The skid-steer loader might be one of the smallest members of the construction equipment family, but rarely is it left behind when the big boys are called to work.
An increase in versatility and a feasible price tag are two key attributes which have grouped the skid-steer loader with some of the larger machines on the jobsite today.
"The skid-steer loader is primarily a material handling unit, but its evolving into much more than that because of all the attachments that have been developed for it," Kim Robinson, vice president-sales and marketing compact equipment division-Daewoo Heavy Industries America Corp., told ROADS & BRIDGES. "That versatility gives you a greater return on your investment."
The Bobcat Co. is one of many manufacturers feeling the effects of a crisp dollar movement in the market. Lynn Roesler, loader product manager at the Fargo, N.D.-based company, reported "a number of record years in a row."
"The skid-steer market has been real strong the past few years, and were looking for that to continue," he told ROADS & BRIDGES. "Indicators are that it will continue to grow. Maybe not at such a rapid pace, but it will continue to grow."
All this popularity still needs a place to sit, which is why operator comfort has taken a front seat to all other improvements. Bobcats new G-Series comes with a suspension seat, better visibility and an advanced control system so the operator can maneuver more with just his hands. Theres also a focus on more hydraulic efficiencies for motors and pumps in skid steers and load balancing.
"You dont have a jobsite without a skid-steer loader sitting there," said Roesler. "Theyre very inexpensive pieces of equipment for what they can do."
Hydraulics is the word for Caterpillar, Peoria, Ill.
The company reports that its 228 and 248 skid-steer loaders offer "maximum hydraulic pressure delivered to the work tool at any engine speed."
A load-sensing variable displacement hydraulic pump can send 100% of engine power to hydromechanical tools, and high hydraulic horsepower enables the two models to handle "complex tools such as cold planers and stump grinders." Each machine has an integral quick coupler that allows the operator to quickly change work tools for expanded versatility.
The 228 has a rated operating capacity of 1,500 lb and a hydraulic pump capacity of 30 gpm at 3,300 psi, while the 248 has a rated operating capacity of 2,000 lb and a hydraulic pump capacity of 33 gpm at 4,200 psi.
Both skid-steer loaders are powered by a Cat 3034 direct-injection, 4-cylinder diesel engine. The 228 carries a net power of 54 hp, the 248 stands at 74 hp.
The 236 and 246 are new to the Cat line. The 236 has a rated capacity of 1,750 lb and the 246 has a rated capacity of 2,000 lb.
The machines also have a mechanical quick coupler, and hydrostatic transmission optimizes the hydraulic/rimpull match for improved productivity.
High engine horsepower and torque allows the operator to run either machine at part throttle in many applications.
Lift capacity is 3,898 lb for the 236 and 4,112 lb for the 246.
Looks arent everything
A new sleek design is just one feature on the LS SeriesLS140, LS150, LS160, LS170, LS180, LS190from New Holland, Carol Stream, Ill.
The skid steers are engineered with the companys Super Boom lift linkage, which provides a vertical lift path that keeps the load in view at all times and provides "superior" forward reach at maximum lift height.
A long wheelbase and low center of gravity "gives a more stable, smoother ride," according to the manufacturer.
New hydrostatic transmission pumps on the LS160 and LS170 models offer lower control efforts for less operator fatigue, reduced hydrostatic noise levels and improved durability.
Operating loads range from 1,250 lb on the LS140 model to 2,800 lb on the LS190. Maximum lift capacity starts at 1,348 lb and extends to 3,050 lb.
Generating a generation
The Bobcat Co. recently introduced four morethe 751, 753, 763 and 963to the litter of next-generation G-Series skid-steer loaders.
The 751 has a compact machine frame and a turning radius of 6 ft. Its 1,250-lb rated operating capacity and 38-hp Kubota diesel engine handles a variety of jobsite functions.
The 753 features a 43.5-hp liquid-cooled diesel engine and a 1,350-lb rated operating capacity.
Bobcat claims the 763 "produces greater traction and breakout forces for excavating and handling heavier loads." The model comes with a 46-hp diesel engine, a rated operating capacity of 1,500 lb and a 15 gal per minute hydraulic pump for improved attachment performance. The loader also can be equipped with a high-flow option package to run attachments that require auxiliary hydraulics flow.
The 963 has a 3,000-lb rated operating capacity, 105-hp diesel engine and 128 in. of lift height.
Three new models "round out" the skid-steer line at Daewoo, Suwanee, Ga., and the manufacturer is taking a square approach with its customers. Nothing fancy, just your traditional machine.
"Each model is built tough," said Robinson.
The 1340XL, 1550 XL and 2060XL come with a universal attachment system, simple hydrostatic transmission, a wide stance and low center of gravity, variable dumping speeds and vertical lifting.
Giving the 1340XL, which has a 1,300-lb operating load, its muscle is a 40-hp direct injection Daewoo diesel engine. The 1550XL showcases a 50-hp diesel engine and a 1,500-lb operating load, and the 2060XL carries a 60-hp diesel engine and a 2,000-lb operating load.
Picking up the pieces and starting over is exactly what Case, Racine, Wis., had in mind. The company claimed it "broke the mold for construction equipment with the introduction of the XT Series skid-steers."
The lines heavyweight, the 95XT, delivers an operating load of up to 3,150 lb and a bucket breakout force of 6,175 lb. The 75XT, 85XT and 90XT complete the new class.
The four XT tool carriers fall in the 60-85 hp range and offer a choice of high-flow hydraulic systems with custom-engineered attachments.
Two types of loader arm designheavy lift-and-reach and conventionalare available on the machines. The heavy lift-and-reach design of the 95XT, 85XT and 75XT loader arms allows high-load capability while keeping the loads center of gravity close to the machine. The design also provides parallel lift from the full-reach position to the top of the loader lift cycle.
All four models can be equipped with a 3,000 psi high-flow hydraulic system, while the 90XT and 95XT can be equipped with a 5,000 psi hydrostatic high-flow hydraulic system.
No need for introduction
John Deere, Moline, Ill., unveiled its 200 Series skid steers last year, and is making a curtain call in 2000. The 240, 250, 260 and 270 have been improved.
A strong point of the 260 and 270 models is a two-speed radial-piston hydraulic motor that allows operators to accelerate to 12 mph at high range. It also offers less axle torque at high range.
The machines also have a 10% increase in bucket breakout force. A rod diameter of the bucket cylinders has been changed to increase the breakout force from 6,100 to 6,700 lb.
Installed in all models are dual-centering plates that function independently on their own springs, which means the steering function requires lighter force.
The two largest skid loaders at Gehl, West Bend, Wis., have been "improved to deliver even better performance and smoother operation."
The standard SAE operating capacities in Models 5635 and 6635 have increased to 1,900 and 2,350 lb, respectively. Optional weight kits raise capacities to 2,200 and 2,650 lb.
Higher hydraulic pressures result in better attachment performance and increased breakout force, according to Gehl. Standard auxiliary hydraulic flow increased 15% to 23 gpm, while the optional high-flow auxiliary hydraulic system is up 9% to 36 gpm. The improved system hydraulics mean faster cycle times.
Volvo, Asheville, N.C., would like to think any kind of dirt you can get on its current line of wheel loaders is a positive. Thats because theyre dubbed compact multi-purpose machines.
The L30 has an operating weight of 4.75 tons, a bucket capacity of 0.8 to 1.4 cu yd, a tipping load of 8,158 lb and an engine rating of 58 net hp. The L35 is rated at 70 net hp, has an operating weight of 5.7 tons, a bucket capacity of 1.0 to 1.6 cu yd and a tipping load of 9,548 lb.
The new L40 and L45 loaders are equipped with an improved Torque Parallel Linkage system and Volvos hydraulic quick-coupler system.
The larger machines also come with demand-controlled load-sensing hydraulics, which ensure fuel savings of up to 15% compared with conventional hydraulic systems, according to the manufacturer.
Available on all four loaders, the electronic servicing and information system reports faults and stores all relevant details to help resolve service problems and trouble shooting.
Case came through in the clutch with its C Series wheel loaders.
The line, which includes the 621C (130 hp), 721C (152 hp), 821C (185 hp) and 921C (248 hp), is driven by a proportional-shift transmission. Shifting between gears is now dependent on torque, not speed, allowing for a smoother transition of gears.
Other improvements include a closed-center, wide-angle steering system and a brake pedal declutch.
All models have Cases return-to-dig and return-to-travel features and bucket height control, and the 721C and 821C come with larger buckets3.0 yd and 4.0 yd, respectively. The 721C also has been built with longer lift arms, offering a reach of 3 ft, 5 in.
Building a reputation
When you make a name for yourself, save the mold. The claim out of Kubota, Torrance, Calif., is the R420 and R520 wheel loaders upholds the companys image of making "high-quality, innovative products."
Both the R420 and R520 are fully-articulated, four-wheel drive machines ideal for "working inside existing structures or confined spaces."
The companys load sensing transmission enables efficient load handling by automatically changing from high speed/low torque to low speed/high torque when load conditions vary. Clutchless electric shuttle shifting allows for easier shifting between forward and reverse without the need to brake.
Center shaft-type oscillation and articulation joint, which allows for 8û of frame oscillation and 40û left/right articulation, is another highlight.
Komatsu, Vernon Hills, Ill., has a few words for the competition: Avance Plus mid-size wheel loaders.
The WA320-3, WA380-3, WA420-3 and the WA450-3 form the line that features a dual hydraulic speed system. It provides optimum fuel efficiency and power while reducing cycle times for maximum operating efficiency, according to Komatsu. During loading conditions, the switch pump is diverted to the tank and the engine power is diverted to the wheels to exert maximum rim pull. When raising the boom or approaching a dump truck, the combination of both switch and loader pumps provides maximum hydraulic power to the loader for reduced cycle times.
A powershift countershaft transmission allows the operator to finger-operate direction and gearshift control levers with the same hand that holds the wheel. A transmission kick-down switch on the boom lever facilitates loading operations by improving tractive effort during digging and loading. When activated, the loader automatically down-shifts from second forward speed to first. When the loader is put into reverse, the switch automatically up-shifts from first to second speed, eliminating the need for gearshift lever operation.
The WA320-3 and WA380-3 have buckets measuring out at 3.5 and 4.25 cu yd, respectively. The WA320-3 operates with a 162-hp engine, while the WA380-3 works with a 189-hp engine.
John Deere is now positioning its second 300H Series wheel loaderthe 324Hinto the marketplace.
Competing in the under 100-hp loader class, the 324H is powered by a Powertech 4.5-l, 80-hp engine.
A two-speed hydrostatic transmission with electronic shift control gives the operator infinite speed control with a variable-speed inching pedal, making it possible to maintain high engine RPM with slow travel speeds.
An open-center, high-pressure hydraulic system incorporates a two-function, pilot-operated loader control valve with single lever control.
The 963C is Caterpillars typetrack type. The new loader replaces the 963B and includes upgrades like electronic hydrostatic control, variable hydraulic track motors and a computerized monitoring system.
The electronic hydrostatic control eliminates mechanical control linkages to provide more control of the drive train and reduce the risk of component wear. The electronic system also balances power demand between the equipment and drive train.
A speed mode switch has been added. With the switch, the operator can choose between either work mode or travel mode to tailor the travel speed of the machine to different applications.
The computerized monitoring system interfaces with the electronic hydrostatic control for electronic calibration of the hydrostatic system and functions as a warning and prevention system.
The machine runs off a 160-hp Caterpillar 3116 DITA engine.
It might sound big, but the name does not say it all. Daewoo claims its Mega 160 wheel loader is the right piece of equipment for smaller, tighter jobs.
The latest addition to the manufacturers loader line has a bucket capacity of 2.1 cu yd and an operating weight of 19,220 lb. The machine carries a breakout force of 17,290 lpf.
Improved performance in the Mega 160 is made possible by improved hydraulics and minimized T/M gear-shift shock, according to the manufacturer.
Daewoos Mega 200-III tool carrier features a bucket capacity of 2.5 cu yd, an operating weight of 23,192 lb and a breakout force of 23,800-22,930 lpf.
Also included is hydraulic load sensing steering and a power-shift countershaft transmission with four forward and four reverse speeds controlled by a single "fingertip" lever.
The Mid life
New Holland Mid-Mount Loaders give hauling life to the companys tractors. The 32LA fits TND tractors and the 33LA attaches to TNS models.
Both loaders feature a low, narrow profile for good visibility, and the mid-mount design allows complete turning.
Optional mechanical self-leveling reduces spills, and four-bar linkage allows a bucket rollback of up to 40û.
The loaders also provide a 60û dump angle.