This week, our editor Laurence Gale attended a Ransomes Jacobsen product launch press day at their UK factory in Ipswich
Laurence said: "They were keen to show us two brand new products that have been developed to replace two long standing popular products, the revered Cushman Turf-Truckster and their popular Ransomes Commander wide area mower, both of which have been very popular with local authorities since they were first launched in 1993.
Both products have been redesigned from the ground up, with Ransomes taking on board plenty of feedback from end users, and taking the opportunity to make use of the many new technologies and materials that have been developed in recent years.
We were given a power point presentation about the two products and then had the opportunity to drive and see both products being put through their paces."
New MP495 and MP655 five unit cylinder mowers
Primarily targeted at the municipal sector, the MP495/MP655 range provides yet more options from a single design platform and are replacements for the Ransomes Commander, the stalwart of municipal wide area cylinder mowers launched back in 1993.
Following on from the launch of the MP493 and MP653 wide area rotary mowers last autumn, these new five unit cylinder mowers are powered by the same 49hp and 65hp Kubota diesel engines and use a standard platform, enhancing the commonality between each machine for ease of production, operator use and maintenance.
The option of two engines enables the end user to maximise productivity by selecting their cutting parameters and then appropriately matching them to engine power, environmental legislation, fuel economy and fitting of additional accessories such as cabs.
The use of lightweight, high strength steel results in a significant reduction in gross weight which contributes to greater fuel savings, a reduction in trailer weight requirements and reduced ground pressure.
An ISO-mounted operator platform reduces noise and vibration levels for the operator, with or without a cab fitted and Q-Amp speed reactive steering matches steering response for the operator, smoothing out small movements to help maintain straight lines, while remaining in tight turns when mowing around objects such as trees and benches.
The choice of cutting units remains with Magna 250 fixed head cylinders for general maintenance work and Sport 200 fixed and floating head cylinders for high quality turf maintenance.
The rear outer cutting units fold up and rearwards for transport providing excellent sideways visibility for the operator when driving on the road and distributes weight for improved stability and ride quality. The front units also lift and fold providing a transport width of just 1.89 metres. All units are held in place for transport with an electrically-operated fail-safe locking system.
The MP655 uses a common rail diesel engine, which enables it to be electronically controlled and provide more functionality. Mowing speed and transport speeds can be adjusted and set using a password code and the controller has enhanced engine diagnostic features which can be obtained without the need of a laptop.
There are three selectable drive modes on the MP655 - Automatic, Manual and Creep. In Automatic mode a fuel saving system activates when the machine come to a stop; it automatically idles the engine reducing fuel consumption. There's also an electronic interface which maintains the quality of cut when the engine is under maximum load.
In Manual mode all of the automatic functions are disabled and the mower reacts and drives like a standard machine. The Creep mode disables the cutting units and limits the transport speed to 8 km/h, ideal for manoeuvring in tight areas such as workshops and loading ramps.
Everyday maintenance and servicing has been made as simple as possible with easy access to the fuel and hydraulic oil reservoirs, which reduces the possibility of fuel and oil spillages and also provides easy viewing of the hydraulic oil level. Quick-release side panels provide instant access to all major service items, which encourages maintenance schedules to be followed and not ignored due to inaccessibility.
The operator controls are common to the other Ransomes ride-on mowers - Highway 3,
Parkway 3, HR300 and MP493/MP653 wide area rotary mowers, making it simple for operators to transfer between machines in multiple fleet applications.
All round visibility from the ISO-mounted operator's platform is excellent with positive sight lines to each cutting unit and a comfortable suspension seat ensuring long days of productive mowing. A foldable ROPS keeps the operator safe and provides flexibility in height restricted access areas. It also has four dedicated tie down points for anchoring to a trailer when transporting between jobs.
The deck lift and lower controls and weight transfer button are located on the armrest with the remaining controls and information screen located in removable console on top of the fuel tank. A tilt adjustable steering wheel completes the operator platform.
Both mowers feature the SureTrac™ traction control system, which automatically transfers power from a slipping front wheel to the opposite rear wheel, and ensures superior control when hill climbing or working on side slopes. They also feature 4-wheel drive in reverse, which improves traction when reversing uphill. For additional safety, the optional TST tilt control system can be fitted; it emits audible warnings when an operator exceeds the mowers maximum working angle and eventually shuts down the mowing process, if the persistent warnings are ignored.
Lee Kristensen, Ransomes Jacobsen's Product Manager said,
"The first machines in the MP series, the MP493 and MP653, launched last autumn have been met with tremendous acclaim, both here in the UK and especially in Europe. Now, with these latest additions to the MP series replacing the acclaimed Ransomes Commander, we have continued to provide both productivity and practicality. Operators are now able to maximise productivity - by selecting their cutting parameters and applications, then appropriately matching them with a choice of engine power. They can also specify a machine configuration that matches their transport weight requirements.
"Using the same common platform we are providing fleet operators commonality of parts within a mixed fleet format, which will help drive down the cost of parts they need to stock. With each machine in the range capable of being individually specified, we are providing options, beginning with an entry level model, scaling up to cover the requirements of all customers."
Jacobsen Truckster XD heavy-duty utility vehicle
Serving as a replacement for the venerable Cushman Turf-Truckster - the turf industry's original heavy-duty utility vehicle - the all-new Jacobsen Truckster XD sets a new standard for capacity, power, strength and comfort.
The new Truckster XD boasts a massive, class-leading 1,610 Kg standard payload capacity, supported by the toughest load bed in the industry, with steel up to 75% thicker than comparable boxes and 20% more volume.
Two class-leading power units are available: the diesel version, more commonly used throughout Europe, with 24.8 hp and 71.5 nm of torque and the petrol model, which is used predominantly in the Americas and Asia-Pacific, providing 32.5 hp and 70 nm of torque.
The new Truckster XD was built to handle the daily rigours on the golf course, therefore the Jacobsen engineers have put a priority on comfort, giving the operator area 25% more room than the competition.
"When we started this project, the first thing we did was ask hundreds of superintendents, greenkeepers and sports turf managers what they wanted from a heavy-duty utility vehicle," said Richard Comely, Director of Global Product Management at Ransomes Jacobsen. "The feedback was unanimous: they told us they wanted a truck with more capacity, power and comfort. Nothing on the market was able to fulfill their needs properly. Based on the extensive field testing and feedback we've received over the past year, we've delivered exactly what turf professionals asked for.
"We have two main goals with this new vehicle: to make turf managers' jobs easier and to satisfy their unmet needs. When you look at what is currently available on the market today, there's nothing as tough, powerful or comfortable as the Jacobsen Truckster XD. As a result, we believe it will serve as a game changer in the heavy duty utility vehicle category."
Following the official launch at the Golf Industry Show, the first units will be available in the UK and Europe in the second half of 2015. A full range of accessories and attachments will also be available with kits enabling the retrofitting of existing and competitor equipment.
For more information, visit www.ransomesjacobsen.com