Takeuchi TB280FR review

By: Evarn Covich, Photography by: David Gilchrist

Takeuchi TB280FR review Takeuchi TB280FR review
Takeuchi TB280FR review Takeuchi TB280FR review
Takeuchi TB280FR review Takeuchi TB280FR review
Takeuchi TB280FR review Takeuchi TB280FR review

The Ed’s brother, Evarn Covich, jumps into the cab of a new Takeuchi TB280FR 8.6-tonne, zero-swing excavator and finds one of the most well-thought-out machines that he has operated.

The machine we tested at distributor Semco Group’s Brisbane branch was one of Takeuchi’s new zero-tail-swing excavators, the TB280FR. It weighs in at around 8.6 tonnes and hit the market late last year, replacing the older TB180FR excavators.


On raising the engine cover at the rear to expose the heart of the machine, it was good to see that the daily checkable items are within easy reach from the ground with good vision to most components. The operator’s cab is also able to be tilted forward in order to allow better access to the motor. The 3.3-litre, four-cylinder Yanmar 4TNV98CT engine produces 69.2hp (51.6kW) – which is nine percent more than its predecessor – and has a Tier 4 final rating.


Triple flange rollers are used to inhibit the potential of dropping tracks due to multiple points of contact, and we all know that they always come off in the worst spots at the worst time.

A big plus for me is the fact that the tracks have a self-adjusting tensioning system.

STS boom

The boom has a reach of 7045mm at ground level with a maximum dig depth of 4545mm and a maximum dump height of 4480mm – all without a quick hitch fitted.

But for me the best part of the boom is Takeuchi’s patented side-to-side (STS) boom system. For those of you who aren’t familiar with this, it’s basically a system where the boom is mounted onto the machine via a sliding system attached under the cab.

This enables the boom to be moved from one side of the machine to the other, creating the same versatility as a machine with a pivot boom but without having the disadvantage of having to look out the side of the cab to see what your bucket is doing. With the STS the bucket is always in clear view through the front window of the cab.


Auxiliary piping

The TB280FR comes standard with dual auxiliary hydraulics. The first one is a 148 lpm programmable circuit with proportional control and detent function. This large amount of flow is intended for the running of drills, mulchers, rockbreakers and so on.

The secondary auxiliary circuit runs at a rate of 58lpm, making it ideal for running attachments such as tilt hitches and hydraulic thumbs.

In the cab

The TB280FR comes fitted as standard with a ROPS1 and FOPS2 rated cabin, which we all know is becoming an ever-increasing necessity on job sites these days due to ever-expanding safety regulations.

I was glad to see that the cab roof had two work lights facing forward and two facing the rear — as well as the light on the boom. In my opinion you can never have too many work lights on your machine. Night-shift operators will understand what I mean.

The climb into the cab was effortless courtesy of the large, well-positioned step mounted to the track frame as well as the step/fuel tank mounted beneath the entry door.

Once inside I was able to try the different seat adjustments in order to find my happy medium. Although I was able to get myself into a comfortable position to operate the machine using the levers, I found there wasn’t much leg room for my six-foot-tall frame.


The control levers are of a shape that feels comfortable to hold, and the buttons and auxiliary switches are positioned within easy reach of the operator’s thumbs.

I particularly enjoyed the ease of operating the tilt hitch with the auxiliary proportional slide switch, which allows the operator to tilt the bucket slowly, fast or anywhere in between. For some operators this will definitely help to alleviate some of the frustration often encountered during the final trim process.


The windows on the Takeuchi provide for excellent vision around the entire machine while sitting in the driver’s seat. The front window is able to be easily lifted out of the way, and the bottom portion can be taken out altogether and stored behind the operator’s seat.


Climate control

With the limited size and the amount of glass on the cabins of these types of machines you can sometimes feel like you’re sitting in a greenhouse. On the day that I tested this excavator it was fine with cloudy periods and sitting at around 30 degrees Celsius. I had the air conditioner set at 1 and, even though we were in and out of the machine, opening and closing the cab door, the inside of the cabin remained at a consistently cool temperature.

LCD dash

The LCD dash provides data about almost everything in use on the machine, from the usual coolant temperature, revs, fuel, etc, through to attachments, auxiliaries in use, work modes etc. It’s pretty easy to read and understand at a glance.

On the job

For this review I was fortunate that Semco had organised a rather large area covered with a couple of different types of fill in order to test the machine’s capabilities.

I cranked her up to full revs and proceeded to walk the machine up onto a small bench of compacted clay fill in high gear in order to try out the automatic kick down, which I only encountered near the top of the climb as the machine seemed to go up the mound with relative ease.

I started to dig a trench through the compacted fill, and this seemed rather effortless. Actually, it wasn’t until I struck an old tree root fairly deep down in the virgin ground that I was able to make the machine work hard and exert a bit of energy and force in order to loosen and break it out while all the time remaining pretty stable throughout.

The control levers are positioned well and are comfortable to hold. The hydraulic system seems responsive to the levers, which in turn helps to make it rather effortless to cut a level grade while digging.

The bottom line

Takeuchi has taken most of the hard work and intricacies of operation out and created an operator-friendly machine that is smooth and easy to use. In fact, anyone who operates a machine of this calibre and cannot make a half-decent job has no business being in the earthmoving industry.

Read the full article in issue #263 of Deals on Wheels magazine. Subscribe here.

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