WITH PETER O'BRIEN
WHILE Volvo plant equipment is predominantly geared towards the construction and materials-handling industries, Volvo loaders have proved very popular with Irish farmers and contractors, in particular the L series of loaders. In the 70s and 80s, Volvo LM ‘all-rounder’ loaders particularly found favour as handlers for the sugar beet industry.
Also in the 1980s, the Clarke Michigan 35B was another popular choice for pushing up silage. Purchased by Volvo BM, the Clarke Michigan 35B and Volvo’s LM loaders put down roots of confidence and paved the way for Volvo’s L series of articulated loaders, first released in 1986. With the ‘L’ representing loader and the number designating the turning lifting weight in tons, the Volvo BM L70 and L90 were common sight.
In 1991, the L range of loaders was upgraded to the B series. Powered by Volvo’s 6 cylinder 5.5l TD61 engine, the L90B is rated at a substantial 156hp.
More impressively, the TD61 engine produces its maximum torque at a lowly 1400rpm, a characteristic of Volvo loaders continued to this day. Weighing in at a hefty 12.6 tons, the L90B was an ideal machine for pushing up silage and was a popular choice amongst larger operators.
The loader is equipped with a 4F/3R power shift torque convertor transmission, complete with an automatic function–APS. The L90B has parallel lift arm loader unit controlled by 3 lever ‘lollipop’ type controls – while many other manufacturers use a joystick – and a hydraulic output of 202l/min.
Central to the B series loaders was the all-new ‘Care Cab’, designed around the operator. The cab boasted a large expanse of green tinted glass with a curved windscreen, larger door and narrow pillars to maximise visibility.
The ventilation and heating system was upgraded for operator comfort but also to keep the windows clear in all conditions. The ‘Contronic’ monitoring system was standard on the L90B – a screen mounted in the dash to the left of the steering wheel which alerted the operator to any faults with the loader. A floor-mounted differential lock button which locked the front axle was also a nice feature.
Interestingly, the B series were the last loaders to have the Volvo BM name applied, with the branding shortened to Volvo when the new C range of loaders were released in 1995.
Furthermore, the B series were also the last Volvo loaders to use the parallel-type loader configuration, replaced by the Z type branded as the APS linkage by Volvo.