CAT Compact Track Loader Review

By: Josh Simpson, Photography by: Dave Lorimar

CAT Compact Track Loader Review CAT Compact Track Loader Review
CAT Compact Track Loader Review CAT Compact Track Loader Review
CAT Compact Track Loader Review CAT Compact Track Loader Review
CAT Compact Track Loader Review CAT Compact Track Loader Review
CAT Compact Track Loader Review CAT Compact Track Loader Review
CAT Compact Track Loader Review CAT Compact Track Loader Review

Deals on Wheels checks out the CAT 239D compact track loader

Scotty (as he is more well-known) has recently replaced his 2014 Caterpillar 247B multi-terrain loader with a new 239D compact track loader model. Having a standard operating weight of 3306kg, the 239D is the smallest of Caterpillar's D-Series range of compact track loaders. There are four other models available that upsize in approximate 500kg increments to the largest Cat 289D that tips the scales at 4778kg.

As is Scotty's normal procedure, the previous machine had just about reached the 3000-hour mark, and so he started casting bait around for a replacement. High up on his list was finding a machine that would deliver the same degree of efficiency and comfort that he had experienced with the Caterpillar brand but that did not stop him from looking at what else was available for purchase.

"I looked at other brands, but eventually, ended up where I started," he says. With the geographical spread of his work between Coromandel and northern Waikato, Scotty was keen to keep the older 247B multi-terrain loader and train someone on it, but his advertising campaign didn't deliver anyone suitable, so he decided to stay as a one-machine business. On the day we meet, Scotty was in the process of tidying up a number of new house sites in Pokeno, and with the recent wet weather delaying access, it's all go to keep the developers on schedule with their completion dates.

The CAT239D machine

As I would expect, Scotty's latest machine has all the bells and whistles. It features an enclosed sealed pressurised cabin, fully suspended undercarriage, and low ground pressure tracks that are a must on some of the swampy wet ground that he sometimes works. I see that there is a choice of track style available to suit different applications. I estimate that the weight of the machine would be a little heavier with the addition of a tilt-coupler (as I'll describe a bit further on), and Scotty has fitted external counterweights to re-distribute the extra weight. Caterpillar's Intelligent Levelling system (ILEV) adds benefits such as slowing the downward motion of the bucket as it reaches its stops, pre-setting of work tool angles, and setting of digging angles.

The CAT239D engine

The Caterpillar C2.2 engine pumps out a gross horsepower of 44.9kW or 60.2hp. At 1500rpm, the four-cylinder engine delivers a peak torque of 183Nm (135 lbf-ft).

The cab

A full work day must be pretty awesome with full protection no matter what the weather decides to throw one's way, thanks to the pressurised one-piece cab.
Caterpillar has tried to make the seating and operating configuration ergonomically ideal, and I am told that it does take a little while to become accustomed to the 'float' of integrated seat and controls or the Speed Sensitive Ride Control as it is officially called. To assist safe operating on sites, Scotty says that the reversing camera coupled with a good-sized rear view mirror provides vision as good as it gets with compact track loaders.

Third-party add-ons

One particular reason why Scotty continues to purchase from Gough Cat is they were happy to fit an attachment from a third-party supplier, which in this case was a Katipo tilt-coupler from New Zealand manufacturer Progressive Equipment.

"Gough Cat in Hamilton have been excellent to deal with," Scotty says. "Other suppliers weren't happy about me installing a third-party attachment, but Gough's
were more than happy to accommodate my requirements."

With the advances in machine technology, Scotty insists that he remains at the forefront of new equipment that makes jobs faster to complete, and in turn provides his customers with the best possible outcomes, fitting the compact track loader with a Global Survey positioning system and SharpGrade Leveller. "To be honest, these items require a degree of investment, especially for a small operator such as me, but the money becomes inconsequential when you look at how efficient the total package becomes," Scotty says.

"I recently completed a four-unit site prep in half a day, where once upon a time something like that would have taken a couple of days. Obviously, this puts my business in a strong position."

CAT-compact -track -loader --6

The test

After getting the run through from Scotty on what needed to be done on the job, it was my turn to jump on the sticks and find out if the Caterpillar 239D would meet the expectations I had conjured up in my mind.

Metal grated steps (like you'd see on a truck step) assist you to step inside the machine instead of the 'glued on sandpaper' you find on some other branded machines that are always quick to wear out.

The first thing you notice inside the cab is the aforementioned air-ride suspended seat linked to the joysticks so they move in sync.

"It's amazing," says Scotty. "I had a bit of motion sickness when I first jumped on the machine but that quickly went, and I wouldn't be without it now. I get out of the machine at the end of a 12-hour day and feel like I've hardly worked at all."

Closing the door and turning up the revs, I instantly notice how quiet it is in the cab and even hear the muffled sound of a text message come through on my phone in my pocket. The day's task was to spread a pile of damp and compacted topsoil between two houses nearing completion. The contour of the land was a perfect situation to test out the third party add-on tilt coupler linked up to the roll-toggle controls on the joysticks.

With a simple flick of a toggle, the bucket smoothly tilted to the right (or left if required), allowing me to get a full bucket from the stockpile while simultaneously reinstating the ground back to its existing level. Safely reversing the 239D was primarily assisted by the large rear view mirror and reversing camera, which goes a long way to reducing back and neck strain at the end of the day. Tracking the machine down behind the house on a decline was smooth, and I'm sure this is partly assisted by the additional counterweights Scotty had added.

As I got out of the machine, a small offcut of drainage pipe caught my eye. It was zip-tied below the seat on the floor.

"Oh, that's my bottle holder," Scotty chuckles. "I'm not too sure what the lads in the US drink, but you can only fit a small energy drink-sized can in the factory cup holder. This kind of feedback is good, as it helps machinery manufacturers to tweak future models.

The verdict

As always, Caterpillar has exceeded my expectations with the 239D compact track loader, and it comes as no surprise that Scotty keeps finding himself in the seat of a Caterpillar every time his machine needs to be renewed.

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