EQUIPMENT FOCUS: Precision, control and versatility

Dec. 17, 2010

When it comes to motor graders, two traits are key to getting the job done: precision and control. Operators need power, but they also must often make fine blade adjustments to ensure a smooth surface. The newest generation of motor graders gives operators a range of powerful and flexible options to meet almost any job requirement.


When it comes to motor graders, two traits are key to getting the job done: precision and control. Operators need power, but they also must often make fine blade adjustments to ensure a smooth surface. The newest generation of motor graders gives operators a range of powerful and flexible options to meet almost any job requirement.

Several models have enhanced visibility, taking the guesswork out of the job. On the new M-Series, Caterpillar provides operators with a clear line of sight to the front tires and the blade’s heel and toe. Komatsu not only made its cab 21% bigger, it also significantly increased visibility. Similarly, New Holland mounted the cab behind the articulation point so the driver can see more.

The controls and control schemes also have been refined for greater control and comfort. Case utilizes variable horsepower for better traction control, and the company uses low-effort levers grouped close together. Caterpillar eliminated many of the levers entirely and replaced them with a simpler and more intuitive control scheme. Leica also has a system that can automatically control the slope and elevation.

Manufacturers also know that one size doesn’t necessarily fit all jobs. In most cases, owners have numerous different models to choose from, which vary in power, blade length and control options. Regardless of the job, there is probably a motor grader tailored to suit its needs.

From the ground up

The Volvo G900 series of motor graders was designed completely from scratch. All seven models feature Tier III-certified engines that deliver high torque at low engine speeds. Wide-stance blade-lift cylinders and a low-angle side-shift cylinder create an extremely stable grading platform, and load-sensing hydraulics give operators precise control, especially while turning. An 11-speed transmission also provides for more control at low speeds and is available in Manual, Autoshift and Travel modes. With Autoshift, the grader can smoothly shuttle between forward and reverse gears without clutching or pausing.

Better control

Komatsu’s newest motor grader, the GD655-5, gives the operator more control thanks to an all-new power train. The Tier III engine is positioned at the rear of the machine, while more weight is placed on the front axle. Also, a two-mode system allows the operator to select either an economy or power mode, depending on the job. Power has been upped 9% and fuel consumption has been cut 20% compared with previous models. The new cab is 21% larger, with more legroom, greater visibility and more creature comforts. A heater/air conditioner, radio, lunch-box holder, cup holder and coat hook are all standard.

Choices for everyone

The new G-series line of motor graders from John Deere is based upon extensive customer feedback. Models range from 185 to 275 hp, and operators are free to choose the control style that best suits their preferences and job requirements. Also, at the push of a button, operators can “return to straight,” bringing the rear frame back to center. John Deere’s NeverGrease pin joints result in a 56% reduction in greasing, and tighter joints improve the blade’s accuracy. Additionally, an LCD color monitor lets the operator continuously track vital machine readings.

Affordable alternative

Champion Motor Graders offers an affordable and versatile alternative to full-size graders. The company’s line of compact and production-class machines has “big grader” power and control features that can handle any grading job. Champion motor graders also are designed as tool carriers, with front and rear attachments for numerous earthmoving and road-maintenance tasks. Models range from 12,000 to 24,000 lb and include single-axle, tandem and AWD versions.

Range of power

The 865 VHP motor grader from Case Construction Equipment gives operators a range of power to match any type of grading application. This is achieved through variable horsepower, which also helps deliver better traction control and maximum fuel economy. Low-effort control levers are grouped close together for increased operator comfort and control. Like all Case motor graders, the VHP 865 also features enhanced operator comfort.

Power and finesse

New Holland Construction motor graders can perform with power or finesse as the job requires. Models range from 140 to 205 hp, and standard blade lengths vary from 12 to 14 ft. The rugged frames of the G140, G170 and G200 models stand up to the toughest grading jobs while still giving operators a smooth ride. The cab is mounted behind the articulation point, providing excellent visibility and allowing the operator to maneuver and respond quickly.

More efficient

The M-Series, from Caterpillar, replaces as many as 15 levers and a steering wheel with a pair of joysticks. The electrohydraulic control system simplifies control and reduces operator arm and hand movements by up to 78%. Operators also have a clear line of sight to the front tires, the DCM and the heel and toe of the blade. The AWD option boosts torque by 42% over the predecessor H-Series line. Steering compensation also provides full torque through an entire turn.

Automatic control

Leica Geosystems’ PowerGrade lets operators automatically control both the slope and elevation, and the system can be used with a wide range of sensors. For motor graders, the Leica PowerGrade also features side-shift control and mass-tilt compensation. The system is fully waterproof and can withstand the harshest jobsite conditions. It has an intuitive color display, and the PowerSnap docking station lets operators quickly move the control panels from one machine to another. Machine-specific settings are permanently stored in the docking station.

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