New Equipment Test: Boxer 525DX compact track loader
Lyndsay Whittle kills two birds with one stone by reviewing a mid-range Boxer 525DX compact track loader and using it to dig out a track on his property
When I was offered the chance to test a Boxer compact track loaders, I jumped at the prospect as I could see an opportunity to kill two birds with one stone with a job of my own.
Living as I do, deep in the hills of the Waitakere Ranges near Auckland, New Zealand, I’m always building walking tracks and gardens in the bush, and I often joke that it’s hard enough to steer an empty wheelbarrow downhill, let alone push a full one back up the slope.
I had started digging a short track by hand a couple of weeks before, and I came to a part of the job where I could’ve thrown a day or so at digging out part of a small hill.
Even though the layout of the Boxer 525DX’s controls looked pretty much the same as most other brands of stand-up skid steer or compact track loaders, I was instructed to operate it in low range until I got used to it.
Heeding the advice, I found the machine user-friendly and soon had it on the truck and ratcheted down – a job that was made easy courtesy of the Boxer’s handy rear tie-down points – and we were headed for the hills.
Arriving at my property, the machine drove down the ramps just as smoothly as it had gone up when loading, and I was impressed by the way the controls (both forward and backward) weren’t nearly as touchy as a similar-sized wheeled skid steer loader I’d operated for a friend about a year or so ago.
I found this smoothness of operation to be quite a treat, as I’d only been operating the 525DX for five minutes and already I wasn’t experiencing the jerkiness in the controls that I’d found with the other brand of machine I’d spent perhaps a couple of weeks on in total.
Once unloaded, I had a preliminary test in mind for the Boxer and that was to see how comfortable the ride would be as I traversed my 60m-long cobblestone drive, where I had the next test for the machine waiting.
I was impressed with the Boxer and found it to have as much power as I’d ever need from a machine of its size
As this was the first time I was operating a skid steer with a sprung footplate, I figured the cobblestones would present a decent test for this clever innovation.
Upon reaching the top of the drive and having travelled the distance in high range at the Boxer’s full speed of nearly 5km/h, I was pleased to be able to mark it with a score of 10 out of 10 for the low-vibration test.
Next was the stability test at the entry point to the worksite, so I ensured the tracks were in the expanded position.
Perhaps I should explain.
The accompanying photos really don’t give a clear picture of the steepness of my drive, so the point of entry to the worksite is somewhat understated in the photo.
But I can say that it is a tad over 20 degrees at that point of the incline.
To add to the equation, there was a dip of about 150mm in the contour, which I knew was going to cause the front of the machine to take a nosedive, even with the bucket sitting as low as it could go.
While I wouldn’t normally think twice about a dip in contour of 150mm on flat ground, when adding a 20-degree slope into the mix, I guess it does introduce a certain ‘pucker factor’.
ON THE JOB
In getting down to the business of shifting the dirt, the Boxer 525DX performed the task with ease. Its 25hp (18.6kW) Kubota diesel engine, coupled to the hydrostatic transmission, pushed the 4-in-1 bucket through the bank like a hot knife through butter.
However, while the Boxer, with its 900mm-wide bucket, had plenty of pushing power, it was a bit big for the tight space I had to work in.
I found myself wishing that I had a smaller bit of earthmoving equipment to be working with on this particular job.
Boxer makes smaller 3-series machines, which might have been a better option as I didn’t need the extra power of the larger loader. The loaders also go up to 6- and 7-series models if you need more grunt.
In any event, the job was completed in short order, and I even had enough time up my sleeve to clear a little bit for a future track I have in mind.
THE BOTTOM LINE
I was impressed with the Boxer and found it to have as much (even more in this case) power as I’d ever need from a machine of its size.
It was smooth to operate, both in propulsion and bucket operation.
A combination of the configuration of the cleats on the rubber tracks and the well-sprung
footplate provided an impressively smooth ride, even on my cobblestone driveway.
The entire machine is strongly constructed, right down to the Australian-manufactured Norm Engineering four-in-one bucket on our test unit.
I found that the expandable tracks, when in the ‘out’ position, provided the machine with exceptional stability, while being able to squeeze the tracks inward added a further dimension to the machine’s manoeuvrability.
The engine noise, even at full throttle, was quite acceptable, as was the smoothness of the machine’s hydraulics.
One of the special features of the Boxer 525DX that I liked but didn’t need to use was a pushbutton pressure relief valve attached to the auxiliary side of the hydraulics, which would make changing attachments a breeze.
I found there was much to like about the Boxer … but there was just one thing I still hadn’t quite got my head around, even after several hours on the footplate.
I found that when I was backing out from the workface with a loaded bucket, I’d often arrive at my destination with a half empty, sometimes completely empty bucket, and it took me a few passes to figure out what was going wrong.
It seemed that when I was reversing (never going forward), I’d inadvertently move the curved lever that operates the clamshell, and out went the load.
Far from being a criticism of the machine, I simply hadn’t had enough hours on to get to know it properly!
I’m pleased to report that by the time I delivered the machine back to its owners I must’ve been feeling more comfortable at the controls – when I was switching off I noticed I’d driven the Boxer off the truck with the speed switch set to ‘high’.
1. The Boxer 525DX compact track loader with its well-constructed Norm Engineering bucket 2. Expandable tracks make the 525DX exceptionally manoeuvrable
3. There is more than enough pushing power
4. The machine has good instrumentation within easy view of the operator
Above: Setting up a level working area in a very tight space was not a problem