Cat F Series Backhoe Loaders

There’s no doubt about it. Emissions standards are becoming stricter all across the globe. And like every manufacturer of 75- to 174-hp diesel equipment, Caterpillar needed to repower high-volume machines such as backhoe loaders in order to comply with EPA emissions standards. Not content to simply comply with these standards -- and needing to add value to machines to balance the inevitable emissions-system price increase in buyers' return-on-investment calculations -- Cat refined the hydraulic system, added some electronic controls to improve performance and efficiency, redesigned its loader linkage and made maintenance easier on its F Series Backhoe Loaders. The Cat F Series of Backhoe Loaders includes models 416F, 420F, 430F and most recently, 450F. 

The Cat C4.4 engine applies what Peoria calls a passive emissions system. Passive means operation of the DPF, with continuous regeneration to burn soot accumulated in the filter, is pretty much invisible to the operator. A back-pressure valve in the turbocharger ensures that exhaust temperatures are adequate for regeneration, holding it high enough even in heavy-idling applications to cook soot out of the DPF, but low enough to protect the system. Most Cat machines recently introduced deploy the same technology.

A larger torque converter in the 420F aims to improve loading and roading performance. Both the 420F and 430F have new electronic controls on their hydraulic pumps for improved power management and faster swash-plate response to changes in system demand. The results are better response to control input, faster cycle times and improved fuel efficiency. 

Loader performance is boosted by new lift arms for both single-tilt and IT (Integrated Tool Carrier) models. Maximum hinge-pin height is 5% higher, maximum dump height is 7% higher, bucket breakout force is increased as much as 9%, and lift capacity at maximum height increased as much as 13%. Loader changes also improved material retention for IT models.

The nose of the hood is hinged at the top, allowing the grille and air-conditioning condenser to flip up for access to the radiator, hydraulic cooler, transmisson cooler, air-to-air aftercooler (the first on a Cat 420 backhoe) and fuel cooler.

New one-piece counterweights contribute to improved machine balance, and a new double-clevis swing casting, which brackets both the upper and lower flanges of the swing hinge, adds durability. The conical lower pin has been replaced by a cylindrical one that installs more simply.

The operator's station remains much the same as that on the E-Series backhoes, but Cat added electronic throttle control and now has auto-idle on a backhoe loader. Stop using the controls for a preset time (typically 5 to 10 seconds) and the system automatically drops engine speed to low idle to save fuel and allow clearer communication with workers on the ground.

To read the full story, click here to download the Fall 2013 issue of Sustainable Construction.