Reviews

Telehandler feature: Massey Ferguson TH 7038

Farm Trader headed to Invercargill to check out the brand-new Massey Ferguson TH 7038 telehandler

Massey Ferguson has a long history in the agricultural sector, particularly when it comes to the production of tractors, with some holding an important place in the history of this country – like the little Massey Ferguson Sir Edmund Hillary drove to the South Pole in 1958. Fast forward a few decades and Massey Ferguson continues to innovate, with telehandlers now included in its line-up.

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Industrial build with steel cab protection

This month we headed to Invercargill to check out the Massey Ferguson TH 7038 telehandler. Being brand new with limited attachments available, it was a little difficult to really put the TH 7038 through the wringer of daily tasks it is likely to come up against, but with the help of the knowledgeable JJ Ltd team, I was able to get to grips with the basic operation and function of the machine for a decent overview.

Cab/Operation

Plenty of glass and a large, curved window provide great visibility through the full range of boom movements from 0-7m. The curved shape also provides good head room, with reasonable flat floor space.

Easy tilt adjust steering allows the operator to change driving position to suit. The one area of improvement I could see opportunity for was around a seat upgrade, considering the long hours many operators do. However, seat comfort is entirely subjective and what’s perfect for me personally, may not suit someone else, and vice versa.

One of my favourite features is the auto park brake. For stop/start driving where you are off and on the machine, this feature really comes into its own. Other creature comforts like air conditioning are standard, as you would expect.

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Sturdy Manitou-style hitch with hydraulic option

In addition to the good visibility offered by the curved rear and side window, well placed mirrors make it easy to see what is happening at the rear also. This is particularly handy for hooking up implements with optional hitch.

One of the benefits of telehandlers is the safety features by way of sensors on the hydraulics to ensure they are operating within the parameters they have been designed to handle. The MF TH 7038 uses a simple green/orange/red light graduation system to let you know where you are at. If you go over this, there is a safety override switch on the dash, which allows you to retract/lower the boom to within safe operating limits.

The modern oval dash incorporates gauges for fuel and rpm as well as buttons that illuminate when selected for work lights, joystick lock, auxiliary hydraulic lock, etc., and buttons to scroll through monitor display and adjust the likes of hydraulic flow up and down, using the +/- buttons on the joystick. Work lights and wiper functions also use rocker switches on the dash, keeping the rest of the cab tidy and free of clutter.

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Quality Spicer axles

Transmission

The hydrostatic transmission is an excellent choice, offering smooth and accurate control of the machine. Massey Ferguson have opted for a 4-speed gearbox system – two mechanical, and two hydraulic.

Selecting the right gear will give good working or travel speeds to suit the job, up to 40km/hr. Additionally. a creeper function allows the operator to set higher revs (to operate an attachment) while still operating at low speed.

Massey offer two options for shuttle operation (similar to its tractor loader setups). These can be used one at one time. My preference is for the rocker switch on the joystick over the steering column shuttle lever. The gear change from 1-2nd and 3-4th is via a button on the end of the light stalk. Not that you probably need to change all that often.

Like most telehandlers, manoeuvrability and flexibility are important. Three steering modes, selectable at the touch of a button. allow change between 2wheel/4wheel/crab steer options with auto wheel alignment.

Engine

While most of the tractors in the Massey family of machines are now running AGCO (SISU) engines, the telehandlers have gone for a reliable Perkins option, which was the engine of choice for Massey Ferguson tractors for years.

Producing a hefty 130hp, it’s certainly not short of power. Massey Ferguson are mounting the 4.4lt, 4-cylinder engine longitudinally in these telehandlers, which has helped keep the overall width of the machine down at 2300mm wide (standard). They have done a good job with fitting everything in under the right-hand side engine cover, helping to provide a better view of that side of the machine for the operator, always tricky with your standard telehandler design.

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The 130HP Perkins engine

The radiator is mounted at the front of the engine with a fine screen to stop large particles blocking it. Even better is the automatic, programmable, reversible fan. This can be switched on and set to run at 5mins/15mins/30mins/1-hour, whatever interval you like, depending on what you’re working situation for your telehandler is.

Daily checks are pretty straightforward with engine oil dipstick conveniently located under the engine cover. Radiator fluid level can be checked at the same time and air filter can be removed and cleaned. The diesel tank filler sits just behind the cab, where you can check the hydraulic oil with a sight gauge at the same time.

With 138Lt capacity diesel tank you should get through a fair few hours of work between fills. Although rated lift capacity is 3.8T, I’m sure working with loads that heavy would be pretty rare. The model we get in New Zealand delivers an engine with no Adblue or DPF. You lose the engine eco mode available on these machines in Europe to comply with the emissions regulations. The NZ version is simpler, with less things to potentially cause problems down the line.

Hydraulics

Although in NZ tractors with front end loaders have been the norm almost since tractors were invented, the telehandler has definitely started to challenge the way things are done in terms of shifting and handling things on farms.

The average farm tractor probably has a hydraulic pump of around 110lt/min, with larger contractor’s tractors around 150-160lt/min. A dedicated loading machine like the TH 7038 comes in with an impressive 190lt/min hydraulic pump.

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Joystick shuttle and boom controller

The benefit of high-capacity oil flow is faster working cycles. The load sensing pump only supplies the oil as required. I found like most hydraulic systems it did like to have a few revs on to complete the job at hand but doesn’t need to be operated at full noise – ultimately, burning and wasting fuel.

The boom has four electro-hydraulic load sensing spool valves, which allows simultaneous operation of up to three functions with high precision. On the boom also is a Manitou style hitch (which means the available implement options should be pretty good), which you can get a euro hitch adaptor to allow the use of existing implements.

Of course, you also have a third service valve available to operate soft hands, grab buckets, etc. Optioned with up to fourth and fifth service valves along with an electric line allows for the control of demanding implements like straw choppers and feed buckets.

The flat face couplers have a pressure release system built in saving frustration connecting implements with pressure in the lines. Inside the cab. the operator has the ability to adjust the hydraulic flow to suit the task at hand, using the Smart Handling System (SHS) accessed through the dash monitor.

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Rear view from the cab is excellent

A rocker switch on the dash shifts between front and rear hydraulic third service functions, if you have that option, like this test machine did. To operate the optional hydraulic trailer pickup hitch, a cable can be pulled to engage this function, then controlled by the third service function on the joystick. Part of the hydraulic system incorporates boom suspension to help decrease shock on the machine while moving over rough ground with loads.

Build Quality/Construction

Telehandlers were originally developed for the construction sector and adapted to suit the agricultural sector. This being said, the MF TH7038 still has some of the heavy-duty features like full steel cab protection and a full flat steel belly plate protecting the underside of the machine, as well as Spicer axels that are well known for their quality. Weighing in at a little over 7T, this heavy-duty machine is designed for many years of hard work.

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On the road-40km/hr top speed

Summary

The MF TH 7038 telehandler is a high capacity, efficient loader suitable for larger farming operations where loading is part of the daily on farm tasks, or civil type work where safe reach up to 7m and lift capacity of 3.8T with manoeuvrability are important. Back in the Waikato, I am seeing more of these machines out operating on farms, replacing loader tractors, making farmers lives easier. For ease of operation, a telehandler really is the way to go.

Massey Ferguson TH 7038 Specifications

Engine Perkins, 4 cylinder, 4.4lt Turbo
Hp 130Hp
Transmission Hydrostatic, 2 mechanical, gears, 2 hydraulic speeds, 40km/hr max 
Speeds 1st-6Km/hr 2nd-12km/hr 3rd-18km/hr 4th-40km/hr
Hydraulic Pump Closed Centre Load Sensing pump, 190ltr/min
Boom Hitch Manitou style hitch, hydraulic locking (option)
Boom Reach 7.0M (high)
Forward Reach 4.0M
Max Lift Capacity 3.8T
Rear Service Valves 1 set Double Acting, Hydraulic trailer hitch and brake valve (optional)
Weight 7130kg (Standard)
Length 4869mm
Width 2300mm
Height 2374mm
Ground Clearance 560mm
Tyres 460/70-24 (Standard)
Diesel tank (L) 138Litres

PROS

  • Hydrostatic transmission, doesn’t move unless you apply accelerator.
  • Auto Park brake, handy for on/off machine jobs
  • High flow hydraulic pump 190lt/min
  • Longitudinal mounted engine for easy access for servicing and aids overall compactness and visibility of the machine
  • Options package: bigger tyres, full LED lighting package, hydraulic front hitch and trailer hitch with brakes and set of remotes.

CONS

  • Gear change on the lights stalk rather than the joystick.
  • Seat upgrade would be nice

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Photography: Mark Fouhy

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