Safety is built into this machine. For starters, there is the Bobcat Interlock Control System. Before our man can start the engine he has to be seated in the cab and must pull the seat bar down into place. It’s linked to the machine’s electrics and nothing comes alive until the bar is positioned correctly around the operator. A start-up sequence means the engine must be running and the “press to operate loader” button engaged before the computer comes on and the hydraulic lift and tilt functions and traction drive system will operate.
It only takes a few minutes for the driver to familiarise himself with the rest of the controls. In next to no time, he is revving the engine and driving straight at a pile of soil. He scoops and lifts. The power is awesome — it’s like watching a weightlifter. The long wheelbase of this skid-steer provides all the stability needed as well as a smooth ride.
The S250 has a rated operating capacity of 1,200kg and is of the type known as vertical lift. This means that the lift path of the arms gives more reach at full lift, so it is easy to lift heavy loads clear of high-sided skips, hoppers or lorries. It also makes the machine suitable for placing pallets of turf or paving materials.
The tester is particularly impressed with the compensator that ensures the lifted load of soil isn’t dumped backwards on top of the cab. The compensator provides the bucket with a rolling movement to keep the load horizontal. “That works well,” he comments.
The lift arms are made from eight-millimetre-thick steel and are 9.5cm wide — serious biceps. Lift height totals 3.21m and the reach is 86cm. The dump angle has been increased to 42? for easy truck loading.
There’s more hydraulic power, too. The objective with the new design was to give users a machine that makes them more productive. Within five minutes, our tester has really got to grips with the machine and is showing us just how well the S250 performs.
“It’s brilliant,” he enthuses. “The controls are spot on, the bucket control is excellent, it’s sharp going forward and back, and you can turn the whole machine on a sixpence.”
The mechanical design and hydraulic system on this machine complement each other to increase the hydraulic breakout forces — in fact, there is a gain of 31 per cent in the lift breakout force and 46 per cent in tilt breakout force compared with the previous 873 model.
The S250 is one of Bobcat’s bigger skid-steer loaders. But it is still quite compact and is a natural when it comes to landscape work. The steering, like most skid-steers, is via two chains and the left side is driven independently of the right. That’s what gives it the ability to turn a full 360? within its own length.
Our man spins it again just to show us how nifty it really is. Forward, reverse, travel speed and steering are all controlled by two levers. A side-shift facility means you don’t always have to move the machine — the attachment can be moved hydraulically.
For a skid-steer loader, visibility from the cab of the Bobcat is remarkable, especially to the working end of the loader and the attachment. It’s a point that our tester appreciates.
“You can see all round and that’s good for efficient working as well as from the safety aspect,” he says.
And he reckons the cab is tops for comfort. He especially likes the heating and the fact that there is air conditioning for the summer. The adjustable cushion seat is comfortable as well.
“The seat bar looks uncomfortable; but it isn’t. It’s really surprisingly comfortable and when it’s in place, you can rest your arms on it. The dashboard is positioned so you can see everything — all the diagnostics, the monitors and the clock — and the joysticks have nice big handles right in front of you,” says our driver as he settles back in the seat. I think we are going to have trouble persuading him to give back this machine. “Everything about this machine is nice,” he says. “You want me out?”
But this is not just a machine for moving soil, loading and dumping. There is a whole host of attachments to increase versatility so you can really get your money’s worth out of the unit. The high-flow hydraulics package provides an added 10gpm of hydraulic flow, giving a total of 30.7gpm. This, along with the 3,300psi system pressure, allows the operation of attachments such as a chipper, stump grinder and trencher. There is even a tree-spade attachment. What’s more, the Bob-Tach mounting system means shedding a bucket and hooking up a pallet fork, rake, sweeper or any of the other 35 attachments is both quick and simple.
When it comes to serviceability, Bobcat has thought of it all. All the plumbing has quick-release coupling. Opening the swing-out tailgate gives full access to the engine’s checks and fills, filters and battery. The engine oil dipstick is literally in your face, as is the engine coolant level. Daily checks couldn’t be more simple — no excuses with this one. And for the mechanic, you should be able to get straight in to do repairs, rather than spending time accessing parts.
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