JCB Telehandler Loads up Engine Hours

by on 31st March 2017

THE decal is rusted off but it has the original spring suspension seat and the air con still works well.

There’s even a marker pen for those details you need written on the windscreen and the windscreen wiper still works.

Most importantly, it has the same motor, gearbox and diffs and is still running true, with engine hours at 15,566 (as of last Thursday).

So it’s a no-brainer for Terragator Precision Services principal Simon Witham to keep this JCB telehandler 530-70 in operation. During peak periods it can work 24 hours a day.

In something of an understatement, he says he likes to get the most out of machines he uses.

Standing idle in a paddock in New Norcia, last week, it was waiting to load up an Air Boom with sulphate of ammonia as Simon’s pre-sowing contract work cranks up.

It comes off the back of a busy season handling and stacking straw and hay bales but its core business is loading the company’s Air Boom for pre and post-sowing spreading.

So you can imagine the constant stresses on the telescopic boom with a maximum lift capacity of three tonnes, with an average lift of 1.2t.

Simon’s association with the 530-70 started as an employee of Gilmac Hay when that company bought two models in 2000.

“Gilmac Mackie Hay New Norcia utilised 2 of the purchased in 2000 JCB’s and by the time I was ready to start my own business, in 2003 it had done 8000 hours,” Simon said. “I bought one from Mackie Hay for our contract work.

“It gets serviced every 250 hours with just the usual daily checks for oil and grease, etc, and it just continues to do the job.

“We’ve got the daily servicing down pat and we know how many grease cartridges should be used. If there are any unused, we know the machine is not getting greased properly.”

Simon also has a JCB 531-70 model which has also chalked up more than 5700 hours.

“We always buy machines for longevity,” he said.

“Our first Terragator (spreader) has done 24,000 hours and this year is just starting to taper off in duties because we found a similar model with 5000 hours on it to do the bulk of the work.”

Obviously machine reliability is critical for contracting and Simon likens his team and machines to elite athletes. “We have lots of time to prepare but very little time to actual “compete” do the job.”

“When we hit the peaks of the season it’s all go,” he said. “We have to be well prepared with labour and reliable machines. It is imperative we achieve what we set out for our clients.

“I’m a farmer as well so I know how important it is to maximise those windows of opportunity. We really can’t afford down-time.

“I must admit I’m a bit surprised at the 530-70’s performance and its the lack of wear and tear.

“The pins and bushes, particularly, seem indestructible.”

Probably the highest praise for the 530-70’s performance is the fact it hasn’t been culled from Simon’s business.

“My wife Lou is the accountant and we code every machine to keep an eye on costs. The ball park for us is that if a machine is becoming too costly to run, it goes,” Simon said.

So far the 530-70 isn’t on the “culling” radar and is likely to continue its contribution to the Witham’s business.

But once it does get its pension, it is probably hoping it won’t be left in some cold corner of a paddock.

Find out more about the range of tractors, loaders, backhoes and telehandlers at

This article was originally published by the Farm Weekly.