Vermeer S600 skid steer loader

By: Tim Dittmer, Photography by: Tim Dittmer

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Its strength and small size allow the Vermeer S600 mini skid steer loader to tackle jobs usually only completed by back-breaking manual labour.

Vermeer S600 skid steer loader
The Vermeer S600 skid steer loader makes light work of what would otherwise be back-breaking job.
  • User-friendly and precise joystick controls
  • Universal mounting hitch allows for a range of attachments
  • Comfortable spring-cushioned ride
  • Well protected with abrasion-resistant wrap and steel panels
  • Good climbing ability

AB Equipment is the New Zealand agent for Vermeer products, made in America. The Vermeer mini skid steer loaders are a new range of machines, just arrived here.

Engine and hydraulics

A Kubota D1105 diesel engine provides 25hp for the two hydraulic pumps. One pump delivers up to 49 litres per minute for the loader and auxiliary hydraulic functions at a maximum pressure of 206.8 bar. The second pump gives a slightly less maximum flow of 42 litres per minute at 210.2 bar and is dedicated to the travel system.

The Vermeer S600 has four hydraulic motors, one for each wheel, which eliminate the need for chains and sprockets between the front and rear wheels, reducing maintenance and downtime. An electric fan and oil cooler mounted under a heavy steel guard keep the hydraulic temperature at a controlled level while in use.

The three rams on the loader have a special scratch-resistant coating that prevents rust on the sphere rods. An auxiliary double acting hydraulic circuit, complete with flat face quick couplers, is fitted to power a huge range of attachments with up to 49 litres per minute.

Design and maintenance

For a small machine the S600 is well laid out. The operator's bay is separate from the engine bay with nothing protruding into your legs. The panel between the loader arms lifts up to provide access to the engine and pumps; there is enough room to easily get to the main components and service the machine. A smaller panel opens to reveal the battery.

The loader arms are of heavy construction with large gussets and plenty of welds. They also feature a curved design to increase the clearance when raised, making loading trucks easier. Vermeer has fitted a universal mounting plate to the loader arms so that existing mini loader attachments will fit on without requiring modification.

At the rear are two fuel tanks containing a total of 57 litres. The S600 also boasts a huge 53-litre hydraulic oil tank.

Underneath the Vermeer is a full steel belly guard, allowing the machine to slide over obstacles without the chance of getting hung up. The front of the machine is also clad in fairly heavy steel. Incorporated into the design are front and rear tie-down points, and dedicated craning points.

Operator environment

The Vermeer is operated via a stand-on platform at the rear. It is spring cushioned and has a safety device that locks the controls if the operator steps or falls off the machine. Cushions are fitted to the front and sides of the operator, and stickers under the controls inform the operator of the machine's functions. Two joysticks control the travel and loader functions, left for travel and steering and right for loader arm and bucket. A third lever in the middle regulates the flow of the auxiliary circuit. A hand throttle changes the required engine revs for the task at hand.

Performance and handling

I headed over to a stock pile of dirt and buried the bucket into the pile. It filled easily, so I backed out and counter-rotated the 1200kg S600 on the spot before tearing off at a top speed of 7.1km/h.

I was surprised at how stable it remained - even when climbing, descending and turning on slopes. It was a different story with a full, raised bucket, however; a lot more care needed to be taken when turning and on grades.

I found the Vermeer a very comfortable machine to operate. The sprung foot platform and padded work bay made all the difference while I was being thrashed about on the rough ground. Another feature that set this machine apart was the joystick controls, which offer precise movements of the hydraulics along with simple combined actions.

The centre lever controls the auxiliary hydraulic lines; to change the flow direction it needs to be pulled into the neutral position, shifted sideways and then continued to the desired direction. It also stays in the position it's left in. While this is fine when using certain attachments like augers, etc, it tends to make it difficult when using the 4in1 bucket because you have to let go of the handle bars to shift it sideways and return it to neutral when finished.

The 4in1 bucket is a useful attachment, easily grabbing logs, blackberry and a hundred other things during my test. The S600 performed very well in all bucket duties and had great traction even with the rain keeping the surface slippery.

The verdict

I was very impressed by the overall design and performance of the Vermeer S600, particularly the comfort factor and the joystick controls. All stress points utilise thick steel and plenty of welds. In addition to a one-year/1000-hour limited warranty, the S600 also comes with a three-year or 3000-hour structural warranty on the mainframe and loader arms. I like the "operator presence" safety feature that automatically locks the controls when you step off the machine.

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