IT has taken little time for South Australian quarry operator Peter Gaskell to be convinced of the merits of LiuGong wheel loaders.
Not that he wants to shout it from the rooftops, for he says as long as they remain affordable despite increasing demand, a lot more will be sold throughout Australia.
Peter and his family operate the Port Neill Quartzite Quarry on the State’s Eyre Peninsula, in addition to a number of other businesses.
The quarry produces fully approved materials for roadwork construction, including for highways and freeways.
Peter started earthmoving while fence contracting with his father and has since chalked-up 40 years developing the family’s businesses.
PB & KG Gaskell Contractors carries out the road construction and also provides paddock reef and surface rock removal, rock crushing and other agricultural works.
The family also operates Lincoln Landscape Supplies at Port Lincoln and Murraylands Fire & Safety at Murray Bridge and Keith.
Peter’s son, Scott, assists the running of the contracting, quarry and landscape businesses, his daughter Nicole works as an accountant across the group and another daughter, Lauri, drives the safety side of the enterprise.
He said on trips from Port Lincoln through to Keith, he drove passed the LiuGong machines and then, encouraged by Mark Mander at Lewis Ag & Construction in Adelaide, took the chance to trial a LiuGong wheel loader alongside a Volvo 120 rig at the quarry.
The high specification LiuGong 856H wheel loader is powered by a turbocharged and air-to-air intercooled, six-cylinder Cummins Stage III engine, offering up to 217-horsepower, speeds up to 40 kilometres per hour and a tipping load of 12.4-tonne. A German countershaft, power shift transmission provides four forward speeds and three reverse speeds.
Quick hitch buckets are now standard on the loaders, with the high specification model using a 3.5m3 bucket, while a 3m3 size is used on the standard model.
Peter said the two loaders featured registered scales and carry out stockpiling and loading of trucks at the quarry, complementing 60t, 34t and 22t excavators.
The LiuGong 856H wheel loader has clocked more than 1000 hours working every day, visually looking a close match to the Volvo 120 with the reliable Cummins motor under the hood.
“The Volvo probably pushes a bit more, but it is a 21.5t machine compared with the 19.7t LiuGong, which is also a bit more aggressive with the transmission as you drop down,’’ Peter said.
However, compared with the cost of buying a new Volvo, he said the LiuGong was a lot more attractive and worthwhile to trial, and he would be more than happy to go again.
“We need one more loader and we are also looking at LiuGong for the excavators,’’ Peter said.
“You get a two-year warranty as well, not that we have had to use it much.
“We were a little concerned about the backup, but it’s been good and we haven’t had to do anything.
“Alongside the Volvo, it is all there with the LiuGong.’’
He said he enjoyed the driveability and joystick operation of the LiuGong more than the Volvo and also was impressed by its comfort.
“We also had other drivers that did not want to get out of the Volvo, but they got used to the LiuGong and now like it better.’’
Peter said the lift height was the same as the Volvo loader, the quick-hitch bucket was excellent and he wished he had additional attachments, particularly a set of forks and a lift jib.
“It is capable of many attachments.’’
Extra features with the high specification LiuGong 856H wheel loader also were a bonus.
Peter said the auto-greaser on the machine worked great, while it also included inboard brakes, radial tyres, ride control, a reversing fan, rear view cameras and extra counter weights.
He said drivers could notch eight to 10 machine hours a day in the LiuGong rig, which was the designated machine for loading road trains, filling up to 24 a day during peak times, and they were impressed with the ride performance.
Workability of the LiuGong wheel loader also was good, allowing for easy routine morning checks.