View Full Version : Skid Steer Lift Arm Question...

10-18-2004, 05:52 PM
I just had the local Cat dealer bring a 236B by and I was wondering if there was any advantage/disadvantage to a skid steer that employs "vertical lift" versus "Radial Arm" style of lift arm?

10-18-2004, 07:12 PM
If you're comparing the 236B to the 232B, I'd go with the 236B for most work. It seems to be a heavier, stronger machine than its cousin.

Vertical lift offers (usually) two benefits: first, most vertical lift models have better side visibility than radial-lift models do. This doesn't apply to all vertical-lift machines, but with the low-profile designs coming out today, it's pretty much a given.

Most importantly, vertical lift models provide a constant (or near-constant) reach along the entire lift path. Where a radial lift arm goes out then back in, the vertical lift models tend to go out, out; out, or out, in, and out; constant, constant, out; or completely constant. Bobcat's models are generally out in out; Gehl is much more constant. For unloading trucks, this is useful because the lift arms are closer to the machine (as compared to a radial lift machine, where the lift arms are at their maximum reach at mid-lift). For dumping into trucks, well, that's the beauty of vertical lift: that's when many models have their greatest reach.

The disadvantage is the notion that vertical lift models are somewhat weaker and less rugged. Case's design proves this wrong; the Deere, NH, and Bobcat designs are also very sturdy (and the Gehl 7810/7610 and Mustang 2199/2099 the same). The Cat design... I have a small problem with Cat's models' booms not resting against the machine chassis, but it is a solid design that affords tremendous visibility when the arms are at full height, important when loading trucks.

Let us know if you need more specific information. I'll pasting a link below that gives a video of the designs. http://www.bobcat.com/vertical_lift.html

10-18-2004, 09:10 PM
I've owned a 236B for the last 4 months. Great machine love the operation of it but I've had 3 brand new machines in 4 months ranging from a variety of problems mostly engine. I've got more hours on Cat's loaner machines than I've got my own. The B model is a new model and they've got a few kinks to work out. But all that being said they stand by there machines. Had a problem with the machine had a service man out on a job site 10:30 at night on saturday helping me out. That's the main reason I'm staying true to Cat, plus love the way the machine operates. I know I wasn't close answering the question but I had to throw my two cents in!

10-19-2004, 01:07 AM
We have a verticle lift on our 246, and 257. The 275B has a switch that you can radial lift if necesary, as well as self level the bucket.

The verticle lift is almost eeesntial for loading 6 wheelers in tight areas, as the bucket lifts straight up rather than rocks back as it lifts like a radial. There is also an additional 10" of lift on the verticle machines.

Now, lets talk usage here. If you will be digging as well as lifting, and extra hieght is critical, go with a verticle machine. If however you are precision grading, radial machines are more rigid, and will make cuts more accurately with less mousing around to get the elevation on target. A competitor of ours who is equipment heavy has a 277, 287, and 247 257 machine. For all fine precision grading, they use a 247 set with GPS and lazer elevation poles so all they have to do is steer the machine. The computer is guided by the lazer or GPS. The difference is getting from 1/10 of final grade, to between 1/10th and rigth on final grade.

It can be done with a verticle lift, just not near as efficiently. This is the largest reason I under our current work load, I would never own a New Holland or Deere machine. They will lift a house, but can't dig a booger out of a wet bucket of snot.

Weigh out what your main functions of the machine are going to be. If they are fine grading, go with a radial. If you are doing excavation and loading, and are not so focused on fine grading, go with a verticle machine.

10-19-2004, 01:16 AM
Just wondering... what do you mean by switch between radial and vertica lift?

10-19-2004, 01:58 AM
I'll put in my .02. Our 216 was in the shop for a couple weeks due to some hydraulic coupler problems and our dealer gave us a 242 to use, a vertical lift machine. I HATED IT. Can't see out the sides of the cab very well and it was slow and sluggish. I absolutely couldn't stand it. Unless you're doing alot of truck loading where you need the lift height, vertical lift is useless and a PITA. For landscaping and places where you're working in tight next to structures, etc, radial lift is all you need. BTW, our Cat dealer has been great. NC Machinery in WA has been awesome.

10-19-2004, 10:34 AM
On the dash of the 257B, there is a switch where if you want to lift like a radiial you hit it, and the movement of the lift will change, as will the bucket become a self leveler. Great feature if you are moving alot of gravel of dirt.

10-19-2004, 03:30 PM
^ Ah, I see. Self-leveling is a great feature... definitely look into it.

10-31-2004, 12:55 AM
The points are well made and are similiar to what we have learned over the years. Although the 70X has a lift height very close to the 95xt, the vertical lift 95xt is much easier to load trucks with and it fills from the middle if not the far side if your not careful. But when it comes to tight grading, the radial lift 70xt is much easier to grade with. The visibility and manueverability is much easier in the smaller, radial lift machine.

TerraFirma Excavating
10-31-2004, 12:05 PM
It seems like I've been reading that radius lift path machines offer better grading capability than vertical lift path machines, but I just can't picture why? I think the only difference is the path the bucket travels when lifted up. Most grading is performed when the bucket is down at ground level. I believe at the lowest level, radius and vertical lift path machines place the bucket the same distance in front of the machines, ie.: you can only get so close to the tires before they rub.

I can't see any advantage to radial lift path machines in digging force either. Most digging and breakout will occur with the bucket at nearly the bottom of the travel. If the machines were exactly alike (ie. weight, length, etc...), except lift arm geometry, they should dig exactly alike. The only time a radius lift path machine should have more digging power is when the lift path begins to move backward and the load is brought closer to the center of gravity. This should happen at height, like when digging a hillside, and would not present an advantage when digging on level ground.

I feel that I can stack material higher and load trucks easier with the vertical lift path machines because the load stays further out in front of you at height. I do note that visiblity to the rear quarters on the vertical lift path machines is hindered by the lift arms. Personally, I can't see myself owning a radius lift path machine.

TerraFirma Excavating
10-31-2004, 12:27 PM
I've owned a 236B for the last 4 months. Great machine love the operation of it but I've had 3 brand new machines in 4 months ranging from a variety of problems mostly engine. I've got more hours on Cat's loaner machines than I've got my own. The B model is a new model and they've got a few kinks to work out. But all that being said they stand by there machines. Had a problem with the machine had a service man out on a job site 10:30 at night on saturday helping me out. That's the main reason I'm staying true to Cat, plus love the way the machine operates. I know I wasn't close answering the question but I had to throw my two cents in!

I don't hold any grudges against any equipment manufacturer, but can only speak about my own experiences and feelings. I have nearly 500 hours on my Bobcat 773T and it has never had any breakdowns (other than a flat tire, broken windshield, parted hydraulic connector, but those were all operator induced problems). I cannot comment on Bobcat's service because I have never had to use it. Never at all period. And I hope it stay that way for the next 3,000+ hours.

Now if I bought a machine which was frequently broke down and required repair and loaner equipment, I think I'd be reluctant to buy that brand again. Sure the service may be great, but wouldn't it be better to have a product built well enough not to require service. What will you do when the warranty period expires and you need to start paying for the repairs and renting equipment because your machine is out of service. If the manufacturer put more effort into resolving the problem before it got to the comsumer (ie. design, testing, quality control), the service department should have to be working on the machines so much.

Bobcat has sent me a certified letter stated that there was a recall on a control circuit board and that they would replace it for free. I guess that on a small percentage of machines, the board could fail, and when the machine is started, the lift arms could raise slightly and hit the cab door if open. I talked to the service department at that time and they stated that they did not have the new boards at that time. Since then, they have called me telling me that the parts are in and they would like to perform the service. I've been so busy that I haven't been able to free up the machine. The removal/replacement only takes 2 hours, so maybe I'll have it done now if snow removal isn't too busy. My local dealer said I could either bring the machine in or they'd send the mechanic out to my location. Bobcat has also sent a second letter reminding me about the repair.

10-31-2004, 01:14 PM
I don't believe there has been any proof by anyone that has demonstrated a clear superiority in digging performance of a radial machine. With machines like Deere's 300 series, Case XT, Bobcat's larger models, and the Gehl behemoths, you'd be hard pressed to say those machines couldn't dig as well as comparable radial-lift models. For example, if you threw a Bobcat 963 against a Gehl 7600 (or 7610), the two would probably dig the same way.

As far as how the idea was started -- because there are more hinge pins on vertical lift machines, there is more room for play. On a radial machine, the booms are attached in four places; in vertical lift, many, many more. The extra movement can cause premature wear on several of those hinges. Whether this is true? Who knows; it might be true for a demolition contractor who busts the *&^# out of his machines anyhow, but for the average contractor, there really isn't much of a difference. Most likely, the S220 and S250 will dig almost exactly alike.

Visbility and servicability is usually another issue. Scissor-lift designs (Deere, NH) are easy to service because the boom is tucked within itself. Bobcat's design, however, will afford greater visbility in the S220 than in the 250.

Generally speaking, radial machines were somewhat "all-around" machines. In the past few years, however, that's changed a bit. I would still recommend a 90XT for brute digging (as it's the last remaining hard-core radial lift machine on the market other than the Mustang 2086), but the curious thing is that the 90XT has as many -- if not more -- pivots than a vertical lift machine. :shrugs: It's all preference, really...

11-03-2004, 03:09 AM
It is an interesting point. I think manufacturers have labeled the radial lift machines as primarily excavating machines. Probably because the vertical lift machines are marketed as lift and carry machines. Whats left? Radial machines are less money, usually by 10-15%. They are simplier machines to maintain, less moving parts fewer point to wear out or flex. Visibility is much better from a radial machine. As far as digging ability between the two, my vertical lift 95XT will out dig my radial lift 70XT. They have the same horsepower but the 95 is 3500 pounds heavier which has nothing to do with the lift geometery.

11-03-2004, 03:53 PM
TerraFerma, sorry If I got that wrong. I trust the manufacturer because it's history of good service. I also know several people personally that their loader works great. I don't care what brand of machine you own there are people out there that are having major trouble with bobcat, nh,deere,and cat. Got a buddy that owns a tracked skidloader with 800 hours on it and he's said everything from hydraulic drive motors to electrical problems have gone wrong. In my area I've heard bad things about service for major brand skidloaders. I believe I've worked my problems out with mine, if not I'll go back in and raise holy hell. Plus I bought an extended warranty on mine that covers just about everything, unless I break something. 5 year 4,000 hour warranty. I did this because the 8 or 9 people I know that own skidloaders from many different brands say that there is always something going wrong with them. Charging between 60 & 75 an hour I've got to run the machine pretty hard, doing that it take abuse!

11-03-2004, 07:00 PM
Dodge, how much did that warranty cost? Just curious...