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Spring 2014

Making a switch

Operator comfort, performance and productivity rate high with T870 compact track loader owners

Changing equipment brands is never an easy or quick decision. So, when two entrepreneurs decided it was time for a loader change, they both did their research and selected a Bobcat® compact track loader, specifically the T870. It was one of the best decisions they’ve made.

While the type of work has changed some, Mitchell Johnson’s approach to site prep and demolition has evolved significantly in the past decade.

Mitchell Johnson, Johnson Construction Co.

Mitchell Johnson, Johnson Construction Co.

“The market has moved away from rubber-tire backhoes,” says the third-generation owner of Johnson Construction Co. “To be competitive you have to be quicker, which means operating smaller, more agile equipment. The economics of the business dictate competitive pricing at a time when input costs are increasing. That’s the new game, at least in our area.”

Johnson’s perspective comes from 35 years in the construction industry. His grandfather started the business in 1954, his father came on board in 1961, and he joined the company in 1978. For years, Johnson relied on bulldozers and tractor loader backhoes for site grading and final cleanup after demolition projects. About a dozen years ago he had a hunch the industry was trending toward smaller, more versatile equipment, mainly skid-steer and compact track loaders.

“In 2001–2002, we were in the forefront around here of changing to compact loaders to do the work previously done by larger machines,” Johnson says. “Looking back, it was definitely the right direction to go.”

Quicker, more agile

Five years ago, after trying two other loader brands, Johnson switched to a Bobcat compact track loader. Within days he noticed a significant difference.

“The Bobcat compact track loader was quicker, more agile — traits that fit right in with our new strategy of how to succeed,” he says. “The quiet cab delivered superb operator comfort. Compared to the machine it replaced, the Bobcat cab was pure luxury.”

Last year, Johnson traded for a T870, the largest Bobcat compact track loader with all the M-Series benefits. After Johnson demoed the machine with Williams Equipment in Jackson, Tenn., it didn’t take long to appreciate the valuable upgrades and the demo machine was never returned. In addition to the comfort cab features, Johnson appreciates the loader’s excellent visibility for grading with the soil conditioner and bucket, and cleaning with the sweeper attachment.

“The increased horsepower, lift height (12 feet) and reach have been a big help in maintaining our business in a competitive environment,” Johnson says. “The T870 has really improved our quality of work. We don’t tear up sensitive surfaces or leave marks on asphalt; we leave behind a real smooth finish.”

Concrete buster

Richard “Murf” Schaper, Schaper

Richard “Murf” Schaper, Schaper Petroleum

Tearing down gas stations and removing buried fuel tanks may not sound like a glamorous job, but for Richard “Murf” Schaper, Schaper Petroleum, it’s been a profitable endeavor and a well-suited application for Bobcat compact equipment. At his side is a dependable Bobcat T870 compact track loader for helping with demolition, excavating and grading requirements.

Schaper, based in Portage, Wis., often only has two or three days to demolish a station and remove the tanks. He relies on the T870 and a Bobcat E60 compact excavator to get the job done. The two machines work in tandem, breaking up concrete, excavating near the underground tanks and loading demolition debris and dirt into trucks.

Prior to owning the T870, Schaper had a Bobcat T300 after switching from another brand of loaders. His most recent upgrade to the vertical-lift-path T870 gives him the extra lift height and reach to load trucks more efficiently.

“I can easily dump material in the quad-axle trucks and back out,” he says. “The extra 16 inches of lift height means we don’t need to bring a bigger machine to the jobsite.”

Low-effort joystick controls

Bobcat Selectable Joystick Controls give Schaper an advantage when he’s demolishing concrete with a hydraulic breaker attachment. A feature called speed management allows Schaper to precisely match the speed of the loader to the operation of the attachment without constantly adjusting the joystick, thereby reducing operator fatigue (see sidebar below for more details).

“Once I was working inside an office building, busting concrete to remove a fuel tank from underneath the floor, and I pressed the snail button on my joystick control to activate speed management,” he explains. “Another time I was using a trencher attachment to install conduit for an electrician. I set the speed at 12 percent, and when I was done, the trench was perfect and there was minimal ground disturbance.”

High rpm, low speed

For tasks that require low operating speeds with high engine rpm, the exclusive speed management feature is available for Bobcat® loaders equipped with Selectable Joystick Controls. The operator has a full range of joystick motion at a slower speed, for precise control of the machine and attachment. The feature is ideal for attachments such as a planer, trencher or wheel saw, for maximum driveline torque and full hydraulic power.