We’ve demo’d a couple of pavers this year: a brand new Caterpillar AP 1000E as well as and a two-year-old Vogele. After trying them both, we decided to pony up the cash and keep the CAT.
Here’s what we know: the CAT is a powerful machine. The tractor is equipped with a C7.1 Acert Caterpillar diesel engine with interim Tier 4 emission ratings. In laymen terms, it puts out a lot more power, and a lot less pollutants than previous, equivalent size machines. This CAT engine is displacing 427 cubic inches and pumping out 225 horsepower, making it completely capable of pulling the massive 22 feet wide passes we had to make. But enough with the specs, you can read those out of the book.
What I like about it is that the operators console is so customizable that you would think it’s a Lincoln Town Car. You can adjust the seat position, giving the operator many choices and views of the mix flowing in and the truck he is pushing down the highway. You can also set a personal profile that adjusts feeder controls and operating speeds for different material applications. Most impressive was the reaction of my father, who has been paving for 40 years. He started off skeptical of the fancy new operator’s console adaptations, but soon he was actually running the computerized controls and liking them! It’s definitely fun to watch a guy who started off with equipment that was cable drawn deftly working the computer controlled hydraulics and having the CAT follow his every command.
Even with a heavy spray of asphalt emulsion and a width of 22 feet, the tires never even began to slip. Front wheel assist worked like a charm. The screed is now controlled with Trimble automation. I personally learned on Top Con and Niveltronics, but was able to pick up this user-friendly interface quickly. I gave the user manual a glance and realized it was very similar to other automation controls I had used – probably closest to a top con system, if I had to say. I ran slope on my right hand side and matched the joint on my left. The mill was working hard in front of us but we managed to put down 300 tons of 19 mm binder in about an hour and a half and even beat the rain that was headed for us.
It was only my first day on this machine, and I really enjoyed it. The CAT had quick reaction from the screed, and plenty of power to move wings and augers. I’m planning on taking the auger extensions and screed extensions off tomorrow and going through the screed with a fine tooth comb to get it right. I’ll soon be putting in base and binder with this machine and top shortly after. So far two thumbs up!
Photo courtesy of: Robert Carr