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what was the hardest machine for you to learn?

Discussion in 'General Industry Questions' started by stumpjumper83, Sep 23, 2007.

  1. stumpjumper83

    stumpjumper83 Senior Member

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    I'm curious to see what everyone has the hardest time getting a grip on. I have an idea on what the majority will be, but I wanna see if I'm right. Oh lets here the stories that go along with it.
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2007
  2. deeredude

    deeredude Active Member

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    grader.
     
  3. Underdog

    Underdog Active Member

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    Has to be a Dragline.
     
  4. IH PULR

    IH PULR Active Member

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    Fine grading witha buldozer:cussing :cussing
     
  5. Dwan Hall

    Dwan Hall Senior Member

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    My wife! 33 years and still can't figure her out.

    So far everything else hase been easy.
     
  6. John H

    John H Well-Known Member

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    The hardest machine to learn for me was picking trees with our crane at work. It's not like lifting something of the ground. Once it's cut you own it.
     
  7. EZ TRBO

    EZ TRBO Senior Member

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    For me, being only 23 years old, I have not had the time on a ton of different machines as some of you have, but for right now fine grading with a dozer is my most difficult task. As far as clearing timber, or just doing bulk push or even rough grading I am fine with. My first time using a road grader was last winter, plowing snow, and the first few days were a bit slow but now am very comfortable doing that, and hope that somtime I get to grade with one. The other day a friend of mine was talking to a guy who use to work for us(after he retired), Don has ran every type of equipment over the years and is regarded as one of the best all around operators by anyone that knows him and he told my friend that that kid can get on anything and just give him some seat time and he can do just bout anything that needs to be done. I hope I don't sound like I am braging, cause I have a long way to go to be a great all around operator, but having Don say that means alot.
    Trbo
     
  8. grubber

    grubber Member

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    I agree

    I'm not bragging either, but I find that when I'm given about 20 or 30 hours in the seat I start to become pretty effeceint at what I'm doing. I can't fine grade either with a dozer, nor do I want to, but I have studied great operators habits when it comes to putting stuff within a couple of tenths. They all seem to have the same thing in common. Here are a few things I've found that they do well.

    Sight- most people look to one edge of the blade, back and forth from left to right. Really good operators train their eyes more towards the middle, so they can see both sides at the same time and you don't see a lot of head weaving going on. I've tried it and works, but frustrating.

    Traveling - they all seem to grading in short burst, and there is a lot of back and forth. I think this is because the eyes can only see so much at one time.

    Oh yeah! they all feel like they can out grade the other operators. I think it has a lot to do with attitude.
     
  9. surfer-joe

    surfer-joe Senior Member

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    Receiving and installing a rock crusher with attendant components like conveyors and screening plants.

    I put one together in Grand Junction out of individual pieces sent in from all over the western United States. This plant then ran double-shift for several months passing thorough about 2 million yards of material. We moved it twice to keep it close to the stockpile. The only new piece was the screening plant, everything else was used and some was quite old. Just about all the older pieces needed serious repair, so it was obvious that whatever company project was using them before sending them our way did not send their best. My crew was quite good however at just about anything put their way and I had three excellent welder-fabricator-mechanics. In short order we had everything fixed properly, sited, and running.

    Once set up the plant consisted of the feeder, the crusher, the screen plant, several standard conveyors and three radial-stacker conveyors. Also a good sized Cat D398 gen-set and a control tower set upon a parts trailer. We fed the plant with two Hough 560C loaders, two Cat D8N dozers kept the material flowing to the loaders.

    The screening plant was a real challenge. We were running a lot of dusty sand over it along with considerable rock. The smaller rocks passed the jaw crusher intact and caused a problem on the screen deck conveyor by rolling back down and getting spit out under the bottom roller. This problem caused the death of one of the plant mechanics later on. Getting the screens set to the proper speed and frequency was difficult because of the sand. Run too fast and the sand didn't have time to filter out, Run too slow and the rocks didn't separate well.

    All the conveyors needed constant attention, most were slightly bent one way or the other and a couple were bent in two directions. This made aligning the belts very difficult, plus they ran differently when loaded from no load. The radial stacker drive systems were all broken when they arrived, either busted chains and sprockets, bad motors and transmissions, or no drive chains at all. Two of them had obviously been tipped over at some point and were severely bent. Those had to be straightened and one required a whole new belt. One of the stackers showed signs that it had been moved from one position to another by dozer blade many times. That entire section had to be replaced. We replaced dozens of bad rollers and flanges.

    Anyone having experience with screen plants knows that it's an art getting the correct screens for your particular material. We tried and wore out or destroyed a dozen different screen types -- some very expensive -- before finding some that would last about two weeks before needing replacement. Our material was actually a volcanic gravel, very abrasive. It had never had a chance to flow down a river and get some of the sharp edges worn off, plus the rocks that were broken in the jaw fractured with very sharp edges. Screen plants are like a high maintenance wife, always needing something. They, by nature of their function, are constantly trying to shake themselves apart, and they do this well.

    It only took about 30 minutes of running initially for the project safety and environmental engineers to come driving over in a mad dash to shut the plant down. The sandy dust, actually a powder similar to Talcum powder, was causing a veritable dust storm that was moving down valley towards town. Big no-no! We then had to run a pipeline from our big water reservoir on site over to the plant and configure a spray irrigation system on the stock pile that kept the dust down. This was not perfect as the material actually repelled water about as well as a siliconed duck. The Cats and the loaders mixed it up pretty well, but we had to ad several misters and spray heads to the feed hoppers and the feed conveyors. The Cats actually ran their rippers into the top of the pile several times a day to allow water to drain down into the material. We also had to take one of our four 651 water wagon and dedicate it to spraying the piles of finished product so that dust did not blow off them. That 651 also wandered around the plant spraying water everywhere there was a possibility of dust flying out.

    Keeping this menagerie operating was a chore and in addition to the plant crew of eight men I had one mechanic assigned there, it was he that died after being dragged thorough a return roller under the screen plant feed hopper. After his death, the plant shut down for a month or more while we figured out what happened and made many alterations in plant operating procedure and safety guards. From then on only plant personnel were allowed inside the fenced off area. Stricter operating rules were enacted and followed religiously.

    It was quite a learning experience and a highly interesting one. Our production rate once all was running well was prodigious and we actually finished running all the material plus more way ahead of the original schedule despite being shut down for so long. It was kinda sad tearing it all apart the last time and saying good by to the hands that had worked so hard keeping it going. But that's part of being a dirt stiff.
     
  10. nedly05

    nedly05 Senior Member

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    I can't fine grade for squat with a dozer. The toughest thing for me so far is the grader. Ours is a slow old galion 503, once I run it a bit I can grade pretty well with that.
     
  11. trainwreck

    trainwreck Well-Known Member

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    oregon
    the hardest thing for me to learn was our side boom cats/pipe layer dam thing has 12 differnt leavers and you have to know where there all are in the dark, as well as knowing what they do. being that we use them for lifting rail cars and they is always a ton of people around it can be very stress full, know that if move the wrong leaver you could kill a whole crew in just a second.
     
  12. CM1995

    CM1995 Super Moderator

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    :lmao :roll :eek2 :laugh Best response yet! BTW - I don't think you ever will!:D

    For me it was a 953C track loader. I have ran skid steers (Bobcat) all my life and when I got into the loader the controls were bassakwards. Steer with your feet, V-control for direction and bucket control on a joystick. Also the foot steering controls reverse on you when you change direction - in reverse left is right and so on and so forth.:Banghead

    I have never run a grader, dragline, crane or pipelayer - so the jury is still out for me.
     
  13. BeaudesertSand

    BeaudesertSand Member

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    Plus one for me. When you think about it, in theory its just 2 cables, what could be so hard? But it is, especially if you have been on excavators and hydraulics.

    My father spent his life on all manner of machines, but was a dragline super expert. In the 50`s, he did curb and channeling prep with a dragline, I soon realised I could never hope to operate a dragline with 1/10th of his skill.
     
  14. John C.

    John C. Senior Member

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    I think there are two parts to running machines. The first is learning the controls and the second is being able to get something productive out of the machine. Hydraulic machines were built so that just about anyone could jump on the machine and makes things move. Yes, graders have lots of levers and it takes some time to understand grade but I feel just about anyone with a little time and input from an experienced hand can catch on and achieve some level of productivity. Fine grading with a dozer is more a matter of the operator having the patience and professionalism to get it done properly. In my opinion the real operators were the ones that ran machines that had less than positive controls.

    I have to agree with Grubber on the drag line, especially on friction machines. You have to run two brake pedals with your feet and three levers with two hands just to make the bucket and swing work. The machine feel and operation changes as the frictions and brakes warm so you have to know how to continually adjust all the controls. The bucket hangs free and the swing is free. There is no just letting go of a lever and the machine stops doing what is was doing. Everything has to be "OPERATED" at all times. If you want to stop swinging you have to operate the control the opposite way to bring the swing to a stop. Put too much counter rotation in and you risk snapping the swing shaft or breaking a gear. To hold the bucket up you have to step on a pedal and hold it. Lifting the bucket requires pulling hard on the proper lever and releasing the brake at the same time. Release the brake too soon and the bucket drops before the clutch engages stressing the boom and base machine. Hold the brake too long and you are stessing the frictions and brakes causing excess wear. It doesn't take long and your whole body aches from the effort and your head aches from the concentration.

    Once you have learned all this, now you have to learn how to move dirt in the fastest way possible without tearing up the machine. Take too much of a bite and the cable can snap. The angle the bucket is dragged at changes as it moves toward the machine meaning you have to continually adjust the lift and drag on the lines. Once the bucket is full you have to pick it up without it dumping, swing to the dump area, stop the swing in the right place and let go of the brake that holds the bucket tip up. A drag line bucket doesn't dump in one place either. It dumps on a line and gains momentum as the front drops. That momentum spins up the drum and if not caught will spin all the line off making a mess on the house that has to be reeved back in straight. You have to bring all the line back in on the drum as you go back for another pass and then let it go again to cast the bucket back out for another bite. There are so many things that can go wrong that it is a wonder how these machines became so popular and productive especially without computer controls.

    The only machine harder to run in my experience is a clam shell bucket on a crane I would be very surprised if there are more than a hundred good clamshell operators in the US that could operate a friction machine productively.
     
  15. Squizzy246B

    Squizzy246B Administrator

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    I still haven't worked out how to use this one:
     

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  16. stumpjumper83

    stumpjumper83 Senior Member

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    I'm trying to forget how, squizzy thats a good one.
     
  17. surfer-joe

    surfer-joe Senior Member

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    I pretty well mastered the clam buckets on a Koehring 555 and an American, both friction machines and both with noisy Detroit engines. I used one with a Manitowoc 3900 as well. I set large concrete pipe (72") with a Link-Belt 518, used a different one later on for placing rip-rap. But I don't really care for crane work that much. Used Manitowoc 3900 and 4000's with large magnets in the slag processing business, much more dangerous than it looks using 8 ton drop-balls and ten ton Columbia crosses. Totally dislike placing concrete or setting steel and pipe with large cranes with a lot of stick on them. Don't like working over people with them at all.

    As a kid I remember watching local operators excavating drainage ditches with Bay City and Northwest Draglines (mid 1950's). Most of those guys were masters tho I didn't fully realize just how skilled they were for many years. The way they could sculpt a ditch in perfect lines with no variation in slope was magic, no surveyors, no grade stakes, no GPS, just a good eye and an excellent seat of the pants feel. Friction machines are far different than the hydraulic units in use today.
     
  18. tuney443

    tuney443 Senior Member

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    My first backhoe--an old Allis Chalmers I600.What a POS!!!!Once I got the hang of that,anything else was water off a duck's back.Yeah to the great skill of dragline operators--I once had one loading my dump truck without ever touching the truck,and perfectly even loads.
     
  19. lgammon

    lgammon Senior Member

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    case backhoe, with the loaders and skid and track hoes they all seemed natural but a rubber tired backhoe can be the hardest thing to run well. i started on a 4 lever case with foot swings, took a while but i got fair on it now we went to a cat with excavator controles and it is nothing like an excavator, you still have to lean to the side to see around the boom so the controls are not centered with you, just had it a few month i am sure by the time this one is woren out i will be alot better just in time for some new controls
     
  20. RollOver Pete

    RollOver Pete Senior Member

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    I'm still learning...:eek:
    One machine I never could figure out,
    in fact...if you want to see something funny, watch me on any old Case hoe.
    Warning: stand far enough back as to not become in contact with any parts of the machine! :D
    No, I'm not an epileptic.
    I'm not having seizures, withdrawals or allergic reactions to some unknown prescription drug.
    I suck big time on Case hoes. :dizzy

    The way I see it, if we'd been meant to operate hydraulic controls with out feet, we'd be writing with our feet! :professor
    :cool: