Manitou’s MLT735-120 has been around since 2008, so picking up a good used example, should not cost the earth, as TH White service engineer James Healey explains to Geoff Ashcroft.
Manitou’s MLT735-120 LSU first appeared in 2008, sporting the firm’s JSM joystick controller offering integral shuttle and powershift functions, in addition to the usual loader functions.
JSM – joystick, switch, move – promised better ergonomics, but its location on the right-hand console could compromise comfort depending on seat positioning. That said, it was ahead of the competition at the time, and with transmission functions built in, you keep could your left hand on the steering wheel at all times.
Boasting a 3.5 tonne lift capacity, and 7m lift height, the MLT735 combined the MLT741’s chassis with the MLT731’s hydraulic system. From launch until 2012/13, the MLT735 came with Perkins power, before emissions forced the French maker’s hand. An interim period saw Mercedes power arrive until 2014, when Deutz power took over, and continues to be used.
The Evolution cab arrived on this model in 2013, and was a big upgrade. A six-speed powershift transmission arrived too, replacing the old five-speeder.
Our example machine is at TH White’s Stockbridge depot, and this February 2013 registered model has come straight from a dairy farm, where it has clocked 5,700 hours in six years.
Apart from its dull, faded appearance from spending time out in the sun, the handler is mechanically good. Industrial-spec 460/70 R24 tyres have been fitted to withstand time spent navigating concrete yards, there is a pickup hitch and a brand-new JCB-pattern headstock – no doubt the previous owner was using a pin and cone system, which could have been swapped over.
A thorough inspection revealed about £3,000-worth of repairs are needed to bring it up to scratch, and earn it a LOLER-certification to justify its £29,500 price tag.
With four-wheel steering used as the default for maneuverability, kingpin wear is an area to check. Often caused by a lack of regular greasing, worn kingpins can be shimmed to regain tightness.
If left unchecked, excess movement will eventually damage the hub oil seal, and gear oil will start to appear on the inside of the wheel rim. Excessively worn kingpins will probably need replacing, and this model is due a repair before it finds a new owner.
Manitou’s steering system uses magnets on the steering cylinders to trigger lights on the dashboard when the wheels are pointing straight ahead. A manual change-over valve can then be slid between front-wheel, crab and all-wheel steering modes.
“Steering rams have never been trouble on these, compared to auto-alignment systems,” says Mr Healey.
The Evolution cab finally put comfort on the map for Manitou operators. It is a bright, modern interior, with instrument bezels wrapped in a chrome finish, and moved from behind the steering wheel so they could be easily seen.
Improved heating and ventilation came too, and the air-con system was relocated to the back of the cab roof. Wiper blades can be found on the front window, roof glass and right-hand window, offering a great view.
“Check that everything works as intended,” says James Healey. “Seat covers are usually fitted, and this looks after the finish. Switches are robust, thumb rollers on the JSM are sturdy, and apart from wearing off the switch decals from constant use, there is little to worry about in here.”
Headstock, boom and linkage is where you can expect to find signs of abuse, though Comfort Ride Control (CRC) affords a degree of cushioning.
Post-2010 saw additional strengthening fitted on top of the boom, adding reinforcing.
“I have never swapped a set of boom pins, but we have had to repair headstock pivots,” he says. “Again, it comes down to greasing, and how they have been used.”
Look for missing or broken grease nipples around the crowd ram and its linkage. They are hidden for protection, but can be forgotten. Use a large pry bar to check for excessive wear.
Mr Healey says safe load indicators can sometimes go out of calibration, though a LOLER inspection will flag up any concerns. Third service and tilt ram hoses run through the boom, so any oil dripping from inside the boom suggests a leaky pipe. “Telescopic boom wear plates can be shimmed, but keeping plenty of grease on the inner boom will improve longevity,” he says.
Mr Healey reckons the six-speed Turner powershift is good for 10,000 hours. “The transmission is well-proven and robust – and it cannot be abused by a heavy hand like a manual gear change,” he says.
It is worth taking a look at the park brake’s operation. Mounted on the front of the gearbox where drive runs to the front axle, this disc brake can become clogged with mud and debris if working in extreme conditions, and this can cause the caliper to seize if unchecked.
A cardan shaft connects the engine to the transmission, and its rubber shock-absorbing doughnut can fail at around 5-6,000 hours, causing drive failure. A conversion kit is available, putting the doughnut on the flywheel. “It is a fit and forget conversion that will last the life of the machine,” he adds.
Perkins power is used on this series of machine, and packs 123hp from its Stage 3a compliant engine. Without any DPF or after-treatment paraphernalia, the engine has proved strong and reliable.
“I have never seen a turbo failure, though head gaskets can sometimes need replacing above 7,000 hours,” he says. “An oil and filter change every 500 hours is the key. Service history, if available, is a useful indicator of regular care and attention.”
He warns that starter motor replacement is a big job and requires the radiators to be removed to gain access to the back of the engine. A Clean Fix air-operated reversible cooling fan should be fitted, and operational. Flicking the switch in the cab should see a change of direction for air flow through the cooling pack.