Last week I had the good fortune to travel to Bismarck, North Dakota to visit the folks at Bobcat and to take a close look at a herd of fine new machines. The event was designed to showcase the company’s new M-Series loaders and excavators – I will discuss those in future posts, but today I want to report on my test drive of the company’s new Toolcat 5610, which I first saw at the National Farm Machinery Show last winter. The Toolcat 5610 is a truly revolutionary machine that is part tractor, part utility vehicle and part loader. The only thing that comes close to the Toolcat 5610 in versatility is the Mercedes (Case, Freightliner, etc.) Unimog but it is in a completely different price and size class.
I will admit to being somewhat skeptical that the Toolcat 5610 would be capable of doing all of its tasks well, so you can imagine my glee when I learned that the machine would be available for operation at the Bismarck event. Let me say from the get go that I was blown away by the Toolcat 5610. The machine is not your average UTV, it is an incredibly heavy-duty tool – it weighs nearly 6000 pounds when fitted out. As such, the 5610 is an excellent platform for front and rear mounted attachments. Even though the 5610 is equipped with four-wheel independent suspension (and 4-wheel steering), it has been designed in such a way as to provide tractor-like rigidity (and stability) with a bucketful of gravel on the front lift arm. Yes, you can actually use the Toolcat 5610 as a front-end loader.
Perhaps even more impressive than the unique suspension system is the Toolcat 5610’s capacity to do farm and land maintenance work of all kinds. The rear Cat. 1 three-point hitch and 540 RPM PTO allow operators to hitch up to any of hundreds of implements from mowers to scrapers to seeders to snow blowers. From the seat, in the 5610’s comfy climate-controlled cab, I found it easier to watch the rear attachment than from the seat of many tractors. The Toolcat 5610 is fully capable of pulling and powering ground-engaging tools – it had no problem with the 6-foot rotary tiller at full depth in the Missouri River silt at the site. And I did the tilling with a solid stand seeder mounted on the front lift arm. I also experimented with a hydraulically-driven mower on the front lift arm. Impressive is about all I can think of to say.
The Toolcat 5610 may well be the perfect single machine for small farmers, acreage owners and folks who have several acres to maintain. You get a tractor, utility vehicle, loader and recreational vehicle all rolled into a single all-terrain, diesel-powered package. The Toolcat 5610 does each of its tasks well, but if you have scores of acres of hay to make or need a loader 8 hours a day most days, then you would want to make the investment in several pieces of more specialized machinery. If you are in the market for a true working partner around your place, then head on over to your local Bobcat dealer and see about arranging a weekend with the Toolcat 5610, I know you will be impressed.
Hank Will raises hair sheep, heritage cattle and many varieties of open-pollinated corn with his wife, Karen, on their rural Osage County, Kansas farm. His home life is a perfect complement to his professional life as editor in chief at GRIT and Capper's Farmer magazines. Connect with him on Google+.