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953 Model Differences

Discussion in 'Track Loaders' started by Dodge jr, Sep 22, 2021.

  1. Dodge jr

    Dodge jr New Member

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    Hi all, I’m in the market for a Cat 953 and I need some info on the differences between models and years. I understand there were some changes with controls and drives, etc. and I’d like to know specifics. Pro and cons.

    I understand that there were long sticks, short sticks, and joystick for boom/bucket operations. Long sticks aren’t very efficient compare to the others because of reach? I believe joysticks are the simplest and most efficient but only came in newer machines? My budget is around $70k so newer isn’t affordable. How did the controls change throughout the years?

    Also, within my budget, what is the most reliable and efficient setup. I understand I’m getting a very used machine that will most likely need a hydraulic hose replaced frequently, undercarriage rebuilt, or rattles me out of the cab. I wouldn’t be surprised if it drank Freon and hydraulic fluid. I’ve owned old equipment, I understand the cost to own. But I want to make sure I get the right model that doesn’t have a list of notorious problems.

    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. heymccall

    heymccall Senior Member

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    Between me and Caterpillar, we've spent more than we paid for new, just in failures on our 953CLGP.
    Now my 943LGP and 963BLGP have been nearly trouble free.
    The 953C doesn't use the HPCU like my other two. There is a learning curve to setting a HPCU, but, I've never had to learn.

    The 953C uses electronics and other crap in place of the HPCU and, if, no, when something failed, it took the whole hydrostatic system out. I believe the last time in, the system was segregated left from right, and otherwise updated, but...
     
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  3. sawmilleng

    sawmilleng Well-Known Member

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    If I understand your sign-off on your note (18 y/o), you are a young guy getting going in a life with heavy iron. Good on you!!

    You may not be versed in the world of things that completely run on hydraulics with very little mechanical drives inside of them. The newer Cat trackloaders are a good example. They are fast, powerful and a joy to run but....as Heymccall writes, they are expensive to fix.

    So, besides looking for a used machine that has the details that you want to maximize your use of it, you need to spend some money to evaluate the guts of the hydraulic system before you buy. The reason for this is that each item: main pumps, hydraulic drive motors, controls, are pretty much one piece repairs--they either work or they don't, and it isn't really possible to get a few more hours out of a hydraulic item by buying a new $25 part to stick inside to get a few more hours out of it. The fix is either a complete rebuild or getting a new replacement. Both very costly, especially with the newer hydraulic pressures being around 5000 psi, which stresses the heck out of pumps and motors.

    So part of your evaluation of a machine should probably be getting a seasoned mechanic to take oil samples and get a look at the oil drain flows from the pump(s) and hydraulic motors. The drain flows tell you how worn out the item is. You can also get a hint of excessive internal hydraulic leakage if the machine is tending to run hot all the time when worked. (assuming clean radiators) The internal drain leakage generates heat in the oil, and more leakage equals more heat. There are also likely pressure test points that need to be looked at to ensure the points are within spec.

    A real basic check is to pay for a new hydraulic filter(s) for the target machine and cut apart the old one to check for shrapnel in the filter. That will tell you part of the story, but I think the oil analysis would probably show up a similar conclusion.

    Note that I am not even mentioning the other things to look at when buying used iron: undercarriage; loader pins and bushings; loader hydraulics; engine; wiring and controls--they all need investigating, too!

    Not trying to scare you off but just be knowledgeable when you are kicking tire---unh, tracks--you want to know when to run away screaming, but with your money still in YOUR pocket!!

    There is a fairly long thread on this forum where a young guy documented his chase for a Cat 973 loader and his checks of the machine before buying. You might be interested in finding it and reading through it. He is a pretty savvy guy and good and tight with his money. I believe he is in Saskatchewan, Canada somewhere--the land where you can watch your dog run away for 3 weeks!

    Best of luck,
    Jon.
     
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  4. CM1995

    CM1995 Super Moderator

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    Welcome to the Forums Dodge Jr!

    Bought a brand new 953C BBX series in 2004 which now has around 7K hours on it. Went through one full UC replacement, a wiring harness, water pump and engine pre-heater module in addition to GET wear items and bucket building. Oil changed every 250 hours, hydraulic filters every 500 hrs and 1,000 hr services by the book.

    Ours has the joystick bucket control which I totally prefer over a 2 stick system - long or short. UC is standard and not an LGP.

    Personally I think the A or B series 953's are probably the best loaders reliability wise. Our 953C has a lot of electronics on it that I know one day will fail. However all the 953's regardless of series all operate on the same principles hydraulically and maintenance is the key to reliability.

    Nasser Heavy Equipment is not far from you and usually has a nice selection of used loaders. Might want to visit their yard and kick some tracks.

    I'd buy a 2022 953K if we had the need for one but what we do doesn't justify the almost $300K purchase price. There are things a track loader can do that no other piece of iron can do as quick and efficiently. Said it once and I'll say it again - If I only had one machine to make a living with it would be a 953 track loader - Just so much you can do with them.

    Our 953C is retired to dump duty pushing dirt and concrete off. Your budget of $70K should be able to buy a decent used machine with some hours but in good shape. FWIW I wouldn't sell ours for that.
     
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  5. JD955SC

    JD955SC Senior Member

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    funnily enough we do have a couple customers whose only machines are 9x3 series loaders. Both of them are smart enough to maintain their machines in tip top shape, if we see something wrong while we are into it for something else we can repair it without an issue and they are happy we caught it before it became a problem.

    We also see way more of the older machines than newer. A’s, B’s and C’s are extremely popular it seems like everybody has at least one. I’ve seen some of the older ones, particularly A’s and B’s in horrible shape still clank along and put work in so they are very durable.
     
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  6. Welder Dave

    Welder Dave Senior Member

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    The 3208 engines in the early models are known not give as long of service life as some of the other Cat engines. That said, an engine might be less expensive to rebuild than if the hydrostatic transmission went South.
     
  7. CM1995

    CM1995 Super Moderator

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    To the best of my recollection the first run 953A models had a 3204 inline 4 cylinder engine not the V8 3208. 953B's came with a 3116 inline 6 and 953C's came with a variant of the 3116 the 3126. The 3126 wasn't that popular in the truck setting but we've had great service out of it in our 953C BBX series.
     
  8. JD955SC

    JD955SC Senior Member

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    Ive seen a couple of 3204 powered machines

    there are also 3304s too in some of them. I did a long block for one of those way back when I started.
     
  9. CM1995

    CM1995 Super Moderator

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    IIRC the 943's had the same 3204 4 cyl as well. Friend of mine has a 953A with the 4 cyl and I think it might be stronger than my 6 cyl 953C but don't tell him that.:p
     
  10. Welder Dave

    Welder Dave Senior Member

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    My bad, I meant to say 3204. That's what I have in my 931B but a non turbo. With the 953, D4H and 943 Cat was trying to push too much HP out of a smaller displacement engine and I suspect a lower cost engine.
     
  11. Cmark

    Cmark Senior Member

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    3304 is in the 963
     
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  12. Welder Dave

    Welder Dave Senior Member

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    3304 I think is just an all around better engine when compared to turbo 3204 engines. Why it didn't go in the 953, D4H, etc. is a little puzzling. If it was for money reasons, new machines are expensive regardless. I can't see anyone complaining about having a 3304 over a 3204. The 951C and 955L that the 953 replaced both used 3304's. In non turbo versions the 3204 seems to hold up fairly well. Have heard to never let them idle for long periods. My engine was rebuilt with 3 ring pistons and starts instantly. I try to look after it and doubt I will ever see the day when it needs any major work. It does seem to like water pumps but hopefully this last one goes a long time.
     
  13. Cmark

    Cmark Senior Member

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    Horses for courses, as they say.

    The 3304 is built as a "proper" industrial engine whereas the 3204 I would call more of a light automotive design. Calling something "better" depends on your criteria though. A side by side comparison would give the win to the 3304 on power, but it is probably more than twice as heavy.

    I agree that the 3304 will stand up to poor maintenance and abuse better than the 3204 but because an engine happens to have built in idiot proofing is a side issue IMO.
     
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  14. Welder Dave

    Welder Dave Senior Member

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    I think given a choice most customers would opt for 3304 over a 3204 even if it cost more on a new machine. That said I think about 99% would take a pre emissions or electronic engine over what's offered today if given the choice. I agree a 3304 is a heavier duty engine than a 3204.
     
  15. ilovetracks

    ilovetracks Well-Known Member

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    I'm fan of "a" models, just can't find ones in good shape anymore.
     
  16. Tyler d4c

    Tyler d4c Senior Member

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    You can do the whole house project just the ditches are 8 feet wide a old timer told me that.
     
  17. JD955SC

    JD955SC Senior Member

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    these loaders used to be a choice machine for housing contractors to prep sites.