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Advice for New Dozer Purchase

Discussion in 'Dozers' started by SpartanDiesel, Sep 14, 2011.

  1. SpartanDiesel

    SpartanDiesel Member

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    Location:
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    Have been considering purchasing a dozer for quite some time now, and my tax situation for 2011 seems to be dictating that I do so before the end of the year- but I'm looking for some advice on choosing a machine.

    I do know that I want a Cat machine, enclosed cab, Systemone undercarriage, and that I want to purchase new. My questions lie with sizing and some of the optional equipment available.

    The machines that I've considered thus far have been the D4K and D5K. I had initially looked at the D3K, but given the D3 and D4 are pretty much identical in size and the D4 has more power, I can't find a reason to consider the D3.

    My work for this machine will include house flats, driveway/light road cutting and some forestry/clearing. Most jobs will be small to medium size, nothing terribly large, but on the same note, I won't be working in any highly confined spaces where size should play a limiting factor (will use our CTL with 6-way blade in the event we do).

    Hoping to get some user input on whether the D5 will be worth the extra $$$ over the D4, for sake of having the extra power and getting the work done more quickly. I haven't had an opportunity yet to run either machine for comparison.

    Another debate is concerning whether to purchase the machine with Cat's GPS system, to install an aftermarket Trimble/Topcon or to not bother with it. I really do have my preference toward having SOME kind of GPS controls (I love gadgets and electronics) but it seems that there is a wide variation in different systems and the expense. I've priced fully-automated blade control systems upwards of $50K (including the Cat-installed one), which I would LOVE to have but am really wondering if it will be worth the money in the long run.

    My last questions lie with whether to go with the XL or LGP tracks. I will be working on some reasonably steep slopes at some points in time, which leans me toward the LGP, but don't know if the XL would be nicer for the flatwork.

    I only have a couple hundred hours under my belt running a dozer (have spent more of my time behind excavator sticks) and as such I don't know a whole hell of a lot about it, as you can likely tell from my post. So any relevant advice is certainly appreciated.
     
  2. mitch504

    mitch504 Senior Member

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    Well, first, let me offer you my sympathy at having actually made money this year. :D

    On the track question, if you are not often working in such swampy ground as to need the LGP, your undercarriage costs will be much less w/ the narrower tracks. When you are turning hard, the narrower tracks tear up the ground less, and put less stress on the machine. I was always taught that you should spec the narrowest tracks that will hold you up.
     
  3. ttazzman

    ttazzman Well-Known Member

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    Location:
    missouri
    i cant speak to the GPS but if it were me i would work with a dealer to demo machines to find what fits the jobs best...
     
  4. Dickjr.

    Dickjr. Senior Member

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    If I had your "problem" which one day I might , I would go for the D5K . More weight and horse power plus it could be moved by a dually ( which I would not do). You should also consider the Komatsu D39. They redisigned them with a rear mounted radiator putting the operator near the center for a better ride. As far as the grade systems , I think the cat system is made by trimble , they put CAT on it and mark it up 30%. Good luck and post some pics of the new iron.
     
  5. Nige

    Nige Senior Member

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    Regarding D4 vs D5. How much of a price difference has your dealer quoted you ..? Definitely ask for the chance to run both to see what you feel are the differences between them. Is your dealer offering any "deals" on one model or the other, maybe a bundled extras package or something similar ..?

    Based on what I have seen to date I wouldn't touch System 1 undercarriage with an (extremely) long pole ........ it's neither developed enough or reliable enough IMO.

    Regarding LGP versus non-LGP track shoes the question is what percentage of the time do you expect to be working on swampy ground ..? THe ONLY reason to go LGP in my opinion is if you cannot get a low enough ground pressure using standard shoes (18" wide grousers on D4K, 18" or 20" on D5K) to prevent the tractor sinking under its own weight. I can't see why you would need LGP undercarriage to do slope work unless you wanted to work across the slope in which case you'd maybe need it for additional stability. Both tractors in basic spec weigh the same (16,500lbs) so if you're worried about ground pressure buy a D5K and put it on 20"-wide shoes. You save the $7000-ish extra cost of installing System One and put it towards the higher base price of the D5K.

    Regarding GPS & blade control systems. What percentage of the work you're doing right now requires (or would benefit from) such a system..? In the future, what percentage ..? If it were installed would it make jobs faster/easier, enabling you to either quote lower or increase your profit margin..? What's the payback time under those circumstances ..?

    Other options to think of: -

    1. Working at night or dark mornings/evenings ..? - Extra lights
    2. Rear machine guard & belly guards if you're going to be working in any sort of material that might have big hidden lumps in it .......
    3. Even if you don't go for Accugrade/GPS maybe install the "Accugrade Ready" option just in case you want it later.
    4. If you suffer from piles an air-suspended seat is always a good choice.
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2011
  6. firetruck dvr.

    firetruck dvr. Active Member

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    Occupation:
    Full time firefighter engineer, and part time heav
    Location:
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    The govt. agency I work for just got a new D5K LGP this summer. I am the primary operator for it. Love the machine, can't say enough good about it! It has cab, sweeps, screens, winch, Accugrade ready, system one undercarrage, and gps location system. The location system requires special keys to start the machine, we did this on purpose to keep anyone with a regular cat key from using it. We did not spec it accugrade ready but it came in with that feature. Cat rents the stuff if we ever need it. We demoed both 4k and 5k and deceded to go with the 5 it has a lot more power and u can most certinally tell it! I work in alot of swamps so LGP was the only choice for us. The system one UC is really nice too. It is supposed to last considerbly longer than SALT. If you are doing clearing get sweeps and screens as well as the heavy duty radiator guard. And as NIGE stated get the air seat!! One more thing if you can aford it get the winch it really comes in handy, not so much if you get stuck but to recover others that do, also for the added weight on the rear.
     
  7. Nige

    Nige Senior Member

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    I like the idea of having the machine Accugrade ready and then rent the equipment if you need it.
    The Location System (Cat Product Link) is a good way of making sure no-one (even with a Cat key) can get in and run the machine. There is a new version of Product Link (PL321) that transmits all sorts of data right to your laptop. We're testing it right now and it is mega. See here for information http://www.cat.com/itpaystoknow/home

    As far as I'm concerned the jury's still out on System One undercarriage, both in terms of reliability and cost/hour compared to SALT. Last longer than SALT..? It should do, it's $7,000 a set more expensive FFS ......!!
     
  8. dirtmonkey

    dirtmonkey Senior Member

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    Occupation:
    dozer monkey , self employed
    Location:
    norman oklahoma
    You may want to double check the weight of the d5k. It weighs more than 16500, and no way would i want to pull or STOP it with a one ton truck. I myself am very pleased with the performance of my d5k, doing the same type of work. Cab , ripper , sweeps, and an agl mr360r receiver on the blade .
     
  9. vapor300

    vapor300 Senior Member

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    Id go with LGP, its the only way to go when finishing, LGP tears up the ground the LEAST and XL being the WORST, i dont know where some ppl get there info from, the machine with the less ground pressure is goin to be the one that tears up the ground the least when turning or tracking. Thats why 90% of the finish tractors the outfit i work for buys LGPs, are outfit owns about 100 D6s 90 of them are LGP or XW, the new D7E's that they purchased are LGP even are D8's that are setup with GPS to finish have the 28 inch pads.

    As for GPS i would get accugrade ready dozer and rent it when you need it, how much does a grade checker cost an hr? The GPS eliminates that. We have a few Accugrade dozers but we mostly use topcon 3Dmc2, and the topcon is hands down the better gps, but its not very user friendly and you have to know what your doing to use it, and to set it up, where the trimble is very user friendly and all you have to do is put your 2 antennas on and plug your screen in and go.
     
  10. CM1995

    CM1995 Administrator

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    IMO LGP is not "the only way to go when finishing". An XL tractor, like has been said previously, will be cheaper to operate than an LGP. For owner operators and smaller outfits, we need to get the all we can out of the dollars we have. :cool2

    I have a D5GXL with 4K hours that I bought new in '04. It has finished many acres of slopes, a few miles of sub-grade for streets and just general blade work. What I have found out is an LGP was not needed for the work that I do. The XL will grade a 2:1 slope, which is fine since most civil engineers don't want to design slopes any steeper due to liability reasons.

    Another thing to consider in the "XL vs LGP" debate is if you will be using the dozer to do clearing work or working in rock, an LGP is more prone to bending pads.

    Spartan Diesel, what will you be doing with this new dozer? That's the most important question to ask first.
     
  11. mitch504

    mitch504 Senior Member

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    Uh, Vapor300, I was getting my info from: Caterpillar, John Deere, and life experience.
     
  12. Nige

    Nige Senior Member

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    You will note I said the same basic machine weight, not operating weight. The amount of extras, type of blade, cab, sweeps, etc will affect the final operating weight of the machine. Believe it or not (and I have the figures from Cat) the base machine weight of both the D4K & the D5K ex-factory are within a couple of hundred pounds of one another. It's what you do to the machine afterwards that affects the operating weight. I was trying to make a point that a D5K on the optional wider pads that are not available on D4K could potentially have a lower ground pressure than a D4K, thus potentially removing the need to go LGP.

    LGP setup will just tear up and bend track shoes plus break track shoe bolts on anything harder than topsoil.
     
  13. vapor300

    vapor300 Senior Member

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    Well im here to tell you that the info you have is incorrect, take a XL and spin it all the way around, then take an LGP and spin it all the way around, the XL tears up the ground alot more.

    I dont know much about the K series but do they have an XW series, i know the D6T's have 4 different track options, XL 24 inch pads, XW 28 inch pads, LGP vpat 34 inch and LGP straight blade 36 inch blade
     
  14. Nige

    Nige Senior Member

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    You're 100% correct because the XL has a much higher ground presure than the LGP therefore it will tear the ground up more. Just as a question, why would you want to spin a machine all the way round ..? I would have thought that if you don't want to tear up the ground under the machine the best way would be to make smooth turns, but that's just me.

    The problem as I see it is that if you use an LGP-equipped machine on anything harder than topsoil it will bend or crack track pads and break pad bolts. LGP machines are fine for when you need low ground pressure such as working in swampy ground and slop - you need them to prevent the tractor sinking. It's a case of horses for courses and there will be times when LGP is a downright disadvantage. We were trying to determine what sort of ground the OP was going to be working on most of the time in order to advise him what track pad option would work best and more importantly keep his undercarriage costs down.
     
  15. SE-Ia Cowman

    SE-Ia Cowman Well-Known Member

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    I will weigh in on the GPS. We have a D7r with trimble full machine control and it is great. But unless you are doing something very simple like a level building pad or a simple slope it will take a lot of time at home reading and some time at your local cat dealer takeing the classes that they put on in the late winter months to learn the trimble GPS. I am somewhat computer savy and have been useing the rimble scs 900 for over a year and a half and still have a long way to go before I can say I am an expert. A lot of the big contractors have a full time engineere and a CAD person to make files and do the hard work then the opperators just have to opperate the machine control. I am not that lucky as I have to do my own survey work write the file myself make shure it is write then put it in the machine. It sounds like you will be doing the same type of work and it will require a large learning curve and a lot of patience.

    As for the systemone I wouldnt give a squirt of **** for it dry links at 2000 hours is not worth the extra cost.

    And I also like XW or LGP machines for finish work
     
  16. vapor300

    vapor300 Senior Member

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    Nige i was tryin to point out that the XL machine tears up more ground, not that i go out there and spin circles in a dozer.

    And no an LGP or XW machine will not crack or bend track pads nor will it break pad bolts in anything harder then topsoil, i have put alot of hrs on a XW and LGP tractors, and have ran them in just about everything but rock, and never had any problems.
     
  17. SpartanDiesel

    SpartanDiesel Member

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    Location:
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    delete- double post
     
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2011
  18. SpartanDiesel

    SpartanDiesel Member

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    I do want to thank everyone for their advice- it certainly ended up making some of the decisions easier for me.

    I ended up going with a D6K (non-high track) which was certainly bigger than what I originally was looking at, but given the cost differences it really seemed like a no-brainer. With 30% increase in power over the D5K with a $16,000 price difference between the two didn't leave a big choice there.

    It is a XL machine, with 22" pads. Standard XL is 20" and smaller of the two LGP is 24", so that seems like a good compromise. Per some of the advice here, I really just didn't need to the LGP, plus with the D6K size machine going LGP would have meant needing a wide load permit here in NC every time I moved it due to blade width- whereas the XL blade falls under the WL limits. I did end up with the SystemOne undercarriage- it is standard on the D6K, so not much choice there but we will see how it works out. Enclosed cab, sweeps with forestry guards and winch/ripper ready (didn't get either yet) and equipped with the base Accugrade package (basically just the display screen and machine antenna, still needs other parts to be operational).

    The machine was a 2011 demo at our local dealer here with 81 hours on it and as such were willing to work with me on price better than ordering a new one, and was one of the reasons I ended up with the 6k instead of a 4 or 5. The dealer is installing the guards and sweeps within the next two weeks, so it will get to come home soon. :D
     
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2011
  19. Nige

    Nige Senior Member

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    Hope you got what you wanted at the end of the day. Post some pictures when you get it home and before the paint gets worn off it .........
     
  20. SpartanDiesel

    SpartanDiesel Member

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    Nige, I do think I did- have the feeling I will be very happy with it. Only problem is that the machine is bigger than I can safely move myself at the moment, so the first of next year will result in a hunt for a larger truck and trailer :Banghead

    I'll grab some pictures of it as soon as it shows up at the dealer next week.