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Digger puts the Cat E series to work

Sun 25 Aug 2013

Digger puts the Cat E series to work

I first got my hands on a Caterpillar E Series excavator in October 2011, during an international press event at Caterpillars proving ground in Malaga, Spain, where I was given a quick ten minute spin in a 30 tonne class 329E model. Obviously itís hard to evaluate a machine in such a short time, so since then I have been trying to gain access to another model for a report on the blog. Last year an industry colleague tried to arrange a demonstrator machine for me to try out, but sadly that didnít come to fruition. This past week however, I have been assigned one which is on hire to the MJL Group, on the site I am currently working on in East Devon. I have only been on the machine for a couple of days so far, so itís really early days, but the big Cat has impressed me already. As has become customary since the launch of these new models, much of the chat on site was about the machines large rear end, and with most of the lads on site having not seen one so far, there were a few shocked faces to be seen. †Comments overheard included, ďSheís a bit of a beastĒ and ďThatís one ugly digger!Ē but of course, as with many things in life, one has to look a bit deeper into things. Yes itís not the most attractive looking machine, but at the end of the day, itís designed to dig not look pretty! And oh boy can it dig! I have been put to work on the machine, digging out for the main road into the site. In the fine sandy soil, we prefer to trim up the last part of the excavation with the grading bucket, to give it a nice smooth finish ahead of the stone coming in. Unfortunately the machine has been supplied with an old grading bucket, which is really blunt at the cutting edge, and as such in some of the harder spots it struggled to trim off as one would have expected. This has nothing to do with the machine, but just highlights the importance of having quality buckets and tools to work with. This situation slowed down the process initially, but we have moved on into softer soil now, so itís improved the speed of the dig. In the cab one has to say that visibility to the rear is difficult, but as an operator one has to adjust your driving to suit. Usage of the rear view camera is essential, as the usual glance over the shoulder is of no use in the big Cat. Mirror positioning is vital too, and on this machine, the absence of a rear view mirror on the offside front handrail is a concern to me, especially when I have ground crew around me coming back from unloading dumpers. I will be looking at repositioning one of the mirrors on Tuesday morning. The cab interior is pleasant enough, with most controls conveniently placed. The only thing I do find awkward, is the position of the air conditioning/heater controls, which are a long way back in the cab for a short operator like me! I have been under pressure to get the dig going, so I have not had any time to play around with any work mode settings. So far I have been operating the machine in its full power HP+ mode, and I have to say the machine certainly has some grunt! The sound from the Cat C6.6 ACERT engine is awesome, as the 114kw (153hp) lump purrs away almost effortlessly. Talking of the engine, when one takes a look under the extensive bonnet, the motor looks a little lost inside, but in saying that, the Cat designers behind this range have allocated this space for more engine technology additions, that will inevitably be added to the next F Series excavator range, which will meet Stage 4 emissions regulations. Operation wise the machine performs superbly, the controls are very positive, with plenty of feedback to the operator. The machine is well balanced and there is no rocking about as the machines long undercarriage makes for a stable working platform. The hydraulics are smooth and very precise, with no dip when grading and compared to what I was operating, this machine is clearly in a different league. A number of the lads on site took the chance to try out the big Cat, with site foreman and former machine operator, Steve Watts saying, ďIt just feels rightĒ. The machine is a class act, and if you can get over the looks and the visibility adjustment, itís a real pleasure to operate, I am looking forward to spending more time in this machine next week, and I havenít said that for a long time now!  

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