Moving on further into the exhibition, we were delighted to see this 1972 model JCB 110B crawler loader. First built as a prototype in 1968, the 110 as it was first known, was powered by a 4 cylinder, 73 hp, Perkins diesel engine, but was upgraded to 78 hp when the B model was introduced. The machine was way ahead of its time, with its fully hydrostatic transmission and rear mounted engine and hush flow exhaust design.
The 110 won JCB research a design award in 1973, and in 1975 the range was increased with the addition of the 112 and the 114 the following year. Due to their revolutionary design and the decline of the market for crawler loaders, the hydraulic excavators took on more of the workload and subsequently JCB’s range of crawler loaders was discontinued in 1978.
Opposite the 110B was an early example from the company’s telescopic handler range in the shape of this 520-4 four wheel drive model dating from 1981. The 520-4 was powered by a 72 hp diesel engine, and featured a 4 speed synchromesh/power shuttle transmission. The machine had a lift capacity of 2,000kgs/4,410lbs and a loadover height of 6.4m/21ft, with its telescopic boom extended the machine had a forward reach of 3.65m/12ft.
Moving further into the exhibition we were taken past Mr Bamfords old office, which he used from 1970 until his retirement in 1975. Always at the centre of engineering design and development, it gave him a complete window on the world of JCB. From this side of his office he could access his design management and draughtsmen and from the window at the rear he could view the progress of product development in the research workshop situated below. The office still contains Mr Bamford’s original desk, chairs and conference table.We also saw a bronze bust of Mr JCB on his desk, which was a gift from the JCB workforce in 1964, the year in which he presented in excess of £250,000 in productivity bonuses to his staff.
Visitors are then greeted by a giant skeletal model of a JCB JS200 tracked excavator which has been built to scale out of 8mm steel rod and created by renowned artist Benedict Radcliffe, some of whose work is currently on display in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
The finished artwork took five months to complete, used around one kilometre of steel rod and weighs around two tonnes – a tenth of the weight of the actual machine it represents.
The exhibition also covers sections on how the JCB name was built into a global brand; JCB’s design and innovation ethos; the expansion into a global manufacturer; its growth as an agricultural machinery manufacturer; JCB’s worldwide service and parts back-up; JCB military products and the development of the JCB engine and the record-breaking Dieselmax car.
Towards the end of the exhibition there are examples of JCB’s latest engine design technology, including a cut away model of the latest EcoMax T4 engine which offers very low emissions and improved fuel consumption.
The finale of the exhibition is this stunning JCB 3CX Eco in the Union Jack livery.
In summary, a simply fantastic visitor attraction and a massive achievement by the team behind its conception, especially when one considers that every machine that is in the building had to be craned into place through the roof!
There is a lot of information to digest alongside the exhibits, and I for one could have spent many hours in there. One thing I would like to see and I am sure there will be plans for, is a visitor’s guide book with all the information about the exhibits on show, documented for future reference.
JCB currently welcomes around 15,000 visitors from all over the world and this figure is expected to rise to 20,000 from next year as a result of the exhibition’s development.
Arrangements are now being made to open the exhibition to JCB employees and their families over the next few months.
There will be some limited opportunities for the general public to visit the attraction, details of which will be publicised in advance via the JCB website.
To celebrate the opening of this superb exhibition, the Digger Blog will be giving you a chance to win a model of the Union Jack branded 3CX, with a runners up prize of a baseball cab, which have been donated by JCB. Lookout for more details soon here on the Digger Blog.