Cover Story/Machine Matters: Diamonds in the rough

Solid engineering and operating ease make the difference between going to work and a good day’s work. New features on 74- to-160 horsepower crawler dozers will help you do a stand-out job.

If comfort fuels your productivity, you’ll appreciate the cab upgrades manufacturers have added. More leg room, adjustable air suspension seats and climate controls help you battle fatigue. Cab-forward positioning, steeply sloped front ends on some models, more window space and wider doors improve your view of the blade for greater control and precision. Ergonomic, seat-mounted joystick controls make operating the dozer less tiring by isolating you from vibration and options such as thumbwheel speed controls and blade shake functions are in fingertip reach.

More technology is riding with you on these new dozers. Upgraded integrated grade control packages let you ‘plug and play’ the grade control system of your choice. Factory installed hardware, software and wiring ensures your machine will support your system. Onboard diagnostic programs automatically troubleshoot while you work and alert you if the machine’s condition requires adjustment, service or repair. Operating data is stored so you can track and schedule preventive maintenance.

Longer tracks on these midsize dozers provide more ground contact and balance, giving you additional fine grading capability. Wider track configurations increase flotation and stability on slopes and soft conditions. Manufacturers are offering new undercarriage options with extended wear options to help keep operating and maintenance costs under control. More robust components like idlers, roller, links and bushings are extending undercarriage life up to 6,000 hours.

Low-effort single lever controls provide intuitive adjustable steering and smooth operations. Hydrostatic transmissions in variable speed controls let you adjust your speed to the job’s ground conditions. If you prefer, switching to a pre-set, quick-shift mode is often just a push button procedure.

A wide variety of track configurations can match almost any job conditions:

Long track (LT) or extra long track (XL or XLT) configurations suit jobs with hard or rocky ground conditions with minimal slope work. LT dozers have the highest ground pressure and are the best choice when maximum tractive effort and precise grading are key, and lateral stability is less important. Their narrow tracks make them easier to transport.

Wide track (WT) machines are the best choice for jobs with sloped areas with firm ground conditions that require additional lateral stability. Wider gauge tracks increase the track contact area which reduces ground pressure for good flotation. Wider tracks are easier to clean.

Low ground pressure (LGP) dozers provide maximum side stability and flotation for work in soft, muddy or sandy ground conditions.

Komatsu D Series
D39EX-21/PX-21; D31EX-21/PX-21, D37EX-21/PX-21, D41E-6C, D51PX-22, D61EX-15 / PX-15

Building on the success of their D51-22 dozer series, the new Komatsu D39EX-22 (standard pressure) and DX39PX-22 (low ground pressure swamp dozers) models feature a super-slant nose and a new cab forward design that puts the operator closer to the blade for greater blade visibility while improving machine stability. Selecting either the variable (20 increments) or quick-shift (three predetermined speed settings) speed control gives you the ability to match optimal travel speeds with job conditions for maximum efficiency in fine or rough grading. The Komtrax system monitors the machine’s health and location, sending the operating data to a secure website for the contractor’s use.

Case L Series
750L LT/WT/LGP, 850L WT/XLT/LGP, 1650L WT/XLT; 1150K LT/WT

Case adds the 750L and 850L to their L-Series dozer lineup, replacing the 750K and 850K models. The L-Series dozers feature a 49-degree sloping track frame cover and ample space between the track and machine to keep the undercarriage free of debris. The undercarriage features a triple-reduction high-capacity final drive with helical cut gears for quiet operation. The Case PowerStat hydrostatic drive system has electronic straight tracking with counter-rotation, and selectable steering settings for slow, normal and fast control reactions. There are 10 speed settings with infinitely variable steering for maximum maneuverability with counter rotation. A variable displacement dual-path hydrostatic drive makes for high tractive effort. An optional winch drive (hydraulic equipment pump with through shaft) is also available.

The new 144-horsepower Case 1650L undercarriage features a triple-reduction high-capacity final drive with helical cut gears for quiet operation. It has a segmented sprocket for the Case Lubricated Track version and a ring sprocket for the optional Case Extended Life Track (CELT) version.

Cat K Series

Caterpillar offers three new members to their K-Series dozer family – D3K, D4K and D5K – and a corresponding increase in horsepower up to 7 percent greater than Cat’s previous models. The infinite variable speed control allows you to select the optimum speed for your application and eliminates power interruption when changing speeds. The power turn feature improves mobility in soft ground conditions and on side slopes. Cat’s optional SystemOne undercarriage uses a rotating bushing design that Cat says increases the bushing life and eliminates the need for bushing turns. When combined with heavy-duty sprockets and center tread idler, Cat says the system’s life extends up to 50 percent and eliminates accelerated wear on the bushings and sprockets when operating in reverse. Cat also offers a sealed and lubricated track undercarriage with segmented sprockets that are easier and less expensive to replace than complete sprocket hubs. Cat tops this size class with the D6N DS-LGP dozer with a 7-way (VPAT) 13-foot 5-inch blade.

Deere J Series
450J LGP, 550J LT/LGP, 650J LT/XLT/LGP, 700J LT/XLT/LGP, 750J/ LT/WT/LGP

Deere calls its new Maximum Life Undercarriage System on their J Series dozers a balanced life undercarriage. Larger undercarriage components like idlers, rollers and links improve performance and extend wear life. For example, the 650J model links are 4 percent taller and 22 percent wider and heavier than in similar previous models. The SC-2 bushings require one turn in a lifetime. Dozers with the Maximum Life Undercarriage System come with Deere’s Wear Assurance promise of up to 6,000 hours of coverage, depending on application and soil conditions.

To help owners manage undercarriage wear and plan maintenance, Deere offers the new Ultrasonic Undercarriage Measurement Tool that eliminates the need to carry pens, clipboards, calipers and depth gauges when service checking the undercarriage. The lightweight handheld tool takes instant digital measurement of undercarriage components by transmitting sound into the material. It records the measurements, model number, hours and serial number of the dozer, then can download the data into the owner’s computer.

Dressta M Series

The Dressta M-Series is the company’s next design evolution from their H-Series and EXTRA-Series dozers. Dressta’s DD models’ power train combines a torque converter with clutch braking that Dressta says out performs machines with hydrostatic power trains, and is especially well suited for applications such as fire control. Since dozers in the less than 100-horsepower class are frequently used by several people on a jobsite or in the rental market, Dressta’s design focus is to build small dozers that less experienced workers can operate. Operators can easily gain control with standard left-hand joystick steering, transmission systems with right-foot pedal engine deceleration and left-pedal braking. All of the M-Series dozers, including the LGP versions, are within 8-foot 6-inch legal transportation widths.

New Holland B Series

New Holland launched two of their new pipelaying dozers in late 2008, which will be followed by the new D75B in the first quarter of 2009. A new optional sideboom attachment is also available for the D85B and D95B.

The hydraulic pipelaying equipment features a 15-foot folding boom with quick release pins for easy removal and transportation, a lift capacity of 20,000 pounds, two removable 1,120-pound extendable counterweights for stability and a three-lever hydraulic control system that allows simultaneous load and boom functions.

Bruce Boebel
Product manager
Komatsu America

Vladimir Rokvic
DNA administration
Dressta North America

Dan Dresher
Product manager
John Deere Construction

Tim Lubeck
North American marketing manager
Small track-type tractors