For most municipalities, every piece of maintenance equipment needs to demonstrate a high return on investment. That is particularly true in the city of Bastrop, Texas, located just outside Austin.
Plenty of creeks running through the city to the Colorado River make debris and vegetation clearing a continual drainage challenge. Specifically, Gills Branch is a critical waterway that snakes through Bastrop—home to about 8,500 residents—and must remain clear as it runs through commercial, residential, and public properties.
Finding a backhoe to be too slow in clearing ditches, the city decided to purchase its first Gradall, a Discovery Series D154 four-wheel-drive model. Designed for municipal work and priced right even for smaller cities’ budgets, the new Gradall model proved to be capable of quickly handling many different jobs for the city.
"It was a good buy for the city, very versatile," said David Juarez, superintendent of public works.
A key initial task for the excavator was to clear heavy vegetation along several creeks, using the machine’s 25-ft reach and a flail mower. Over the next year, Juarez said, the city planned to launch a major drainage upgrade initiative, using the D154 with 60-in. ditching bucket to replace culverts and clear trees, debris, and trash from ditches and streams. The short tail swing allows it to work along highways with minimal traffic interruption.
The boom tilt is especially good to position the mower to clear the vegetation efficiently, noted Juarez. The entire boom tilts 220 degrees, so an operator can easily maneuver the mower attachment into place around trees and along the edges of streams. A low-profile boom design creates a low center of gravity, providing stability without the need for outriggers, and if needed, the excavator can work in tunnels and under bridges where conventional excavators cannot fit.
"The machine runs and operates well," he said, adding that the Freightliner undercarriage is easy to drive from one work site to another, and then back to the equipment yard at the end of the day. Discovery Series models are the industry’s first crossover models, with a design that uses proven, high-productivity upper structures along with proven truck chassis.
New Discovery Series models, introduced at the 2020 ConExpo-ConAgg trade show, are even stronger, more muscular, and more productive, noted Mike Popovich, vice president of Gradall excavator products.
The new D172, with two-wheel-drive, and D174, a four-wheel-drive excavator, benefit from a 36% increase in horsepower, greater axle capacity, and reduced noise and fuel consumption.
The new models also have a new suspension and tires for a solid, stable ride. Greater axle capacity and more counterweight enable the machines to use more attachments including rail gears, snow plows, and other high-production Gradall XL Series attachments.
Front axle lockouts cylinders further improve stability, while pressure-compensated, load-sensing valves have reliefs on all circuits, supplying the right amount of hydraulic power for the job at hand while also conserving fuel.