View Full Version : Help Me Choose a CTL!

08-26-2007, 03:00 AM
Well, this is the same old question but, I have a couple of unique situations that are giving me troubled.

First, I am not using this machine for a business to make money. I own a couple of ranches in South TX and we are needing to work the machine personally.

To start with I have to have a cab model. No options on this. We have serious bee problems and they are mostly africanized and they are bad news. If it was not for this problem I would probably just use an open cab tractor and loader for my work.

The second thing that makes this a little different is that 99% of the ground is beach sand. We are no on the beach but, we are only a couple miles off the coast and it is just the sandiest stuff you have ever seen as far as you dig. There is no bottom to it. I run 2wd and 2wd tractors as well as 2wd trucks and jeeps on it all the time so it is not quick sand, just really sandy.

Because of these 2 particular things I have to have a cab and tracks as far as I am concerned.

The second unique problem is that we work mostly in and around Oak motts. The kicker is that we cannot cut the oaks down. We can trim them but, that is it. This one thing makes it very difficult to do the work that needs to be done on our cabbed tractors. No matter how careful we are we inevitably hurt the cab or we end up working so slow we are not productive.

Now, most of our work is going to be maintaining existing roads by clearing regrowth brush and limbs. We will also want to use it to cut new small roads or jeep trails.

We will most likely have some sort of heavy brush cutter on the front most of the time and we will probably have a tree shear as well. I really wanted a mulcher but, everyone has steered me away from it down here in the TX heat. They say that they are a maintenance nightmare and you have to stop and clean them non stop like once an hour or more. For this reason we will have some sort of heavy brush cutter so we will end up with a high flow machine.

Now, we are looking at the CT332, LT190 and the 277C. I really like the performance of the deere. The only downside to it is the controls. I am ok with them but, my Dad who just had shoulder surgery 3 months ago is concerned they might wear on him when he uses it?? I don't think they are that bad and I am pretty sure he would be ok with them but, I think he just really likes the pilot controls. This is the reason we are looking at the LT190. I like the Deere better other than the cab and control portion.

Now, the reason we are looking at the CAT is 2 fold. One, being n the sand and a very hot and humid climate we thought the pressurized cab might make us more comfortable. Secondly while sand itself is pretty smooth to drive on when you have tons of grass, weeds and brush growing in it, then it is actually rough as heck. We are thinking that the 2 stage suspended tracks will make the machine smooth enough to warrant the higher cost??

the last thing that s of some concern is that we plan to cut new roads or senderos as they call them here. Most of the machines are wider than the brush cutters you can get. Even if you just get a normal HD mower they are 84" and cut less than that. In looking at the machines the CAT is narrower than the rest and it seems that because of the cutters that are available this might make my life a little easier?

The last thing we are considering is a grubber. This is where you basically shovel under a tree and pluck it out by the roots. For this application it seems the Deere would shine although with shallow roots and sand holding them any of the machines will likely work.

So the real questions are:

Are the creature comforts (cab and suspended tracks) on the CAT worth the extra money?

Are the New Holland machines very good machines? These are the machines I know the least about.

I have driven and demo'd many of the machines other than the 277c. the problem is that I demo'd at the lot or at my house, not where I will be using them. I will not likely be able to do a demo at our ranches since they are about 450 miles from home and there are basically no local dealers I know down there. Up here I use a lot of CAT and JD equipment and know the dealers well.

So, any advise is much appreciated!


08-26-2007, 08:40 AM
If you're not getting involved with rocks, gravel, etc, I would think the Cat / ASV tracks would hold up ok. It also helps that you and your dad, the owners, will be running it, instead of some guy making 10 bucks an hour.

The new c series is supposed to be the best cab ever on a CTL. If most of what you are doing is brush cutting, I would definitely make cleanliness and comfort a big item.

I just mentioned in another thread that for serious mulching, in the heat, continuous duty cycle, supertrak makes re-engineered machines that can take the abuse. http://www.supertrak.com Of course they will cost more than a 277C and brush master.

Anyway, considering the heat, killer bees, dust and wood chips, I would try to get the best cab I could.

08-26-2007, 10:19 AM
You may want to take a look at the ASV RC100. With the exception of the SuperTrack ($120K+), there is nothing that touches it for brush cutting capability, I'm pretty surethat ASV sells a rotary cutter that easily cuts as wide as the machine, I have seen their new brush package and it looks to protect the machine well, it offers pilots, two speed (I think it goes over 11mph), 100hp for cutting and making your roads, it has a ROC near 4,000lbs for your rubbing application, I think it also has 14" of ground clearance, and it also affers the suspension you mention for confort. I would try them all. Best of luck and let us know how the demo goes.

08-26-2007, 10:30 AM
If moneys no issues, i would probably go with the Cat.Whats you plans for the machine on down the road.Do you plan on keeping it for a long time or resale it when project is done????

As far as the shear there is one out that you can shear flat or will turn to trim with( like if you just needed to remove a limb hanging out ,but want to leave the tree).It can be ordered with a hydraulic cylinder to turn the shear on it's side,or manual turn.I would go with the hydraulic.Good luck.

08-26-2007, 02:03 PM
I have a John Deere CT332 and love it. I use it mostly to move brush with a grapple on very steep hills. The machine is very powerful and I almost never run it flat out. For your application I am not sure if the CT332 is the right machine however. I am 19 years old and have a little over 150 hours on the CT332, and have not found comfort to be an issue, however, I'm sure my age has more than anything to do with that. I prefer the CT332 control setup to the pilots on the Cats, my previous CTL was a Cat 257 and although the controls were very smooth and precise, I feel that the CT332 controls are ultimately more accurate because you control each side of the machine independently. The real reason I would say that you might want to avoid the CT332 is that the windows are outside of the window guards. I have yet to have a problem with this and I work in very heavy brush, however, this may have to do with the fact that the loader lift arms protect the sides of the cab very well. The one nice thing about the windows being outside of the guards is that they are very easy to clean. My faults with the Caterpillar CTLs are that they have a very high center of gravity and the visibility is not as good. The pressurized cab certainly sounds nice, but the Deere cab is still pretty good. I've heard that they will be putting a pressurized cab in the next generation of Deere CTLs however I could very well be wrong.

08-26-2007, 03:24 PM
The new version of the NH lt-190 is the C-190 it has pilot controls and a deluxecab option as well. I have an LS-185.b skid and love it, I wouldn't trade it for anything other than a new one with more options. There aren't many on this forum who discuss them or have had problems with their units??? I don't know why as they are very popular around here. As many have said on this forum, dealer support is a deciding factor for their purchase. If you can, rent or demo each unit that you are concidering. You are going to get alot of responses from your which is better question(ie: Ford, Chevy or Dodge). Good Luck

08-26-2007, 03:35 PM
Let me throw another questions at you guys.

How do you thin the OTT (steel of course) would do in the sand? My only reason for needing tracks is that I am certain a wheel loader will be stuck n the first 30 seconds we unload it. I am afraid we will tear any rubber tracks up very quickly. I am just worried I might still have issues getting stuck with the OTT???

Money is not going to stop me from buying what I feel is best but, like anyone else I work hard for my cash and I don't want to just spend foolishly.

A wheel loader with OTT is much, much less expensive than a CTL or MTL!!! If it will get the job done then that might be a possibility.

I have looked at the ASV and they look like good machines but we have no local dealers and service or warranty work might be a huge problem.

08-26-2007, 05:37 PM
I have a set of Loegren Trail Blazer tracks that I run on a 465 and a 95XT before that. They are I believe the perfect track for sand. I used them on lake front areas. The floatation of these tracks is very impressive. If you go to the website you will see the bars are wide makes them great for sand or mud. My machine weighs around 10K and it floats over sand. I can crawl straight up a sand bar with those tracks. It might be a good option as long as you don't need to also be on asphalt or concrete.

08-26-2007, 11:04 PM
Well, based on your 450 miles from home I would probably go for the machine with the closest and best service. I would have choose the Deere and the New Holland first since I know they are pretty good designs even though the New Holland is new at the CTL thing as also Case. The Cat if I knew the undercarriage was fixed I would have chosen it first. I think no matter what you choose for sand there will be some more wear since it is so abrasive and gets into everything. Maybe someone else can comment more but from what I know about dozer's (CTL's simular in design) they don't like the sand as well. In some ways I think it is easier on the machine and others ways much harder.

RockSet N' Grade
08-26-2007, 11:35 PM
You got some pretty good advise from the above posts. One of your questions was: are the creature comforts worth it? Well, I am 51 years young......torn muscles in my right shoulder, tennis elbow reoccurs in both elbows and my body is just not as "youthful" as I think it should be. I bought a machine with pilots, heat/air, stereo and tracks simply because I can't and/or don't want to abuse my little booty any more than I have too. Buy all the creature comforts you can........make it an enjoyable experience (or as much as possible). If ya can't walk or move your arms........you can't work. Treat yourself right and get tracks and an enclosed cab. The type of machine depends on issues touched on in the previous responses..........

accurate machinery
08-27-2007, 11:29 AM
I get a lot of skid steer loaders (dealer trades) that have been run with over the tire tracks, they take a beating. The over the tire tracks provide so much traction that the rest of the machine takes the brunt of the torque, I see more broken loader arms, destroyed buckets, axle issues, and recently replaced (or needing replaced) drive components. The fenders are frequently destroyed (NH, JD, Case) People that run them without the spacers put serious cuts in the frames. I am sure that they help with traction and flotation but man the cost in the long run must be high....Like Fieldman12, I would like to see some post from people that have a lot of time in the sand with track skid steer loaders, how have the undercarriages held up? I would not want a Cat or an ASV, if the sand is getting into the roller and idler bearing assemblies. Count the rollers and idlers, if they can't keep the sand out it will cost a fortune$$$$

08-27-2007, 01:46 PM
That was something I noticed that all the over the tire track machines I saw looked rough. I always looked around the wheels to see if I could see any places that rubbed the frame. If I saw any I left the machine alone.

08-27-2007, 07:01 PM
On my machine I simply flip the rims and the spacing is perfect for tracks. The only CASE machines that have fenders are the 1800 series. I have never experienced any rubbing.

09-12-2007, 03:57 AM
Just wanted to give you guys an update. I tested and demod several units. Luckily my buddy go a New Holland about 3 months ago, so I just used his. I also tested the Deere, Gehl and Case along with the CAT.

The first thing I want to say is that my little experience with these machines is that any of them felt like they would do the job I need. There were little things I liked and disliked about most of them but, no real show stoppers.

So, in the end I bought a Cat 272C with Loegering Steel tracks.

Without going into terrible detail about every machine here is why I chose the CAT.

I demod a 262C with the same tracks. For the demo I had a factory bucket as well as a CAT brush cutter. My first concern about getting around in sand was put to rest almost immediately it did perfect and even when acting dumb I did not stick it. I think I could stick it but, you would have to be ******ed or something or in an unfortunate situation.

The CAT did everything any other machine did and did it more comfortably. The cab on the C series is so far better than any other machine it is almost embarassing. I shredded in the sand for 4-5 hours and never got a stitch of dust on me. The A/C was so cold that I had to keep it turned down. The controls are so easy to use and so smooth and fluid with so many options that it is crazy. The air ride made it smooth enough I could shred small stuff at full speed 7 or 8 mph. The others would go this fast but it was awful bouncy feeling. Don't get me wrong if you hit something big it is still rough but for normal ground it is noticeably smoother than anything else.

In the end I am not 100% certain this CAT had the most power but, it certainly did not have any less than the other machines. I think the hydraulics are better to. The reason I say this is that everyone talks about recovery time and I never felt this. Even when I went into stuff that was nearly twice what the brush cutter was rated for the machine or cutter never bogged. This was a regular flow machine too. The anit stall is awesome I guess because I never did even get close to stalling it. I killed the Gehl on a regular basis.

There is only 1 thing so far that I do not like about the CAT. Where the hydraulic hoses from the cutter in the front of the machine come up, their hose holder or whatever you call it SUCKS! I will have to secure that area myself and modify what is there.

The fuel consumption seemed very reasonable. The power was there, the confort was there (this is for my personal use not business), the dealers and service has been twice what everyone elses has so far.

In the end I went ahead and ordered the bigger machine. It is not really bigger just more power. I also added the high Flow to it. The machine should be here and ready in about 1 week from what I understand.

Also, when shopping prices I was suprised that the CAT was right in the mix with everyone else once you started making the adds on the other machines. I expected it to be a lot higher and it was a little higher than some and the same as others! Maybe they cut me a deal??

Now, the CAT brush cutter is an overgrown mower. I do not recommend it for cutting anything over about 3". It will cut more but, with time you would tear it up.

I also have on order a QA60 High Flow Cutter from www.usmower.com. We will be using a tree gubber and a brush grapple. You can find the mower at skid steer solutions web page and they have video and it looks awesome. I will report when I get it and take some pictures of what I cut down.

I do not know enough about these machines to offer buying advise but, I can say that you are missing out if you do not at least look at them. I also looked at some 2 or 3 year old CAT's and they were not impressive. This new one is head and shoulders different than anything else I could find!

Also thanks for the advise about the steel tracks and other info I picked up here. It saved me 20-25K!!!

09-12-2007, 08:50 AM
Sounds like you did your homework,and good luck!!!!!!!!!!

Looking forward to pics :usflag:

09-12-2007, 10:27 AM
There is only 1 thing so far that I do not like about the CAT. Where the hydraulic hoses from the cutter in the front of the machine come up, their hose holder or whatever you call it SUCKS!

Yeah... about that... :-/

That was a sore thought for a long while. Getting hydrualic hoses to stay put but also be able to accommodate the lift path is a pain.

Not sure if Cat is issuing any service bulletins on this one, but for those of you watching this thread...

09-14-2007, 01:37 AM
Yeah, the hose holder is crappy. Congrats on the new machine, I finally took a look at a new C series skid today and they do look super nice. Let's see some pics of this beast when it comes in.