Unstoppable stalwart

Unlike some other classes of machine, the dozer is not subject to great change. It’s like a prehistoric creature that didn’t evolve much, but in many ways it is a blunt instrument whose job is to push through or die trying.At the upper end of the dozer market it is a two-horse race – Caterpillar and Komatsu – and it’s hard to believe that 50 years ago the dozer was one of the most popular categories of equipment and there were more competitors.The modern battle of the mid-size machines is being fought along drivetrain lines.Liebherr has long identified itself with hydrostatic drivetrains, so it is a no-brainer that Liebherr has also gone the hydrostatic route across its dozer-and-crawler loader ranges. It’s also no surprise to hear that Liebherr does the job well.Most other makers have now followed Liebherr into hydrostatic drive for their mid-size crawlers. Case is among these and has recently released its 850L in Australia.The big news from Caterpillar last year was the release at Conexpo of the electric-drive D7E. Better fuel consumption and simpler mechanics, with around 60% less moving parts, are given as some of the benefits. This type of drivetrain is believed to best suit mid-size dozers, so there probably won’t be a rush for larger electric machines.Komatsu has been innovative with the layout of its smallest dozers, with a layout that puts the operator much further forward than usual, with a better view of the blade. It might take a little while to get used to the non-traditional appearance, but there’s a lot of good reasons for it being that way.George Christianson of Sino Heavy Equipment has found that the HX dozers he brings in are reliable, with most warranty claims involving quite minor items that are expensive to fix, largely because of the travel costs and time to get to the machine. Christianson decided that if a purchaser was prepared to take on their own warranty work – and most dozer owners are quite practical people – then he could reduce the price by up to $40,000, and stimulate sales in a difficult market.It was a bold move, but seems to be paying off so far. Of course, it’s not as if the parts are not available – many can be bought off the shelf and Sino keeps a good stock, including a spare machine.

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