Responsiveness of controls is another feature to consider, according to Derrick Lowe, sales manager with Crown Construction Equipment. "When selecting a buggy, make sure it has responsive drive and dump controls that are simple for the operator to use," he says, noting that it's also vital that a buggy have "a balanced frame, industrial-grade hydraulic components and appropriate bucket dump height (at least six in. of clearance to avoid hitting forms when backing up)."
Metal vs. plastic
Plastic hoppers are more common than steel because the ability to form and mold plastic to difficult shapes allows an economical solution to creating hopper geometry that will benefit the operator. "Extended pour lips, angular dumping slope, curved and formed splash protection are molded features that facilitate material transport and placement," says Wenzel at Stone. "Additional aesthetic considerations can be achieved in plastic such as dent/rust prevention as well as curb appeal."
There is a place for metal hoppers, however, particularly in the demolition/cleanup application. "Poly tubs are easier to keep clean, but some applications like demolition debris cleanup, could damage poly," says Lowe at Crown.
Other hopper designs that allow for an easy transformation from a hopper to a flatbed increases utilization of the machine, Wenzel notes. "This feature allows the operator to quickly transition from the traditional material transport to a flatbed so that flat or stacked items can be transported," he says. "This feature requires no tools to complete the transformation."
Tires vs. tracks
Conventional rubber-tired buggies work best on dry, compacted surfaces free of ruts or potholes and large rocks or other debris, says Russell at Miller Spreader. Track buggies are designed to work in muddy, wet/slippery or rutted surfaces. The tracks increase the surface area in contact with the ground by approximately 400 percent, he says. This increase in surface area is analogous to walking through deep snow on snowshoes vs. boots. The increased surface area also allows a tracked buggy to climb steeper inclines than a rubber-tired buggy.
Russell notes that the steel tracks will mar concrete when the track buggy is operated on a concrete surface. A track buggy is also approximately 70 percent more expensive than a rubber-tired buggy.
You want a power buggy in your fleet that is well built to take all the abuse that a concrete contractor can dish out. It also needs to be easy to service and to operate. Russell at Miller Spreader says there are three areas to focus on when looking for a quality machine: construction, convenience and safety.
With regard to construction, some areas to examine include:
Main frame — Frames constructed of solid steel vs. tubular steel are stronger. They also provide a lower center of gravity which improves stability. Additionally, Russell notes, solid-steel frames provide more weight over the front drive wheels for better traction.
Hydraulic components — Make sure the hydraulic motors, pumps, valves and hoses are protected but accessible for servicing.
Console — Consoles made of steel are the strongest and most durable. The thicker the steel, the more durable and longer lasting the console will be. Some manufacturers use a plastic tank to connect the side panels of the console. The plastic gas tank cannot provide the strength or rigidity of steel. Buggies of this design are particularly susceptible to developing stress cracks in the console side panels.
Steering handle — A solid-steel steering handle bolted to the steering column with two bolts at 90 degrees is stronger than a steering handle made of tube and held to the column with a roll pin.
Simplicity of design — The fewer parts required to perform the function reduces the number of parts that could break or require servicing and adjustment. Look for a buggy with a simple design and you will end up with a buggy that will provide years of service with minimal maintenance cost.
Where convenience is concerned, the following are things to consider:
- Ease of access to the hydraulic components for servicing
- Number and location of tie-downs
- Operator's ease of use of the controls