Liebherr LR 634 tracked loader

By: John Clark, Photography by: John Clark


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The Liebherr LR 634 tracked loader boasts the speed and manoeuvrability of a skid steer loader and the pushing power of an equal sized dozer

Liebherr LR 634 tracked loader
Liebherr LR 634 tracked loader
  • Good speed and manoeuvrability
  • Quiet to drive
  • Good access points for maintenance
  • Spacious cab
  • Hydrostatic drive

There are only two manufacturers of tracked loaders over six tonne remaining: Caterpillar and Liebherr.

Despite the fact that these machines are used extensively world-wide, many contractors I have spoken with in New Zealand were not aware they were still being manufactured.

I got the opportunity to test-drive a Liebherr LR634 tracked loader on a recent trip to the UK. The test was arranged by John Hughes from Liebherr New Zealand.

At Liebherr's UK headquarters in Biggleswade, just outside London, we met with John Diggens of Liebherr UK, who gave my son Lewis and I a guided tour of the workshops and facilities.

We were then driven to a large landfill site in Cambridge, north of London, operated by Donarbon Waste, which recycles large amounts of waste using specially equipped excavators and wheeled loaders.

The site manager explained that the LR 634, which had only 197 hours on the clock, acts as a back-up machine for the 50-tonne Bomag compactor when a lot of rubbish comes in or if it cannot be used. It also spreads soil and clay over the rubbish and maintains the hall roads, digs and loads dump trucks. He said the machine's versatility makes it so important.

"We must continue working everyday, regardless of the weather. What other machine can dig, doze, load trucks, carry and grade the hall road?"

Why did the company go with a Liebherr instead of a Caterpillar 963D? Donardon's site manager said it was due to the level of service they received from Liebherr.

The test

I had previously seen a LR 634 in a brochure but it looked much better in the flesh; solidly built, with proper door catches and grease nipples on the hinges. Everyday maintenance looks easy to carry out thanks to the good access points; the filters and dipstick were all straightforward to get to.

Inside the cab

Climbing into the cab, I was impressed with how much space there was; the large storage box under the left-hand arm rest reduces the potential to clutter up the controls.

I jumped in the driver's seat, started it up and lowered the safety lever on my left, just the same as in an excavator. In fact, the Liebherr felt very much like an excavator from the seating position but with a much bigger cab and just foot rests on the floor.

Turning up the throttle, I raised the bucket off the ground and slowly moved backwards to get behind some stockpiled soil and clay. The left-hand lever controls all track movements and has a switch on the front for two speeds.

Hydrostatic drive is definitely the easiest way to operate a tracked loader, and Liebherr has been using hydrostatic drive on their tracked loaders since 1974.

I tested the machine digging, carrying and spreading. The Liebherr pushed through the stockpiles without hesitation, doing several loads back to back. When I pressed the switch on the back of the lever to a faster travel speed it was very smooth and responsive.

There were only two things I would change about this tracked loader; the first being the switch on the back of the right-hand bucket which opens and closes the 4-in-1 bucket - I thought it could be a bit smoother. I would also personally prefer a grey cab instead of white to lower the amount of cleaning required to keep it looking its best.

Summary

The LR 634 is a combination on many machines from the seating position it felt like an excavator, the view from the cab is very similar to a wheeled loader, as you have good vision of the bucket so you can see exactly what you are doing with the speed and manoeuvrability of a skid steer loader and the pushing power of an equal sized dozer. The LR 634 was extremely quiet and a pleasure to drive.

See a range of Liebherr loaders for sale.

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