Cover Story/Machine Matters: Dress them up and take them out

Skid-steer loaders with a rated operating lifting capacity of 2,201 to 2,701 pounds are the hardworking troupers of most manufacturers’ model lines. Often found doing land contour duties on residential and commercial jobs, skid steers are just as productive clearing brush, building roads, hauling materials and scraping up demolition. Their slim profile (some can slip through an average size doorway), powerful performance and versatility are putting mid-size skid steers center stage on many jobsites.

Skid steers get around, too. A 2,701-pound or lighter capacity skid steer can be trailered with a 3/4-ton pickup truck and towed to urban jobsites with limited access. When performing on a demolition job, it’s not unusual to find a mid-size skid catching a ride from a helicopter to the top of a highrise, then chewing its way down floor-by-floor.

A skid steer’s performance relies on inner strength, not beauty. Their rugged body, frequently featuring a one-piece chassis design, lets them work in difficult areas without compromising power.

Operator convenience features
Cab options contractors are asking for most include larger, sealed cabs, A/C, joystick controls, smoother rides and quieter engines.

For example, Caterpillar’s new C Series skid steers offer an air ride seat similar to those used in larger Cat machines. Controls move with the seat, keeping the operator in full control in choppy conditions. Kent Pellegrini, industry manager for Caterpillar skid steers, notes, “Cat’s selectable implement controls give operators three levels of joystick response for precise control. And the C Series cabs are radio ready with plug-and-play installation.”

Case Construction Equipment’s 400 Series skid steers enhance operator comfort with low-effort servo-hydrostatic controls. Case’s 440 and 450 controls are available from the factory in the company’s familiar ‘H’ pattern for operators who run several types of machines and in the ISO pattern for operators who prefer the one-handed operation a joystick control provides. “These skid steer loaders are the utility workers of the jobsite and operators spend many hours in them. Controls with a shorter throws and low lever effort reduce operator fatigue and increase productivity,” says Jim Hughes, Case brand marketing manager.

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Noise reduction is important to operators and manufacturers are listening. Bobcat’s loader product specialist, Tom Tamlyn, says the company’s K Series skid steers have reduced cab noise by up to 30 percent in some applications by redesigning the cooling fan’s operation. Instead of running continuously, the fan automatically senses when and how long it should run, decreasing cab noise. To muffle even more noise, Bobcat offers a sound kit made up of foam pieces and sound deadening material that fits in several areas of the cab.

Does this attachment make me look heavy?
Attachments for skid steers turn the stout machine into one of the most versatile pieces of equipment on a job. “It’s not unusual for these machines to be the prime production machine on the site,” says Todd Lynnes, marketing manager for Caterpillar skid steers. Along with more powerful machines and tighter working spaces, the skid steer’s numerous attachments are its ticket into many jobsites. Most attachments are interchangeable from brand to brand, which increases the machine’s versatility. Attachments already in your yard may work on mid-size skid steer but with important caveats:

  1. Check how much hydraulic power an attachment requires and make sure the skid steer can deliver enough psi energy to operate the tool and the machine. Using an attachment that asks for more power than the skid steer can deliver is asking for unplanned downtime.
  2. At what speeds will the attachment work most efficiently? Will rough or hazardous terrain slow you down? Skid steer makers offer several speed configurations and ride controls but it’s a wise idea to ask a dealer if an existing attachment will perform up to your expectations at the speeds the skid steer operates.
  3. Know how much the attachment weighs. A good rule of thumb is to keep the attachment’s weight at less than 25 percent of the machine’s tipping load. Overloading the machine with a too heavy attachment – or too much material – can void the manufacturer’s warranty. Excess attachment weight also becomes a safety issue when operating on inclines.
  4. The first four-wheeled skid steer manufactured by Bobcat in 1960 (a three-wheeled version was made in 1958) had four attachments. Bobcat now offers more than 80 attachments and the vast array of skid steer attachments available today from other OEM’s and attachment specialty manufacturers are making these machines the most versatile on the job.

    When can I see you?
    As manufacturers update their machines, they are increasing the operator’s view from the cab. Doug Snorek, marketing manager for Mustang, says the company engineers their cab’s sight lines to give the operator a 360-degree view of the jobsite. “If the operator can see the work and people around him he doesn’t have to bring the machine to a halt, remove his seatbelt and get out of the cab to see what he is working on. Staying in the cab on hazardous sites is important to the operator’s protection and safety.”

    Gehl skid steers feature Hydraloc, an automatic interlock system that locks the lift, tilt and drive systems when the operator leaves the seat, lifts the restraint bar, shuts off the ignition or opens the cab door. This comprehensive, passive safety system protects inexperienced operators who may attempt to activate skid controls while standing outside the cab or not properly in the full operating position, according to Kelly Moore, Gehl’s product manager.

    The Deere 325 vertical-lift skid steer keeps workers safe from potential lift dangers by allowing the operator to lock the boom in the full upright position with a lever inside the cab. This eliminates the need for another worker to manually lock the boom from the outside while the operator waits in the cab. Gregg Zupancic, Deere’s skid steer product marketing manager, gives this example of safe lifting. “When an operator needs to lift a pallet of bricks to a second floor, by locking the boom from inside the cab he doesn’t have to ask another worker to stand under an unsecured load.”

    Coming styles
    Stronger breakout force, more power for a wide variety of attachments, greater load capacity and comfortable cabs are at the top of contractors’ check list. Manufacturers are showing the following models for this construction season.

    Bobcat’s transverse-mounted Kubota engine provides easy access to daily service points. The S250 features 81 horsepower and can travel 6.9 mph in the standard one-speed configuration and will reach 12 mph with the two-speed option. The S250’s rated operating capacity is 2,500 pounds and features a tipping load of 5,661 pounds.
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    Caterpillar’s new C Series skid steer loaders feature two vertical-lift models and two radial-lift machines. The 262C vertical-lift has a rated operating capacity of 2,700 pounds and with four additional 50-pound counterweights will reach a capacity of 2,974 pounds. The tipping load is 5,400 pounds and both models deliver 82 horsepower.

    Model 256C radial lift’s rated operating capacity is 2,350 pounds and will reach 2,538 pounds with additional 50 pound counterweights. This skid’s tipping load is 4,700 pounds and delivers 78 horsepower.

    All C-Series skid steers offer High Flow XPS, an optional high-flow, high-pressure hydraulic system. Models with XPS High Flow have a load-sensing, variable-displacement pump that delivers a maximum of 33 gallons per minute flow and 4,061 psi.
    For more information write 021 on Reader Service Card

    The Gehl 6640E skid loader features a choice of four controls – dual hand controls, hand/foot controls and T-bar hands-only controls. The 82-horsepower turbo diesel engine powers single and two-speed options. Optional counterweights increase the 6640E’s rated operating capacity from 2,600 pounds to 2,900 pounds. The All-Tach attachment mounting system makes the 6640E compatible with most manufacturers’ attachments.

    The John Deere 325 skid steer features a vertical-lift system that keeps the load parallel when lifting and then goes slightly forward at the top of the lift cycle so the dumped materials are placed evenly in the receiving vehicle. The 325 has a 2,500-pound rated operating capacity, provides 70 horsepower and has a 125-inch load height. Servo controls let the operator perform all functions smoothly and easily.

    Mustang’s Cummins turbo engine on its 2086 skid steer delivers 80 horsepower. Adding the optional weight kit will bring the 2086’s rated operating capacity up to 2,900 pounds from its standard 2,600 pounds. The two-speed drive has an optional Hydraglide Ride Control package and will travel up to 11.2 mph. Bucket breakout force is 6,296 pounds. The Hi-Flow Hydraulic option offers 36 gpm. A new joystick control option is available for single-handed driving and lift/tilt functions.

    Case Construction Equipment’s 400 Series has a robust, welded unitized chassis for long term durability. The 400 Series features two-speed drives and low-effort servo-hydrostatic controls for quick and smooth operations. Contractors can order the factory installed Case H control pattern or optional joystick controls. Case’s 440 has a rated operating capacity of 2,200 pounds with an 82-horsepower engine, the Model 445’s rated operating capacity is 2,500 pounds and delivers 74 horsepower. The 450 model boasts 82 horsepower and a capacity of 2,450 pounds. Case’s daily service points are in a single location for easy morning checks and maintenance.

    Volvo says its MC110B skid steer offers 7,537 pounds of breakout force. The durable one-piece steel frame holds an isolation-mounted cab that tilts forward to access engine components. An optional hydraulic self-leveling system keeps attachments parallel throughout the lift function and an optional high-flow hydraulic system supplies power for high performance attachments. The MC110B supplies 80 horsepower and has a rated operating capacity of 2,400 pounds.

    Komatsu’s SK 1026-5 skid steer features a rated operating capacity of 2,500 pounds that will reach 2,850 pounds with optional counterweights. The SK 1026-5 has a bucket breakout force of 5,400 pounds. Komatsu skid steers have standard two-speed travel, proportional pressure control joysticks and an automatic anti-stall system. The optional Super Flow auxiliary hydraulic circuit give the SK 1026-5 power to run high flow attachments such as cold planers and stump grinders.

    The L185 skid steer from New Holland features Super Boom vertical-lift linkage. The L185 offers a rated operating capacity of 2,500 pounds and produces 78 gross horsepower with 7,670 pounds of breakout force. This model has a standard single speed transmission, and has a maximum speed of 11.3 mph. The model features a new cab that provides increased space, visibility, operator comfort and ease of operation.

    The Bulldog B8250T skid steer features a radial arm design with a telescopic boom. The B8250T can load a full size dump truck by reaching up 122 inches and extending its arm 30 inches out and over the dump. Bulldog’s rated operating capacity is 2,204 pounds with a breakout force of 5,170 pounds.

    Doosan’s 460 Plus skid steer’s economic design groups all service points at the rear of the machine. The vertical 460 Plus skid steer has a rated operating capacity of 2,249 pounds, breakout force of 4,678 pounds and operating weight of 7,174 pounds. The Cummins engine provides 65 horsepower.

    The JCB compact and maneuverable 1110 Robot single arm design easily works in confined spaces. The unit’s single lift arm, located on the right side of the loader, allows the operator to enter the cab on the left side. Workers do not need to go under the arm or stand beneath a heavy load while working around the machine. This JCB model delivers 82 horsepower and has a rated operating capacity of 2,425 pounds. It has a maximum speed of 11 mph and a ground clearance of 11 inches.