From their base outside the village of Kilmoyley, minutes away from the coast in north-west Kerry, the Collins family run an agricultural contracting business alongside milking 100 spring calving dairy cows.

The operation is headed up by Gerard and his son Daniel, with Gerard’s wife, Geraldine, also a major asset to both

enterprises. Contracting services are mainly pit silage, baling, slurry work, grassland reseeding, and contract silage feeding, along with a small degree of digger hire.

Ahead of the 2022 silage season, the Collins family decided to upgrade their high hour 2007 JCB 416S wheel loader to a new Weycor AR 680.


“I started out cutting silage in 1982 with a Leyland 2100 and Kid double chop silage harvester before upgrading to a Massey Ferguson 168 and a New Holland double chop. At that time we were putting up with a Massey Ferguson 50B backhoe loader,” says Gerard. Replacing the 50B, a Massey Ferguson 50HX backhoe then took over the farm work and silage pit duties until a JCB 412 Farm Master was added to the fleet in 1997. Being his first articulated wheel loader and a machine and in theory more suited to pit work, Gerard was slightly disappointed with its performance.

The joystick controls forward and reverse, third service functions and the electronic differential lock.

Moving to a self-propelled Mengele SF 6000 forage harvester in 1990, the loader was upgraded to a JCB 414S to match the fleets output at the time. Skip forward to 2021, at this point Gerard and co were on their third, used JCB 416S and at this stage running their current John Deere 7500 forager.

“Although good machines once they were going, it was just getting harder to keep them going. Problems with the rear axle seemed to be common with them all. The last 2011 model which we bought it 2017 was the unluckiest for us, giving quite a lot of hydraulic issues,” Gerard outlined.

Why Weycor?

After a troublesome 2021 season with their JCB 416S and running costs getting higher, the Collins agreed that it was time to upgrade. “I spent many summer nights out fixing machinery into the early hours of the morning. It was time to try and get away from that,” explains Gerard.

The AR 680 making light work of feeding silage with a 7ft Prodig sheargrab.

The team had no particular tie to any brand but good dealer backup was an important factor. “We witnessed first-hand the importance of good dealer backup when running the JCBs. For this reason we were keen to stick with Vaughans. They never saw us stuck. They lent us a Komatsu WA320 when our loader was being repaired. It was a well-built machine. Power wasn’t an issue, it just seemed a little big and sluggish.”

Aware that Vaughan and Sons had been importing the German-built Weycor wheel loaders since 2016, the Collins were curious to see one of the larger machines working. Gerard and his nephew Eoin, who drives the loader, went to see an AR 250 model working in Cork.

Both men agreed that it was quite a different machine to drive compared with the JCB.

Being used to a torque convertor transmission, the hydrostatic system just took a slightly different mindset. They were sold on its build quality and performance. A deal was struck for a 680 model, the updated version of the AR 250. It arrived in time for the 2022 silage season.


Weycor has been using Deutz engines for over 40 years and the AR 680 is no exception. Underneath the electric opening bonnet, and seated directly over the rear axle, is a TCD 6.1l L6 power unit. This inline, six-pot configuration is tuned to produce 215hp (at 2000rpm) and 900Nm of torque (at 1,450rpm). The after-treatment system uses a diesel particulate filter (DPF) and selective catalytic reduction (SCR) system to comply with Stage V emission standards.

Accessed by opening the bonnet, the AR 680 is equipped with a 250l diesel tank and 20l AdBlue tank which Eoin says will comfortably see a day’s pit work through. Being a well-spec’d example, the loader is equipped with a reversible fan. All service points are easily accessed.

A selectable Eco-mode limits engine speed to 1,650rpm (195hp) for improved fuel efficiency when carrying out lighter tasks. On the silage pit, the lads tend to work the loader in its alternative Load mode for maximum performance. Eco mode suits light yard work during the winter when feeding.

Both Eoin and Gerard complimented the smooth power delivery and sweet engine note of the AR 680.


All transmission setting are visible through the dash display.

Unlike most competitors in the same class as the AR 680, it is fitted with a hydrostatic transmission and not the more common torque convertor setup.

In fact, Weycor claims it was the first wheel loader manufacturer out of the traps with a hydrostatic transmission in 1975. Effectively, a hydrostat is a simple system in that it relies only on oil pressure for seamless propulsion – removing the need for a mechanical transmission and mechatronics unit. This unit features low and high ranges which can be changed on the go via a button on the control arm. The maximum possible speed in low range is 14km/h and 40km/h in high range. Directional changes are made via the joystick toggle switch.

“The ability to set maximum forward speeds within each range transforms the loader on the pit,” says Gerard. “At silage we set up low range to a have a maximum speed of 7km/h which means it is never under pressure to increase its speed.”

The loader is equipped with three foot pedals: accelerator, brake and inching pedal.

The loader is fitted with 750/65 R26 BKT tyres.

The latter is fitted as standard on all models. Once pressed, the inching pedal is designed to divert oil flow away from the transmission, which can then be prioritised to the hydraulic circuit for full performance.

Eoin and Gerard say that it massively reduces the need to use the brake pedal. This results in less wear and tear and fuel consumption in contrast to the conventional combined brake/inching pedal.

“I can suddenly bring forward speed back to almost nothing and still have full hydraulic flow. With our previous machines and most torque convertor set-ups, you’d be applying the brake while in gear and revving just to do the same job,” says Gerard. “Unless neutral was selected, the machine, for the want of a better word, was ‘fighting with itself’ – causing both heat and wear on the brakes within the axles and strain on the transmission.”

Eoin Egan (left) and Gerard Collins (right).

Adding to the list of proven componentry is the Italian-built Spicer axles on which the loader sits. Although rarely used thanks to the inching pedal, the axles feature oil submersed multi-disc brakes. Both axle differentials can be locked manually by pressing and holding the button on the back of the joystick. Another unique function is the ability to adjust the percentage traction force to avoid the loader spinning out. The lads say that 60% seems to be the sweet spot for typical dry grass silage scenarios.

The 14,800kg dry weight of the AR 680 is distributed across the four 750/65 R26 BKT tyres, ideally suited for clamp duties.


The AR 680 like all Weycor models is equipped with reputable Bosch Rexroth hydraulics. The Collins’ loader features a variable displacement pump with an output of 190l/min (at 280bar) for loading and steering functions.

In terms of lift capacity, the AR680 has a straight tipping load of 10,550kg.

Gerard pointed out the manufacturer’s attention to detail when looking at the bushed locking pins on its industrial Euro headstock.

Like most contenders within the same heavy weight division, it features a Z-bar linkage boom (the exception is JCB which features a parallel linkage system).

Eoin recognises that although the single Z-bar improves visibility to the sides of 12ft silage fork, it hinders visibility of narrow implements, particularly bale handlers.

The boom features a return to dig function and a selectable parallel guide function for use with pallet forks.

Both men are well impressed with the loader’s hydraulics.

“The hydraulics are responsive and it has a super ability to flick grass on the pit,” says Eoin.


Although a touch on the small side, the cab does offer good outward visibility.

The cab is one of the few areas that Eoin feels could be improved on.

“For a loader of its calibre, the size of the cab is the only let down if you want to be picky. The corner posts are tapered from the back to the front for no real benefit that I can see. The front pillars could be a good three inches wider, each side. This would improve visibility and space.

“More storage too would be good for bottles, or even a cooler for the long days at silage.

“Aside from that, visibility is good in all directions, so too is the seating position. Control layout is simple and practical.” All transmission settings and other adjustments are made through the LCD dash display behind the steering wheel.


“Being 100% honest, we are delighted with the Weycor. It’s an exceptionally well-built machine as you’d expect from a German manufacturer. For us, at 14,800kg and 215hp, its power to weight ratio is perfect for pit work,” says Gerard.

“It took some time to adapt to the hydrostatic system but having done so, we wouldn’t go back. The transmission is responsive on the pit, so too are the hydraulics, with a good ability to flick grass ahead of itself. Being able to slow forward speed down and make use of full hydraulic capacity makes our work that much easier.”

Machine spec

Engine: Deutz TCD 6.1l.

Horsepower: 215hp (900Nm).

Transmission: Two speed hydrostatic drive.

Travel speed: 0-14km/h (range 1) and 0-40km/h (range 2).

Hydraulics: 190l/min variable displacement pump.

Operating weight: 14,880kg.

Max tipping load: 10,550kg.

Height to headstock hinge pins: 3.93m.

Turning circle: 3.1m.

Fuel tank capacity: 250l.

AdBlue tank capacity: 20l.

Starting list price: €185,000 plus VAT.


  • Strong build.
  • Hydrostatic transmission.
  • Performance.
  • Dislikes

  • Cab a little on the small side.
  • Lack of cab storage.
  • Who are Weycor?

    Although renamed Weycor in 2015, the brand is known as Atlas Weycor.

    While the Weycor name is a still relatively new to the Irish market. Weycor has a long tradition of building wheel loaders, just previously under a different livery.

    In 2016, the brand Atlas Weyhausen, changed its name to Weycor. Atlas Weyhausen built its first wheel loader, the AR 70 back in 1971.

    As is still the case today, AR stands for Atlas Radlader, which in English translates to Atlas wheel loader. Aside from wheel loaders, Weycor also manufacture compaction rollers.

    Weycor currently offers 16 different wheel loader models, from 25hp up to 215hp.

    Vaughan and Sons Ltd started importing and distributing Weycor loaders in Ireland in March 2018. It’s understood there are currently upwards of 30 Weycor branded units working throughout Ireland.