Telehandler Test John Deere 3800

Smaller but adequate for the task

JOHN DEERE’S 3800 appears to be physically the smallest machine of the bunch. With a lift capacity of 2,500kg and a 120hp, it is the only pivot-steer loader currently offered by Deere.

The cab on the 3800 shows the others how things should be done, as it is very easy to get in and out of. No doubt this is helped by the fact that the cab is also used on the 5020 series tractors so any JD drivers will instantly feel at home. The rake and reach adjustable steering wheel is the easiest to adjust and, like the tractors, can be raised out of the way to improve access.

A bright colour scheme and deep windows give a light and airy feel, combined with plenty of headroom. The doors also use a clever two-stage opening design. A gas strut holds the door in place for conventional opening while a second latch allows the door to be folded back alongside the cab. The rear side windows can also be opened if required to get fresh air circulating.

Heating and cooling vents are mounted in the roof and can be turned to either direct the flow of air to the driver or the windows. This cab also has the most amount of in-cab storage space – and Deere is the only manufacturer to offer an exterior toolbox.

Visibility to the sides and over your shoulder is good thanks to the curved rear-quarter windows. Where the John Deere does fall down is the visibility to the front and rear, the boom pivot is high and the tall bonnet doesn’t do it any favours when looking directly behind.

All the operators who used the 3800 found that they were looking to one side of the boom in order to see the muck grab at ground level. A higher driving position, as on the JCB or Redrock, would make a vast improvement to both forward and rear visibility while relocating the boom extend/retract ram inside rather than on top of the boom would also help things.

Controls are well laid out – as you would expect from such a high calibre tractor maker – and a safety flap on the joystick prevents the loader being accidentally moved. This spring loaded flap also acts as a rest for your hand making the joystick comfortable to use throughout a long day.

There are different shaped buttons to help distinguish between the boom and auxiliary supplies both of which are proportional. There is also plenty of choice for isolating supply to the auxiliaries, crowding the bucket or both.

Powershift gear changes are made using a rocker switch on the back of the joystick and this function is duplicated again on the armrest, which is useful during transport. The selected gear is shown on the cab ‘A’ post column display which, like the JCB, could do with lowering so that it is more in the line of vision.

As previously mentioned, the 3800 has the smallest horsepower engine of the four we tested. The responsive 4.5 litre motor produces 120hp.

Compared to the other loaders, the tail on the 3800 was the lowest, which is not good news for farmers and contractors wanting to climb a steep clamp. John Deere says it is developing some new fuel and hydraulic tanks to improve the loader’s clearance.

As far as performance goes the 3800 felt the best when it came to pushing its way into the muckheap. The narrow 15.5R24 tyres may have had something to do with this, as they were able to bite through the slop and into firm ground below. When extra pushing power was required it was easy to drop a gear using the joystick rocker switch, though we found the powershift slow to respond when moving up a gear.

Downshifts were quick and using the rocker switch means there’s no need for a separate kick-down button. The steering column mounted shuttle was also within reach of your fingertips.

Due to the 2,500kg lift capacity it did not take much effort to get the 3800’s rear in the air, and as farmers move to bigger machines, John Deere should consider increasing the lift capacity to remain competitive.

The open centre, load sensing hydraulic system showed no problem in lifting a good grab full of muck or getting the loader’s tail off the ground. The hydraulics also proved to be very smooth when raising the boom when loading the spreader.

The roof-mounted window provides a good view of the loader when at maximum height and a wiper helps keep it clean.

Like the other four telehandlers on test, the John Deere had an intermittent setting on the windscreen wiper, which proved useful when it started to drizzle rather than having to switch the wiper on and off.

Driving the loader back to the yard across the spread manure showed how the tyres flicked a lot of muck onto the steps to the point where they where filled with manure making them slippy when getting out of the cab. Blocking the gap between the steps and the rear mudguard would help, but a flexible extension on the front fenders would have a bigger effect.

Getting under the bonnet of the 3800 is not as straight forward as the other loaders. There’s a spanner key supplied with the machine to open the latching mechanism, but no handle to help lift the hinged hood – or for that matter to pull it back shut.

Once lifted clear, the bonnet reveals an uncluttered engine with the dipstick the easiest to get at. There is plenty of room around the filters to ease changes and there is just one large radiator to keep clean.

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