A Happy Couple

Are your compact track loaders compatible with your attachments?

Some attachments that work well on rubber-tired skid steers may not hold up on a CTL. For example, buckets and blades need to be heavy-duty to work on a CTL.
Some attachments that work well on rubber-tired skid steers may not hold up on a CTL. For example, buckets and blades need to be heavy-duty to work on a CTL.

Compact track loaders and attachments are the perfect match - provided you choose the right attachments.

CTLs are designed to do everything skid steers can do, but are able to do it on delicate terrain. In most cases, they can use the same attachments that skid steers do, but there are some that are uniquely suited to CTLs and some that are not.

"Operators using grading attachments will see the biggest bump in productivity with compact track loaders," says Bob Meyer, loader product specialist, Bobcat. "Attachments such as dozer blades, graders, box blades, landplanes, soil conditioners and landscape rakes are great choices for compact loader users."

He adds, "One attachment that really excels with a compact track loader is the six-way dozer blade. Track loaders add pushing forces that allow the dozer blade to power through complex grades. The track loader is less apt to spin out as it pushes through the material as it grades, and it can handle the heavy dozer blade with ease."

That being said, there are some attachments that are simply not suited for use on CTLs. "Typical standard-duty attachments that are fine on rubber-tired machines won't do well on a CTL," says Wendell Moss, vice president of OEM national accounts for Paladin. "Buckets and blades, particularly, need to be heavy-duty on CTLs."

Moss explains that unless attachments are designed for use on CTLs, they won't hold up. The added tractive effort and increased hydraulic force could damage or destroy a standard-duty attachment.

"Heavy-duty buckets and blades for CTLs weigh 20 percent more than standard-duty versions," Moss says. "They use more high-tensile steel that can tolerate the greater forces."

Also, Moss recommends using only attachments from suppliers with strong engineering and manufacturing quality. "Aftermarket attachments - especially those made by small, regional manufacturers - don't have tight tolerances on the actual quick-attach assembly. If the attachment isn't on tight, it can rip right off."

Ron Peters, product manager with CEAttachments, notes that about half of CTLs on the market come with hydraulic couplers that are mounted slightly higher on the loader arms from the ground level than a skid steer's hydraulic couplers. In cases like this, you will need slightly longer hydraulic hoses on your attachments - about 18 inches in length - especially with grapples and 4-in-1 buckets."

Another consideration when renting your CTLs with attachments is the application. According to Doug Laufenberg at John Deere, CTLs are not ideally suited for use on concrete and asphalt, so attachments such as brooms, breakers/hammers and cold planers should be rented out with caution. "Keep in mind, if the customer has a compact track loader, he will use it in these applications... that will wear the tracks faster," he says.

A package deal

All things considered, it certainly pays for rental businesses to offer a variety of attachments with their CTL rentals.

"Rental companies can get a better combined return on investment by pairing a CTL with appropriate attachments,"says Moss. "As a general rule, CTLs cost between $10,000 and $12,000 more than skid steers, and attachments can provide added utilization, plus a better total return on investment. You can get higher rental rates for combining attachments with CTLs, so the attachments pay for themselves very quickly."

To promote the pair, Peters suggests making them visible to customers. "If you have CTLs with different attachments, display them that way in your yard," he advises. "You can also show videos in your store and/or direct customers to manufacturer websites... Another idea would be to pick a different attachment to promote each week."

Meyer at Bobcat suggests making customers aware of the advantages that CTLs can offer when promoting the machines with attachments. "If a contractor comes in looking for an auger attachment, a rental business has a choice of tool carriers to rent. A few questions later, however, and it may be revealed that the contractor will be driving across established lawns, which a compact track loader, with its low ground pressure, is best suited for. Promote the fact that the compact track loader will cause less damage, which means less rework and lower costs, and the contractor can be successfully informed of the best package for his needs."

There's something even more important than return on investment when pairing the right attachments with your compact track loaders, says Moss. "It's not a price issue or a machine availability issue, it's a reputation thing. It's about building a relationship and reputation with the customer."