Bulldozer review: Caterpillar D6M LGP


Bulldozer review: Caterpillar D6M LGP Bulldozer review: Caterpillar D6M LGP
Bulldozer review: Caterpillar D6M LGP Bulldozer review: Caterpillar D6M LGP
Bulldozer review: Caterpillar D6M LGP Bulldozer review: Caterpillar D6M LGP
Bulldozer review: Caterpillar D6M LGP Bulldozer review: Caterpillar D6M LGP
Bulldozer review: Caterpillar D6M LGP Bulldozer review: Caterpillar D6M LGP

Auckland-based contractors and cleanfill operator, Dirtworks, have shifted away from their usual bulldozer brand and invested in a Caterpillar D6M LGP. The Ed went to find out why.

Why indeed, I asked myself. Well, according to Dirtworks business director Iydden Wood, the reason is quite simple. Less ground pressure equals more work done.

When it comes to working mud-laden ground, Wood should know what he's talking about. At any one time his equipment can be seen working on a number of cleanfill sites throughout the North-West Auckland Region. You could say the less chances of a machine getting stuck, the better.

Check out a video of the Cat D6M LGP in action.

Bulldozers are not as popular as they once were, but are still the machine of choice for pushing material over large areas. As bulldozers can't be efficiently used when the ground becomes saturated and need to be parked up, it makes sense that the sooner a machine can get back to work, the quicker it can start earning money for the owner.

"This machine is one of two Cat bulldozers that we have recently purchased. They both have a few thousand hours on them and I am really impressed with their capabilities," says Wood.

The Cat D6M LGP

The machine we have been assigned to review has a few thousand hours on the clock but a quick inspection shows that it seems to be in pretty good order. It sounds nice and smooth as it works away and the engine doesn't emit any tell-tale signs of engine disorder.

I would think that it has been refurbished a little while back, as is evidenced by paint overspray on some of the hydraulic hoses and whoever carried out the work did quite a nice job.

A close inspection of the tracks and sprockets show that these also are in good order and should last for some time yet.

Cat _D6M_6

Engine and transmission

Diesel power is supplied by the Cat 3116 turbocharged engine that is rated at 153HP (114kW). Connected to a 'durable' three-speed planetary power shift transmission, Cat specs say that "all Caterpillar components work together to deliver responsive power when you need it".

Undercarriage

The elevated sprocket makes these types of Cat machines distinctive, and when they first came out I wondered what their purpose was, especially as there was less track chain in contact with the sprocket when compared to the usual setup?

Apparently the higher sprocket position isolates it from ground impact and I would say probably reduces the amount of clogging that can occur. Less clogging would also reduce friction and therefore fuel costs.

Weight distribution should also be better as well, with the drive housing located further forward and the wide grousers also helping spread that weight, as they are an impressive 1100mm wide.

Cab

The interior is quite comfy and forward visibility is reasonably good, although the air filter and exhaust add a degree of neck-stretching to see past. Fortunately the angled doors provide excellent forward visibility as well.

Without any acoustic barriers inside the cab, noise levels can be high, so the thought of listening to some sounds would be difficult without a pair of radio-muffs. Either way, I wouldn't recommend operating any machine without a decent set of ear muffs on, anyway.

Controls

This machine is fitted with a finger-tip control system. The operator’s left hand adjusts the movement of the D6M LGP, all the way through to gear selection, forward-reverse and turning.

The right hand looks after the blade movements. An alternative lever control setup would have been available as an option when the machine was purchased new. Wood says the company's other Cat has manual controls and the blade is easier to 'feel', which is better for less experienced operators.

Cat _D6M_0

Getting to work

The D6M LGP is very intuitive and smooth to operate with it taking me only a few minutes to become accustomed to machine. First off I try some heavy-duty pushing at the end of the tip-head, and the machine surprises me with the amount of traction it has in the sticky fill that we are working with today.

The VPAT (variable pitch power angle and tilt blade) makes it easy to cut the amounts as required, and adjusting it just takes a flick of the wrist.

Power-wise, it doesn't want to stop and I push out plenty of fill without having to reverse and make second attempts. Having worked on cleanfill sites for a number of years, I was expecting the back-end of the machine to start burying itself or stall-out when under pressure, so the machine gets a couple of positive head shakes from me as it continues to work unimpeded.

My next mission is tidy up an area that has been difficult to work with recent rain. I start peeling off the top layer of fill, and in the process expose the lower layer to dry in today's hot sun. The controls and good weight distribution of the machine enable this to be carried out easily and efficiently.

I find the visibility pretty good for a machine its size and despite the slightly noisy work environment, the whole package delivers far better that I would have expected.

The verdict

After a good stint at the controls, I must say that I was very impressed with what the Cat D6M LGP was able to deliver.

Iydden Wood did earlier say that the machine out-performed his 'other brand' machines, especially when it came to the damp fill that is encountered on cleanfill sites during the wet months. However, to compare apples with apples, I should point out that the 'other brand' machines have narrower (900mm compared to 1100mm) grousers. This will have a comparable difference on the work both brands of machine carry out.

That is not to take the wind out of the sails of the Cat D6M LGP, as it appears that Dirtworks have found suitable machines to handle their type of work.

I guess one should not forget to mention the ego points attached to one of these beasts as well. It was just a pity there were only a few Pukekos as spectators.

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