Test: Manip MClassic front end loader

By: Brent Lilley , Photography by: Brent Lilley


Manip MClassic front end loader A Euro hitch on the loader makes hitching implements straightforward and easy Manip MClassic front end loader
Manip MClassic front end loader Hydraulic lines and accumulators for the soft ride are tucked away under the arms and cross beam Manip MClassic front end loader
Manip MClassic front end loader A mechanical linkage along the top of the arms takes care of the self-levelling Manip MClassic front end loader
Manip MClassic front end loader Fold-down stands incorporated in the loader arms hold the loader up when its off the tractor Manip MClassic front end loader
Manip MClassic front end loader The Manip MClassic is a simple-yet-robust loader that fits the Case 125 exceptionally well Manip MClassic front end loader
Manip MClassic front end loader The clearly-labelled and easy-to-use handle that locks/unlocks the loader on the mounts Manip MClassic front end loader
Manip MClassic front end loader A third service at the front is a common requirement on most farms these days Manip MClassic front end loader
Manip MClassic front end loader The optional ‘faster’ hydraulic quick coupler is defiantly well worth the extra cost Manip MClassic front end loader
Manip MClassic front end loader A slide rail and locator pins make lining up and getting the loader back on the tractor simple Manip MClassic front end loader
Manip MClassic front end loader A simple, straightforward mono-lever from Manip is used to control the loader Manip MClassic front end loader

During his trip to Canterbury, Brent Lilley headed inland to Culverden where he tested the Manip MClassic loader. This standard entry attachment proved to be durable and among other things, a breeze to hitch and unhitch.

Test: Manip MClassic front end loader
Getting hitched made easy

Fitting a front end loader to a tractor, whether new or second-hand, dramatically increases versatility and function, but with only a couple of tractor manufacturers building loaders specifically for their tractors, the chances are that you are going to be fitting a third party loader.

My experience in the past has been that some loaders suit and fit the tractor like they were built for it, whilst others can be terrible, blocking visibility, hanging a long way out in front of the tractor and limiting the manoeuvrability.

Whilst down in Canterbury recently the opportunity came up to test a new Manip loader, imported and supplied by Origin Agroup.

Grabbing the chance, I headed to Red Post dairy farm near Culverden in North Canterbury to see their new Case Maxxum 125, fitted with a Manip MClassic 120 loader. The tractor had just been sold and delivered by the Amberley branch of Cochranes Machinery and it was Darryl Chambers of Origin AGroup that arranged the test and drove me up there.

Design and build

MClassic loaders are designed and built as a standard entry-level loader that can be fitted to a tractor very economically whilst providing all the features required on farms these days. Their design is along the lines of most other offerings with mounts to suit most tractors, which are bolted onto the mid-point of the tractor. The arms of the loader then lock onto these mounts to take the loader on and off — but more about that later. A single cross beam between the arms is fitted for strength and to prevent twisting. This is located towards the Euro hitch at the front of the loader with enough room on the Case to leave the weights on without the loader hitting them.

All MClassic loaders feature mechanical self-levelling as standard, using a steel linkage on top of the arm of the loader to directly link the mount of the crowd ram with the mount on the tractor. This means the angle of the attachment on the front will remain the same as the loader is raised and lowered. A level indicator rod on the loader arm that can be seen by the operator also makes getting the attachment level to the ground very easy.

Manip uses high yield point steel in all its loaders to stand up to the demands of digging, lifting and twisting. The arms are built out of C- and L-section steel that is precisely welded together to add to the strength and give a tidy appearance. I measured the pins in the loader and found them to be 30mm and 35mm, bolted in to retain them and prevent rotation, they are bushed and equipped with and easily-accessible grease nipple on the end that will grease the whole pin, leading to a longer life span. The whole loader is shot blasted and cleaned after construction, then powder coated to leave a smooth long lasting high class finish. It is only available in Manip grey (paint options are available if ordered early), unlike some other makes that provide a loader to match the colour of the tractor.

Hydraulics

The hydraulic system uses a combination of hoses and steel tubing to connect the rams and is all tucked neatly under the arms, out of harm's way. As an option, this loader was equipped with a 'faster' hydraulic quick coupler to connect to the tractors hydraulic system. This allows all the hoses to be connected at once by pulling down and locking one lever, which I believe is definitely worth the minimal extra cost. Comfort ride suspension was also fitted as an option and can be turned off or on. It uses two nitrogen-filled accumulators connected to the lift rams which are tucked away on the loader's cross beam. These allow the loader to bounce on the lift rams when carrying loads over rough ground.

Controls

The Case tractor was set up with the Manip mono-lever to control the loader, which is the standard and more basic option. This simple joystick lever features a mechanical linkage and it's lockable with a steel tab when it's not in use. Aside from the forward-to-back and side-to-side movements, there are two buttons on the side of the joystick that are pushed and held to activate the third and fourth services. As I've mentioned, this is a very basic and straightforward joystick to control the loader, so anyone can jump in and use it. It does lack some of the features and the precise control that are found on other electronic-controlled joysticks, but Manip offers an electronic joystick option as well.

Mounting/dismounting

To take the loader off the tractor, the attachment is placed flat on level ground and the joystick is pushed all the way forward into the float position. The stands are unfolded and locked down with pins on the ground. You then simply turn the locking handles on either side into the clearly labelled unlock position, disconnect the hydraulics and then back away.

Putting it back on was just as quick and easy. Simply drive the tractor forward into the loader until the sub-frame mounts slide into the holders, connect the hydraulics and then lift the loader up and off the ground, which positions it correctly to be locked with the locking handles. Then fold up the stands and you're away. The simplicity of the locking system stood out to me as there are no holes to line up or pins to lose. The whole process was quick and easy, only taking a short time to put on and take off the tractor.

Connecting implements

Manip uses a Euro hitch system on the front of the loader for hitching implements, which being a fan of the euro hitch above other systems, I was pleased to see. What I wasn't so impressed with was the locking system. When you need to unlock the attachment to take it off there is a separate pin on the left and the right side, meaning you need get out, unlock one side and then walk around to unlock the other side. A bit complicated compared with most other loaders that have a lever or handle on the left-hand side to unlock both pins. Luckily the pins will automatically lock when the implement is crowded backwards, with the loader right down to save getting out of the cab.

This loader was fitted as standard with a third service to the front which is activated through a solenoid that diverts the oil from the crowd action rams to whatever attachment is on the front — a necessity these days, I would say, with soft hands, shear grabs, etc. being common on most farms. Interestingly, they also offer a fourth service as an option. They say it is becoming more popular with people with more specialised equipment.

Verdict

The MClassic loader from Manip is a standard entry level-loader that is strong and built well, yet still economical. Some users will be more than happy with what it offers, while others that don't mind spending a little bit more may find the next model up, the MPower loader superior as it offers more features and will largely do away with the complaints I found with the MClassic loader. That being said, the MClassic is strong and offers a lot of features that make it a stand-out loader, such as its simple system for locking to the mounts and its mechanical self-levelling. I believe there are many farmers out there who will find the MClassic more than suitable for their situation and it has a price tag that will add to its appeal.

Specifications

Rated tractor power

95 – 140hp

Lifting height

4.13m

Lifting capacity at ground level

2450kg

Lifting capacity at max height

2030kg

Tipping angle at max height

54˚

Crowd angle ground level

51˚

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