The tilt buckets prove useful in tight excavations."They are for utility work and work in tight spaces," says Steven White, director of equipment.
“Mostly, it was excavating below utilities. Then it grew into grading and handling material, as well."
The tilt blades allow J.F. White to grade and slope along sidewalks and roadways where it would not make sense to bring in a dozer. They were also well suited for work the company performed on the Big Dig project."Because of the machine's lifting capacities and reaches, they were more versatile around utilities," says White.
In fact, the superintendents have adapted to the increased capabilities offered by the tilt buckets."They are so used to it that it has almost become a requirement for our company to purchase them," says White.
Simplified grades and slopes
Universal Land Construction Co. uses approximately 11 Helac PowerTilt attachments in the construction of retention ponds. The attachments range in size from a unit mounted to a John Deere 35 excavator to models suited for 330 Cat and 330 John Deere excavators.
These PowerTilts have proven durable over the last five years of use."It is extremely reliable," says Dave Coesens. They have also increased productivity."In the old days, most of the retention ponds were done with dozers or with excavators that were sitting on a level pond bottom or a level top. With a regular bucket, however, your machine is sitting how your bucket is. You would slope either straight up or straight down to you," explains Coesens.
The tilt buckets do not require the excavator to be sitting on a flat surface."With a tilt bucket, you can be sitting on a steep hillside, yet you can cut a bench across it," says Coesens."You can reach out and flatten your bucket and cut that bench or, vice versa, slope off the side at any angle. You don't have to be lined up with your slopes. You can reach off to the side and you don't have to reposition nearly as often."
Coesens is currently operating a John Deere 230 excavator with a PowerTilt head and a 7-ft.-wide bucket that is approximately 2-ft. deep for grading."I run a 2-ft.-wide digging bucket whenever I have to dig hard," he adds.
Coesens says it is important to make sure you correctly match the tilt bucket to the excavator."I think the biggest problem is somebody buys one that is too big and they mount it on a machine that does not weigh enough. It ends up bucket heavy in the front," he explains."You end up putting more counterbalance on it and still it sometimes is not enough."
But the return on Universal Land Construction's $10,000 investment comes quick in this application."On the right application, the payback could come within a job or two," says Coesens.
Arvy Construction is a Charlotte, NC-based contractor that works on highway, airport and city projects. The company is currently using two Rockland 42-in. tilt buckets mounted on Kubota 121 excavators. This combination has allowed Arvy Construction to reduce labor, reduce operating expense and increase safety on its city projects.
The company installs sidewalks for the city."We have to grade out for curb and sidewalk and then backfill all of that," says David Cummings, superintendent. Full-size wheeled excavators were previously used for this application, but they proved too big and expensive and they blocked traffic in the street."They are too tight for work on these little neighborhood improvements."
The Kubota 121 excavators with Rockland tilt buckets have proven a better tool for the job."You put one track in the grass strip between the sidewalk and the curb and walk right down doing the cleanup and putting in the good fill," says Cummings."The guys have got so good with this that we no longer have to rake. You are using it more as a blade than as a bucket."
The crew that replaces the grass to complete the project has been reduced to one laborer."We don't have any other equipment and one laborer," says Cummings. There is no raking cost because the Kubota is charged off to grading.