Review: Shantui 220hp bulldozer

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  • Earthmovers & Exacavators

Ron Horner tried out a Chinese-manufactured Shantui 220hp bulldozer and found it ticks plenty of boxes


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Ronnie’s Road Trips tend to get me into some brilliant parts of Australia and none more stunning than the area of northern NSW and south-east Queensland. Tucked away in a little honey hole of a property on the Border Ranges of NSW and Queensland we found this neat and tidy Chinese-manufactured Shantui 1996 model 220hp bulldozer.

Never having seen one before, I was pretty keen to get a closer look at it with the possibility of running it for an hour or two. Phil Sweet of Sweet’s Strawberry Runners, who just happens to supply about 30 per cent of Australia’s strawberry plants, surprisingly gave us the nod and without hesitation we decided to head up the paddock and into the quarry for a play.

Now, for those like me who are not in the know, Shantui is a Chinese state-owned company, (Shantui Construction Machinery Co Ltd) founded in 1980, and now finds itself as one of the top 50 manufacturers of construction machinery in the world. In 2009, the Shandong Heavy Industry Group was established and Shantui became one of its subsidiaries.

Shunhui -220hp -dozer

WALKAROUND

Surprisingly, when I got the first close up look this dozer, it did not jump out at me and welcome me in Mandarin. It could have been mistakenly identified as another major brand of dozer of around the D7/D8 (ish) size, so subtle was its design, and definitely not like the Chinese-manufactured farm tractors we see all over the place that clearly make a ‘made in China’ statement in design.

The big ‘square boofhead’ nose, the aftermarket scrub canopy and roll cage tend to hide the shape of the ‘big girl’ but it is robust and tough in looks and fits in just perfectly in this rough and rocky terrain. Heading up the front is a well-designed blade, followed up by a good set of three-tine hydraulic rippers (pulling two), very similar to those you could find on a Komatsu Dozer of similar size. The tracks look tidy and taught with signs of the track plates being rebuilt. Overall, it’s a tidy-looking bit of gear.

Shunhui -220hp -dozer

IN THE CABIN

Once I climbed my way to the ‘big chair’ it all seemed so familiar … I was sitting atop a very close Komatsu D85 dozer lookalike.

Being given the nod and left to my own devices, I couldn’t wait to get hold of Phil to ask him the question: could this be a complete or near complete take-off of the Komatsu D85 and, if so, had he experienced any easy-to-replace Komatsu parts for Shantui?

That question aside, I had my chance to crank the old girl up and give her a bit of a workout while in the quarry. Rocks and stockpile of material were strewn across the quarry floor and it was quite apparent this old girl was a ‘daily’ and had to earn her keep while in the Sweets’ possession and care.

With the old-style open cabin, steering clutches protruding from the dash cowling with brakes left- and right-side floor-mounted and three-speed forward and reverse transmission perfectly located on the left hand of the seat, the operator is made quite at ease. It is as conforming as you could ever wish for and one does not require an extra bag of brains to sort this out.

To the right of the big chair and at elbow height are the ripper controls – a bit sloppy but they work fine – and a full set of working gauges smack bang in the centre of the console. Our checks are done! No requirement for sourcing the radio or air conditioner … cause there ain’t none! But if you can source a set of ear plugs, a hat and some glasses, it may minimise the health effects on you by the end of a big shift. Word of note – you will get dusted.

A quick preheat and the old girl fired up immediately. We were on the move

Shunhui -220hp -dozer

UNDER THE HOOD

I get to talk to lots of contractors and operators, and all have a favourite engine or make of dozer, which have ‘bragging rights’ for some reason or another. When we start talking dozers it’s is either a Caterpillar engine or a Cummins engine that rises to the top every time.

Fortunately enough, this big girl is running a tried-and-true big-cam six-cylinder Cummins 220hp turbo-diesel engine and it runs like a clock. Phil commented that this engine has been a godsend with nothing failing and through regular servicing and maintenance it has performed exceptionally. No wonder everyone from the truckies to the contractors love them. I’ve never heard a bad report … touch wood.

It’s a typical dozer design in the engine bay – easy daily check points to access but side and belly plate removal for the rest of the issues should and when they arise.

Shunhui -220hp -dozer

ON THE JOB

With a bit of a crook back and neck due to some severe work injuries over many years, I opted not for the quarry but towards some topsoil stockpiles across the paddock to continue my overall review on this big girl.

No transmission slop or fade when I engaged the clutches to get this rig off the ground; steering direct; brakes all good; and hydraulics doing exactly what they were designed for. A few boxes ticked already.

Whipping through the three forward speeds, the Shantui tracked spot on with slight deviations on queue when the clutches were engaged. The top speed of about 12km/h was easily reached along the rock-free cleared paddocks.

Pulling up at about 25 tonne or so, the Shantoui certainly fits the D7/D8-ish size and is the ideal machine for this application up here in the granite. Pushing out about 1000Nm at 1250rpm is as good as you get – anything smaller would struggle and anything larger would mean access problems through some of the gates. Big pushes and full blades were the order of the day for me; I just had to see if it performed once in work mode as, to this point, it had all the boxes ticked.

I just love getting that smell of the diesel up your nose when the turbo cuts in and puffs that gush of CO2 down your throat. It certainly takes away the taste of the dust, frozen noses and hearing impairments that you definitely have to get used to if you are contemplating running a dozer of this era. If you have never experienced that feeling, you haven’t lived!

The old girl performed really well and had no problems in pushing up the loads and spreading them to a reasonable standard, but then again any dodgy stuff-ups could have been due to lack of operator competency.

Shunhui -220hp -dozer

THE BOTTOM LINE

After having a pre-conceived thought about the Chinese dozer from the 1990s era, I must say I was fairly sceptical regarding what we could derive from this little afternoon workout up here in the mountains.

The old girl ticked most of the boxes you could wish for and, relevant to the purchase price, I think the Sweet crew should be happy with the purchase and outcome. Having run the Shantui since 1999, there have been some issues, but mostly around wear and tear. A saving grace for them is that this Dozer is a take-off of the Komatsu D85 and already several major components have been integrated, transferred or replaced by Komatsu parts.

The dozer’s blade, rippers and tracks are all Komatsu D85, and with a Cummins big block and the driveline and transmission components all off-the-shelf purchases, it tends to push me to the opinion that this particular machine was a pretty savvy purchase.

In its previous life the Shantui was a logging tractor with an angle blade and winch that were quickly replaced with the current configuration. If the old girl thought of doing it in semi-retirement mode on the Strawberry farm, well, it was in for a big shock.

A daily driver; parts availability via Komatsu confirmed; cheap alternative; and performed well – there’s not much more you can want if you ask me. The Chinese-manufactured Shantui 220hp dozer … I’ve got to give it a thumbs up.

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