Product feature: Rototilt R1

By: Chris McCullough, Photography by: Chris McCullough

The Rototilt R1 is proving its worth for a Northern Ireland contractor

No corners are inaccessible with Paul’s Rototilt tiltrotator

Lockdown for contractor Paul Davidson meant very little, as the tracks kept turning on his groundwork​​ business in Northern Ireland over the past two months. Although his two staff were put on furlough, Paul was able to self-isolate in his excavator cab and tackle many smaller jobs on farms.

Contractor Paul Davidson

Working alone only lasted a short time for Paul, as the construction industry was allowed back to work. Now he and the team are working full-time but taking the necessary precautions, staying two metres apart and travelling to sites in different vehicles.

Just before the virus pandemic paralysed the world, Paul and his team completed a job at a church where his new tiltrotator came in handy. As the interest in tiltrotators grow, the number of brands available on the market is also increasing, leaving potential customers in somewhat of a dilemma over which one to choose.

Being quite a significant investment, it certainly pays contractors to do their research to determine which tiltrotator suits their own business and that’s exactly what Paul did. Based in Tobermore, County Londonderry, Paul runs PD Contracts that specialises in all types of groundworks, including kerbing, drainage, and site preparation.

As is the nature of this business, operating in confined areas is commonplace and not always easy, prompting Paul to carry out some research into the use of tiltrotators.

"I run two small excavators in the business," says Paul. "One is a three-year-old Hitachi Zaxis 33U-5 that I purchased new.

The Rototilt R1 is a good marriage for the Hitachi Zaxis 33U

"Originally, I was using a tilt bucket but it wasn’t always handy to operate so I thought a tiltrotator was exactly what I needed to both modernise my business and make it more efficient.

"From filling in gravel and soil around kerbing and digging out drains in tight areas, I realised a tiltrotator would be a good asset to the business and started looking at the brands and models available."

The Rototilt attachment has proven useful in tight areas

Paul checked out a number of brands and finally settled on purchasing a Rototilt tiltrotator from Cullion Plant Service based at Stewartstown near to Dungannon. "After taking a thorough look at all the tiltrotators available I decided to buy a Rototilt R1 model.

After asking many questions to Cullion Plant Service about Rototilt, I was sure the R1 was for me. I have to say this brand even looks better, in my opinion, than the others," he says.

High performance

Visibility of the tiltrotator from the cab is excellent

Rototilt’s R1 tiltrotator has been designed for compact machines between 1.5 and 3.5 tonnes. It’s based on the same concept as the larger models of the Rototilt R platform with integrated swivel and greater flexibility with different control systems.

An important new feature of the Rototilt R1 is compatibility with the Innovative Control System (ICS), which has a wide range of smart functions. With the supplied in-cab display, operators can easily adjust settings and have a complete overview of the tiltrotator system.

Other features on the R1 machine include a cast rotor housing, which is both stronger and lighter than welded alternatives. Rototilt says the thickness of the casting is optimised according to the load on the various parts.

Also, this machine has a specially designed guard for the hydraulic motor which is integrated with the cast rotor housing and protects it against impact and shocks from beneath.

Compact and versatile

Paul opted to have the tiltrotator coupled directly to the arm

Paul took delivery of his Rototilt R1 at the end of August last year and it took him only two weeks to master its controls. The Rototilt R1 was fitted to Paul’s Hitachi digger and the combination is working well for him.

"It’s working very well," said Paul. "One of the jobs we have been involved in is a new church hall build just outside Desertmartin. As part of our remit, we had to kerb and fence the new one-way system driveway, which included filling soil in around grave headstones.

"This needed to be very accurate work and the Rototilt proved to be very useful here, as I was able to negotiate around the headstones with ease and accuracy. "I opted to have my Rototilt tiltrotator fitted direct to the arm of the Hitachi, as it leaves the combination more stable as there is less weight on the front end. It also means I have better visibility when working," he said.

"No matter what job I am doing now, whether it’s filling the dump truck or reaching into tight corners, the Rototilt does it with ease. I also decided to go for the gripper as an option and I am glad I did so.

"I use the gripper every single day to lift anything out of the way like pallets, posts or old kerbs. I’ve even managed to lift an apple and another time I grabbed a soft drink can without denting it.

"I chose the Rototilt R1 primarily because of its strong, well-built design and that size was a perfect fit for my Hitachi Zaxis 33U. It’s a superb powerful little excavator, which has worked around 5000 hours for me since I bought it new.

"The visibility and low cab noise together with the power it has makes this Hitachi the perfect model for my business." Paul’s Rototilt is also versatile in his business, as he can also attach a rock hammer and a number of other buckets including a new riddle bucket.

"Even though the Rototilt is attached directly to the excavator, I can still attach different buckets to it. I just bought a new riddle bucket that’s extremely useful, particularly at the church grading soil around the headstones.

"It took me around 200 hours to get used to the controls of the tiltrotator," adds Paul. "But now that I have mastered the controls, I can do anything with it. I really don’t know how I operated without it all those years."
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