Review: Mustang 2044 skid steer loader

By: Ron Horner

Presented by
  • Earthmovers & Exacavators

Despite not being the biggest fan of skid steers, a Mustang 2044 loader made Ron Horner think again

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The Mustang brand began life back in 1965 and is still going strong

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This month I have decided to specialise in reviewing skid steer loaders from a couple of differing angles.

First one was the newly imported OzDiggers mini skid steer loaders and keeping away from the popular brands I decided, seeing the opportunity was sitting in front of me, to take on this little Mustang 2044, a 2.5ton skid steer from Tutt Bryant, the Australian distributors of Mustang Compact Equipment.

I don’t have a liking for operating skid steers.

In my early days I grew up on the dozers, scrapers, loaders and especially excavators so I was a bit of a latecomer to the skid steer game and, I suppose due to age and injury, I certainly did not come to terms with the rough and tumble, dusty, cold and wet days expected of a skid steer operator.

To put it bluntly, I was too old, too cranky and far too spoiled by sitting for thousands of hours in a reasonably comfy excavator cabin.

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Lifting capacities on the 2044 vary between 658kg standard or 748kg with the optional counterweight

HISTORY LESSON

Now once I began to research this little loader I was totally surprised of what came up in my searches.

Apparently Mustang is the second oldest skid steer manufacturer in the world, building its first loader in 1965 – the Mustang Series 1000. From what began way back in the 19th century as an agricultural implement manufacturer has now grown into a compact equipment powerhouse, Mustang Compact Equipment.

Known as Owatonnna Manufacturing Company, Mustang became the first to make what is known now as the skid steer loader. Since that time, Mustang has combined old-school experience with innovative processes to offer one of the broadest lines of compact equipment available today.

The manufacturing facility located in Madison, South Dakota, USA is a long way from where Calamity Jane fought off Native Americans from the back of a stagecoach in the Black Hills of Dakota in the 1800s but nevertheless, Mustang has left an indelible mark on the compact equipment industry equal to Doris Day’s charms.

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WALKAROUND

Not being in love with skid steers, a quick walkaround suggests it is just another skid steer to me. Well and truly second hand, owned by a local concreter and used for just about everything involved in concreting and pad preparation.

A 4:1 bucket, spreader bar, a few lifting slings and chains was all that came with the Mustang onto the job site but that was enough for it to impress me to get to place my bum in the seat and give it a go.

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The T-bar control was easy to get used to

IN THE CABIN

Surprisingly, gaining access to the cabin was not as tight as I first imagined it would be.

Only one vertical lever impeded my slightly oversized bum and body to gain access to the comfortable seating arrangement and once seated I felt quite totally at ease.

The open front and slotted mesh sides to the cabin give the operator a clear visual experience, albeit a bit cool and dusty on the day and I found it more accessible than most skid steers and as comfortable as an old boot once seated.

The top mounted dashboard sits above and in front of the operator with all the necessary and relevant gauges poking the operator right in the eye. The bucket pin release lever is up and out of the way in the same area along with ignition and a well-positioned mirror is there to check on those pesky labourers floating around the back.

The floor mounted bucket controls are perfect for me and took all of about 30 seconds to get used to it and to become reasonably competent.

The left foot operates a foot lever in a forward and reverse motion for bucket load and dump and the right foot operates the control for lift and lower in a forward or reverse motion as well: perfect.

However, what impressed me the most was the central positioning of the floor mounted twist left or right, push forward, pull back reverse motion/travel lever. It is rumoured that you can option three differing control options, dual lever with foot controls, dual-lever with hand controls and the T-bar with two foot controls.

I’m glad this one had the T-bar controls as this was just so easy to get used to and seemed so natural: I wish all skid steers had it.

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The radial-lift arm design is engineered for fast cycle times, strong breakout forces and high operating capacities

ON THE JOB

Better than six labourers, this little unit was witnessed from unloading the formwork, mesh, mixer and whirly bird to loading the aggregate, sand and bagged cement for finishing off those little jobs that don’t warrant a trip to the farm by an expensive concrete agitator.

Lifting capacities on the 2044 vary between 658kg standard or 748kg with the optional counterweight, this little fella ran a standard counterweight and worked very efficiently for its purpose on the day. This covered prepping the site, cutting, filling, loading out the excess and back loading the road base and sand, then trimming, levelling and compacting the underside of the slabs.

I had only viewed from a distance the efforts of the Mustang but I was more impressed when I got into the cabin.

I must say that I was pretty impressed with the cab layout’s simplicity and ease of operation and I was really pleased with the speed of operation. Getting along at a healthy 11km/h might be good for you youngsters but for us oldies it just gets too bloody rough so I had to pull back considerably. That is my issue not the machine’s.

Those foot controls worked perfectly for me and took me no time to gain good control and along with the 4:1 bucket was able to impress myself at some stages through the day. The Mustang produced plenty of power, speed and control and performed admirably in the conditions we had to endure over the period of a couple of days.

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Servicing can be easily achieved by swinging the radiator out

UNDER THE HOOD

This Mustang is fitted ex-factory with a Level 1 certified rollover/falling object protection structure, which is compulsory when clearing tall vegetation and manoeuvring around steep inclines and slopes.

The radial-lift arm design is engineered for fast cycle times, strong breakout forces and high operating capacities.

The Mustang comes fitted with the tried and true four-cylinder, direct injected Yanmar diesel (4TNV88 2.19L) engine pushing out 34.2kW, it is more than sufficient to run the hydrostatic drive motors, which push it along at over 11km/h.

The fuel tank is an above standard 54L, which will keep you in the seat for longer than one would wish.

All the servicing can be achieved safely from on ground and when the rear engine bay door is open you can access the filters, air cleaner and engine bay quite easily by swinging the radiator out and to the left.

This gives you basically unimpeded access to the engine bay and creates an easy avenue to complete necessary engine bay works.

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THE BOTTOM LINE

I always find it difficult to cast praise on any skid steer loader, it’s just an issue I have had for many years but the older I get the less critical and confronting I am becoming.

To tell you the truth I have found a couple of skid steers that have impressed me both for work capability and operator comfort and this little Mustang surprised me.

I watch in awe of extremely competent skid steer operators and know that I will never gain those levels of competency in this life. Over my 45 years in the industry there have been significant technical changes in the design of all types of both light and heavy equipment, making them so comfortable and efficient that it beggars belief.

However, I love history and I take my hat off to the blokes that 50 or 60 years ago sat down and visualised an opening for a new type of, or severe modification of, an agricultural machine that over the years have been converted into these modern, highly technical and ever so efficient dirt movers we have at our disposal these days.

Our industry is not only moving with the times but is in fact leading from the front with great design engineers and quality manufacturing plants building our "boys’ toys".

It is great to see that the Mustang brand is still going strong after all these years and keeping true to its loyal customers with a great product and great product support from distributer Tutt Bryant.

 

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