Event: Hastings Deering Dig Day 2017 wrapup

By: Matt Wood

Presented by
  • Earthmovers & Exacavators

Matt Wood puts his arse on the line in a couple of Cat skid steer loaders at the recent Hastings Deering 2017 Dig Day

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I’m never one to shirk the opportunity to play in the dirt, and the recent Hastings Deering Cat Dig Day provided the perfect excuse to go and shift some dirt and strut around in hi-viz.

There were plenty of yellow machines with which to get up close and personal out the back of the massive Hastings Deering Acacia Ridge facility.

There were excavators and skid steers set up along with some conveniently placed mounds of dirt. All so punters could get out and have a crack at this oversized playground for grownups. In the name of product familiarisation, of course… we don’t want to be seen as having too much fun on the job!

The excavator line-up ranged from 1.5-tonners up to an 8-tonner. And there was also a handy cross-section of skid steers available, both on wheels and tracks.

It was the latter that I thought I’d take a closer look at. I climbed aboard a 259D loader equipped with compact track loader (CTL) tracks to shuffle some dirt around with. Obviously anyone opting for a tracked loader is chasing lower ground pressure, however I was soon to learn that there are tracks and then there are tracks. And application is vitally important if you’re opting for a tracked machine.

I learned that CTLs are for more hard-core applications, though they still have a lighter footprint than their wheeled counterparts. The rubber tracks themselves are steel reinforced and designed to be hard wearing, and the undercarriage has fewer moving parts than a loader equipped with multi-terrain loader tracks.

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So a CTL loader is going to be pretty much at home slogging through demolition rubble. Fewer moving parts and tougher tracks make them pretty much bullet proof for ground-pressure-sensitive applications but with the durability of a wheeled loader configuration.

The downside, I was soon to learn, is that the CTL tracks are pretty hard and unforgiving. My rather delicate posterior copped a bit of a pummelling while piloting the 259D. The CTL set up is designed for durability and that reflects in the harshness of operation when travelling on site and clambering over obstacles.

I then swapped the CTL-equipped 259D for a 279D equipped with multi-terrain loader (MTL) tracks. There’s no doubt that from inside that quiet, air-conditioned cab the MTL loader was much more pleasant to operate; the ride was softer and there was little in the way of harshness in operation.

While this may sound like MTL is the way to go, the MTL undercarriage and tracks require a lot more attention. There are more moving parts due to the suspension set up and the MTL tracks are softer. Along with this the MTL setup uses lighter components than CTL.

This is not the sort of machine you’d want to be operating on gravel, concrete and rubble. The wider footprint and lower ground pressure of the MTL configuration makes it perfect for forestry, agriculture and turf applications where no sloppy surface will hinder progress.

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As I said, MTL may not be as tough but it’s a lot more pleasant from the driver’s seat. I’m often accused of talking through my arse, however in this case my arse knows what it’s on about. The track suspension keeps more constant The wider footprint of the MTL also made the machine feel more stable when playing … ahem ... I mean working.

And really, that’s the beauty of an event like this Dig Day, it’s an opportunity to put different machines side by side and get hands on to find out which machine suits your application the best.

On the downside, someone had hidden the keys to the D11. Spoilsports!


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