The size of the undercarriage and layout of its rollers can also be an indicator of potential overall life, he adds. Takeuchi CTLs feature a welded track frame incorporating a unitary design with full-width structural crossmembers to add strength and rigidity. Maintenance-free rollers include metal face seals, large bearings and oversized components.
How undercarriage components wear is another consideration. “The components of the undercarriage should wear evenly,” says Wright. “If some components wear more quickly than others, it can affect productivity.”
The Terex Posi-Track undercarriage technology and multi-level suspension offers 48 contact points on the ground for greater traction and high flotation in all ground conditions. Wright asserts that the greater number of bogie wheels provides more even weight distribution, lowering impact when traveling over rocky or rough terrain. Less impact helps to increase track life and overall undercarriage life.
Go With the Flow
By their nature, CTLs are multi-purpose tool carriers. Equipped with a universal quick-coupler system, they allow for quick change-out of various types of attachments, providing versatility and ease of use.
To maximize versatility, pay particular attention to the flow requirements of the attachments you plan to mount on the machine. “Attachments that require continuous hydraulic flow, such as augers and brooms, do not work as efficiently if the CTL’s hydraulic specifications do not meet the attachment’s needs,” says Wright. “This can be very frustrating to owners and operators who are trying to increase the usage of the equipment.”
“If you are utilizing attachments more frequently than a bucket to dig with, you may want to consider high-flow options,” Fitzgerald advises. “The high-flow hydraulic option gives more power to the attachment.”
When selecting a CTL, take into account both the hydraulic horsepower and engine horsepower ratings. Hydraulic horsepower is most important when operating work tools such as trenchers, cold planers, mulching heads and other high-flow attachments that require a high percentage of the machine’s total available power. Engine power is most important when the machine is multi-tasking – for example, while simultaneously moving under load and powering the attachment.
Also consider the design and capacity of the cooling system. Larger coolers and high-capacity hydraulic tanks will more effectively dissipate heat from the oil, resulting in longer life for the lubricating oil, as well as the machine and attachment components.
Ease of maintenance
The ease of maintaining a CTL should be factored into the purchase decision. How easy is it to check the daily maintenance points? If the points aren’t easily accessible, says Wade, they aren’t likely to be checked.
“If you are performing routine, daily maintenance, you are less likely to have issues with the machine,” he notes. “If you let things go because it’s not easy to access the maintenance points, your costs will skyrocket.”
“Actions such as greasing and checking fluid levels and servicing the machine regularly may be the most important things you can do for your CTL,” adds Steger.
Cleaning the machine — especially the belly pans, undercarriage and coolers — goes a long way toward keeping the machine in tip-top condition. “It also gives you the opportunity to inspect every area of the CTL to see if there are any problems,” says Steger.
Cab designs and control systems
“Attributes like cab design and control systems are important during the buying decision of a CTL because they contribute to higher productivity and lower cost of ownership,” says Wright.
A comfortable operator is a productive operator. Pressurized, roomy cabs, all-around visibility and fingertip controls to operate the CTL and attachments are all desirable attributes. “It gets more difficult to find good operators today, and even more difficult to keep them,” says Fitzgerald. “Features as simple as cup holders, power outlets and storage compartments are important and can increase operator productivity.”
Control preferences vary by operator experience and even by region, Wade notes. To accommodate operator preference, many manufacturers offer mechanical foot-operated controls, and electrohydraulic controls that are switchable between ISO and H-patterns.