BLOOMINGTON, Ill. — The next generation of compact wheel
loaders designed based on feedback from landscape and agricultural customers was
unveiled during the Midwest Agricultural Industries Exposition.
The John Deere 204K and 304K compact wheel loaders were
designed specifically for lower-clearance application and include features to
increase productivity, visibility, versatility and lower daily operating costs,
according to Doug Laufenberg, John Deere product marketing manager, construction
“The biggest driver for producing this machine was listening
to our customers. We had a machine, and it wasn’t fitting their needs, so we
asked what they needed,” he said.
“The good thing is there was more than one market segment
that needed those same features, so we meet the needs of a couple of different
segments with one machine.
“(Customers) wanted a simple machine. They didn’t want all
the complexities. They didn’t want the electronics, so we took that to heart and
we made it a lot simpler.”
A foot lower than other compact John Deere wheel loaders,
the 204K and 304K feature rigid front and rear axles to meet the eight-foot
height while lowering the center of gravity and increasing stability and the
tipping load limit.
The two new models can easily reach and work in areas with
restricted access such as door and trailer openings.
Both models come standard with an open operator station
designed to withstand the elements, featuring weather-resistant gauges, extended
rooftops, nonskid floor mats and optional vandal proofing.
The open-canopy model is perfect for applications where the
operator has to frequently get on and off the machine or applications where the
operator does not want to worry about breaking glass.
For year-round comfort, operators still will have the option
of utilizing a heated and air-conditioned cab. The cabs are comfortably equipped
and offer unobstructed views of attachments and the surrounding work area.
To enhance operation, the boom, bucket and
forward-neutral-reverse switch are on the same ergonomic, low-effort lever for
convenient one-hand control.
“The joystick that operates your boom and bucket control is
a direct link to the control valve. It’s not electric hydraulic. It’s not pilot
control. It’s a direct link, so there are less parts, less moving things to take
care of,” Laufenberg said.
The 204K and 304K boast an Interim Tier 4 diesel engine and
a two-speed transmission with a top speed of 12 mph to swiftly navigate the
“Our other loaders have a dip lock that’s operator
activated. Whereas this has limited slip dip lock axles on the machines,
basically meaning the operator doesn’t have to do anything if he gets into
slippery or wet conditions,” Laufenberg said.
“The machine will sense that and put the power where it
needs to and pull itself through, and the operator doesn’t have to do anything
Articulated steering assists in the ability to turn and
offers operators flexibility when picking up or positioning loads. Fingertip
control of the coupler, travel speed, park brake, lights and other machine
functions are close and convenient to the operator.
An optional creeper control allows slow, incremental travel
speeds while maintaining full hydraulic flow.
To keep operating costs at a minimum, a transverse-mounted
engine allows for quick and convenient daily servicing.
The electrical system minimizes the number of wires,
mechanical relays and unsealed connections for maximum durability and uptime. In
addition, the machines’ vertical filters and environmental drains also are
easily-accessible at ground-level.
“Those that change attachments often will enjoy a
push-button actuated skid-steer style coupler,” Laufenberg said.
The coupler comes standard on the boom and enables operators
to attach and release John Deere Worksite Pro attachments quickly, without tools
or leaving the seat. The coupler can connect to numerous implements — from
blades, buckets and pushers to scrap and brush-tine grapples and augers.