoir is cleverly built into the chassis at the back of the machine. In practice, the hydraulics were smooth and there was never a lack of oil, even when using some of the more greedy attachments, such as the hedge trimmer or the sweeper. Although, Giant does recommend fitting an optional oil cooler to the back of the machine if you plan on using the auxiliary hydraulics heavily all day, every day. The standard Giant hitch on the front of the machine comes with third- and fourth-service auxiliary hydraulics and also hydraulic locking pins on the hitch.

Controls and cab

With a options ranging from a folding ROPS frame through to a fully-enclosed cab, there should be something to suit everyone’s situation. Up the front, under the adjustable steering wheel, is a dash with a range of indicator lights and gauges. On the left of the adjustable operator’s seat is a handbrake and on the flat platform floor are foot pedals for the brake and accelerator. A hand throttle on the side of the dash console comes in very handy when running attachments requiring a constant engine speed.

On the right-hand side is a console with a mounted joystick and in the cabbed model the lights, radio and fan are also found on the right console. The joystick is well placed, smooth and easy to use. While the forward-reverse shuttle-slide switch on top and the high-low gear shift on the side are well placed and handy to have on the joystick, the remaining buttons for the auxiliary hydraulics and the telescopic boom aren’t as well laid out or labelled as they are on some other machines, making it a case of ‘push a button and see what happens’. For safety, a button on the dash needs to be pushed before the hydraulic latch on the headstock can be unlocked and an overload sensor and alarm is also fitted to the machine to meet European standards.


With the amount of attachments available for this machine, it really is the Swiss army knife of machinery, with Giant listing well over a hundred different suitable attachments, including buckets, forks, grabs and clamps through to more specialist attachments, such as hedge cutters, flail mowers, sweepers and snow ploughs. A stand out was the hedge cutter with three rotating saw blades which we used to attack a pine shelter. The precise control of the steering helped keep a straight edge along the shelter belt and the hand throttle made it easy to keep it running at the right speed. A sweeper brush with a catch box did a great job tidying up the road out the front, which was floating on a parallel linkage off the hitch and the swept up material could be carried and dumped wherever.


These are great little machines and Giant has done an exceptional job keeping them compact, squeezing every requirement in while still building a strong, robust and well-balanced loader. As it had been a while since I’d driven an articulated wheel loader, I’d forgotten just how manoeuvrable they are compared to tractors and telehandlers and while the operator’s platform isn’t that high up, it offers nearly 360-degree visibility around the machine. Being able to specify your Giant loader with a seemingly-endless list of options and attachments makes this a versatile machine that will be right at home in many situations.


Giant articulated wheel loader


V6004T Tele


Four-cylinder, Kubota diesel turbo

Four-cylinder, Kubota diesel turbo

Drive mechnisim

Hydrostatic with planetary end drive

Hydrostatic with planetary end drive

Hydrualic pump output




Hydraulic drum

Hydraulic drum

Turning circle















Max lift height



Lifting capacity



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Photography: Brent Lilley

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