Learning something new
THEY SAY YOU CAN’T TEACH AN OLD DOG new tricks, but I certainly learned a new way of operating this Hitachi ZW220-5.
For years on wheel loaders I’ve been changing from forward to reverse using the lever on the steering column and never thought anything of it. But when Leighton showed me what a difference it makes to change gear using the joystick by the driver’s right hand, which usually lifts the arms and forks, I realised what I had been missing out on.
Old habits die hard. Even when this function has been available on the joystick of others machines I’ve operated, I chickened out and went back to the old steering column lever, because it’s what I know.
I tried doing that when loading the truck with the ZW220-5, but it was a bit of a pain having to keep taking my hands off to use the other controls.
As soon as I started using the joystick, it was bang-on, leaving my left hand to steer while the right did everything else. That’s a really good set up and it helped me get my smoothness straight away.
It certainly enhanced my opinion of this machine.
It’s fast and responsive, as well as being smooth, and it’s got the power – whatever I put in that beak, it never struggled at all. And thanks to the big counterweight you don’t really notice what you’re carrying – just dial your speed down and keep the weight in the forks low as you amble across the skid.
I followed Leighton’s advice and kept it in third and that was all I needed, even when pushing it hard in some places – the power is always there when you need it.
The only time I felt the weight was when turning and lifting with a really big load in the beak, but even though it rocked a bit, it was never unstable – though, from a safety viewpoint, that’s something you really want to avoid.
I like how manoeuvrable it is. There wasn’t a lot of turning space on one side of the truck, but I never had trouble positioning the machine, because it has such a good lock and I was able to make good use of the spinner on the steering wheel.
The cab is excellent, I had no problems with the visibility and being able to see down on either side of the front and rear bonnet. You can see around the skid really well and I like how the rear-view camera comes on when reversing. With such a lot of glass the large sun visor also came in very handy as the sun was getting lower. That A/C works damn well and will be very welcome as summer approaches.
Having good visibility means you can be more accurate when picking up logs and placing them on the truck and trailer. It made it a lot easier to locate the forks and see where the ends were. I found the process easier than some wheel loaders I’ve driven and a lot of that is down to just what you can see and then having that power and dexterity to back it up.
The seat is very supportive and soaks up the bumps over the lumpy surface. Also, it’s probably one of the quietest wheel loaders I’ve driven, even standing outside you don’t hear it that much.
Iron Tester, Stan Barlow, uses the right joystick to change gears instead of the lever just under the left side of the steering wheel.
Great view down to the ground just in front of the forks makes loading easier.
This is Leighton Lipsham’s first experience of a machine in the forest.
Iron Tester, Stan Barlow.