Earthmoving Report: Case N-Series Backhoe Loaders “Stronger Everywhere”



Case Construction Equipment recently introduced its new N-Series backhoe loader lineup—580N, 580 Super N, 580 Super N Wide Track and 590 Super N—which the company describes as “Stronger Everywhere.” The machines do, indeed, reflect a capable design that includes a newly designed backhoe; expanded transmission choices; increased breakout forces—front and back; greater lift capacities with the new Power Lift feature; new auxiliary hydraulics; side-lighting package; and, in the cab, enhanced visibility and operator comfort.

The four new models, which replace the five previous M-Series 3 models, all feature the Tier-3-compliant Case 445T turbocharged diesel, a 4.5-liter engine with net horsepower ratings ranging from 79 in the 580N to 108 in the 590SN.   At the heart of the N-Series design is the new backhoe, which uses a heavy-duty fabricated boom (previous booms were cast), redesigned linkage and larger pins and bushings. The stronger new boom accommodates the increased breakout and lifting forces that result from using larger hydraulic cylinders and boosting main-relief pressure an average 400 psi.

 Complementing this added performance at the backhoe is Case’s new Power Lift feature, which, at the touch of switch, boosts lifting capacity by further increasing main pressure 8 to 16 percent, depending on the model. Power Lift remains engaged for as long as the operator chooses, but engine speed is reduced to half throttle for enhanced control. The feature is standard on the 580SN WT and 590SN, optional on the 580SN, and, according to Case, gives an N-Series machine the lifting capability of a 5-ton hydraulic excavator.

At the loader bucket, larger cylinders, stronger boom arms and the increased main-relief pressure provide added breakout and more lift capacity. The new boom arms also are longer, increasing reach by more than 3 inches and below-grade-digging capability by 2 inches. Case retained the loader’s reverse-parallel linkage and its positive stops for bucket rap-out (which keep the cylinders from bottoming when the operator shakes the bucket).

Transmissions and hydraulics
 N-Series buyers have a choice of three transmissions—Power Shuttle (a manual type with a clutch); S-Type (an automated version of the Power Shuttle); and the H-Type (a fully hydraulic power-shift). Although the S-Type (with synchronizers) momentarily passes through neutral when shifted, its controls are identical to those of the H-Type, and most operators will notice little operational difference between the two transmissions. H-Type machines add an operator-controlled auto-shift feature, which allows the transmission to shift up or down to match operating situations, but will shift no higher than the gear selected. (The H-Type transmission is not an option for the 580N.)  

With either the S-Type or H-Type transmission, N-Series models also are equipped with Case’s Smart Clutch, which allows operators to choose from three settings that adjust the modulation (aggressiveness) of directional shifts.

Except for the 580N, which uses a single-section gear pump in its implement-hydraulic system, N-Series models employ a new variable-displacement hydraulic pump. The new Variable Volume Hydraulic system, says Case, reduces operating temperatures and yields potential fuel savings of up to 10 percent. Pilot controls in adjustable consoles are available for all models, and an in-cab pattern-changer switch is part of the package.

A new auxiliary-hydraulic system incorporates a Flow Control feature that automatically matches flow to attachment requirements. In-boom routing of auxiliary lines affords added protection.

Visibility and cab amenities
 The new N-Series models feature floor-to-ceiling windows, and new rear-quarter windows that can be opened 180 degrees. The operator can unlatch the new rear windows, when open, from inside the cab. A pull handle for the cab doors (instead of a push button) is designed for positive action in cold weather.

Pilot-control models have a new footrest, and radio controls have been moved to the right cab pillar and are accessible from both the loader and backhoe positions. In-cab sound levels, says Case, are 72 dB(A).

An optional high-intensity side-lighting package, which effectively illuminates the entire working perimeter of N-Series machines, significantly increases nighttime visibility for the operator. The seated operator can adjust the lights to best suit the situation.