Easy Doze It
Using Compact Track Loaders to Spearhead Dozing Applications
Lynette Von Minden Mar 02, 2011
Moving and leveling the earth at a construction or landscaping site is a task that can require a machine with some serious power and agility. This type of job is typically handled with a dozer, but what if the site isn’t large enough to justify a large, bulky piece of equipment? Or the contractor needs a machine that’s more versatile and less specialized? According to David Pendleton, compact product specialist for JCB North America, a compact track loader (CTL) with a dozer blade attachment may be a better alternative.
“Contractors who perform dozing infrequently or who only doze on a low to medium scale probably don’t need to purchase a dedicated dozer,” Pendleton explains. “Those contractors may find that purchasing a compact track loader allows them to not only doze, but also perform a multitude of other tasks on their jobsites. This reduces the overhead required to rent or own a dedicated dozer and possibly other pieces of equipment by allowing the owner to purchase one with multiple attachments.”
Obviously, in most cases, a dedicated machine will perform the task for which it was designed better than a machine that was designed for multiple purposes. A dozer’s higher operating weight offers better pushing power, and its longer tracks make grading and leveling much easier than the lighter weight compact track loader. The operating weights of the largest CTLs rarely exceed 12,000 lbs. In contrast, small dozers start at an average operating weight of 17,000 lbs, making them better able to handle larger scale dozing applications.
However, even though they are not designed as dedicated dozers, CTLs can be extremely effective in certain smaller dozing applications including grading, backfilling trenches, leveling and moving loose sand and dirt. The CTL’s heavy-duty tracked undercarriage provides a low center of gravity for excellent stability, grading performance and traction. The high tractive effort of these machines gives them the power needed to push heavy materials. Furthermore, the smaller design of a CTL allows the machine to enter areas that might not be accessible to dozers, like residential back yards or construction sites. According to JCB’s Pendleton, as technology advances, the machines will become more powerful and dozing ability will further improve.
Choosing the Right CTL
Compact track loaders come in a variety of sizes, so it’s important to ensure that a machine purchased for dozing can actually handle the job. A CTL that’s going to be used regularly for dozing applications should weigh in at over 10,000 lbs in order to effectively perform its duties. Because the machine will most likely be used for more than just dozing, having a universal quick hitch with standard flow auxiliaries for connecting multiple attachments is also a must. In addition to a dozer blade, a versatile multipurpose bucket would be a good attachment to rent or purchase for dozing applications. This hydraulic opening bucket can be used as a general purpose bucket, as well as to spread sand, soil or aggregate and grab material.
When debating the unit itself, consider a two-speed transmission option that can enhance overall performance.
“The two-speed transmission option allows for additional pushing power in low and faster travel speeds in high,” Pendleton says. “Contractors who are going to use their CTL for other applications can put the machine in high gear and move more quickly around the jobsite, saving valuable time.”
Being able to operate the machine in comfort is also a major consideration when purchasing or renting a CTL. Operators who are more comfortable will be able to work longer without experiencing fatigue for greater productivity on the job. Look for a cab that has plenty of room for the operator and offers clear visibility to the work area for maximum safety. Enclosed cabs with heat and air conditioning, while not a requirement for performance, will also keep operators happier and more productive. Some manufacturers, including JCB, offer an optional air suspension seat and smooth ride system to help cushion what can be a rough ride over uneven terrain.
While performing scheduled maintenance activities is important to keep all compact track loaders in prime condition, it’s especially important for dozing machines, as they are often subjected to higher levels of dust. That’s why it’s imperative to grease the machine at required intervals and replace its air filter regularly due to a higher level of exposure to dust and particulates.
“Machines with easily accessible daily maintenance points make it far more likely that owners and operators won’t put off these important tasks,” Pendleton says. “Our CTLs feature a rear service door for this purpose. A top-opening hood makes it simpler to clean out the radiator and see the top side of the engine. When it’s time for more detailed maintenance, a tilting cab provides the best access to hydraulic components and the power train.”
As with just about any major purchase, it’s important to buy a CTL that’s backed by a solid warranty. Be sure that you’re comfortable with the length and coverage of the warranties offered by your machine’s manufacturer. Heavy equipment is typically covered by both standard and structural warranties. The number of hours a machine has spent on the job may factor into its warranty coverage, so read the fine print carefully.
Small but Mighty
Compact track loaders are definitely experiencing a surge in popularity. Equipment owners and operators are now discovering their versatility and performance — not just in dozing applications but for many other jobs as well.
“Multi-purpose machines like compact track loaders and skid steers can simply perform so many different tasks that they often save their owners money over the long run,” Pendleton says. “Using one of these smaller machines can spare owners the expense of purchasing and maintaining larger fleets of more specialized equipment. If you’re looking to buy or rent a machine for occasional smaller dozing tasks, but you want to get the most bang for your buck, a compact track loader could absolutely be your best option.”
Lynette Von Minden is a public relations counselor with Swanson Russell based in Lincoln, Neb.
JCB’s One-Armed Loaders Make Attractive Dozing Machines
Ease of access when exiting and entering a compact track loader is a major safety consideration. Make sure the operator can climb in and out of the machine without injury. Most CTLs require the operator to enter via a front door that may necessitate climbing over any attachments. “Dozer blades are fairly large and bulky,” David Pendleton, compact product specialist for JCB North America says. “If the operator has to repeatedly climb over the blade to access the cab, it can be quite dangerous.”
JCB’s compact track loaders feature a unique single boom aptly named the “PowerBoom.” With up to 20 percent more steel in this single boom than many competitors offer in their two-armed designs, the PowerBoom makes it possible for the cab door to be placed on the side of the machine without sacrificing lifting power or stability. This side door enables operators to climb in and out of the machine without having to crawl over any potentially dangerous attachments. On vertical lift models, the design also eliminates the CTL’s rear torque tube, which often obstructs an operator’s view to the rear.
“Obviously, operators need to be aware of their surroundings at all times,” Pendleton adds. “Having a wide range of visibility is extremely important, not just for the safety of the operator, but also for the safety of others nearby. It can also play a large part in preventing damage to any structures, trees or plants that may be present on the jobsite.”