With increasing frequency farmers are taking on jobs around the farm that require equipment that's a little different from the regular ag implement lineup to get the job done.
Removing dead tree shelter belts, improving field drainage and installing tiling systems all necessitate equipment that's designed for those tasks, which often means moving to some light construction equipment such as larger skid steer loaders, back hoes and even track hoes.
But it isn't just the heavy jobs that light construction equipment is called upon to do on many farms. Many farmers note that once they add a skid steer loader to their equipment lineup they find themselves using it practically every day for multiple tasks around the farm - from cleaning snow to loading 1,000 pound seed totes.
And when farmers expand into that class of equipment, they often turn to the world's leader in construction equipment, Caterpillar, to fill that need. And earlier this year Cat introduced their new Series D skid steer and compact track loaders, which feature more powerful engines, stronger lift forces and increased hydraulic flow rates.
The new D Series models are built on the premium features, solid performance, quality and durability of the former C Series, but now have a more powerful engine, the Cat C3.8, which meets Stage IIIB and Tier 4 Interim emission standards. Additionally, the new D Series incorporates design features that further enhance lifting, digging and work tool performance.
Net horsepower increases for the new D Series range from 5 to 18 percent and flywheel torque has been improved from 13 to 27 percent. The new engine uses a redesigned air intake path for added efficiency and a dealer-installed pre-cleaner kit is available for dusty, dirty environments.
The electronically controlled Cat C3.8 engine incorporates a high-pressure common-rail fuel system for operating efficiency and is also equipped with the Cat NOx Reduction System and a diesel particulate filter for emissions reduction.
Longer lift cylinders on the D Series provide a 19 percent boost in lifting force, compared with the C Series models. In addition, an electrically activated quick coupler is available that replaces the previously used hydraulically actuated coupler. This improvement allows a simpler design that eliminates hydraulic lines, connectors and valves. Self-relieving quick disconnects allow work tool changes to made quickly and easily.
A new "Intelligent Leveling" system (ILEV) continues to enhance Caterpillar's reputation as a technology leader for integration and industry leading features. The ILEV enables three features: 1) Electronic Dual Self Level; 2) Work Tool Return-to-Dig; and 3) Work Tool Positioner.
The Electronic Dual Self-Level levels the load both when raising and lowering. Because it's an electronic based system, there is a high degree of reliability without the use of hydraulic lines, valves or connectors.
The Work Tool Return-to-Dig feature automatically lowers the lift arms and returns to work tool to a pre-set angle, thereby increasing productivity and decreasing cycle times.
The Work Tool Positioner feature automatically returns the work tool to a pre-set angle, increasing productivity and quality by allowing the work tool (such as a cold planer, forks, trencher, wheel saw, etc.), to be returned to a pre-set angle, even after the machine has been repositioned.
In the cab, a new dial-type hand throttle and electronic throttle foot pedal provide an industry exclusive "decel" feature when at high idle.
The net engine power for the 272D and 299D is up 5 percent to 95 horsepower and the peak torque has been increased by 14 percent. A 23-gallon per minute auxiliary hydraulic system allows efficient use of a large range of work tools. Both models can be equipped with an optional 32-gpm High Flow XPS system for increased productivity.
Rated capacity for the 272D is 3,200 lbs and 2,975 lbs for the 299D.
The models 272D XHP and 299D XHP are rated at 106 engine horsepower with peak torque pegged at 277lb-ft. Both models are equipped with a 40-gpm high flow hydraulic system operating at 4,061 psi and producing 94 hydraulic horsepower. Rated operating capacity for the 272D XHP is 3,600 lbs and 3,185 for the 299D XHP.