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Wheel Loader

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2006 Caterpillar 990H Wheel Loader
The wheel loader, also known as a front end loader or bucket loader, is one of the most widely used machines in construction today and is noted for its extreme versatility and payload capacity to perform multiple tasks at a low cost. Wheel loaders are primarily used in construction applications such as material handling, digging, load-and-carry, road building, and site preparation.[1] Some models even come in waste handling versions. Top manufacturers of wheel loaders by rank include Caterpillar, Deere & Co., Komatsu, and Volvo. Other prominent manufacturers include Case, Kawasaki, New Holland, Hyundai, JCB, and Schaeff.[2]

Source(s): Wheel Loader


[edit] History

[edit] Wheel Loader Prototypes

In the 1920s, small agricultural tractors were outfitted with a loader bucket for re-handling of light materials. This contraption served as the earliest prototype for the modern wheel loader. The earliest versions of the wheel loader were nothing more than a pivoting bucket and lift arms mounted on a farm-type tractor. A bucket was mounted on a tractor using wire ropes through a clutch-operated winch, and then dumped by gravity through a trip release mechanism.[3] By the 1930s, a number of manufacturers were developing small wheel loaders by fastening buckets onto tractors. E.Boydell & Co., in Manchester England, was one of the first recorded makers of a bucket-mounted tractor with their Muir-Hill loader, a 0.5-cubic yard (0.4 m3) cable-controlled bucket mounted on a 28 horsepower Fordson Tractor.[4]

[edit] Rigid Frame Wheel Loaders

In 1939, an engineer from Chicago by the name of Frank G. Hough developed the first self contained, two-wheel drive, rubber tired, loader called the Hough Model HS.[5] The machine had a bucket capacity of 1/3 cubic yard (0.25 m3). The bucket was dumped by gravity through a latch mechanism.[6]

Other manufacturers began to produce integrated four-wheel drive wheel loaders. Many of the first wheel loaders had rigid frames. Though these machines were integrated, their rigid frames limited maneuverability resulting in the machines to turn in large circles rendering them useless to operate in tight places.[7] The first three wheel loaders developed by Caterpillar, for example, had rigid frames. Other manufacturers like Euclid/ Terex entered the wheel loader market in 1957, rather late, with a small rigid frame wheel loader unit known as the L-7.[8]

Furukawa FL35I 4x4 Articulated Wheel Loader

[edit] Articulated Wheel Loaders

Perhaps one of the most significant milestones in the evolution of the wheel loader was the introduction of the articulated frame. Mixermobile Manufacturers in Portland, Oregon first pioneered this technology in 1953 with the Scoopmobile Model LD-5,[9] In 1944, Hough went on to manufacture a loader with the first hydraulically actuated bucket tilt. This gave the machine the ability to control dumping and the operator could approach a bank in low gear and scoop a full bucket by tilting the bucket back during loading.[10] In 1947, Hough would advance wheel loader development once again when the company developed the world's first four-wheel drive hydraulic wheel loader the HM Model.[11] The model is still considered the forerunner for the modern wheel loader.

Mixermobile Manufacturing can be credited with introducing the first wheel loaders with hydraulic motors when it developed the Model H wheel loader in 1952 and the Model HP wheel loader in 1957. These loaders had a single centrally mounted bucket arm.[12]

The Tractomotive Corp., founded by Van Dobeus, was another company to introduce the hydraulic wheel loader to the U.S. market. This involved fastening a hydraulic wheel mechanism with hydraulic power to the bucket crowd. This development transformed the wheel loader virtually from a re-handling machine to a digging machine.[13]

[edit] Front Pivot Arm

As wheel loaders increased in size through the 1950s, concern for safety arose, particularly in the positioning of the loader arm pivot. Positioned behind the operator, the loader arms, as they moved up and down, were in close proximity to the operator. This posed problems. First, the moving arms presented an accident just waiting to happen. Second, the moving parts limited the operators' side visibility, particularly when in a raised position. In the late 1950s, a number of American wheel loader manufacturers were working in collaboration with the National Safety Council to reposition the arm pivot to be in front of the operator rather than behind. Hough was one of the first manufacturers to come up with a new, safer design with the production of their Model HO wheel loader.[14] Other manufacturers quickly followed suit in adopting the front mounted pivot including Caterpillar in 1958, Case in 1959, Allis-Chalmers in 1961 and Michigan in 1962.

[edit] Large-sized Wheel Loaders

As the 1960s arrived, the trend in wheel loader production focused on larger machines with greater payload capacity. After Caterpillar launched their six-cubic yard (4.6-m3) Model 998 in 1963, a number of industry surveys revealed a need for loaders to be much larger than the standard size of five to six cubic yards (3.8 to 4.6 m3). The market was demanding more rugged mobility from loading tools and larger wheel loaders were deemed the solution. Manufacturers began to flood the market with larger sized wheel loaders. Hough Division of International Harvester built the H-400, a wheel loader with a 10-cubic yard (7.6-m3) bucket. Other manufacturers responded by producing loaders with 10-cubic yard (7.6-m3) buckets including Caterpillar's 992, the Scoopmobile 1200 and Michigan's 475.

Over the years, the industry has continued to push the boundaries in terms of payload capacity. In the 1970s, a number of wheel loaders were showcased at 1975 CONEXPO with increased payload capacity not otherwise seen before in the industry including Hough's 21-cubic yard (16-m3) 580 Payloader and Clark-Michigan's massive 675 wheel loader with a 24-cubic yard (18.3-m3) capacity.[15]

In 1986, the record in payload capacity was broken when Kawasaki Heavy Industries Ltd., developed the largest wheel loader with a 25-cubic yard (19-m3) capacity for Japan's Surface Mining Equipment for Coal Technology Research Association. Eventually, other manufacturers including Caterpillar, Komatsu, and LeTourneau would delve into making loaders with capacities of 20 cubic yards (15.3 m3).[16]

[edit] LeTourneau's Legacy

1988 Komatsu WA600-1L Wheel Loader
LeTourneau is a manufacturer that has a reputation of building record-breaking heavy equipment. The company developed and still manufacturers the largest wheel loader in the world, the L-2350.[17] This loader is primarily used in surface mining and boasts a 2300 horsepower machine and an 80-ton, 53-cubic yard (40.5-m3) capacity rock bucket and a breakout force of 266,000 pounds. The height, to the top of the cab and bucket fully raised, is a staggering 43 feet and nine inches (13.23 m). The machine was designed to load 300- to 400-ton plus mining trucks in four to five passes.[18]

Le Tourneau's wheel loaders feature diesel-electric drive with DC electric motors in each wheel, a concept developed by LeTourneau himself. In the 1960s, the company started producing very large electric loaders with power to the hoist and bucket tilt transmitted through a rack-and-pinion drive. At first, these huge rack-and-pinion motors were not very commercially successful because the advantage of articulated steering was diminished due to the loader's industrial strength. As a result, few were actually built. One such model was the SL-40 model nicknamed the Monster and measuring 52 feet (16 m) long.[19]

The present day line of LeTourneau wheel loaders is derived from the L-700 series electrical drive model first produced in 1968. The L-700 was the forerunner to a series of successful loaders produced in large amounts to this day. The machines have departed from the rack-and-pinion motors but retain the electric drive wheels. Though the rack-and-pinion motor wheel loaders where not big sellers, they did prove to work hard and had a life cycle of more than 20 years.[20]

[edit] New Developments

Today, electrical loaders exist on the market and function with much the same capacity and versatility as diesel engine or gasoline engine wheel loaders. Wheel loaders also come with a range of attachments such as grapples, forks, and buckets in varying sizes that expand their tasking to include light demolition and tunneling.[21]  Some wheel loaders come equipped with ride control, which allows for greater operating speeds on bumpy surfaces.

New breakthroughs in adopting hybrid technology to reduce fuel transmissions are underway. In March 2008, Volvo unveiled at CONEXPO, a pre-production prototype of its L220F Hybrid wheel loader. The loader will offer a 10 percent reduction in fuel consumption. The technology has been developed within the Volvo Group and remains confidential and subject to patents. Slated for production in late 2009, the L220F will be the industry's first commercially available hybrid wheel loader.[22]

Volvo also has come up with a design concept for a wheel loader called the Gryphin. It is the company's futuristic vision of what a wheel loader may look like well into the year 2020. The Gryphin has a hybrid diesel and electric power motor. Replacing the standard transmissions, drivelines, and axles, the Gryphin will feature electrical motors inside each wheel which will make it run quieter than current models. The cab of the Gryphin is also unique and entirely composed of glass that will provide the operator with a greater range of visibility on all sides.[23]

[edit] How it Works

A wheel loader today is comprised of a pivoted frame, usually articulated, with the engine mounted over the rear wheels, and a cab or canopy resting over the front or rear end frame. The pivot arrangement of the machine is key in giving the wheel loader the capability to maneuver and work in small turning circles.

1974 Case W14 Wheel Loader
Wheel loaders are segmented in the market according to their horsepower. Compact wheel loaders are loaders with 80 horsepower or less, and then the classification is broken down accordingly from 80 to 150 horsepower, 150 to 200 horsepower and 200 to 250 horsepower.[24]

Power is supplied from a diesel engine through a torque converter and power shift gears to drive the wheels. Most wheel loaders are now four-wheel drive requiring that all wheels be of the same size but the machines can be operated in two-wheel drive too. Rear wheel drive enhances the machine's digging capability while front wheel drive enables better traction when carrying a full bucket.[25]

[edit] Specifications

In the equipment industry a set of specification criteria are used to measure a wheel loader's performance capacity and usefulness for handling certain construction applications. These include bucket features including the size of the bucket and cutting edges or teeth, tires and their ability to provide traction, tipping load and counterweight, speed, and breakout force. Breakout force is the most-quoted specification for wheel loaders and provides an indication of a wheel loader's digging ability.[26]

[edit] Common Manufacturers

[edit] Different Names For The Same Thing

This is a list of alternate names for wheel loaders.

  • Loader
  • Front end loader
  • Bucket loader

[edit] Additional Photos

See Wheel Loader (Photo Gallery)

[edit] Used & Unused Wheel Loaders for Sale

Search for unused and used wheel loaders being sold at Ritchie Bros. unreserved public auctions.

[edit] References

  1. Wheel Loaders. Equipment World Magazine. 2008-09-28.
  2. The Changing Trends and Market Segmentation of Wheel Loaders. BNET. 2008-09-28.
  3. Haddock, Keith. The Earthmover Encyclopedia. Motorbooks: St. Paul, 2003.
  4. Haddock, Keith. The Earthmover Encyclopedia. Motorbooks: St. Paul, 2003.
  5. Edwards, David and Harris, Frank and McCaffer, Ronald. Management of Off-Highway Plant and Equipment. Routledge: 2003. 50
  6. Haddock, Keith. The Earthmover Encyclopedia. Motorbooks: St. Paul, 2003.
  7. Trojan Wheel Loader. AllBusiness. 2008-09-28.
  8. Haddock, Keith. The Earthmover Encyclopedia. Motorbooks: St. Paul, 2003.
  9. Haddock, Keith. Colossal Earthmovers. MBI: 2000. 21
  10. Haddock, Keith. Giant Earthmovers. MBI: 1998.
  11. Haddock, Keith. Giant Earthmovers. MBI: 1998.
  12. Haddock, Keith. Giant Earthmovers. MBI: 1998.
  13. Haddock, Keith. The Earthmover Encyclopedia. Motorbooks: St. Paul, 2003. 73
  14. Haddock, Keith. The Earthmover Encyclopedia. Motorbooks: St. Paul, 2003. 73
  15. Haddock, Keith. The Earthmover Encyclopedia. Motorbooks: St. Paul, 2003. 73
  16. Haddock, Keith. The Earthmover Encyclopedia. Motorbooks: St. Paul, 2003. 73
  17. Loader. Vince Lewis Net. 2008-09-28.
  18. LeTourneau Unveils "World's Largest" Wheel Loader. BNet. 2008-09-28.
  19. Haddock, Keith. Colossal Earthmovers. MBI: 2000. 21
  20. Haddock, Keith. Giant Earthmovers. MBI: 1998.
  21. Electric Wheel Loader. The Construction Machinery. 2008-09-28.
  22. Wheel Loader. Yahoo. 2008-09-28.
  23. Wheel Loaders. Wired. 2008-09-28.
  24. The Changing Trends And Market Segmentation Of Wheel Loaders. BNet. 2008-09-28.
  25. Harris, Frank. Modern Construction Equipment and Methods. Longman Publishing Group: 1994.
  26. Rock Spec Sheet. Rock Products. 2008-09-28.