Review: Schäffer 9660T

The Schäffer 9660T merges the best attributes of a telehandler and loader, resulting in a versatile and powerful telescopic wheel loader

The largest Schäffer model, the 9660T, proving its worth at Castlegate James in Tokoroa

Driven by the latest generation 177hp Deutz common rail turbo-diesel engine, the Schäffer 9660T is the largest and highest-performing telescopic wheel loader from Schäffer, combining the all-round view and traction force of a standard wheel loader, with the lifting height and reach of a telescopic loader.

Unlike a traditional telehandler, the single telescopic boom is mounted from the centre of the machine. This provides excellent visibility to each corner of the bucket (or other attachment) without a blind spot to the right side of the cab as often obstructed by the boom of a telehandler.

Test time

The telescopic boom makes loading mixer wagons an efficient and easy process

This month I headed to the Castlegate James (CGJ) feed warehouse in Tokoroa. For those who haven’t heard of CGJ, the business is focused on sustainable food supply: take what would otherwise be waste food and mix it to create custom stock feed blends designed to meet animal requirements through the season.

It’s a pretty important job, as farmers need their livestock well fed and producing 365 days a year. This is where our test machine, the Schäffer 9660T, comes in, as the latest edition to the Castlegate James fleet of machinery.

Until the arrival of the Schäffer, telehandlers had been the machine of choice on-site. However, John Barber, who has been managing the store for the last two-and-a-half years was not convinced, as even with three telehandlers, they were struggling to keep up with the demands of the warehouse, either with the machines constantly operating at maximum or out of action waiting on repairs.

Easy access to filters for servicing

With a background in forestry, John initially thought a wheel loader would be the way to go, although possibly a little awkward to operate in tight conditions between feed bins. However, the telescopic Schäffer 9660T proved the perfect solution. While perhaps a little less manoeuvrable than a four-wheel steer telehandler, it’s still far superior in terms of power, with the hydraulic pump producing 220 litres per minute oil flow and faster bucket and boom movements.

With the cab central over the pivot point of the machine, visibility is excellent, particularly of where other machines and people are, as well as visibility of the bucket while working. This plays a key role in both safety and efficiency. The design of the Schäffer 9660T also works well within the sometimes-dusty confines of a feed store, as the air filter is mounted higher behind the cab to get the best clean air and least dust. And the radiator at the rear with an auto-reversing fan prevents too much build-up hindering the cooling system.

The radiator with a reversible fan is placed at the rear of the machine, away from the dirt and dust

John has a top operator in Allan Paiti as the key driver for the machine, and it’s clear he also takes great pride in caring for this Schäffer. Hopping into the cab, it’s almost cleaner than new — no easy job under its daily working conditions.

The Schäffer 9660T will run around 35 hours per week, every week of the year, so reliability is of the utmost importance. While there were some early concerns that the 9660T may be limited to some aspects of the job, such as mixing and pushing up, this has not proved to be the case, and this versatile unit now also adds to its daily chores loading out trucks as well. The telescopic boom provides enough reach for this as well as better visibility from the higher cab position.

Third service connection and optional hydraulic locking hitch

At this stage, the Schäffer is equipped with a 3.1 cubic metre bucket (no forks
or brackets for the hopper loading bin). However, that may change in time if it continues to impress and exceed expectations.

This specific machine is pretty standard in terms of specification. It’s on agricultural tyres at this stage, and there’s also the option of industrial tyres. One extra added was the RDS load scales to give a fairly accurate idea of product being put into the bucket for each mix. Used in conjunction with the mixer wagon scales, they are probably +/- 5–10kg, with the final weight of each mix coming from the weighbridge before heading to its farm destination.

Optional RDS scales give good guidelines for the load weight of each bucket

Although not 100% comparing apples with apples, John is keeping a record of the operating costs of the new Schäffer compared to the existing telehandlers. At this stage, running costs for the new machine are well down in comparison. Although a bigger machine, thanks to the efficiency of the Deutz engine, fuel usage is down for Schäffer. Another factor that helps is the larger engine — it doesn’t have to work at full noise and high rpm to get the job done like telehandlers might need to. John is picking that the overall cost of ownership will also be down on the Schäffer for that same reason — the large hydraulic pump and hoses are
also not under high stress, so downtime with burst hoses should also be less, for example.

Aside from the visibility aspect being safer from the cab of the new machine, safety devices are built into the Schäffer 9660T machine to ensure the boom and carrying loads are being utilised within operating parameters.

Joystick for key functions, fwd/rev shuttle, and boom controls

Inside the cab, it’s function over form but this doesn’t mean going without creature comforts, such as radio with Bluetooth connection or heating and cooling to keep the operator comfortable. Plenty of hard-wearing plastic in the panels is not a silly idea, especially in dusty or dirty farming environments.


Like much agricultural equipment, service intervals are pretty standard. Basic service is completed every 500 hours, which includes engine oil, filters, etc. Every second service (1000 hours) sees hydraulic oils changed. To keep the cost of servicing down, John and the team at Castlegate James complete daily (oil, fuel, tyres, filters) and weekly (grease, wash, hydraulics, etc.) machine inspections. This helps keep on top of things before they become a major issue. Not opting for an auto greaser system, it’s easier to make sure the grease is getting to the bearing that needs it — important in a dusty work environment, such as a feed store.

The Schäffer 9660T offers the build quality and strength of a wheel loader with the flexibility of a telescopic machine

Other features of the new machine in this environment are the programmable reversible fan, which can be set to run at set intervals, keeping radiator fins clear of build-up and the engine at a workable temperature. Being under an hour from Matamata and its service agent Matamata Ag is also handy, keeping the cost of travel time down for servicing and potential downtime to a minimum should they have a breakdown.

The future for Schäffer

Our test machine was a current model 9660T. At the recent Agritechnica Show in Germany, Schäffer released updated versions of the smaller 8620T and 9640T. A key feature of these new models is the Comfort Plus Cab, offering greater comfort, efficiency, and safety. I know they already have some in smaller electric models, so adding hybrid or electric options may also be on the cards for the bigger machines
in the future.

Good cab visibility is another plus


It has been two or three years since I’ve tested a Schäffer machine. With family-run business Matamata Ag representing the prestigious Schäffer brand, the range available (from smaller machines such as the 4760Z up to the Schäffer 9660T) offers plenty of flexibility for all sizes of operation looking for a versatile workhorse. For John and the team at Castlegate James, the Schäffer 9660T nails the requirements of their demanding workload and is proving to be the perfect machine for their situation.


Castlegate James

Established in 1850 under the James and Sons brand in the UK, the business has a rich history. Originally focussed on removing brewers grains from distilleries to be used as animal feed on farms, including Royal properties, in 1923, Victorian Grain Stores commenced selling co-products to Australian farmers. It wasn’t until 2004 that James and Son entered the New Zealand stock food market. The key difference with Castlegate James is their use of food co-products, from partner suppliers, diverting around 700,000 tonnes of food, which would otherwise be destined for the landfill.

Castlegate James uses this food waste to provide custom feed mixes to livestock farmers, available in 20kg bulk bags or bulk silo or bunker delivery. In New Zealand, Castlegate James has its store in Tokoroa, with stores run in partnership in Matamata, Waverley, and Timaru. The main store in Tokoroa runs 52 weeks a year, with two mixer wagons — one seven-tonne horizontal mixer and the other a 20-tonne three-auger vertical unit — mixing between 150 and 300 tonnes per day, depending on the mix, and loading out a similar volume each day.

Schäffer 9660T Specifications


Deutz 4-cylinder,
3.6L turbo

Emission level Tier IIII F
Engine power 115kW
Hydraulic capacity 220L/min
Boom Single arm, telescopic
Attachment carrier

Manual or hydraulic attachment

Max discharge height 5.1m
Tipping load weight 7900kg
Steering system Pivot Steer
Turning radius (outside) 4.2m
Turning radius (inside) 2.4m
Standard tyres 500/70R-24 AS
L x W x H 5.9m x 2.49m x 2.97m
Weight 11T

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Photography: Mark Fouhy

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