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A Special Issue of ON YOUR OWN Magazine

Cat C-Series backhoe loaders get even better

® ®

--page 8

Ride Control is a big hit with Louisville contractor

--page 4

7AEDC0583

YOU'LL SEE EVERY BUMP IN THE ROAD, BUT YOU WON'T FEEL `EM.

The C-Series Backhoe.

Now you can conquer any road-- even when there isn't one. With our new advanced Ride Control option and standard air-suspension seat, the C-series backhoe gives you a smoother ride and better

®1999 Caterpillar

H a r d W o r k . E a s y C h a i r.

load retention. Its superior visibility lets you clearly see what's ahead. Contact your Caterpillar dealer and discover how to work hard and rest easy at the same time.

www.cat.com

IN THIS ISSUE

4

4 6 7

Getting more done

Hands-on profitability

7

Work tools help grow your business Racing BHL winner

Colorado contractor places top bid for specially painted 416 IT racing backhoe loader.

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10

8 10 12

1999 Enhancements

Cat C-Series backhoe loaders get even better.

12

Canadian On Site

Cat 426C takes on the frozen tundra.

14

BHL inspection

Sharpen your competitive edge with a daily walkaround inspection.

17

14 17

Simple formula for success 416C IT

Maximum machine utilization is critical to highway contractor's success.

20

20

23

Machine versatility

Not just your average Joe.

26

23

Staying power

Quality work keeps contractor in business for 31 years.

26

Backhoe loader operator efficiency tips

Backhoe Loader Focus Issue is a special issue of On Your Own magazine. It is published by Northbrook Publishing, a division of Randall Publishing Company, Inc., on behalf of Caterpillar and your Cat dealer. Every attempt has been made to assure featured equipment specifications are accurate. Because specifications are subject to change without notice, check with your Cat dealer for latest equipment information. Northbrook Publishing, a division of Randall Publishing Co., Inc., 21420 West Greenfield Ave., New Berlin, WI 53146. Phone (414) 650-9260. Printed in the U.S.A. ©1999 Caterpillar Winter 1999 Editor, David Wolff; Publisher, Tim O'Brien; Client Services Director, Vicki Dollar; Client Service Rep., Jenny Taglienti; Art Director, Pam Muth; Graphic Support, Brett Erdmann; Production Manager, Bob Quartucci.

ON YOUR OWN · 3

GETTING MORE DONE

Hands-on profitability

SMALL

CONTRACTOR FOLLOWS EVERY PATH TO EFFICIENCY

profit margin. Success at Filcon is based on estimating the job correctly and completing the work as efficiently as possible. "We try to be very aggressive and efficient in our approach to the jobs we do," he says. "It's important to stay on top of crews to make sure we're as productive as possible. That's another reason smaller work is better for us."

Run latest Cat 416C IT backhoe loader

A

"Everyone likes ride control. It's made a big difference."

-- Tim Filiatreau Filcon Construction LLC

t 33 years old, Tim Filiatreau would most certainly be considered a young man. But the managing member of Filcon Construction LLC, Louisville, Kentucky, brought more than 15 years of construction experience to the company he started a little more than two years ago. Filcon is a site preparation and utility contractor, concentrating on commercial projects and residential subdivision work that includes grading and installation of storm and sanitary sewer and water lines. "Our strength is the smaller job," Filiatreau says. "In my opinion, there's more profit in jobs less than $500,000. We have more control over quality and scheduling because we can manage the projects hands-on. And, because we use smaller machines, we don't have as much working capital tied up in larger, more expensive equipment as a larger contractor. Backhoe loaders and smaller dozers fit the type of work we do." In his last position, Filiatreau worked as a field superintendent for a large contractor. He saw that bigger companies shied away from the type of projects he goes after because they had to keep a sizable workforce and large fleet of machines busy, even if the project didn't offer a reasonable

Filcon owns several pieces of Caterpillar equipment, including D5C, D6R and D5M XL dozers; 225D LC excavator; 953C track loader and a 1997 416C backhoe loader. The contractor is leasing a Cat 416C IT backhoe loader and is considering the purchase of a 325 excavator. Filiatreau demo'd the 416C IT earlier this year at Caterpillar Building Construction Products headquarters in Clayton, North Carolina, and was impressed with the Power Shift transmission and new features like Ride Control. "Power Shift is very efficient," he says, "and it's a reliable, durable transmission. When an operator is carrying material for any distance, the ability to upshift with the flip of a switch is a real plus. The machines moves along faster, as opposed to the operator having to reach and shift gears. The result is that the machine is getting back and forth faster and more efficiently." Caterpillar's new Ride Control feature is a big hit. "Everyone likes it," Filiatreau continues, "and it's made a big difference for several reasons. I can see where it will reduce wear and tear on the front of the machine. I've never seen a backhoe with the front end loaded that wasn't bouncing and beating the machine while roading on an uneven surface. Without Ride Control, travel is rough, which is hard on the machine and operator. Time is money, and if our operators can work more quickly that's to our advantage."

4 · ON YOUR OWN

"We chose the IT option because it makes the machine much more versatile," Filiatreau says.

Work tool versatility

Work tool versatility is the main reason Filiatreau selected the 416C IT backhoe loader with an Integrated Toolcarrier linkage. A bigger bucket (1.25 yards compared to 1 yard for the older machine) is more productive for moving bedding material, stone and pipe. When it's time to carry pipe, the operator switches to the fork attachment, which is completed in seconds without leaving the cab. "Operators have told me the visibility is better with this new Cat backhoe," he says. "The parallel lift feature is important when we're unloading pipe from a tall truck; there's more reach. And, with an IT machine we can add more tools. In fact, we're looking at a broom attachment." Filcon finds the 416C IT to be the right size machine for the type of work it does. "We don't do a lot of heavy digging," Filiatreau says, "and when we do we use a Cat 325 excavator. The 416C IT is faster and more efficient for jobs like finish grading around buildings. For a business our size and the type of work we do, a machine this size is a necessity. We chose the IT option because it makes the machine so much more versatile. One day the 416C IT might be packing topsoil and finishing around a building, and the next it's packing rock, working with a pipe crew or loading topsoil

on a truck." If Filiatreau keeps a machine for a long period, he buys it. In fact, Filcon has been adding about three pieces of equipment a year. "I've always been a Caterpillar man," he says. "I have a lot of faith in their equipment and Caterpillar stands behind its product. That's worth a whole lot to me." Filcon is too young a company to have established a realistic equipment trade cycle, but Filiatreau won't let too much age get on his primary machines. "Downtime is too costly during the peak work season," he says. "I can't afford it. We're leasing the 325 excavator to replace the 225. I don't want to depend on an older piece of equipment as a primary machine. The new 325 will work day-in, day-out with no downtime." Filiatreau has a long history with Caterpillar and his local dealer. "I know I'll do better with them," he says. "I know I get better service from them than I could get with anyone else."

Contractor starts strong

Filiatreau got into the construction industry at age 18 as a laborer. For 11 years he worked for a site and utility contractor, the final period as general superintendent in charge of day-to-day field operations. Filcon was started in April of 1997. The company did $1.5 million in business its first eight months and $3 million

last year. Revenues for 1999 are projected at $4 million. "I saw different ways of doing things to become more profitable," Filiatreau says. "It's always been a goal that some day I would have my own business. We go after $300,000 to $400,000 jobs in the Louisville area and surrounding counties. I don't see us growing a lot more; we won't add much more than $1 or $2 million in revenue. I want a smaller company where I can stay involved with what's happening on a daily basis. Today, we have about three projects going on at once, and I usually see them every other day." What are the keys to success? According to Filiatreau, it's knowledgeable, experienced supervision and good, dependable equipment. "Estimating correctly is critical for any job to succeed," he says. "On the one hand, we've got to keep work for our people; but on the other side we can't starve the company by doing work that isn't profitable. I'm not out here just to throw a bunch of hours on equipment. I want to have something down the road. We're trying to build a future for everyone involved in this company." s

ON YOUR OWN · 5

WORK TOOLS

Let work tools help grow your business

V

ersatility. It's the name of the game in today's marketplace. The more tasks your backhoe loader can perform, the fewer single-purpose machines you need. With versatile, multi-task backhoe loaders from Caterpillar, you can be more efficient on each job, and you'll be able to put more on the bottom line. Caterpillar C-Series backhoe loaders are available with an Integrated Toolcarrier linkage and standard hydraulic quick coupler. This innovative configuration makes it fast and easy to take advantage of numerous Cat IT work tools. And, you can add a quick coupler to the backhoe end, too, for versatility on the front and rear of your machine.

Many work tool choices

The most common attachments used on the front end of a backhoe loader are general-purpose buckets, multi-purpose buckets, pallet forks and brooms. The most common applications for GP buckets are earthmoving and grading. MP buckets are used for earthmoving, grading and stump and debris removal. Pallet forks are used for unloading trucks and moving palletized material such as bricks, pipe, mortar mix and other construction materials. The most common attachments utilized on the rear end of a backhoe loader are buckets of various sizes, hammers, augers, and compactors. Bucket widths range from 12" to 60" and can be designed to handle a variety of materials. For example, heavy-duty buckets are a more rugged design than standard-duty buckets, extreme-service buckets are able to withstand highly abrasive

materials, and high-capacity buckets combine the design and construction of the heavy-duty bucket with a longer tip radius, resulting in a bucket with increased volume for more productivity in many materials. Backhoe buckets can also be fitted with thumbs for pinching and grabbing, and are available with ripping teeth along the bottom of the bucket for extra ripping action in frozen or compacted material. Swinger couplers or tilt-ditch buckets assist in applications such as ditch cleaning. Hammers are used in road construction and demolition as well as in breaking concrete to repair water mains, bridges and parking lots. Augers can be used to dig postholes or holes for planting shrubbery or trees. Compactors are used to help finish jobs by compacting material that has been backfilled into a trench. Cold planers are used to grind and remove asphalt or concrete. Grapples are common on hydraulic excavators and are now available on backhoe loaders.

Versatility spells success

Versatility has always been critical to the success of backhoe loaders. As Caterpillar and work tool manufacturers expand the versatility of these machines, Cat backhoe loaders will continue to be in high demand. The use of quick couplers on the front and rear of the backhoe loader will expedite the use of compatible work tools. Quick hydraulic disconnects will speed the interchange of hydro-mechanical tools. At Caterpillar, versatility is such a vital issue that we have a dedicated group, Work Tools and Services, to focus on this business for Building Construction Products. s

6 · ON YOUR OWN

NASCAR UPDATE

And the winner is . . .

Colorado contractor places top bid for specially painted 416C IT racing backhoe loader

G

ene Bonds was surprised -- and very pleased -- when he was told he placed the winning bid for Caterpillar's specially painted 416C IT racing backhoe loader. "I never imagined I'd win this machine," he says, "but now that it's part of our equipment fleet, I'm going to be pretty picky about which of my operators gets to run it." Bonds is owner of Bonds Construction Co., Durango, Colorado. The contractor, in business since 1983, does excavating, road building and commercial site preparation. And Bonds is no stranger to Caterpillar machines. His fleet includes 426, 416C and 416C IT backhoe loaders, 950E wheel loader, D3 and D5H dozers, 307 excavator with an articulated boom and a 140G motor grader. The company is renting two 315B excavators. "I bought my 426 backhoe loader in 1990," he says. "It's logged more than 10,000 hours with no problems. I purchased a 416C IT about a month ago, so I knew what I was getting with this special racing edition machine. Caterpillar equipment is very dependable, and the parts availability from my local Cat dealer is great. This new machine will fit right in, even though it's bound to stand out." The bid competition was in celebration of the production of Caterpillar's 100,000th backhoe loader. Caterpillar will split the proceeds of the auction of this 416C IT race backhoe between the Motor Racing Outreach program and Special Olympics. s

Gene Bonds, left, and his wife, Lori, who had an equal part in the bidding process.

ON YOUR OWN · 7

1 9 9 9 E N H A N C E MEN TS

Cat C-Series backhoe lo

C

C-Series upgrades enhance an already proven winner.

aterpillar® backhoe loaders are very versatile and popular machines because they combine many features of a wheel loader and an excavator. In fact, many contractors started their businesses with only a backhoe loader because of its versatility, maneuverability, transportability, low operating cost and overall value. percent over current C-Series machines. These new machines will provide industry-leading lift capacity while maintaining fast cycle times.

Improved boom design C-Series improvements continue

Since their introduction in 1996, the added versatility and comfort of C-Series backhoe loaders have been well received. The introduction of the Power Shift option a year ago further improved ease of operation and productivity. C-Series improvements continue with changes that provide you with better horsepower and hydraulic performance, a smoother ride and increased productivity. A stronger backhoe with greater lifting capacity is the result of many key changes. A larger bore boom cylinder gives the backhoe more lift capacity. The heavy-duty boom structure provides greater strength and durability. The new, open boom nose design provides easier access for inspections in high-hour, severe applications. The backhoe Quick Coupler has been improved for higher rotation and therefore better vertical wall digging capabilities. A much smoother ride is very noticeable with the new Ride Control option. Improved operator efficiency, better load retention and improved cycle times will be achieved with Ride Control. Combined with the new, standard air-suspension seat, operator comfort is significantly enhanced. The advanced controls of the Cat load-sensing hydraulic system will continue to offer superior performance while saving you money in fuel and component wear and tear. A new dual-setting torque limiter automatically optimizes the hydraulic system for backhoe or loader applications.

Better lifting backhoe

The new heavy-duty boom structure design matches the backhoe's larger lifting loads and more aggressive digging performance. This new design is open at the boom-to-stick pin bore and is supported by 30 mm (1.18 inch) thick solid steel boom side rails. In addition, the new boom nose allows easy inspection and access for second-life repair on highhour, severe-duty jobs. Splined boom pins with longitudinal grease slots trap grease between the pin and bushing providing more lubrication in highly-loaded applications.

Backhoe Quick Coupler

With the new larger diameter boom cylinder, actual lift numbers have increased up to 20

The improved backhoe Quick Coupler provides 12 degrees more rotation for better vertical wall digging and easier changeout of tools without changing bucket pins. This increases rotation to 175 degrees. The new Quick Coupler allows digging a deeper vertical wall while still being able to close the bucket for truck loading. Clamping distance is improved by 1 to 3 inches for the ability to close the bucket for loading materials like concrete or asphalt slabs. This coupler is a pin-grabber type, which will pick up all standard pin-on work tools such as buckets, hammers, augers, cold planers and rippers. This improved coupler not only offers the ease of changing work tools quickly, but also the added value of more rotation, eliminating the need to switch pin locations. Most work tools can be changed in about one minute. Ride Control System The Caterpillar Ride Control System is now available on all C-Series backhoe loaders. The system incorporates a nitrogen accumulator in the loader lift circuit to smooth the ride in all conditions, including load-and-carry, highway roading or general maneuvering around the jobsite. The system is easily engaged with a flip of the switch on the front console. On the Power Shift machine, the Ride Control switch offers three positions: On, Off and Automatic (on machines without Power Shift, positions are on/off ). In the automatic position, the ride control engages automatically as travel speed increases to 6.2 mph. At low speed (less than 4.4 mph), the system disengages for loading, grading or finishing applications.

aders get even better

trols of the Cat load-sensing hydraulic system offer superior performance while reducing fuel consumption, component wear and cooling costs.

More product and reliability improvements

· Newly designed control kits reduce the labor required for installation from approximately four hours to one hour. The improvement in design from a multi-piece kit to a pre-assembled kit will facilitate quick changing of control patterns and at a reduced cost because of labor savings. · E-stick wear pad retention has been improved with larger bolts to ensure that the pads stay in place in the most severe applications. · Stabilizer cylinders have an improved seal system for long, leak-free life. Ride control benefits include smoother ride, better material retention during load-and-carry, · A new steering hand-metering unit provides and increased operator comfort. lower steering efforts and eliminates feedback through the steering system if tires impact Ride Control benefits include smoother ride, which reduces curbs or other objects. machine loping while roading, better material retention during · A new steering spinner knob is available as an option. load-and-carry operations, and increased operator comfort. There is a Ride Control kit available for field installation or · The heavy-duty axle is now standard on all-wheel-drive machines. retrofitting earlier C-Series machines. This axle provides wider planetary gears and bearings for more endurance and durability. Air-suspension seat · The front axle oscillation bearing is now grease-free for reduced The exclusive Caterpillar air-suspension seat is standard on all maintenance costs. Self lubricating and sealed for the life of the Cat backhoe loaders. The seat utilizes an air adjustment mechamachine, this improvement removes all potential for leaks. nism instead of the traditional mechanical linkage found in most · Caterpillar Electronic Technician is standard on Power Shift backhoe loaders. This allows for a greater operating range and machines. Electronic Technician allows for diagnostics and trousuperior ride in all conditions. By simply pressing a button, the bleshooting as they apply to the Power Shift system. Failures are seat can be tailored to offer support to different body weights. The logged and retained up to 100 hours. variable height and weight adjustments provide a wide range of settings so every operator is comfortable operating the Caterpillar Versatile performance, proven value backhoe. The seat swivel has been improved for quieter and more Whether you dig, load, grade, trench, backfill or handle matedurable operation. rial, you can do it better with a backhoe loader from Caterpillar. Versatility is one reason for this capability. You can easily and Hydraulic system improvements quickly change work tools on any Caterpillar C-Series machine Enhancements to the variable displacement pump in the loadwhen equipped with front and rear quick couplers. And, Cat leads sensing hydraulic system now provide better performance in both the industry with state-of-the art design features like the excavabackhoe and loader operations through a dual setting torque limtor-style backhoe, load-sensing hydraulics, All Wheel Steer, iter. The new pump torque limiter control improves power integrated toolcarrier (IT) linkage and Power Shift transmission. distribution to the hydraulic system during backhoe operations These machines are designed from the ground up to help you and optimizes power balance between the loader hydraulic circuit tackle more jobsite chores and extend the range of tasks that your and drivetrain during front loader operations. backhoe loader can perform. No matter what job you're working The operator will notice this primarily when using the loader in production digging by providing more engine speed under load, on, or which Caterpillar backhoe loader you're using, it's built to therefore leading to more efficient production. The advanced conwork as hard as you do, and be more than a machine, a partner. s

ON YOUR OWN · 9

CANADIAN ON SITE

Cat 426C takes on frozen tundra

BACKHOE LOADERS POWER THROUGH FROST AND ICE X

Although Ken Palson Enterprises handles any type of commercial excavation, the contractor's specialty is environmental projects such as gas station tank removal and site cleanup. His equipment works all year round throughout the province, and as far as Thompson, 500 to the north, so the frozen ground is a frequent adversary. Six years ago, the company became one of only three firms issued a permit to haul contaminated soil. Now Palson has contracts with several major oil companies. This year, the company became only the third operation in Manitoba to receive a safety accreditation. Independent jobsite audits consistently found Palson's crews working safely and wearing hard hats, safety glasses and boots. "Being safety conscious has gotten us into the oil companies," Palson says. "We talk safety everyday."

Integrity builds business

Since frozen ground can extend to seven feet deep, Palson says, "We like the extra power of the Cat 426C. It gives us plenty of extra force."

D

igging a trench in mid-winter in Winnipeg, Manitoba, can be a job so tough that it takes two Cat 426C backhoe loaders. One machine hammers away at two to three feet of frozen ground, while the other delicately digs around underground pipe and conduit. "Working like this for 10 hours in winter is like 20 hours in summer when it comes to wear and tear on a machine," says Ken Palson, president of Ken Palson Enterprises, Ltd. "In summer, we just dig. Now we're chopping and banging; it's like digging in concrete all day long."

"Necessity is . . ."

The beginning of Palson's commercial excavating business was inauspicious, but promising. Released by his former employer 11 years ago, Palson entertained several offers from other construction firms. "I've been around equipment all my life," he says, "and I've been in the industry so long I know it inside and out. I decided it was time to go on my own." Palson didn't own a machine his first year in business, opting to broker with independent contractors. "I had five to 10 machines working and made $5 an hour with each of them," he says. In 1988, Palson purchased his first Cat 426 backhoe loader. Over the years he's bought 11; the latest two were C-Series machines last year.

Another major reason for the company's success is keeping its word. "If we say we're going to be there, we'll be there," Palson says. "We have good equipment that doesn't break down and good operators who know how to do a variety of jobs efficiently and productively. We prefer to hire young guys and train them to operate equipment our way." Ken Palson Enterprises' equipment list includes four backhoes, three wheel loaders, one track loader, one dozer, three excavators and five tandem axle trucks. Almost all their earthmoving equipment is Caterpillar equipment. "We bought the first Cat 426 backhoes in the province," Palson says. "Caterpillar stuck by me when I started this business. I didn't have anything, and they financed my first pieces of equipment."

Need powerful machines

In winter, frost goes to depths of two to three feet. However, it's not uncommon to encounter frozen ground seven feet below the surface. Taking on jobs in these conditions requires a powerful machine. "We like the extra power of the Cat 426C," Palson says. "It gives us plenty of extra force. Operating hammers all day long in winter is very tough on machines, and our Cat backhoes haven't let us down. Also, the curved boom on the C-Series gives us extra

10 · ON YOUR OWN

reach, which is important for loading trucks." Versatility is extremely important to Palson, because oftentimes equipment must be trailered long distances. The backhoes use buckets ranging from 12 to 36 inches, as well as smooth-edge buckets for cleanup, frost hooks, compactors, concrete breakers and custom-made snowplows. "I've probably got more than a dozen attachments," he says. The Cat 426Cs are specified with optional allwheel-drive. "In our conditions of ice and frozen ground," Palson says, "we'd spend the entire day spinning without all-wheel-drive. Because of this option we can push material and load easily, and that makes these Cat backhoes all the more versatile."

Equipment is reliable

When Palson says he pushes equipment hard, he's not exaggerating. In their first 10 months of operation, each of the Cat 426Cs logged more than 2,000 hours. "In 10 years," he says, "we've put more than 75,000 hours on our Cat backhoe loaders and never touched an engine or transmission. I think that says something about Caterpillar machines; they're being built right." "I find I get maximum trade-in value on the machines," he says, "and I don't take a chance on having a major component failure that I'd have to pay for. I always add the extended service agreements to take care of the little things. To provide good service to my customers, I have to have dependable equipment."

Oil analysis is part of the company's preventive maintenance program. "Oil sampling has alerted us to some metal particles in differentials," Palson says. "If a machine pops an O-ring, for example, that just creates other problems if it goes undetected. Compared to a major component repair bill of $3,000 to $4,000, what's the cost of oil analysis? We've always believed it's easy to justify its use."

Pride in performance

Ken Palson Enterprises built a reputation on its ability to tackle specialized work and do the job well, even in frozen ground. This takes experienced operators and the right machines. "We do a lot of jobs no one else will touch because of the liability," Palson says. "We firmly believe the key to our success is experienced operators on reliable equipment. If a man stays on one machine, he gets to know it. If there is a strange noise he recognizes it; he can even feel an unusual vibration in the seat. "And don't forget the pride factor," he continues. "Our operators treat their Cat machines like they are their own. And why not? Those backhoes are their bread and butter. If they look after the machines and take care of them, they're working. If equipment is broken down, they stay at home. There's no question that one of the reasons we're thriving as a business after 10 years is the effort we've expended to acquire experienced, talented operators and dependable, productive Caterpillar equipment." s

"In 10 years we've put more than 75,000 hours on our Cat backhoes and never touched an engine or transmission. I think that says something about Caterpillar machines; they're being built right."

-- Ken Palson

President, Ken Palson Enterprises

ON YOUR OWN · 11

EQUIPMENT M AN AGEMENT

Sharpen your competitive edge O

Begin your walkaround by looking for obvious problems such as damaged hoses.

n the track or on the jobsite, winners maintain their machines. "To expect peak performance day in and day out, you've got to take care of your equipment," says Mark Barden, customer service manager at Caterpillar's Building Construction Products division in Clayton, NC. Ken Clymer, veteran operator at Caterpillar's product demonstration area in Peoria, IL, agrees. He says, "The old advertising slogan applies: `You can pay me now, or you can pay me later.'" On Your Own interviewed these experts to get some quick guidelines for a daily backhoe loader walkaround inspection.

Let's begin

TAKE CARE OF YOUR PARTNER

A daily visual inspection includes walking around the machine to ensure that: Hydraulic hoses and fittings are dry Electrical harnesses and connections look good Mechanical joints are well lubricated Tires are properly inflated and in good condition Lugnuts are tight and valve stems intact Steps and grab handles are clean, straight and secure Work tools and GET are in good condition -- bucket tips and pins are secure Pins are in place for attachments like E-sticks and quick couplers. LOOK FOR DAMAGE AND EXCESSIVE WEAR: Signs of fatigue such as cracks, chaffed or chipped surface paint Signs of stress or exposure such as stressed or kinked hoses or wiring harnesses Breakage -- cracked windows or mirrors Damage -- hydraulic cylinder wear or scratch FLUID CHECKS: Check engine oil cold Check transmission fluid hot CHECK THE OPERATION OF: Lights Parking brake OTHER TIPS: Check for concentrated dust on hose ends Check the ground under the machine after overnight parking Fuel and grease at night

Barden begins his walk around the machine by looking for obvious problems such as damaged hoses or where paint has been rubbed off the hose's protective outer wrapping. He looks for dust on hose fittings that indicates the beginnings of a leak. Both men pay close attention to tires. "Proper inflation is important," Clymer says, "because it creates an equal cutting edge for the front bucket. Low inflation also increases tire wear." Barden judges tire pressure by placing the front bucket flat on the ground. "If one bucket edge is up," he says, "I know the machine has low tire pressure on one side." Next, they check wheel lugnuts to ensure they are all on and tight. The last stop on the initial check is a cab inspection. They look for cracks or breaks in the glass and make sure doors work properly. They check lights and turn signals. And they check other safety items such as steps. Are they bolted on tight, or are they bent? What is the condition of the grab handles?

On closer inspection

Taking a closer look at the machine, Clymer visually inspects all mechanical joints, hoses and hose fittings and check their condition, looking for anything that might be broken, loose or leaking. They say it's important to make a horizontal and vertical scan, not just an eye-level look. At the front of the machine, Barden and Clymer check for excessive wear on the cutting edge or end bits. They inspect loader pins and the linkage. With the bucket flat on the ground, they check the bolts on the cutting edge. The daily walkaround is a good time to look underneath the machine for oil or other fluid leaks that might have occurred overnight.

Time to lube

When the visual walkaround is completed, it's time to check fluid levels. To do this properly, it's very important that the machine is parked

12 · ON YOUR OWN

To do an accurate walkaround inspection, Mark Barden says, "It's very important that the machine is parked on a level surface. If not, you won't get accurate readings on dipsticks or sight gauges."

on a level surface. "If the machine is not level," Clymer says, "you won't get accurate readings on dipsticks or sight gauges." "Check the hydraulic oil sight gauge on the left side of the machine," Barden says. "Open the hood and check the rest of the fluids. Refer to the lubrication guide decal on the underside of the hood to help locate the grease fittings. From the top step, check engine and transmission oil, coolant and brake reservoirs." At this point you could give your backhoe loader its 10-hour lubrication. You could even find yourself doing this more than once a day, but check the hour meter. Barden offers another pointer. "I like to fuel and grease the machine at the end of the shift," he says. "Fueling displaces moist air in the tank, and lubricants flow better when joints and grease are warm. Also, lubrication will push any moisture out of the joints so corrosion can't develop overnight."

Check wheel lugnuts to make sure they are all on tight. The beginnings of rust may signal one is getting loose.

"It's all right to lube and fuel at night so the machine is ready to go in the morning," Clymer says, "but still do a walkaround inspection first thing. Something could have leaked overnight and you wouldn't have seen it in the evening. Except for the transmission oil, it's better to check fluids when the machine is cold. That way you're sure to get the true fluid level. Sometimes oils expand when they're hot, and you wouldn't get a totally accurate check at night."

Inside the cab

Visually inspect all mechanical joints, hoses, hose fittings and check their condition.It's important to make a horizontal and vertical scan, not just an eye-level look.

Inside the cab, Clymer and Barden advise operators to do their housekeeping. A clean cab is very important. Keep window areas and floors free of trash, rags, grease guns, lunch boxes and anything else. Cat machines offer plenty of storage space, both inside and out, for such items. "Keep the floor free of debris so nothing obstructs the accelerator," Clymer says, "and most important, the brakes." So remember, whether its racing or construction, a thorough daily inspection can give you the competitive edge to keep you out in front. Plus, a well-maintained machine looks good and reflects well on your business. s

ON YOUR OWN · 13

EXPAND YOUR BUSINESS

Simple formula for

VERSATILE CAT 426C WITH POWER SHIFT

KEEPS CONTRACTOR PROFITABLE

T

At right: John (left) and Joe Mauris watch all their costs like hawks and take very good care of their customers. Below: The exceptional maneuverability of the All Wheel Steer capability of the 426C lets Joe work in tighter areas.

he father and son team of John and Joe Mauris likes to keep things simple. These Alpine, California, utility contractors stick to the work they do best and maintain tight control over their operation. "Staying small is the No. 1 reason for our success," John says. "We watch all our costs like hawks and take very good care of our customers." John and Joe position themselves as subcontractors. For them, the best way to generate repeat business is to make sure general contractors are always busy. That means trenches are ready so workers don't stand around. "We give our generals an excellent job at a very competitive price," John says. "We have good rapport with the contractors we work

for, and that's the best way we know to generate repeat business. Combine cost control and that makes us successful. We find well-managed operations get good contracts. That's the name of the game."

Modest beginnings

John, 63, started in 1967 with one backhoe. The business prospered, and by 1977 he needed help. Joe, 41, came on board. The pair gradually added machines and other equipment, including an excavator, track loader, motor grader and a dozer. Today, they work throughout San Diego County, going as far as the Imperial and Cochilla valleys. Projects are primarily commercial trenching for plumbing and electrical utilities and some fine grading. Their most recent job involved 35,000 feet of utility trench at the headquarters of the US Navy's Pacific Fleet in San Diego. Containment pipes installed underground will be used to separate oil from a ship's bilge water. Years of experience with utility work offers many benefits to customers. Simply put, John and Joe can easily identify problems before they happen, which saves contractors and customers considerable time and money. "We know how to correct a potential situation before it becomes a major problem," John says. "If there's a problem with the ground, we take care of it. There are no surprises for our customers." John and Joe say they have the option to stay small or get very large, up to 40 employees. "With too many employees," John says, "we'd be working for them instead of ourselves. By staying small, we can watch every expense item and also be selective on the jobs we do."

14 · ON YOUR OWN

success

Common pitfalls facing small contractors are overextending themselves or bidding too low. On the Navy project, for example, John and Joe surveyed ground conditions ahead of time to identify potential problems. They arranged with trucking companies to have equipment available so hauling away material would not be delayed. "To submit an accurate bid on a job," John says, "we have to acknowledge our limitations and make sure we have the equipment to do the work."

Machine versatility is critical

John and Joe have the equipment they need to perform efficiently on each job. "Six machines may seem like a lot of equipment for two guys," John says, "but when we set up at a jobsite we can do anything." In addition to several machines, there are numerous attachments, including concrete breakers, compactors and pile driver. "We have acquired a number of machines over the years," John says. "We have what we need to do the kind of work we specialize in." Success for John and Joe is more than just adding equipment. Because they're a small company, they can't have everything. As a result, every machine must be very versatile. The two recently purchased a Caterpillar 426C backhoe loader with a Power Shift transmission. This machine is expected to dig trenches, backfill, compact and perform many other tasks. It is equipped with a backhoe Quick Coupler, so changing attachments is fast and easy. "The 426 is good for small and bigger jobs," John says. "The additional reach of the 426 (one foot compared to the 416C) is important to us. So is some extra breakout force because we're prepared to handle unknowns at the jobsite. We want the most production from each of our machines, and the 426C does the trick."

Power Shift breaks the tie

Joe has always operated Caterpillar equipment, while John was more experienced with another brand. When the two decided to purchase a second backhoe, the Power Shift transmission was one of the reasons for choosing Caterpillar. This option increases productivity and operator comfort because with one easy motion a single lever controls speed and direction, as well as shift-

on-the-go under load. An additional gear was added between the normal working and roading range for smooth modulation for a total of five forward and three reverse gears. And, operators have more floor space because a twist-grip on the forward-reverse lever replaces the conventional floor-mounted gear shifter. With 4th forward gear selected, the Power Shift control system can shift automatically between 4th and 5th gears to maintain road speed. When higher speeds are not needed, a manual 5th gear lockout switch prevents automatic shifts. This is especially desirable during load and carry applications.

CONTINUED --

The 426C was selected for its additional reach (one foot compared to the 416C) and some extra breakout force.

ON YOUR OWN · 15

All Wheel Steer (AWS). The independentlymaneuvered rear axle reduces the turning diameter by more than 4 feet, giving the tightest turning circle. The three modes of operation are: (1) Two-wheel steer

(2) Circle steer

(3) Independent rear maneuvering

"We were very interested in this option," Joe says. "We tried the Power Shift transmission, liked it and bought the 426C. We do a lot of load and carry, mostly picking up debris and carrying it somewhere else. Instead of having to shift and making a jerky transition, or even trying to watch the transmission, my efforts are focused on what I'm doing -- that's what Power Shift lets me do. I just flick my wrist to shift. With other machines, I had to stop to shift. With Power Shift, The Caterpillar Power Shift transmission provides a single lever to I can work faster and more control speed and direction. efficiently and there is less fatigue over the course of my has good visibility. I can see everything. It's typical 10-hour day. The 426C with Power Shift another feature we really like." is just easier and smoother." New technology and continually updated Joe also appreciates the All Wheel Steer capafeatures are another reason John and Joe choose bility available on the 426C. This option Caterpillar machines. includes: two-wheel steer for normal job con"I didn't grow up with Cat," John says, "but ditions and roading; circle steer for tighter my experience tells me they have a great product. loading cycles; and independent rear The 426C is my first Cat backhoe and I like it maneuvering for crabbing to back-fill very well. I just wish our other backhoe had while driving parallel to a trench, gradPower Shift and All Wheel Steer. These new ing on a side slope with greater stability features are why we'll stay with Caterpillar. We or negotiating the tightest turns in concan work faster and do a better job." fined areas. "All Wheel Steer lets us work in tighter Serviceability is important areas," he says, "and when I have to get Service sells. Chalk up yet another factor in the material into a ditch I can square up the Mauris' decision to select Caterpillar. machine to get a straight bucket so the entire load "If machines are unreliable or service from the goes into the ditch, not just a portion of it. dealer is poor," John says, "word gets around Maneuverability is easy, so I get jobs done more among contractors. Service is a very, very imporquickly, which is a cost savings." tant item, and Caterpillar is second to none. We

Newer equipment pays

John and Joe are convinced that newer, more reliable and dependable equipment is another key to their success. "We try to stay with the latest equipment," John says. "Without dependable machines we can't deliver the goods. We can't afford breakdowns because contractors don't want us if we delay them. They can't afford to have their crews sitting around. My motto is: `Why run a Model T when I can have a new pickup?'" The 426C is specified with an enclosed cab, rare in southern California. "We need air conditioning in the desert," Joe says, "and we stay cleaner. We have a radio to listen to news or music so the day goes better. Plus, it seems I'm just not as tired at the end of the day. This Cat machine

can get parts anytime, even on Saturdays and Sundays. "We had a job in Escondido," he continues, "and I needed a starter for our track loader. It was Sunday morning. I called my sales representative and he met me at the dealership. I got the part and was back to work in just a couple of hours instead of days. That's another reason why I like Caterpillar. We like to work on our equipment on weekends, and if we can't get parts it is a big factor in our equipment selection. Parts availability and service are critical. We want to spend our full week working." Versatile, dependable machines, a strong work ethic and taking care or their customers is the formula that adds up to success for John and Joe Mauris.s

16 · ON YOUR OWN

EQUIPMENT MANAGEMENT

Cat 416C IT versatility provides competitive edge

Maximum machine utilization is critical to this highway contractor's success

O

h, how times have changed since Gerry Lorusso bought his father's construction business 18 years ago. "It's a difficult environment today," says the president of Lorusso Corp., Plainville, Massachusetts. "We used to compete against another family business. Today, our competition is a multinational corporation. It's caused a real change in how we compete for business." Paving contractors like Lorusso need to be highly organized and must operate more efficiently. Part of this success formula means better equipment utilization. "We must constantly refine our operation and become more efficient," Lorusso says. "The concept of fewer machines using more tools that can do more jobs becomes very important." To measure productivity, an hourly cost is assigned to every piece of equipment. The compa-

ny takes the cost of each machine and determines an hourly charge based on the time of each job. Added to this is the cost of fuel and maintenance. Labor and parts are charged individually to each machine. "If we can generate more useful hours per machine," Lorusso says, "we can bring down our cost per hour. The more hours we can put on a machine, the less the cost of operation." Lorusso Corp. produces crushed stone and bituminous concrete. The company does municipal and state highway resurfacing and reconstruction and related site work in the eastern two-thirds of the state. There are 90 pieces of paving and construction equipment and 175 employees.

416Cs join the roster

Earlier this year, the company purchased four Caterpillar 416C backhoe loaders. Already, two machines have logged more than 500 hours of productive operation. The addition of the 416Cs was actually brought about by Lorusso Corp.'s experience with two Caterpillar IT28 Integrated Toolcarriers it owns. "We really liked the versatility of these machines," heavy equipment supervisor Ed Kettell says, "so when the 416C was introduced, we knew it would be a great machine for us. Many of our jobs are small

"The 416 has power to handle everything that's there."

-- Ed Kettell

Heavy Equipment Supervisor, Lorusso Corp

ON YOUR OWN · 17

CAT 416C IT VERSATILITY PROVIDES COMPETITIVE EDGE

enough that the 416C can handle everything that's there." The machines use general and multi-purpose buckets, a material-handling arm, pallet forks and brooms; and each is e q u i p p e d w i t h t h e optional Quick Coupler for fast tool changes. "If a machine is digging," Kettell says, "it takes only a few minutes to put on the forks and run down the street to grab a pallet of material from a truck. From a time and labor standpoint, these backhoe loaders work out great."

Safety first

The nimble 416C IT uses pallet forks to transport a manhole section in a new subdivision, then quickly switches to the backhoe to place the section (page 17).

Lorusso says there is another major advantage of the 416Cs, a benefit that doesn't necessarily show up on the balance sheet. Take, for example, a subdivision job requiring a lot of pipe

installation. It could take three or four workers with slings and cables to unload and lay out this material. The same job is accomplished with one 416C and its operator. "It's much safer to use a machine that's properly equipped for the job," Lorusso says, "as opposed to two laborers wrapping slings around pallets of pipe. Using the Caterpillar backhoes for this task, no one is in an at-risk position with a suspended load." Other 416C features were important to the company's purchase decision. There is improved visibility, increased by 40 percent due to the machine's sloped hood, divergent lift arms and larger windows. Plus, comfort features such as air conditioning and an ergonomically-designed seat help reduce operator fatigue.

18 · ON YOUR OWN

Excellent maneuverability and improved visibility help this 416C IT operator load and carry broken concrete out of a narrow, sunken railroad bed to load waiting trucks on a busy highway up above.

Strict PM program

Lorusso Corp. strictly adheres to an already precise preventive maintenance program. At machine start-up, each operator is responsible for checking fluid levels, completing a walkaround inspection and filling out a daily report. The company just started using a Caterpillar dealer maintenance program on 20 machines. "Our Cat dealer comes out any time of the day or night to service our machines," Kettell says. "In our peak season, we're running 12 hours a day. With this program, we don't have to have mechanics come in late or send two guys out to the jobsite to fix a machine. Our Cat dealer even goes to the job and takes waste oil and filters with him so we don't have to truck that around." Lorusso's Cat dealer recently extended certain service intervals to 500 hours, but the company continues to perform regular S·O·S fluid sampling every 250 hours. The contractor specifies only genuine Cat parts and filters. "We changed over completely to radial seal filters," Kettell says. "Because this two-stage filter acts as an air cleaner and precleaner in a single unit, it eliminates a hood-mounted precleaner. It's a better system and saves time. We used to change filters inside compartments every winter. If there was a problem before that, no one wanted to take the time to pull out the old filter. With the radial seal filters, we can change two filters in three minutes."

Exclusively Caterpillar

Looking down the list of Lorusso equipment, it's nearly impossible to find anything other than Caterpillar machines. "We like to standardize on equipment," Kettell says. "We probably wouldn't be so focused on Caterpillar equipment if it wasn't for our dealer's high level of parts and service performance. More and more highway work has to be done at night, and machine availability is critical to us. We simply can't afford downtime. The maintenance program our dealer offers lets us operate without a double shift of mechanics." Lorusso remains focused on a machine's total operating cost, which includes resale value. "As our work shifts from period to period," he says, "we may find that we don't need as many excavators three years from now. Maybe we need more rubber tired machines or dozers. If we have the comfort level that when we buy a machine we can get a good price at resale, it makes the purchase of that equipment much easier." s

"If we can generate more useful hours per machine, we can bring down our cost per hour."

-- Gerry Lorusso

President, Lorusso Corp.

ON YOUR OWN · 19

MACHINE VERSATILITY

Not just your average Joe

KEEN

BUSINESS SENSE PROPELS SOUTH CAROLINA CONTRACTOR

to meet deadlines, we have to be in control of each facet of the job." Joe Singleton Co. has 26 full-time and 15 subcontracted employees and 30 pieces of equipment. Serving a 50-mile radius around Sumter, the operation posts annual revenues of $5 million. The contractor specializes in complete packages of small- to medium-sized retail or office building projects. This includes jobs from site clearing or demolishing existing structures all the way to asphalt paving. "Quality people with experience in every facet of the project are critical to the success of a business that wants to provide a total job," Joe says. "Besides personnel, we need good equipment to produce the results we're looking for. Machines must be available all the time. If equipment goes down, getting it back up is a key issue. We need the part the next morning so the machine is back up and running. We don't have the luxury of having a stable of spare equipment. Every piece we have, we need."

Watching Caterpillar grow

D

Singleton's 416C ITs do a little bit of everything. The controls are so smooth and responsive that operators can do a variety of tasks with the backhoe.

oes this sound familiar? Young man graduates from high school. Unsure of future but enjoys being around equipment. Buys backhoe loader and starts own business. Earns a respectable living but can't get to the next level. This story line is played out day after day in the construction industry. What makes this profile stand out is that Joe Singleton did find success on a larger scale. Joe, 34, graduated from high school in Sumter, South Carolina, in June of 1982. He started doing yard work, bought a backhoe loader and moved on to site clearing and grading. As jobs got bigger, Joe was forced to subcontract grading and paving. It didn't take long for problems to develop. He would tell a project's owner that the paver would be there on Wednesday. Meanwhile, the subcontractor had no intentions of adhering to that schedule. Joe reasoned that to be successful, he had to be self sufficient.

Self sufficiency means control

"Our customers only want to make one phone call and have one person be responsible for their project," he says. "This is our competitive advantage. When we're ready to pave, we don't have to wait for anyone. We get our clients' projects completed on time. For us to be able to promise

Joe is not a lifelong user of Caterpillar equipment. It was only in the last two years that he purchased a pair of 416C IT backhoe loaders. "I watched Caterpillar come into the backhoe loader market 12 years ago," he says, "and have seen the product mature. Caterpillar always seemed sensitive to the end user. I was impressed by the effort they put into eliminating areas that led to downtime. For example, they've done a great job routing hoses to make machines more productive and available. Cat also uses beefier pins and hardware. Plus, their parts availability is fantastic." At present, Joe has two 416Cs with Integrated Toolcarrier linkage and hydraulic quick couplers for their versatility. He uses forks, buckets and a stacking rake on the front end of the machine. "Our operators can drop a bucket right from the cab and pick up forks or the stacking rake and move pipe," he says. "We call that a key play because it saves time and is more convenient. Jobs flow more smoothly if attachments can be changed quickly, and work quality is better because operators aren't

20 · ON YOUR OWN

Hydraulic quick couplers let operators drop a bucket right from the cab and pick up forks or a stacking rake to perform other jobsite chores.

stressed as much. It's little things like this that add up to the overall success of a project."

Versatile machines

Joe's 416C ITs do a little bit of everything. Operators excavate with the backhoe and perform load and carry tasks with the front. The rake attachment is used for clearing small areas and also handles pipe. He expects to order a broom attachment soon that will circulate among crews to clean up jobsites. "The Cat 416C is sized right for the type of work we do," he says. "We like the Integrated Toolcarrier design because of its parallel lift feature for material handling and higher lift and breakout forces. "We currently have six backhoe loaders," he continues, "and Caterpillar ITs are the way we'll be going on future purchases because our options are limitless. Instead of buying another machine, I can get an attachment that can be used among all the machines. I can justify adding work tools to my inventory, but I don't want extra machines sitting around. I've done that in the past and it's cost me. I won't do it again." Joe purchased the first Cat machine and several months later decided he needed another backhoe loader. His operators were worried that he might return to the previous brand and talked him into renting another 416C IT.

"They really like Caterpillar's cab design and the ease of operation of the machine," he says. "For my part, Caterpillar machines are just built better. That's how the second machine got here. We tried one, and when it came time to get a second machine my operators asked for another Caterpillar. They're more powerful and they road better. Plus, as far as my operators are concerned, there's a real advantage to running a Cat machine." The Cat 416C ITs were purchased with Customer Support Agreements for maintenance and service. "We want to focus on being the best at what we do," Joe says. "We don't want to be mechanics. We're a one-stop-shop for our customers, and that's what we want from our Caterpillar dealer. Their level of support is better than anything we've experienced during our 16 years in business."

Continued --

Pictured with foreman Willie T. McFadden, Joe Singleton (right) says, "I watched Caterpillar come into the backhoe loader market 12 years ago, and have seen the product mature. "

ON YOUR OWN · 21

F O U R S T E P S T O SU C C ESS

"We never send an employee home with a short paycheck in winter," he says, "and we insist on a safe work environment and equipment." Joe says it's important to let his people know they're appreciated and that the company cares about them. "This doesn't take a whole lot from me," he adds. "Just a simple word of praise, showing concern about an injury or asking about an employee's family lets people know we care about them, and that goes a long way." Joe is a firm believer in momentum. "Young companies can create a magnetism that attracts good people and retains them because they want to be part of something that's successful," he explains. "At times, that can mean more than a few more dollars on a paycheck. Having the chance to be on a winning team that has a future and you're contributing to it means a great deal these days."

Controlled growth

A rake attachment is used for clearing, pipe handling and other tasks.

"I just liked machines"

"Jobs flow more smoothly if attachments can be changed quickly . . ."

-- Joe Singleton

Joe says he just always liked working outside. And, he really liked those big, yellow machines. Credit Joe's mother for his early venture into construction. One day she arranged for him to watch a crew construct a railroad crossing. He was mesmerized watching the backhoes work, and by the end of the day he was hooked. That early fascination with equipment led to his successful career as a site contractor. "It was fairly obvious to me that in order to grow and become more profitable," he says, "I had to continually move into areas that were tougher to get into. The payoff is greater profit potential because the sheer quantity of competition is decreased. However, I also learned that the quality of competition increases because this field requires experience and business acumen."

Four steps to success

Joe developed a four-step program for success. His No. 1 priority is finding, training and keeping competent people. New, state-of-the-art equipment is step two, quality is step three and productivity is step four. "The office might burn down and all my equipment could be stolen," he says, "but as long as my people are here I'm still in business. If we tend to the first two steps, the next two will naturally follow. I've seen too many other operations that put productivity first at the expense of human resources. This may work briefly, but soon a contractor will be forced to work with disenchanted crews, abused equipment and on low budget projects." Joe pays competitively and offers complete benefit packages including 401K retirement program, health insurance, two weeks paid vacation and paid holidays.

Charting his company's growth plan, Joe wants to handle a larger volume of the same size jobs he is doing today. "Too often contractors grow by tackling bigger and bigger jobs," he says. "We have done this in the past and it is very difficult. It requires constantly expanding our personnel and fleets and altering our management style. In doing so, little attention is paid to details. We are set up for certain types of projects and are becoming more efficient at this work. The 416C ITs, with their multi-task capability and ability to change work tools quickly from the cab are a good example of attention to detail. This may only save a small amount of time, but it adds up." Joe often explains his thoughts through analogies. This time the metaphor is car racing. "On the NASCAR circuit," he says, "the leader doesn't usually win by a mile. Victory is measured in car lengths or seconds. This is due to making good overall decisions and fine-tuning the team. The same is true for business owners. We must pay attention to our people and be k n ow l e d g e a b l e about equipment. For us to win the race, we need to make key moves in every way, everyday." s

22 · ON YOUR OWN

EQUIPMENT MANAGEMENT

Staying power

J

ohn Marshall's career spans 31 years, and the Middletown, Rhode Island, contractor sees no reason he couldn't remain in business another three decades. "My longevity is based on my reputation," the president of J.A.M. Construction says. "I do what I tell my customers I'll do, and I make sure every job is quality work. When business gets tough, and I've seen that over the years, lesser contractors fall by the wayside. For example, if a customer wants a driveway with only 2 inches of gravel, we

won't do it. Our base is eight inches. What I don't want to have happen is my name associated with that driveway on the day it breaks up. If we can't do the job right, we don't do it. That philosophy has worked very well for us." J.A.M. is a full service excavating and paving business with 14 pieces of construction equipment, 11 dump trucks and 30 employees. Marshall has something of a captive audience of customers. He confines his territory to a 15mile-long, 5-mile-wide island that includes the boating headquarters and upscale community of Newport. To call Marshall hands-on is an understatement. "I touch everything," he says. "I am involved in every job. As good as my men are, there are always decisions that have to be made by the boss. My

Quality work keeps Rhode Island contractor in business for 31 years.

ON YOUR OWN · 23

With their new 426C IT, J.A.M. Construction has discovered true machine versatility -- from trenching with the backhoe to load and carry with their multi-purpose bucket or site clean-up with a broom.

being around actually speeds up jobs. My feeling is, if you've got an entire orchestra, they can't play without a conductor."

Switch to Caterpillar

J.A.M. relied on one backhoe manufacturer for 31 years. The company had a good experience with the product and had some high-hour machines. But it's 1997, and that make of machine is no longer available. J.A.M.'s parts inventory was rendered obsolete; and initially, that was reason enough for Marshall to switch equipment manufacturers. "Today," he says, "the key to machine performance is comfort, speed and production. Caterpillar has more pluses than other backhoe manufacturers, such as visibility, speed and smoother operation. I also chose my 426C IT for its serviceability. Service access is easier than any other machine I looked at." Initially, Marshall shied away from the 426C IT because of its multiple attachment features. He didn't want the Caterpillar backhoe because he thought several tools were just something more to wear out. That impression lasted only until he spent five hours on the machine one Saturday. "I started on a machine 31 years ago," Marshall says. "It's therapy for me to jump on one; and whenever I can, I do it. I couldn't believe how quiet and comfortable the 426C IT cab was, and how productive I was. This backhoe loader is responsive and quick. Compared to my old machine, this Caterpillar 426C IT is like getting out of a compact and into a luxury car." Until that day, Marshall had never experienced attachment versatility, so he didn't see the value. His 426C IT uses the backhoe quick coupler system with 12- and 24-inch high capacity buckets. With its integrated toolcarrier's front linkage the machine is also used extensively with the broom and multi-

24 · ON YOUR OWN

purpose bucket attachment. "Normally, a guy wouldn't change attachments on our older backhoes because it was too much work and he'd get his hands full of oil," Marshall says. "That's not the case with the 426C IT. What's more, the job gets done faster because the operator is using the right tools. For example, one day we're putting in 1,800 feet of gas main, so we're using the 12-inch bucket. That afternoon we're in downtown Newport on sanitary sewer project with a wider trench, and we can use the same machine with a different attachment." Marshall plans to add a grader bucket. "There's no end to what we can do with this machine," he says, "and when I buy another Cat backhoe loader, the attachments I have now will be interchangeable."

New-found versatility

capacity of a larger machine and the maneuverability I need."

Dealer support

J.A.M. never experienced such machine versatility. "With other backhoes," Marshall says, "we'd try to do the job with an unsuitable attachment, or bring in another machine. It would take an operator 30 to 45 minutes to change tools with older machines. He might be alone, trying to line up the pin and it's never level. At the same time, there are laborers standing around waiting for the machine to get up and running. Today, time is money and we can't afford that. I'm very happy with the versatility of the 426C IT." Marshall appreciates the amount of work he can do with a smaller machine."We do a lot of residential work," he says, "and there are backyard jobs where turning radius is very important. The 426C IT is big, but it's small; I have the reach and

When Marshall switched to Caterpillar, he found much more to his liking in addition to equipment performance. "My Cat dealer is very easy to work with," he says. "I rented the 426C IT for several months before I decided to buy it. The terms were very reasonable, and this is how I plan to purchase most of my new machines." Service is another Caterpillar dealer advantage. "I'm a fanatic about preventive maintenance," Marshall says, "and my Cat dealer's parts availability and service support is second to none. If a machine is down, it's critical to get it up and running as soon as possible because I don't have extra equipment." Looking back, does Marshall have any other tips for staying in business 31 years? "I have good relationships with customers and do quality work," he says. "Long-time employees are a tremendous asset, too. We have customers who want a certain operator on a job. And, I try to provide value-added services. We always clean up the site and leave the job looking good. This kind of reputation means everything." s

"There's no end to what we can do with this machine . . ."

-- John Marshall

According to Marshall, "This backhoe loader is responsive and quick. Compared to my old machine, this Caterpillar 426C IT is like getting out of a compact and into a luxury car." ON YOUR OWN · 25

BUSINESS MANAGEMENT

Backhoe loader oper

O

perating a backhoe loader can be a stressful job. Often, you're working in tight spaces. So you have to be aware of what's going on at both ends of the machine at all times. Seasoned operators are able to plan their moves ahead of time. And, they handle the controls with finesse. The new C-Series Backhoe Loader and Integrated Toolcarrier from Caterpillar have several features that make these machines the easiest to operate ever. These include increased forward visibility, a boost in lifting capacity, greater stabilizer spread, better operator comfort and more. Besides enhancements, the C-Series machines also kept several time-proven innovations such as the excavator-style backhoe boom (a Cat innovation) that digs deeper and reaches over obstacles better than a straight boom, plus smooth, loadsensing, variable-flow hydraulics. But as operator-friendly as the C-Series may be, the machine cannot "think" for itself. This part is up to you. Here are several tips from an expert operator that may help you and your backhoe loader become an even more productive team: operations. Steady digging, as opposed to slashing deep to fill the bucket each time, makes you more productive because the cut is more precise the first time through.

Start digging "short" --

(method #2) speed and productivity, dig short of the point you want to reach, then gradually extend the stick. Using this method, the dirt is always coming to you instead of rolling away. You won't spend time cleaning up what you've already excavated.

Mike Taylor, Cat Demonstrator/ Instructor at Edwards Training Center near Peoria, IL, has been around backhoe loaders his entire career.

Use the right stick -- for digging in sandy soil or clay, the C-Series extendible stick option is ideal. But in severe digging conditions (rocky soil or early spring ground frost) or closecrowding applications, it's better to dig with the E-stick retracted to avoid damage.

Keep it clean -- wipe your machine down daily, clean the windows and pick up any debris in the cab. By keeping the exterior clean, you can easily spot any fluid leaks before they get worse and result in downtime. Debris in the cab could get lodged in the controls and cause a problem. Check before you dig -- contact your local utility company for the location of any underground utilities or communication lines in the area. Get a good stance -- before you dig, make sure the backhoe loader is stable. Your stance will vary according to terrain and the application, but a rule of thumb is to set out the stabilizers and then raise the tires no more than three inches off the ground. Also, set your loader bucket on the ground for even more stability. Don't grab it all -- (method #1) make consistent 3- to 4-inch deep cuts during trenching

Practice smoothness --

blend the four functions of the backhoe loader (swing and boom control with stick and bucket control) to create a smooth-operating machine. Fast, jerky motions can result in sloppy trenching and can even damage equipment. Slowing your movements can make your machine's operation smoother and more productive.

Leave the bucket flat -- when using the front loader, many operators angle the bucket forward and attack the pile in a scooping action. This can cause you to lose traction and maybe even the load. It is also more stressful on the drive train. It's better to keep the bucket flat on the ground as you approach the pile when loading, then lift and skim the pile.

26 · ON YOUR OWN

ator efficiency tips

Improving backhoe loader operating techniques can boost profits. Our dealership has literature and other ideas to help you increase your productivity.

Drag the cutting edge -- in grading and

leveling operations, it's recommended that you roll the loader bucket over, with the cutting edge to the rear. Using the bucket's top and cutting edge gives you two leveling surfaces for better machine stability and control. Also, when you backdrag, dragging the cutting edge minimizes gouging and the need to grade an area a second time, as is common with the more traditional bucket up and angled forward position.

Let the hydraulics do the work -- loading operations do not necessarily require brute

strength with your machine in low gear. The C-Series has 20 percent greater rimpull than the B-Series in second gear. So select the the gear that will provide the proper rimpull without allowing the tires to spin out. Finally, although the C-Series backhoe loaders feature all wheel drive as a valuable jobsite option, it's best to stay in rear-wheel drive as much as possible especially on hard surfaces. This will save wearand-tear on the drivetrain and tires. Like anything else, you get better with practice. Following the above tips from an expert backhoe loader operator can help turn you into a real "smooth professional." s

ON YOUR OWN · 27

AN AGREEMENT TO INCREASE PRODUCTIVITY AND LOWER COSTS

Every Caterpillar machine is designed and built to provide maximum productivity and operating economy throughout its working life. Maintaining that built-in value takes careful planning and ongoing attention. When you have a Customer Support Agreement (CSA) with our dealership, you have more time to do what you do best. Our highly trained technicians can then do their part to maintain your machines and drive operating costs down. In the end everyone's goal is the same: getting more work done at a lower cost.

AEDC0583

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