Review: Six Top Cats

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  • Earthmovers & Exacavators

Cat machines are ubiquitous on jobsites across Australia. From large and small excavators to graders to trucks to diesel generators; Cat equipment is a favourite of the construction, mining and infrastructure industries. We've rounded up six of our favourite Cat machines, see what you think.


Cat 335F LCR excavator

Cat 305E2 excavator

The Cat 335F L CR is a compact radius excavator made for heavy work on congested job sites — and sports a very decent blade. Ron Horner takes this 37-tonne earthmover for a test and says its blade makes all the difference.

FOR the past 35 years I’ve been waiting for excavator manufacturers to start putting a decent, large blade on their machines. Every mini excavator you see has one fitted but very few larger models have taken up the challenge.

So when I realised that the Cat 335F L CR 37-tonne excavator had a blade fitted I knew I just had to jump into the cab for a demo.

Now Caterpillar isn’t the first manufacturer of large (ish) excavators to adapt a blade to their range. Volvo and Kobelco are just two which come to mind, however our requests to review one have never come to fruition ...

 

Cat 740 articulated dump truck

Cat 740 articulated dump truck

The Caterpillar 740 articulated dump truck is a well-made workhorse capable of moving a mountain of material over a long distance for an economical price at speed. Ron Horner jumps into the operator’s seat of a 9,000-hour model.

The earthmoving game has changed dramatically over the last 30 years (thankfully), and nowhere is this more evident than in the introduction of six-wheel-drive all-terrain articulated dump trucks, or ADTs.

Moving dirt was once left to dozers and scrapers or loaders and trucks, with most of our equipment being supplied out of the US. Surplus war equipment played a big part in what we got and how we got it, with a dribble of European and/or British-manufactured plant also making its way to Australia.

With manufacturers like Le Torneau, John Deere and Caterpillar leading the way in the States, we tended to follow suit and work with what we knew best ...

 

Cat 924K wheel loader

Cat 305E2 excavator

Ron Horner checks out a Cat 924K wheel loader being used on a cattle feedlot on the New South Wales/Queensland border.

It never ceases to amaze me just how much earthmoving equipment crosses over into so many other industries.

If you are in the construction, mining and pipeline industries you will be well versed in how we totally depend on our machinery and equipment — without it we have no industry or job.

Familiarity breeds contempt and, funnily enough, some of us tend to think that all of the machinery out there can only work in construction ...

 

Cat 239D compact track loader

Cat 239D compact track loader

Keen to test a new Cat 239D compact track loader, Josh Simpson heads to the outskirts of Auckland to jump on the controls of a machine working on one of the many housing subdivisions popping up all over New Zealand.

With a radial lift design promising impressive mid-lift reach and excellent digging performance, the Cat 239D compact track loader has been high on our list of must-review earthmovers.

We were recently put in touch with New Zealand contractor Scott Manderson, who is finding more of his work in and around the subdivisions that are taking over the rural countryside of northern Waikato.

Scotty (as he is more well-known) has recently replaced his 3000-hour, 2014 Caterpillar 247B multi-terrain loader with a new 239D ...

 

Cat 305E2 mini excavator

Cat 305E2 mini excavator

At a glance Cat excavators might not look as though they’ve changed much over the years, but they’re packed with innovation, as EVARN COVICH discovered when he took the 5.1-tonne 305E2 compact radius excavator for a test run recently.

Caterpillar has forged more than a solid reputation over 90 years of making earthmoving equipment but it doesn’t rest on its laurels and still has the capability to surprise us with its innovations.

This was the case recently when I had the opportunity to operate a Cat 305E2 compact radius excavator at the Hastings Deering testing ground in Brisbane.

From the Complete, Operation, Maintenance, Performance and Security System (COMPASS) to the 200-degree bucket rotation for enhanced spoil retention while loading trucks, and the new High Definition Hydraulic (HDH) system available on the new E2 range of excavators, Cat has addressed some of the issues that have long plagued excavator owners and operators ...

 

Cat 140M grader

Cat 140M grader

RON HORNER climbs into the cab of a 7000-hour Cat 140M grader to see if it lives up to its reputation as being "the duck’s guts".

I have told many young up-and-coming owner-operators/contractors that this industry will not make you an overnight success or a millionaire. The best you can hope to get out of it is a serious upgrading of your lifestyle, some more cash in your pocket than operating for someone, obtaining higher levels of self-esteem, and the meeting and making of lifelong friends along the way.

For me, it is a passion of earthmoving machinery (particularly excavators), interesting projects, interesting people, and the journey of life and the roads they have travelled to get to this point.

A couple of months ago, I got real lucky. I met and made a new friend in Col Bulmer from Goondiwindi in south-east Queensland ...

 

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