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Penultimate Takeuchi TB175W goes to Mo Locke

Digger Blogger | 12:57, Sun February 17 2013

The Digger Blog was invited to CBL’s impressive new depot in Saltash, Cornwall, to take a look at the second to last TB175W to be sold in the UK, which in addition, is the last model to be sold with a two piece articulated boom.

The TB175 has been something of a revelation for Takeuchi since its launch in April 2000. In its tracked variant, the highly popular machine sold in excess of 10,212 units worldwide, with total units sold in the UK & Eire amounting to 1,763, before it was replaced by the new 8.5 ton TB285 in 2011. The wheeled version of the model, the TB175W, has continued to be represented in the range, with a much anticipated new model expected to be unveiled at Bauma in Munich this coming April. Whilst extremely popular in Central Europe, wheeled excavators are something of a niche market here in the UK, having said that, there have been 230 TB175W’s sold in the UK since it was made available here in 2002.

This machine is being supplied to long term CBL customer, Mo Locke of G. G. Locke Ltd., who are based in Wilmington, nr Honiton, in Devon, where Mo and his wife Liz have been in business for over 37 years. Mo’s real name is Graham George Locke, but as a child he had problems saying the word “No” which always came out as “Mo”, hence the nickname stuck and is still widely used by friends and business customers on a daily basis. The machine has been bought to replace Mo’s outgoing two year old TB175W, which has always been operated by Mo, and as you can imagine is still in excellent condition.

Mr Locke does a lot of work for the forestry commission in and around the many forests in Devon, and this is one of the reasons he always specifies the two piece articulated boom arrangement. The two piece boom gives him much more flexibility when working in tight spots around and under trees, enabling him to tuck the boom down, thus avoiding damage to the timber and the machine itself. Mr Locke also specifies a Powertilt PTS8 tilting bucket system, which he also had on his existing machine. However on the day of my visit this was not yet fitted.

 

I was very kindly invited to try out this machine in and around CBL’s new depot for a simulated no dig test drive. Climbing on board the machine had a familiar Takeuchi feel to it, with many of the controls being the same as the tracked model, of which I have operated many over the years. As one would expect, the almost legendary Takeuchi hydraulics are exactly the same, giving a silky smooth operation at all times, naturally being a “rubber duck” you are aware of some bounce from the tyres whilst operating, but that’s something one gets used to when operating a wheeled excavator. Compared to the latest TB285 tracked model, the cab on the TB175W is not as wide, but it is still a comfortable and practical place to spend a shift, with servo assisted hand and foot controls, AM/FM radio and the added bonus of full air conditioning as standard.

 

I was invited to take the machine out on the adjacent road to see how it performed. The travel controls are a familiar “duck” set up, featuring two direction foot pedals, forward and reverse, on the right hand side of the floor, with the foot brake with locking function just to the right of the fully adjustable steering column. The front axle locks are set up by means of an electrical switch on the front dashboard, where manual and auto modes can be selected. The machine features 3 speed travel, and can attain a top speed on road of 30kph.

 

When set up in a working position, the very useful off-set boom is adjusted by a rocker pedal on the left hand side of the floor, which is just the same as on the tracked TB175 version. But on this machine with the two piece boom the rocker pedal also doubles up as the control for that function. Changing the pedals function is a simple matter of pressing a switch with your forefinger on the right hand joystick, the pedal then extends or retracts the two piece boom. The dozer blade function is operated by the familiar blue coloured lever to the operators left, and by lowering the blade it acts as a good anchor, steadying the machine whilst in operation.

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Access to all engine components for regular servicing and maintenance is very good, by opening the right hand rear service door one discovers the unlocking mechanism for the main bonnet, which is achieved by means of a pull lever device. The large bonnet is raised with gas struts, offering great access to the 53kw Yanmar 4 cylinder engine.

Oil and fuel filters are grouped under the aforementioned right hand side service door for further ease of service, with the air filter being housed behind the cab inside the left hand access panel.  

Mo Locke, who has been working in the civil engineering industry for over 40 years, is said to be a real gentleman and old school in terms of equipment selection and operation, he knows just what he wants from his machines, and what is expected by his customers. His choice of the Takeuchi product is further endorsement of his company’s commitment to quality.

Mo says “I enjoy getting hands on myself, especially operating machines and meeting customers face to face. And offering a 24/7 call out style of business from a blocked drain to storm damage.”

One cannot fail to be impressed by Takeuchi machines, from the TB08 up to the TB1140, as an operator, I personally find them to be excellent to drive.

The Digger Blog would like to thank the team at CBL Saltash for their help with this post. And a special thank you to Mo Locke and his wife Liz for allowing me to get hands on with their new machine.

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