Yanmar's CBL40 Compact Backhoe Loader Earns "Multi-Tasker" Title

Sept. 28, 2010


During the trenching, backfilling and truck-loading exercises, the CBL40 proved hydraulically capable, while exhibiting plenty of tractive effort, speed and controllability.
With a universal coupler on the front, the CBL40 can handle a variety of skid-steer loader attachments, provided they're size-appropriate. Soon to be available is an aftermarket quick-coupler for the backhoe.
The CBL40's operator station is roomy and features suspended pedals and a swing-around seat. Controls for shifting the two-speed travel system and for the rear-differential lock are positioned at the left of the seat base. An aftermarket cab soon will be available for the CBL40.
With the tilt-up hood raised, access to routine service points seems no problem. The CBL40 uses an oil cooler for its implement hydraulic system placed in front of the radiator.
The load-and-carry exercise proved the CBL40 a stable machine with a tight turning circle.
The design of the CBL40's backhoe boom allows exceptionally good lines of sight to the bucket in the trench.
Operator Frank Bogden and technician Dale Brown removed the CBL40's backhoe in about 10 minutes, an operation entailing the removal of an access panel (two cap screws), left, and two mounting pins, center, then lifting the assembly off the stationary lower pins (using the outriggers), right. We didn't disconnect the hydraulic lines. With the backhoe removed, the optional rockshaft (which controls the three-point hitch) and the 540-rpm, 24-hp PTO shaft are accessible. Indexing the pin-mounting holes during reinstallation took a few minutes, but practice likely would make that task easier.

Yanmar, a company that soon will celebrate 100 years in business, is betting that the compact dimensions, versatility and performance of its new CBL40 will appeal to buyers who find full-size backhoe-loaders frequently too big for the job, or who are looking for a bit more application flexibility than even big skid-steers or compact wheel loaders can provide. The CBL40 is, at heart, a sturdy backhoe-loader. But with a universal coupler up front, and with a backhoe that can be removed to allow using attachments with the machine's optional three-point hitch or PTO shaft, the CBL40's potential is significantly expanded.

Construction Equipment had the opportunity for a close look at the design and performance of the new Yanmar in mid-May, when the company loaned us a CBL40 that was on a demonstration tour in northern Illinois. We, in turn, placed the machine in the capable hands of Frank Bogden, an instructor/operator at Local 150's (International Union of Operating Engineers) Apprenticeship and Skill Improvement facility in Plainfield, Ill.

Bogden used the machine to trench in some tough rocky fill, backfilled the cut, loaded trucks with crushed limestone, took the CBL40 on a couple of load-and-carry runs, then switched the bucket for a set of forks to handle lengths of 8-inch ductile iron pipe. He and Local 150 instructor/technician Dale Brown then separated the machine from its backhoe (in the field) to check the difficulty of doing so and, in the process, gave us a look at the optional category-1, three-point hitch installation and the optional PTO.

Overall, Bogden spoke highly of the CBL40's design and performance, but did have a number of suggestions for making the machine more accommodating and useful from the operator's point of view. Judging from the way several visitors from Yanmar listened and took notes during the evaluation, however, we'd guess that most of Bogden's suggestions soon will be incorporated.

On site from Yanmar to give us a walk-around introduction to the machine and to answer questions were Takayuki Fujiwara, marketing manager; Bill Gearhart, assistant marketing and product manager; and Lee Haack, regional sales manager.

Quick CBL40 design tour

Even though Yanmar has deep roots in the agricultural business, the company strongly makes the point that the CBL40 is not a converted farm tractor. It is, says Yanmar, a machine designed exclusively for the construction industry, and one that builds on the structural durability of the company's wheel loaders and on the hydraulic sophistication of its compact excavators.

The backbone of the new machine is an integral, one-piece frame designed to handle digging and loading forces at either end. A three-cylinder, turbocharged Yanmar diesel engine, generating 35.4 net horsepower, drives a closed-loop, load-sensing, two-speed "hydro-mechanical" propel system that, in turn, powers a mechanical gearbox that delivers its output to the conventional front and rear axles via drive shafts. An in-cab control disconnects the front axle for sustained high-speed travel.

The machine's implement hydraulic system, which draws oil from a reservoir separate from the drive system, employs two, variable-displacement, axial-piston pumps. A lever in the cab's right console switches the configuration of the hydraulic system between loader and backhoe operation, and in the backhoe position, ensures constant speed for the digging arm when another function is also engaged.

At the loader end, the CBL40 is fitted with a 70-inch-wide general-purpose bucket, but a universal-style quick coupler allows the use of size-appropriate skid-steer-loader attachments. Piping for auxiliary hydraulics to the front (as well as to the backhoe) is optional, but the auxiliary valve sections are already in place. The loader mechanism uses slab-steel lift arms and a geometry that allows parallel lift and automatic self-leveling.

Working the CBL40

The CBL40 has a swing-around seat (not a flip-over type) for switching from the loader to the backhoe position. Backhoe controls are two mechanical (not pilot operated) joysticks that can be configured in either a backhoe or excavator pattern by switching pin positions in the linkage at the main valve. The linkage is easily accessible through a panel at the rear of the operator's compartment and, says Yanmar, changing patterns is accomplished in just a few minutes.

When we asked Bogden which pattern he preferred, he said that either would be fine, and he went to work trenching in the wet, cobble-laced clay at the site.

After this exercise, he had a few suggestions for Yanmar. First, give the seat vertical-adjustment capability. The seat is comfortable enough, Bogden said, but some operators prefer to sit higher. Also, make provisions for pinning the outrigger pads in place, because they sometimes flipped from the dirt side to the smooth-pavement side during repositioning, requiring him to exit the cab to remedy the problem. And another helpful change, he suggested, would be a backhoe lock that's easier to manipulate from the seat, because the lock's present configuration requires the operator to lean well forward from the backhoe position to reach the handle.

Aside from these observations, Bogden was quite complimentary about the CBL40's backhoe performance, especially its hydraulics.

"Plenty of power and very responsive. The system does a good job of allowing you to simultaneously arm in and boom up. The controls have a good, smooth feel. I was concerned at first that since the machine has a hydrostatic-type drive, it would be difficult to reposition, but it rolled easily when I pushed back."

Bogden particularly liked the good visibility into the trench — the result, he said, of Yanmar's keeping the backhoe's boom narrow.

Although Bogden said he didn't have that much experience with hydrostatic-drive machines, he liked the way the CBL40 pushed strongly into the spoil when backfilling the trench. But what the machine could really use, he said, is a simple "bucket-level" indicator somewhere on the loader linkage.

After making a number of short-cycle passes between the crushed-limestone stockpile and a small truck, he commented favorably on the machine's speed and its hydraulic capability when handling heavy material. Also noted were the CBL40's good dump height and reach — "enough reach to easily place loads in the center of the truck." Also, he said, he liked the machine's controllability when approaching the truck.

With the bucket full of crushed rock, Bogden took the CBL40 on several circuitous routes to test its load-and-carry capability.

"The machine handles well — it feels very stable, and the turning radius is tight, which makes it very maneuverable. Although I didn't take the machine into any really rough areas, the ride quality seemed fine, and the steering and brakes were responsive — no objections there."

As a final exercise, Bogden swapped the bucket for a set of pallet forks, took the machine through some moderately sloppy ground to reach the pipe stockpile, then loaded and maneuvered with long sections of pipe.

"I was impressed with the good visibility to the load," he said. "Granted, the loads we were handling probably weren't much of challenge, but the machine seems to have plenty of lifting power, and the hydraulics, again, are quite smooth. And the parallel-lift feature is always a plus."

We also had in mind to use the CBL40 to do craning with the backhoe, but Bogden noted that the machine had no lifting eye on the bucket. He suggested that the addition of that item would be a handy feature — which would encourage operators to rig loads in a safe manner.

So, Frank, any final thoughts about this compact Yanmar?

"I think, overall, it would be a very handy piece of equipment for a contractor. It has a lot of versatility built in, especially with the three-point hitch. It's a good 'multi-tasker' — a well-thought-out machine."

CBL40 Basic Specifications*With loader bucket and backhoeHorsepower (net)35.4Operating weight (lb.)7,750Maximum hydraulic flow (gpm)11Implement-system pressure (psi)3,000Loader breakout force (lb.)4,375Loader lift height, to bucket pin (ft.)9.5Backhoe bucket force (lb.)5,798Backhoe digging arm force (lb.)3,582Transport length (ft.)*19.6Transport width (ft.)*5.8Transport height (ft.)*8.6