Manitou's MLT523 Turbo is produced in France for worldwide distribution and sold and serviced here by Manitou North America, Waco, Texas. Clearly a ground-engaging machine, the MLT523 Turbo gave an impressive performance when using a bucket to create the test track for another Showcase event. This full-featured unit is offered in addition to the simpler MT523, which is targeted at the construction market. Both have the same capacity and dimensions but different engines and cabs. The MLT offers single joystick control to handle the same tasks that three mechanical controllers handle in the MT version. An enclosed cab is standard on the MLT, while the open cab is standard on the MT. Likewise, the MLT is equipped with a turbocharged version of the same Perkins engine used in the MT model.
The cab on the MLT model is spacious and ergonomically sound, typical of European-built handlers. Split doors, a comfortable cloth suspension seat, cab heater, lights, and a full set of gauges are standard. The Showcase unit was equipped with a standard, manual, attachment-locking system, but an optional hydraulic lock/unlock system is available. This unit was also fitted with the optional road package, which can be field retrofitted. This includes running lights, high/low beam headlights and brake and directional lights. Sunscreens in the cab are standard on the MLT, as well as a full set of beefy steel fenders.
The single-joystick pilot operation is fully proportional and operates all boom functions. Forward-and-reverse motion raises the boom, and side-to-side movement curls the carriage, making it similar to a loader's bucket control. The telescope function is controlled with the thumb.
Three steering modes can be selected from the cab. A dashboard light indicates when the axles are properly aligned for roading. To help limit unauthorized use, an optional electronic key-pad provides an extra level of security. In order to energize the ignition circuit, the proper password must be entered.
A rear-mounted engine, combined with a generous helping of sound insulation, helps maintain low noise levels in the cab. While the engine is tightly packaged, maintenance checks are all within easy reach. The turbocharged Perkins 1103C-33T engine produces 75 horsepower, and the product line transitions to Tier 3 engines in 2008. Power is transferred through a two-speed Rexroth hydrostatic transmission to Dana Spicer axles. An inching control actuated through the brake pedal assists with keeping engine rpm high enough to power attachments. Auxiliary hydraulics come standard, and a two-section radiator for engine fluid and hydraulic oil cooling is located under a steel hood.
The rear counterweight protrudes beyond the machine a few inches to protect the engine compartment. The rear-mounted position allows the boom to move over and make room for a little wider cab. It also improves visibility to the right. A large lockable steel compartment runs down the chassis opposite the operator cab and secures the fuel and hydraulic tanks and battery. The main hydraulic valving is also located in this compartment.
Featuring a formed boom and reinforced pins and gooseneck, the boom assembly is designed to withstand the extra stress of ground-engaging demands. The MLT523 can easily handle standard bucket applications up to 1.25 cubic yards, and buckets up to 2 cubic yards are available for light material applications. You can also use up to 24-inch augers without major hang-ups. If owners want to use larger buckets, they are advised to consult the factory. Manitou offers a wide range of proprietary attachments in different shapes and sizes, designed to work with the wide-set attachment hooks found on the MLT's carriage mount. This construction can better handle stresses exerted from ground-engaging activities. In addition, a universal skid-steer adapter is an option if you want to leverage all the capabilities this all-around performer can deliver.