Earthmoving Industry Insight, Guides

Our six favourite wheel loaders

Recently we took a look at some of our favourite skid-steer loaders. This time it's the big boys turn, so sit back and have a read of our six favourite wheel loaders.


Caterpillar 924K wheel loader

Cat 924K wheel loader
Ron Horner checks out a Cat 924K wheel loader being used on a cattle feedlot on the New South Wales/Queensland border.
“The 140hp (105kW) Cat engine drives the loader with ease and, as it is coupled to the hydrostatic drive, is as effortless as they come,” Ron says.
“From what I have witnessed here on my two visits, the smiles all round from the boys operating it, the application for which this loader has been purchased and my understanding of the history of Caterpillar loaders, think they are right on the money with this one.”

Komatsu WA480-5 wheel loader

Komatsu WA480-5 wheel loader
A mine-spec Komatsu WA480-5 wheel loader is showing true tenacity and toughness working 24-hour shifts in a Queensland clay pit, writes RON HORNER

Located only 17km from the Brisbane CBD is a 24-hectare (originally 80-hectare) fully designated mine site which has been in production for almost 125 years.

This site has been a productive clay pit governed by the Queensland Department of Natural Resources and Mines and, up until recently, owned by Boral (Bricks).

The clay mined from the site and, more recently, imported materials are stockpiled in layers, re-excavated and blended to create materials for the manufacturing of bricks at the Boral site in Darra to supply to the booming Queensland housing market …

JCB 457HT wheel loader

JCB 457HT wheel loader
After taking the new JCB 457HT wheel loader for a test run, reviewer RON HORNER is left with a big grin on his face and a warm feeling in his belly.

After a few weeks of ‘snooping’ in search of a new JCB 457HT wheel loader to test we were fortunate to receive a phone call from JCB Brisbane who invited us to come out and have a look at the new range.

My first impressions of the 457 loader were of a nice shape, a good balance in wheelbase, counterweight and bucket configuration, plenty of glass … in the very crowded JCB yard it stood out like a lighthouse beacon on a dark and stormy night. And I hadn’t even climbed into the cabin yet!

Standing at 20.3 tonnes bare weight, swinging a 3.5 cubic metre bucket and pushed along by a 250 horsepower (186kW) MTU 6R1000 engine this loader is …

Case 1021F wheel loader

Case 1021F wheel loader
RANDOLPH COVICH recently had the opportunity to get behind the wheel of a 24-tonne Case 1021F wheel loader in a local quarry and came away pleased with the results.

Equipped and primarily intended for serious work at medium-to-large-sized quarries, the Case 1021F wheel loader is designed to be quick and manoeuvrable around the worksite or quarry floor.

The earthmover weighs in at around 24 tonnes (24,399kg to be exact), and its size means it can handle a bucket between 3.5 and 4.2 cubic metres. The one we tested had a 4.2-cubic-metre bucket fitted.

Case has done its best to provide clear all-round vision and make the surroundings as comfortable as possible for the machine’s operator. Daily check points are kept within easy reach, and an electric self-raising hood ensures any strains to muscles are minimised …

Hyundai HL770-9 wheel loader

The Hyundai HL770-9 wheel loader offers everything an operator can expect in this class – and then some.

“This Hyundai HL770-9 is up there with the best loaders of this category/size I have seen,” reviewer Ron Horner says.

“This is a very smooth loader in operation and the limited slip back end combined with the 4.3m cubic meter loaded bucket gets rid of those empty truck and dogs in a flash.”

Caterpillar 966H wheel loader

Cat 966H wheel loader
Two Cat 966H wheel loaders are being used at the tip face at a New Zealand landfill to handle the incoming fill.

Top features of the Cat loaders are: Smooth, fast hydraulics; a quiet, comfortable cab with good visibility; easy access to engine bay; built-in lift points; and clear and simple-to-use controls.

C and D Landfill takes cleanfill, concrete and demolition waste and also sells hardfill. When the time came to upgrade its loaders, owner John Morgan chose two Cat 966H wheel loaders. Both are predominately used at the tip face to handle the incoming fill from a constant stream of trucks and are operated by John’s daughters: Paige, Alana, Janita and Simone.

The major differences between the two loaders is that one is fitted with a standard bucket and conventional steering, while the other features a rock bucket and Command Control Steering. The standard bucket has more capacity than the rock bucket and is also more suited to loading trucks with the hardfill from the site. The rock bucket copes better with the larger pieces of concrete.

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