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

Earthmovers & Excavators - - News -

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.

CON­TROLS

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.

CUSHIONED FOOTPLATE

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.

STA­BIL­ITY

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

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