A paver's assistants
Up to six Bobcat M-Series skid-steer loaders can be found on Norris Asphalt Company's paving projects. Pictured are a couple of projects the company worked on during the 2010 construction season.
There are some pieces of equipment that Phil See might consider parting with; however, the six S650 skid-steer loaders his company purchased in the spring of 2010 are among those that are not up for debate. As general superintendent for Norris Asphalt Paving Company, based in Ottumwa, Iowa, See manages all operational facets of the paving division, including equipment selection and purchases. When his then-current collection of skid-steer loaders started showing signs of irreversible wear, See began looking around for replacements.
"I was looking for something that was a little tougher than the brand of loaders we had at the time," See says. "I was looking around at other options and since I have never heard anybody say anything bad about Bobcat, I contacted Capital City Equipment, the Bobcat dealer in Des Moines. I can tell you that after using them for a full year now, there is no way I would consider trading. There are just so many things they're useful for in our operation."
In addition to helping alleviate much of the manual labor involved with dozens of general cleanup chores — either on paving jobsites or around the asphalt plant — See is especially happy about the way the S650 performs with the planer attachment.
Norris Asphalt's skid-steer lineup.
"The Bobcat machines operate the planer attachment so much better than the equipment we were using before," See says. "It is used a lot for trimming around edges of freshly poured asphalt, like around bridges, driveways and intersections, and it keeps a straight line better. Plus, the crews really appreciate the maneuverability that allows them to complete so much of the cleanup that is all part of the paving process. And just help in moving things around and picking things up in general, the heavy stuff. It is so much easier on our guys."
In addition to pavement milling and cleanup, See and his guys also appreciate the Bobcat® skid-steer loaders' ability to help out with prep work and grading. As See explains, much of what paving crews use skid-steers for is after the paving is done. "The Bobcat machines are great for shoulder work on the road after the pavement has been laid," See says. "And any driveways we come to, we're dumping a half to a full truck load of rock on the shoulders and we use the S650s to grade the rock back into the drive and into the intersections. They really get a workout there."
Higher lift, greater stability, better balance
According to See, each new truck he's purchased over the past couple of years seems to have gotten taller — a factor he needed to consider when selecting loaders.
On a jobsite with Norris Asphalt.
"Trucks have gotten so big over the years and that's a concern," See says. "The Bobcat skid-steers have plenty of lift to accommodate the increase in truck height. That was a big concern. The balance is much better also. When you get a bucket full of anything and it lifts up to full height, you're asking a lot of the machines. The Bobcat loaders are better than anything else we had used before."
Step inside the operator comfort zone
See is also sold on the many comfort features that Bobcat has built into the seat, cab and operator controls of the new S650, including the increase in cab space, the largest cab door in the industry, suspension seat and overall visibility.
"They are pretty comfortable, I'll give them that," See says. "Somebody at Bobcat put a lot of thought into building the seat and controls around the operator. And the fact that the whole seat apparatus and the cage all lifts up and out of the way for servicing is so much handier. It makes it much easier for our guys."
Tip for successful planing
Inspect your planer bits for sharpness and rotation. Be sure the bits being used are all sharp and/or new, and free to rotate. Bits that don't rotate will dull very quickly. A visual inspection will tell you whether bits are rotating by the shape of the nose and markings on the bit body. If a bit develops a flat spot, remove it and clean any foreign material from the bit holder. Then reinstall the bit and check rotation. A bit removal tool is supplied with each planer to assist in this procedure.