Review: 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.
Under the hood
Our machine’s Fiat Iveco six-cylinder 8.7-litre turbo-charged engine pushed out 320 horsepower (239kW) and produced a net peak torque of 1479Nm, compliant with Tier 2 emission control regulations.
(Interesting side fact: The Fiat Iveco Group’s FPT industrial engine manufacturing facility is said to be the biggest in the world by units produced, exceeding one million per year.)
The highly efficient ‘cooling cube’ has five radiators mounted to form a cube rather than the usual ‘stack’, ensuring each radiator directly receives fresh air to maintain constant fluid temperatures. The wide-opening rear door allows excellent access to the cube for cleaning and servicing.
Something that is sure to be popular with operators working in air-contaminated environments is the mid-mounted cooling module on the smaller models in the range.
Essentially, Case has moved the radiator unit from the rear of the machine to the middle — something I predict will become more popular with other brands before too long. It provides a cleaner air intake and has the added advantage of placing the engine right at the rear of the machine, giving greater stability and lifting capacity.
To conserve energy the auto fan operates at predetermined intervals, or as often as the operator decides. It also reverses to blow out any dust and chaff that may build up in the radiator fins.
Fuel economy is taken into consideration with four operating mode settings, including an auto one that allows the machine to do the thinking for the operator.
Serviceability features include tool-free access to routine maintenance points, the tilt-up hood mentioned earlier, grouped grease points and ground-level fills. I also really like are the built-in jump-start posts, because we all know that eventually every machine will require a ‘jump’.
In the cab
The climb to the cab places the operator in quite a lofty position, and there are sufficient railings and steps to ensure that three points of contact can always be maintained.
Once inside the cab, both position and seating give a comfortable ready-to-work feel. Gauges and switches fall easily to the eye and hand, and, as expected, air conditioning is standard fare.
It would probably be difficult to get better vision from a machine of this size, as the front screen glass drops down to floor level to the left and right, and there are no front pillars to create any blind spots. The sloping rear-end does its best to give the operator as much vision as possible when reversing, and an optional rear-view camera is available.
One thing I would have liked to have seen was some way for the operator to lean around the front of machine and wipe dust from parts of the windscreens that the wipers cannot reach. The catwalk cannot be extended due the articulation of the machine, but I’m pretty sure an extension to existing front railings would allow the operator to lean against it and safely reach around. In its current form, there is an opportunity to over-balance if one reached too far, although a grab rail does offer some degree of comfort.
On the job
As I mentioned earlier, sitting in the seat gives a ready-to-work feel. I know it sounds a bit naff saying that, as you should be ready to work whenever you sit in the seat of a machine, but with this machine I didn’t have to muck around and adjust things like the seat or steering column.
It just was a matter of giving the controls a scan over, clipping on the seat belt, kicking it into gear and getting to work in a local quarry.
The Case 1021F is actually a pretty decent-sized machine and if you’re not paying attention, it wouldn’t take a lot to do some damage to a blinged-out truck and trailer unit. While that could cause a chuckle in the lunchroom later on, it certainly wouldn’t be a laughing matter to an owner/driver if their truck or trailer needed to be off the road for repairs.
Luckily, the feeling from the cab makes the machine seem smaller than it is, but still lets you know that you are behind the wheel of some serious piece of kit. With the good visibility from the operator’s seat, Case designers have done their best to ensure that no anger is ever directed at the operator for an error.
Unfortunately I had missed the trucks carting out of the quarry for the day, so I had to be content with tidying up some stockpiles. While this gave an opportunity to check out the power and the sheer liftability of the Case 1021F, it didn’t allow for trying out of the Powerinch system, which is said to provide "incredible accuracy and control in tight loading areas".
It didn’t take long to feel comfortable operating the 1021F. The combination forward/reverse and bucket control joystick was precise, and formed a complete, well-designed package with the smooth transmission.
There was the occasional instance where the machine lost traction as it pushed material up into the stockpile, but a foot to the diff-lock button positioned on the floor immediately started things moving again.
The bottom line
I found the Case 1021F wheel loader very hard to fault, and the whole operation was a positive experience.
It is comfortable to drive with excellent vision for a machine of its size; lots of thought has gone into making servicing and access to regularly checked items easy; and on top of all that it has plenty of power to boot.
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