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Nighthawk
02-17-2005, 02:59 PM
I am really intrigued by these all wheel steer machines. My first impression years ago, was to consider them probably too delicate. But, I suspect now, that isn't the case. I have a few questions, and wonder, why with all the skid steer info on this site, nothing has been said (that I could see) on these machines. Further more, as great as they are supposed to be, few seem to be sold here, north of Toronto Canada.

I test drove the smaller A 220 and after ten minutes, I had a splitting headache that lasted the rest of the day. Just something about the rattle of that Deutze. I was pleased to hear that the newer machines have the Kubota, and figured it will be quieter. But now, I hear totally different stories from different dealers. Some say the Deutz is in fact quieter.

I figure on a cab and don't want a machine where hearing protection is required. Something like a CAT.

Any information on this would be very much appreciated. In fact, any thoughts, impressions or heresay about the all wheel steer would be appreciated.

Thanks

Tom

Tigerotor77W
02-17-2005, 05:58 PM
See that you've posted here and on heavyequipment forums. I guess I'll post my answers here... if you'd like for me to post them on the other site as well, just let me know.

I haven't had any experience with the AWS machines, but I'll tell you what I can regarding them. (Or "it," as Bobcat is the only company that currently offers an AWS machine.)

Your first question about why there isn't much talk about them: as was mentioned on HEF, they are expensive. An A300 usually goes for around $42,000 or above, which is in many cases comparable to a compact track loader. For certain conditions, the CTL will offer better traction and capability than the A300. Secondly, not too many contractors NEED an A300. If you do a lot of earthmoving -- basement excavation, for example, or a lot of backfilling -- you don't require the capability of AWS. AWS is primarily intended for two groups of contractors. Initially, its design was built around the premise to save tire wear. As some people have noted, the skid steer's turning ability is also its weakest point if you want to reduce tire wear. The only way to turn, then, becomes articulation; if the machine itself cannot do so, the wheels (axles) must do so. Hence the A220 was born. Bobcat built the A220 on the 863 platform because it is a very-accomodating platform. (Keep in mind that in some ways, the 863 goes back to the 825 loader... nearly twenty years ago.) As a test base, the A220 gave way to the larger A300 which is now the only AWS loader manufactured. I have no confirmation of this and am venturing a wild, wild guess, but I would imagine that Bobcat is going to come out with a new line of smaller loaders (<2100 ROC), one of which will be an AWS loader. (Again, that's purely theoretical.) In any case: most contractors belong to the "excavation" category and don't require really great tire life or limited impact while turning on turf. The higher cost (nearly 10k), then, is not justifiable; neither would be the extra potential maintenance.

Your question on the noise level. I really can't be of use here as I've never been in a Bobcat, but from my experience with the Cat line, I wouldn't say they're really that quiet... having an enclosed cab helps tremendously. That may help you in search of a quiet cab. I have read that Bobcat enclosed cabs are quiet (as are Cat's), but that'll take a try-out for you to decide whether it's really quiet enough for YOU.

What I think about the loader... I think it's a great loader if you can afford it. Surely it's great for asphalt contractors or landscapers who require less tire scuffing or turf-friendliness, but even for a general contractor, its ability to make smooth turns (without spilling load everywhere) could be very appealing. However, it is somewhat expensive. There are several jobs a S300 could do just as well as an A300 at $10,000 lower cost. If you figure $1000 for a set of tires (for one tire or for a set... not sure...), that's 10 sets of tires. If a general set of tire lasts 400 hours, then the loader you're running would gather up 4,000 hours before you get the money "back." But for certain contractors, the AWS loader is great and is a worthy addition to the fleet. I'm not so concerned with reliability, but ksss did mention that a few A300 axles were cracking a bit. /shrugs If I hear anything, I'll let you know.

Oh yeah... and a Construction Equipment Magazine article that's pretty good.
http://www.constructionequipment.com/fieldtests/ce02ea001.asp

ksss
02-17-2005, 09:35 PM
There is one working in landfill operation near me. They have had some problems with theirs. I have seen machines come out of that place and they are beat up. So take it for what it is worth. I would really be interested to see if Bobcat will expand that idea or not. Personally I doubt it. It is a niche machine with an extremely narrow application. I am not sure they sell enough of them to justify making the A300 to say nothing of designing a smaller version. I have a friend that I went to school with that is an engineer for Bobcat I will have to ask him.

Nighthawk
02-17-2005, 09:56 PM
Thanks for the input. I did hear from a Bobcat dealer that a smaller machine was in the works. But it's anybody's guess if there is any truth in that. I always hated the herky-jerky nature of skid steers. My first love was always articulated machines, but this is something that is not popular for smaller machines in the North American market, and I could never figure out why. I once became the owner of a 8000 LB zoom boom which had a wheel busted off. That sort of thing is less likely with a heavier ridged axle found in an articulated machine.

Having said that, I would be extremely interested in hearing about any axle failures on the AWS.

Anyway, I am sick and tired of trying to do precision loader or pallet fork work with a FEL, and recognized the merit in the visibility of a skid steer. As much as I find the fly by wire design of the AWS machines something long overdue, I must say that when I tested the A220, it seemed to be doing some strange things, which makes me sometimes wonder about having computers in such environments.

I have other questions about blowing snow with a skid steer, but I guess I will address one thing at a time.

Thanks again