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Spring 2006

Hard-Working Bobcat System Fits Right In At Limestone Quarry

Joe, James and Jason Ballenger

Joe, James and Jason Ballenger

The many work-saving options offered by Bobcat® equipment are paying off for Ballenger Stone, a limestone quarry and supply business located near Laurel, Ind.

The family-owned company uses a multi-purpose Bobcat System-an 863 skid-steer loader, an A300 all-wheel steer loader and a 331 compact excavator-along with several large front-end loaders and excavators to help break, sort, lift and load limestone. The limestone is processed into a variety of materials, including stones for landscaping, walls and fireplaces and gravel for driveways and roads.

The work calls for durable machines that can stand up to some tough working conditions. "We work our machines hard, but we take good care of them," says James Ballenger.

James, his brother, Jason, and father, Joe, started the quarry operation five years ago. It's the outgrowth of their existing excavation business, which Joe started in 1965.

With more than 3,200 hours on the Bobcat 863, they're still using the first loader they purchased for the quarry. It was put to work loading smaller rocks into the bucket of a large front-end loader-a job done previously by hand-which then placed the rocks on a roller conveyor that feeds a rock breaker.

"The 863 eliminated two laborers," James says. "The labor savings almost paid for the machine in the first year." Today, the machine is used for sorting rock, loading it onto roller conveyors and cleaning up rock debris.

To reduce the heavy wear on tires when turning wheeled machines on the quarry's abrasive limestone surfaces, the Ballengers added the A300. This versatile machine converts between all-wheel steering for smooth, tire-friendly turns and skid-steer mode for quick, space-saving maneuvering at the flip of a switch.

James reports that tire life of the A300 is more than double that of a skid-steer loader in this type of work. While all-wheel steering is the normal mode for the A300, skid-steering comes in handy in tight areas for placing rocks, he adds.

The 3,000-lb. rated operated capacity of the A300 makes easy work of carrying stones, loading them onto roller conveyors for the rock breaker and rock crusher and loading pallets of stone onto trailers.

The A300 is often equipped with a Bobcat industrial grapple. "Some guys use buckets or pallet forks for picking through rocks to get a specific size," James says. "But we can do it faster and handle a little bigger rock with our grapple. It costs more than a regular bucket, but the time it saves paid for itself in just a few months."

331 excavator

A 331 excavator sorts rocks at Ballenger Stone.

Like the A300 loader, the 331 is used with a Bobcat hydraulic breaker for splitting large rocks into smaller sizes suitable for landscaping and other uses. A hydraulic clamp adds to the excavator's value in the quarry, where the machine is also used to sort and place rocks. As James points out, the 331 is small enough to work quickly in tight places. Its long reach minimizes repositioning when sorting rocks with the bucket and hydraulic clamp and allows operators to move larger rocks around on the apron that feeds the jaw crusher.

With this varied team of rugged, hard-working Bobcat machines, Ballenger Stone is well-equipped to save time and labor in converting raw limestone into marketable products.