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2022 Ford Maverick impresses with capability and comfort

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Time for a little truck history. The Ford Courier was a compact truck that sprang up in the 1970s following a partnership between Ford and Mazda. Compact trucks seemed to be everywhere in Southern California in the ’80s. Maybe where you grew up too. I learned to drive in one.

Of course, a bigger is better mentality in terms of trucks and profit margins eventually pushed out pint-size pickups and paved the way for midsize trucks alongside a growing lineup of full-size models. Pickup size and prices continued to grow leaving both fleets and consumers longing for a smaller truck that would get the job done without breaking the bank.

Enter the 2022 Ford Maverick. The model name once reserved for Ford’s compact sedan of the ’70s was brought back for their compact pickup. It’s a good name since the Maverick is an unorthodox pickup that’s not only fun to drive, it’s also an impressive workhorse.

Maverick Exterior Towing BackWhen equipped with Ford’s 2.0-liter EcoBoost, Maverick can tow up to 4,000 lbs. The hybrid is rated at 2,000 lbs. towing.Tom QuimbyKnowing where to start when reviewing it is a little tricky. It’s an unusual pickup in a lot of ways: it’s a sporty workhorse with broad appeal from old timers to first-time car owners; hybrid comes standard; unusual unibody construction (a first for a Ford truck); available all-wheel drive; a versatile bed; and of course, we’re talking about the resurrection of the compact pickup, which may seem a little odd since bigger trucks with more power seem to get all the love.

But then again, things change. Dad’s 1975 Cadillac El Dorado with a monster 500-cubic-inch V8 was eventually sidelined by GM for a smaller and more nimble model, which wasn’t such a chore to park and could pass up gas stations without wheezing and begging for fuel.

Now, I’m not saying that compact pickups are signaling the demise of big pickups. I think they’re far too popular than that. What it looks like here is that the pickup market is strong enough to support a return to compact and capable trucks at an affordable entry point, especially the Maverick. The timing also couldn’t be much better for a fuel-sipping pickup as gas prices keep soaring.

Impressive power while maxing out the Maverick

The Maverick that Ford had delivered to us in Panama City, Florida was a Lariat First Edition with a 2.0-liter EcoBoost. The hybrid version was not available. Admittedly, I was disappointed at first, but in the end, I was absolutely fine with the non-hybrid version since it provided the opportunity to do some towing with the 16-foot flatbed. I couldn’t have done that with the hybrid since the weight of the flatbed alone would have nearly maxed out towing.

Plus, the 2.0-liter EcoBoost delivers 250 horsepower and 277 pound-feet of torque versus the hybrid, which comes in considerably less at 191 horsepower and 155 pound-feet of torque. That’s a big difference, especially if you’re used to a strong truck that can move out fast and easily tow beyond its curb weight, which the hybrid cannot.

On that point, the hybrid version with a curb weight of 3,674 pounds maxes out at 2,000 pounds towing. The lighter non-hybrid with a curb weight of 3,563 pounds has a max towing of 4,000 pounds or double that of the hybrid.

I understand that max towing in a small truck like the Maverick sounds a little sketchy at first. You can’t help but think of the tail wagging the dog. Except in this case, the tail was a tandem-axle flatbed loaded down with a Kubota RTV-X1140, which brought the entire load to just shy of 4,000 pounds.

Maverick Towing Bayou RoadAfter hooking up the flatbed and loading up the Kubota RTV X1140, I selected tow/haul mode and hit the road. Maverick easily handled the 4,000 lb. load as fuel economy dropped from 25 mpg to around 11 according to Maverick’s numbers. That’s still double-digit results while maxing out on towing. Impressed!Tom QuimbyWhen first hooking up the trailer, I expected the back end of the truck to drop substantially under the load. It didn’t. The bed sank about a half inch or so, and that wasn’t for lack of tongue weight.

After plugging in the trailer harness, the truck detected the trailer, but it did not suggest tow/haul mode. Not a deal breaker, just an observation. Bottom line, Maverick handled the load impressively on dirt, on city roads and on highway.

The big test would be the highway. In brisk traffic, Maverick got up to speed fast – in this case 65 mph – and held it well in cruise control while towing the Kubota.

Braking at a few red lights along the way came easily. The truck maintained control of the large load while having to drop down quickly from highway speeds to a standstill.

After stopping to fuel up – not exactly my favorite thing to do while towing – it was easy driving around another set of pumps and some trucks to exit the busy station. That’s one of the benefits of using a smaller truck. It’s more nimble in tight spaces. More on that later.

The downside of tow mode is that the engine runs at higher RPMs, which eats into fuel economy. Per Maverick’s numbers, 25 MPG combined dropped fast to 11 MPG. Still, that’s double-digit fuel economy while towing at max load.

Though Maverick’s max towing can’t come close to a half-ton – in a lot of cases, it won’t need to. There are plenty of commercial pickups that don’t tow that often, or when they do, they won’t require max towing. Parts runners and pest control come to mind.

As far as payload, the Maverick’s small 4.5-foot-long bed can act like a big boy, thanks to an adjustable tailgate. Just lower the gate and reposition the cables to keep the tailgate at an angle, which serves to prop up 4-foot by 8-foot sheets of plywood.

I used the bed to haul 50-pound bags of fertilizer, tomato cages and some buckets (growing tomato plants in buckets eliminates the nematode threat so prevalent in Florida’s sandy soil). The tonneau cover keeps the rain off and can be folded forward and secured for bigger loads. The spray-in bed liner offers additional protection.

I like the adjustable cleats in the bed rails. I slid one down to tie off the cages before hitting the road from my local home improvement store. More tie-down points can be accessed along the bed floor and walls. With 10 tie-down points, there’s no reason not to have a secure load.

Payload is rated at 1,500 pounds. I can’t say that I loaded the bed down completely to reach that weight, but I did work it enough to appreciate its capability.

Yes, we’re seeing QR codes just about everywhere, and that includes Maverick’s truck bed. Just scan it to see ideas for framing out the bed, which comes easy thanks to notches for both 2x4s and 2x6s.

What I don’t like about the bed is that the tailgate is not dampened. For the $35,000 Lariat First Edition, you really shouldn’t be subjected to tailgate slam. It sounds like an old truck when it drops down and cheapens the experience. Hopefully they’ll dampen the tailgate next year.

Life inside the Maverick

The Maverick’s cab is unlike any other pickup I’ve seen. A lot of thought went into creatively utilizing a smaller cab and providing a next-level pickup experience on such a small budget.

It doesn’t feel cheap. It feels practical, well thought-out, even a little sophisticated. This is the Lariat trim level after all.

Desert brown trim works well inside along with ActiveX Seating, which looks and feels like leather but offers the durability of a synthetic.

The 8-inch center stack touchscreen is perched prominently on the dash and offers quick access to mapping, sound and connectivity management including the Alexa-supported Ford Sync 3 infotainment system that comes with Lariat.

Maverick Front SeatHop in and go! Don’t mind the dirt. Maverick muscled up and went to work during its recent stay in Panama City, Fla. The Maverick Lariat First Edition with Ford Co-Pilot360 and 500A equipment package stickers at $35,800. Desert brown trim with ActiveX seats shown here.Tom QuimbyThe eight-speaker B&O sound system delivers some of the best audio quality I’ve heard in a pickup regardless of size. A discreetly mounted subwoofer and amp behind the rear seat once again speaks to the clever use of space.

On that note, storage opportunities are found nearly everywhere in the little truck. Sectioned space under the rear seat is the most impressive followed by the center console, small cubbies in and below the dash and well-designed door pockets that allow for tall, skinny water bottles.

When driving with family, it felt cozy not cramped so long as the occupant in the right front seat was nice enough to inch forward for a growing sibling in the back.

The optional moonroof and standard sliding rear window help open up the cab a little more and make it feel a little less crowded on those days when the family piles in.

The truck’s unibody design and independent rear suspension make for a smooth, fun ride. It’s the kind of pickup that you’re happy to slip into and just drive without fretting over the need for battleship-like clearance that comes with larger trucks.

Of the five drive modes that Maverik offers, sport is by far my favorite. The eight-speed transmission becomes more eager to put those 250 horses to work. Even with all-wheel-drive, I got a little bark out of the tires when I floored it on asphalt. True, it’s a compact truck and it doesn’t take much to launch it — and, man, is it fun. While I can’t speak to the hybrid’s capabilities, the 2.0-liter EcoBoost in Maverick is exciting to drive, and I didn’t expect that. Ripping out doughnuts while off-roading cranked up my respect for this little dynamo even more.

Maverick’s off-road performance gets even better with an upgrade to the FX4 Off-Road package, which comes with sand and mud & ruts modes. Even without the FX4 package, Maverick Lariat easily handled the bumps and dips in our off-road course.

Checking a lot of boxes

Maverick Back Seat StorageMore storage under the rear seat. Notice dual USB charge ports and conventional 12-volt round plug to keep devices juiced up.Tom QuimbyTruck needs often revolve around towing and payload capacities. If we do any serious towing around here, we’ll opt for one of our full-size trucks, but the 2.0-liter Maverick still proved impressive while towing around a 4,000-pound big boy flatbed.

I didn’t expect either myself or my kids to be won over so quickly by Maverick. We’re used to full-size trucks that offer plenty of power and creature comforts. The Maverick Lariat does that on a smaller scale, which brings me to my next point: accessibility.

I’ll often use a golf cart to get around on the property since it’s easier to drive around the trees. With the Maverick, I didn’t hesitate to weave in out of the orchard and deliver a load of supplies to the garden. I wouldn’t do that with my full-size truck.

Another nice surprise was Ford Co-Pilot 360. I’m still getting accustomed to autonomous driving features, and Ford makes it easy. The system kept the truck within its lane and worked the throttle and brake when needed to keep a safe following distance in traffic. Just keep both hands on the wheel; otherwise, the system will disengage.

Safety features today are tantamount, especially for fleets that can be hit with nuclear verdicts following devastating accidents. To help keep safety a priority, Maverick comes standard with pre-collision assist with automated emergency braking and a rearview camera to keep a close eye on life behind the truck. Headlights feature auto on/off and auto high beam. A tire-pressure monitoring system keeps a close eye on tire pressure. 

Maverick is a newcomer and as such we’ll have to see how durability plays out. In the meantime, we’re impressed with the capability and comfort this compact has to offer. 

Maverick GardenMaverick’s compact size makes it easy to drive through the orchard to the garden.Tom Quimby

Maverick Beach

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TxDOT issues default to Flatiron/Dragados for New Harbor Bridge

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The Texas Department of Transportation has issued a notice of default to the contractor on the future Harbor Bridge in Corpus Christi over safety concerns.

TxDOT says the contractor, the Flatiron/Dragados LLC joint venture, “has refused to acknowledge the safety issues that have been identified or taken any steps to correct them.”

The default notice gives Flatiron/Dragados 15 days to present a plan to correct the problems or face termination from the $803 million project to build the second-longest cable-stayed bridge in the U.S. The new bridge will replace the current Harbor Bridge that carries U.S. 181 over the ship channel at the Port of Corpus Christi.

The default notice follows TxDOT’s July 15 suspension of work on the cable-stayed section of the bridge for safety concerns, including the possibility of collapse under certain load conditions. The agency says it notified Flatiron/Dragados of the problems April 29 and that it “has consistently communicated its concerns…about non-conforming design flaws.”

“There were assurances by Flatiron/Dragados that these issues had been addressed,” said TxDOT Executive Director Marc Williams.

Equipment World is seeking comment from Flatiron/Dragados concerning the default notice.

The safety concerns over the design of the bridge, construction of which began in 2016, surfaced in 2020. The bridge’s engineer, FIGG Design Group, was fired by TxDOT that year following a report that blamed the firm for the 2018 fatal collapse of a pedestrian bridge under construction at Florida International University in Miami. FIGG was replaced by a joint venture of Arup and Carlos Fernandez Casado, called Arup-CFC, as the engineer of record. The new engineering team was hired by Flatiron/Dragados.

TxDOT says the safety issues include the foundations, load and weight capacity, structure and the stability of the main stay bridge. TxDOT hired SYSTRA International Bridge Technologies (IBT) in 2020 for a third-party review, and it confirmed the agency’s concerns, TxDOT says.

In a July 15 letter to Flatiron/Dragados, TxDOT outlined the following safety issues cited in IBT’s report:

  • inadequate capacity of the pylon drilled shafts,
  • deficiencies in footing caps that led IBT to report that the bridge would collapse under certain load conditions,
  • delta frame design defects, primarily related to the connections between the delta frames and the adjacent precast box units,
  • significant uplift at the intermediate piers
  • excessive torsion and other stresses related to crane placement during construction.

The letter states that Flatiron/Dragados and the engineering team of Arup-CFC “continue to deny any problems with the design despite ample evidence to the contrary.” The letter adds that “TxDOT does not believe it is responsible or safe to proceed with the erection of the NHB (New Harbor Bridge) superstructure (including, but not limited to the delta frame installation) because that work exacerbates four of the five major issues raised by IBT.”

The letter concludes: “Based upon the independent analysis performed by IBT and the resulting concerns about the ongoing erection of the NHB superstructure, TxDOT has concluded that there is or will be an emergency or danger to persons or property related to the design deficiencies.”

TxDOT says it does not yet have a timeline on when construction could resume on the cable-stayed portion of the bridge, but says it will ensure it is built to the highest quality standards.

The bridge is scheduled for completion in 2024, although that date is now in doubt. Currently, drivers are using the existing 2.25-mile steel bridge built in the 1950s. It will be demolished after the new bridge is completed.

The new bridge will have three lanes in each direction, consisting of 6.44 miles of bridge and connecting roadway, according to TxDOT. Its main span will extend 1,661 feet and become the second-longest cable-stayed bridge in the U.S. and Canada when completed. The Gordie Howe International Bridge between Detroit and Canada will have the longest cable-stayed span, of 2,799 feet, when completed, also slated for 2024.

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Texas DOT issues default notice to Flatiron/Dragados for bridge

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The Texas Department of Transportation has issued a notice of default to the developer on the future Harbor Bridge in Corpus Christi over safety concerns.

TxDOT says the Flatiron/Dragados LLC joint venture “has refused to acknowledge the safety issues that have been identified or taken any steps to correct them.”

The default notice gives design-build team Flatiron/Dragados 15 days to present a plan to correct the problems or face termination from the $803 million project to build the second-longest cable-stayed bridge in the U.S. The new bridge will replace the current Harbor Bridge that carries U.S. 181 over the ship channel at the Port of Corpus Christi.

The default notice follows TxDOT’s July 15 suspension of work on the cable-stayed section of the bridge for safety concerns, including the possibility of collapse under certain load conditions. The agency says it notified Flatiron/Dragados of the problems April 29 and that it “has consistently communicated its concerns…about non-conforming design flaws.”

“There were assurances by Flatiron/Dragados that these issues had been addressed,” said TxDOT Executive Director Marc Williams.

Equipment World is seeking comment from Flatiron/Dragados concerning the default notice.

The safety concerns over the design of the bridge, construction of which began in 2016, surfaced in 2020. The bridge’s engineer, FIGG Design Group, was fired by TxDOT that year following a report that blamed the firm for the 2018 fatal collapse of a pedestrian bridge under construction at Florida International University in Miami. FIGG was replaced by a joint venture of Arup and Carlos Fernandez Casado, called Arup-CFC, as the engineer of record. The new engineering team was hired by Flatiron/Dragados.

TxDOT says the safety issues include the foundations, load and weight capacity, structure and the stability of the main stay bridge. TxDOT hired SYSTRA International Bridge Technologies (IBT) in 2020 for a third-party review, and it confirmed the agency’s concerns, TxDOT says.

In a July 15 letter to Flatiron/Dragados, TxDOT outlined the following safety issues cited in IBT’s report:

  • inadequate capacity of the pylon drilled shafts,
  • deficiencies in footing caps that led IBT to report that the bridge would collapse under certain load conditions,
  • delta frame design defects, primarily related to the connections between the delta frames and the adjacent precast box units,
  • significant uplift at the intermediate piers
  • excessive torsion and other stresses related to crane placement during construction.

The letter states that Flatiron/Dragados and the engineering team of Arup-CFC “continue to deny any problems with the design despite ample evidence to the contrary.” The letter adds that “TxDOT does not believe it is responsible or safe to proceed with the erection of the NHB (New Harbor Bridge) superstructure (including, but not limited to the delta frame installation) because that work exacerbates four of the five major issues raised by IBT.”

The letter concludes: “Based upon the independent analysis performed by IBT and the resulting concerns about the ongoing erection of the NHB superstructure, TxDOT has concluded that there is or will be an emergency or danger to persons or property related to the design deficiencies.”

TxDOT says it does not yet have a timeline on when construction could resume on the cable-stayed portion of the bridge, but says it will ensure it is built to the highest quality standards.

The bridge is scheduled for completion in 2024, although that date is now in doubt. Currently, drivers are using the existing 2.25-mile steel bridge built in the 1950s. It will be demolished after the new bridge is completed.

The new bridge will have three lanes in each direction, consisting of 6.44 miles of bridge and connecting roadway, according to TxDOT. Its main span will extend 1,661 feet and become the second-longest cable-stayed bridge in the U.S. and Canada when completed. The Gordie Howe International Bridge between Detroit and Canada will have the longest cable-stayed span, of 2,799 feet, when completed, also slated for 2024.

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When it’s time to buy a new compact track loader

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Compact track loaders have emerged as the darlings of the construction industry.

They’re versatile, productive, comparatively low cost, and easy to operate and transport. They provide excellent value even when subjected to the worst management practices.

So how do you get the most out of your CTL? How do you know when it’s time to trade up? And what features should you look for when buying a new compact track loader?

We have the answers here, along with a rundown of the latest compact track loaders on the market:

Buy new or stay put?

Unlike production machines such as wheel loaders, CTLs have widely varying utilization rates and widely varying duty cycles when serving in multiple applications. Because of this, it’s hard to know when to replace CTLs with new models.

“A lot depends on the customer,” says Buck Storlie, ASV product manager. “Some run the machine for a long time, up to 8,000 hours. Others trade in at the first major service, such as an undercarriage rebuild.”

Storlie points out that downtime from an older machine can be more costly than the acquisition of a new one. “Risk goes up with time; so much of the decision of when to buy new comes down to the customer’s risk tolerance.”

Deere SmartGrade 333G compact track loader with dozer blade climbing up dirt pileThe vertical-lift John Deere 333G has a Yanmar engine rated at 100 net horsepower and an operating weight of 12,100 pounds. Attachments for this and other large-frame Deere CTLs include mulching heads, grapples and snowblowers. The optional EH Boom Performance Package provides self-levelling up and down or up only, return-to-carry, return-to-dig and boom height kickout.John DeereFor risk-averse customers, a warranty provides peace of mind, which can also determine when to buy a new CTL.

“There is no single best answer as to when to buy new,” says Luke Gribble, solutions marketing manager, John Deere, “and with simple maintenance, CTLs can last a really long time. But a lot of customers want to stay in warranty coverage, whether standard or extended, and they set replacement cycles based on that.”

Kevin Coleman, Cat product specialist, says simply monitoring machine health can be a good way of determining when to replace a CTL. “A strong maintenance strategy ensures equipment health but also identifies emerging issues, as does fluid analysis.”

He says an intuitive operator notices and should report changes in the way the loader feels and performs. Owners should closely track ownership costs, especially maintenance costs and repair costs, “which are two separate items,” says Coleman, “even though they often get lumped together as ‘maintenance-and-repair costs’ in communication.”

Cat 279D3 compact track loader rear view pushing red clay Cat 259D3 background hauling red clay in bucketCat’s radial-lift 279D3 has a Cat C3.3B DIT (turbo) engine rated at 73.7 net horsepower. ROC is 2,220 pounds at 35% of the 6,345-pound tipping load. Operating weight is 10,095 pounds. The available Advanced Display provides on-screen adjustments for implement response, Hystat response and creep control as well as customizable layouts and rearview camera monitor.CaterpillarAnother key indicator on when it might be time to trade-in: the tracks.

Ryan Anderson, product marketing manager, New Holland Construction North America, says tracks are the most vulnerable part of an undercarriage and can indicate wear on other parts of the system.

“Tracks are expensive in themselves at $2,500 or more per side, but accelerated track wear or premature track failure is a good indicator of excessive wear or imminent failure of other components, which also gets expensive in a hurry,” he says. “Track life can be a good indicator whether it’s time to replace that machine.”

New Holland C362 compact track loader in dark earth pile pushing dirtThe New Holland C362 is a vertical-lift machine featuring the company’s Super Boom design, which provides greater lift height and reach for loading to the center of high-sided trucks and hoppers. The FPT engine is rated at 114 horsepower. Relief pressure is 4,100 psi, and flow is 41.6 gallons per minute. ROC is 6,200 pounds at 50% of the 12,400-pound tipping load.New Holland

When new makes sense

New machines project a better image of the company and help in attracting and retaining operators. Coleman advises determining whether a particular CTL is a core or support machine, and make replacement decisions accordingly.

Two other considerations: CTLs tend to hold their residual value well, so there’s no sweet spot in the depreciation curve to encourage replacement. Second, if the CTL is mainly a bucket-and-forks machine, it can likely continue to serve well in that capacity for a long time.

Also, if you want equipment that can go beyond buckets and forks, or you want to use bigger buckets and forks, it makes sense to move up to a new loader.

“For contractors looking to break into a new market or type of job, a new CTL can provide significant application enhancements through increased power, productivity, fuel economy and jobsite efficiency,” says Mike Fitzgerald, Bobcat marketing manager.

He says the R Series loaders from Bobcat were designed to be stronger and more durable. As an example, the lift arms on the R Series use cast steel components that are 20% stronger than fabricated steel. Lift arm profile is also smaller, improving visibility for the operator.

bobcat t76 compact track loader nitrogen hammer breaking concrete parking lotThe vertical-lift R Series T76 from Bobcat has a 74-horsepower engine and an operating weight of 10,250 pounds. System relief pressure is 3,500 psi at the quick-connect couplers. Standard auxiliary flow is 23.3 gallons per minute; the high-flow option provides 30.3 gpm. Rated operating capacities are 2,900 pounds ISO and 4,143 pounds at 50% of tipping load. Joystick control is standard.BobcatAdam Devins, Wacker Neuson product manager, goes back to costs. The graph of costs should resemble a hockey stick, with a long, flat stretch of consistent costs and a sharp upslope where costs suddenly escalate with machine hours. “That inflection point will signal the time for replacement.”

Depreciation can be tracked similarly, he says. If conditions arise so that the depreciation ticks up sharply (or residual value falls steeply), “trade-in value might be the tipping point for the feasibility of purchasing a new CTL.”

Wacker Neuson ST50 compact track loader with arms extended up bucket dumping into haul truck bedWacker Neuson’s ST50 delivers 5,000 pounds of ROC at 50% of tipping and is available with electrohydraulic hand/foot or selectable ISO or H-pattern controls. The Kohler engine is rated at 100 horsepower. Pressure is 3,500 psi with 25.1 gallons per minute standard flow or 37.4 gpm optional high flow. Nearly 30 attachments are available for use with the ST50.Wacker Neuson

{Related Content: How to Calculate the Owning & Operating Costs of a Compact Track Loader}

Other signs it’s time to go new

Do you often rent or borrow a CTL because the one you own is not up to the tasks you’re performing?

“You may be able to perform those tasks with a newer, more capable machine,” says Jeff Jacobsmeyer, Case product manager. “It boils down to a basic discussion of whether you can perform the work you need to do with the tools you have. If not, you may be better served with a new machine.”

Case TV620B compact track loader in woods mulching brushThe vertical-lift Case TV620B has an FPT engine rated at 114 horsepower and an operating weight of 16,300 pounds with operator and fuel. Maximum travel speeds are 8.7 mph for rubber tracks and 5.9 mph for steel tracks in high range. Pressure is 4,351 psi, and flow is 24.2 gallons per minute standard or 41.6 gpm with the high-flow option. Track length on ground is 74 inches.Case CEEthan Clowes, JCB product manager for skid-steer, compact-track and backhoe loaders, lists features commonly available on newer models that may be lacking on older machines that could make big differences in productivity and profitability. Among these are telematics, smooth ride systems, creep speeds, power quick hitches, air suspension seating and controls tunable to conditions and operator preferences.

The ability to move more material per hour or with less fuel per unit of material provides other likely advantages of buying a new machine.

Given the versatility of new CTLs, Clowes says, “if you have an application that requires two machines, and that application can be accomplished with one new machine of greater production or versatility, then you could save money with that single new machine rather than two existing machines plus two operators.” He cites the JCB Teleskid 3TS-8T for the extreme versatility afforded by its telescoping boom.

JCB 215T compact track loader full bucket dirt in front of red brick wallJCB retains its single-arm Powerboom design with up to 20% more steel than twin-arm designs. Powerboom allows side-door entry and exit and contributes to 60% better operator visibility than other CTLs. While machines can be spec’d to meet customers’ unique needs, JCB offers its Yellow Series of machines in the most popular configurations for quicker acquisition, as well as Teleskid and Forestmaster configurations.JCB

Coleman notes that while incremental advances in performance, operator comfort and productivity in new machines all have value, the greatest value is found in the most significant advances. Cat’s Smart Dozer Blade, Smart Grader Blade and Smart Backhoe attachment are such advances, he says. Each integrates the attachment with the CTL.

Guidance for buying a new CTL

Now that you’ve made a decision to buy a new CTL, it’s time to decide on the type of machine.

The fundamental decision in buying a compact track loader, says Lee Padgett, Takeuchi-U.S. product manager, is radial or vertical lift.

The rule of thumb is that radial lift is best for applications done from where the lift arms are horizontal and below, such as grading and dirt work. Vertical lift is better for applications with the arms above the horizontal centerline of the machine, such as load-and-carry and truck loading.

Padgett says the second fundamental decision is standard or high-flow hydraulics.

“Customers who want versatility should choose a machine with high-flow hydraulics because that will increase the range of attachments the machine can use. If they have a broad service menu or know they want to expand the services they offer in the future, high flow is the smart choice.”

High flow also boosts residual value and marketability of the loader when it comes time to trade it in or sell it.

So why not just get the high-flow option and be done with it?

“If they specialize in one specific task or know they’ll be able to work efficiently with standard-flow attachments, they may not benefit from the additional investment required for high-flow hydraulics,” says Padgett.

Takeuchi TL12R2 compact track loader side view above dirt hole hauling dirt in bucketThe TL12R2 from Takeuchi is a radial-lift machine with a 12,590-pound operating weight (cab), tipping load of 8,629 pounds, and an ROC of 2,975 pounds at 50% of tipping load. The Kubota engine is rated at 111 horsepower. Hydraulic pressure is 3,481 psi with standard flow of 23.2 gallon per minute and optional high-flow of 40.4 gpm. The cab features a new design with low-effort overhead door for improved entry and exit.Takeuchi

Track tread pattern is another fundamental consideration, says Coleman.

Cat offers two patterns: bar and block. The bar tread pattern is the best for general, all-season use, including snow removal. It creates minimal surface disturbance and is therefore preferred for grading. The block style tread is a rugged pattern style and works well in rough terrain, in aggregate and for rental machines.

When it comes to operator comfort, suspension is also a key consideration.

Storlie says that although suspension provides significant improvements in operator comfort and load retention, not all OEMs offer it as standard. Non-suspension models are provided to hit price points, especially in the rental market.

“ASV has been doing suspension for over 30 years, and it’s standard on all our CTLs,” he says.

Available on larger ASV models is a dual-level system where the idler wheels have torsion suspension to isolate them from the undercarriage, and the undercarriage has torsion suspension to isolate it from the operator.

Many new models have entirely new feature sets; so it’s important to understand what those are and the value they offer. Telematics is one of those features buyers should focus on.

“The Case TV620B features the SiteConnect module,” says Jacobsmeyer, “which provides greater flow of telematics data and also serves as the gateway for remote connectivity.” With the SiteConnect module and SiteManager app, owners can grant dealers remote access to their machines for faster diagnosis and repair if problems develop.

Regardless of how the decision is made to replace a CTL, Devins says, customers should have a plan for acquiring a new machine. Lead times are currently long, and availability at the local dealer is likely to be limited.

CTL maintenance

Kubota SVL97-2 compact track loader hauling concrete fragments in bucket over dirt groundsStandard features on the Kubota SVL97-2 include self-levelling of the bucket during lift and two-speed travel for a 7.3 mph top speed. Horsepower is rated at 96.4; operating weight is 11,574 pounds (cab), and ROC is 3,200 pounds at 35% of tipping load. The vertical-lift design provides 128.5 inches of hinge pin height and 40.7 inches of reach.KubotaNow that you’ve bought your new compact track loader, here’s some guidance on how to maintain it.

When it comes to CTL maintenance, first and foremost is track adjustment. It is often overlooked and should be part of daily inspections.

A track that’s too loose accelerates track wear and may result in the track coming off. A too-tight track accelerates wear on other undercarriage components as well as the track itself.

Padgett says other daily checks include fluid levels. Fuel/water separators should be drained. Look for damaged lines and cylinders and hydraulic leaks. Clean hydraulic couplers before connecting attachments. Keep an eye on hydraulic oil temperatures, especially when running high-flow attachments such as mulchers. Keep debris out of the tracks.

Anderson says a clean cab is important for operator comfort by reducing odors and the annoyance of objects clattering around on the floor. It also sets a standard of professionalism for the operator.

On the area below the cab, or the “bathtub” of the machine, dirt and litter can collect, impeding cooling and even posing fire risk. The area is filled with hoses and connectors, which are potential fail points.

“This area is not normally seen by the operator nor is it part of a daily walkaround,” says Anderson, “yet conditions that can lead to unexpected downtime are often first seen here. It’s important to schedule regular inspections and cleaning of this area.”

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