Demoing a Komatsu skid steer

Discussion in 'Heavy Equipment & Pavement' started by ksss, Jun 7, 2005.

  1. ksss

    ksss LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 7,129

    While at ConExpo this year I sent quite a bit of time looking at the Komatsu skid steer. I contacted the dealer and arranged to spend some time with one. I picked it up today and spent about an hour on it. Here are some initial impressions of a 1020

    Pilot Controls: These controls are what CAT wished they had produced. It has a pattern changer. In the CAT pattern it is responsive (although not as responsive as the servo controlled machines) much more controlable and less jumpy than CATs. I switched the controls to the CASE pattern and it was quite nice. It has a bit of hesitation that similiar to Bobcats (bucket functions). Running one function at a time it cycles fast, however try and multifuntion and it is slows down. Does not multitask as well as the 70XT. This machine actually has some "feel" to it unlike the CAT system. Other than the multifunction issue is very nice.

    Ride Control: This machine is equipped with ride control, however it is not as effective as the CASE ride control.

    Cab/interior: The seat is not as comfortable as a CASE suspension seat. The interior is nice and clean, not any frills typical Japanese. The control panel is on the restraint bar that splits in two when you raise it. Easy to read, informative. Trigger controls activate the two speed and the ride control. Visibility to the cutting edge is good, but visiblity to the edge of the bucket is not. The operator sits up higher like a CAT machine.

    Engine/drive system: These machines have a destroking system similiar to CAT. You can't kill the engine. Problem is unlike CAT you can't deactivate it or atleast I haven't found that out yet. This machine specs. closely to my 70XT so this is my basis of comparison. The engine seems to bog down easily but yet the power is there when you really push it although not enough. It is not as powerful as the 70XT. This motor does not seem to have the torque that the CASE/Cummins motors have. What the effect of the antistall system is, on the "feel" of power I don't know. It is alittle louder than the CASE machines. Access is quite good. Service points are excellant, on par with the CAT machines.

    Looks/design: Not that this is an issue but. It is a bit of a goofy looking machine. This looks Like a Deere with a radial lift mechanism. It is longer and taller than the 70XT. I don't know if I like that well see. I like being as compact as I can. It seems like a fairly beefy machine. Loader arms are large. It has has the CAT/Bobcat unsupported loader arms. I am not a fan of that. I would prefer that the loader arms rest against the frame when the loader arms are down. This reduces loader arm stress and is less likely to "spring" the loader arms. The lights are just bolted to the ROPS. I like having them protected as the CASE machines are.

    Well thats enough for now. I can put about 15 hours on this machine so I'll add to this as I have more time on it. That is if it ever quits raining.

    UNISCAPER LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,426

    After being ployed by Komatsu 23 years ago with a 27,000 savings, we ended up loosing 130,000 in billable production hours with all the down time. After 3 years of the same BS, we lost our shirts when we practically had to give the thing away to buy another Cat.

    Komatsu makes inovative and extremely cheap and non durable products. Always have, always will.

    I was stupid once. Never again. I don't care what inovations they claim to have. That company does not have the support or dependability, nor will it ever for me to spend money on them again.
  3. Tigerotor77W

    Tigerotor77W LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Germany
    Posts: 1,891

    Uniscaper, while I respect your bad experience with Komatsu and feel badly that you did not have a good experience with them, I do believe Komatsu makes some very refined products that DO stand up. This is evidenced by the large number of demolition contractors who rely on Komatsu, and is also visible in the number of firms resorting (or returning) to Komatsu for ADTs and loader (evcavator or loader) combinations. If nothing else, however, this is definitely an example to show that not all machines from the same manufacturer... furthermore, not all dealers are created equal.

    As for kaiser's review: it is good to hear that Komatsu put in more feel on their machine. Cat controls are smooth, but they really don't give you any indication of how the machine is reacting (from my experiece; others' may differ). Finally, yes, Komatsu has some of the best servicability in the industry: everything is wide open. Like kiaser mentioned, I would be apprehensive of the booms arms not resting on the frame. Bobcat and Cat do hit the machine at some point, just not along the flat front of the chassis.
  4. Caribbean Breeze

    Caribbean Breeze LawnSite Member
    Posts: 60


    Certainly a bad machine can ruin earnings etc.
    Komatsu is the second largest manufacturer of earthmoving machines with extreme strength in excavators. Komatsu has made seignificant progress to 2nd position in the USA. Komatsu has technology that other wished to have..

    Blanket statements like yours - really questions the circumstances of which we were in at the time.
    These arguments have no effect on people who understand equipment properly.

  5. Scag48

    Scag48 LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,067

    The loader arms on our 216 do sit on the frame when lowered all the way down. They rest on the frame right in front of the cab right below the step to climb into the cat. It does make it difficult to perform load and carry if the the terrain is rough in this position as the machine bounces and the back of the bucket hits the ground, so I always keep the bucket about 4 inches above the ground.
  6. ksss

    ksss LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 7,129

    I spent nearly an entire day on the machine today with a variety of jobs. I backfilled an extremely tight quartered addition. I learned a lot about the machine just on this one job. The Komatsu's inability to multifunction seems to be its achille's heel. When trying to backgrade wet material I hold the bucket perpendicular to the ground and scrap going backward. I adjust the loader arms to give me the desired cut and a swinging action on the tilt cylinders cuts the soil (anyone thats run one knows what I mean). This maneuver is beyond the ability of the 1020. It absolutely will only do one thing at a time. The lack of power is really a problem. After spending most of the day on the 1020. I spent a couple hours on the 70XT. The 70XT will push so hard as to boil the dirt over the bucket. The 1020 will is lucky to fill the bucket. Visibility is poor. The cab sits very close to the front of the machine, and because it is soo long you can't see what your about to hit. It is unbelieveably rough riding. I parked the 1020 along side the 70XT and although the 1020 is much longer it actually has a shorter wheel base.

    I mention the seat sucks. Well spend a day in it. It reminds me sitting on the seat of a Farmall A we used to have. It is that bad. The ride control must not be working on this machine as it is totally ineffective.

    Komatsu is close to really having a skid steer. They have to address the multifunction problem. Anyone that uses a skid steer commercially knows that you can't be waiting on a machine to cycle. Yet thats what the 1020 makes you do, one function at a time. The engine has a Yanmar production plate and a Komatsu. It specs. 70 plus horse but its losing it somewhere because its not making it to the ground. With all its issues, I like running it. The pilot controls are very precise and offer great control as I said earlier. They are superior to any other control system I've run in that area (multifunctioning aside). Very easy to get in and out of the cab with many well thought out convience features. Great departure angle with excellent clearance. Fairly thrifty on fuel. Greasing the machine was a breeze. The machine makes many weird noises especially if it isn't warmed up. As far as Komatsu and their durability, they obviously must be doing something right to have the market share they have. However, that may not translate into the skid steer line as this machine is all theirs and their first go at it. Similar to CAT building a great motor grader that also does not translate into a skid steer line. I realize that CAT skid steers rest in the middle but that does little in transfering side load stress from the loader arms. The majority of people probably don't push their machines enough for it to be an issue. More later.
  7. Tigerotor77W

    Tigerotor77W LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Germany
    Posts: 1,891

    Scag: yes, the loader arms do hit the frame. There are two stops right about chassis height that the two similar blocks on the loader arms hit. However, this doesn't compare to what Case has -- the entire underside of the loader arm below the knee actually sits ON the chassis itself. As far as I know, Case is the only brand to do this... Gehl/Mustang might, but I'm not sure. I'm also not sure about Volvo and Thomas. Never bothered to check.

    And kaiser, I was under the impression that the Komatsu's wheelbase was about 45.8 inches whilst the 70 was 44? Different-sized tires, maybe?

    Honestly, however, I don't believe Komatsu has a place in the SSL industry. There are a few brands out there that are too muted -- Daewoo, Hyundai, Thomas, Volvo, and Komatsu are among them. None have put in the advertising effort to get a solid reputation, and none have the customer background to make their product significantly better. (Yet.) Best of luck to them all, though, because the SSL -- not AWS or CTL, bnut pure SSL -- market could use some more innovation. The basic skid steer really hasn't changed design in a long time. (Sure, it's possible to argue hydraulics and operator comfort, but I think there are still more places to refine the SSL design. Heck, kaiser brought up a few issues that are common to other manufacturers -- not just Komatsu.)
  8. ksss

    ksss LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 7,129

    The machine is going back and no one here is going to shed a tear. I probably spent the most time in it. No one would run it. I tried to get guys to take it out on jobs (if nothing else it was free hours) no dice. I take back what I said about fuel usage. 6 hrs=1 tank of fuel. It is on par with my 95XT and not a fraction of the productivity. Maybe in the next series they can address some of the short cummings of this machine. Bobcat250 is probably right about Komatsu's place in the SSL industry at least at this time.
  9. Tigerotor77W

    Tigerotor77W LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Germany
    Posts: 1,891

    kaiser, if you had to compare the rudimentary features (say, visibility, machine feel, refinement of controls...) of the Komatsu to the Cat, where do you think each excels? Did you have experience testing out the anti-stall features of the Cat as well?
  10. ksss

    ksss LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 7,129

    Visibility: Front: Even though the cab sits forward you have no view of the edge of the bucket, visibility to the cutting edge was fine. Would probably be better with an extended lip bucket. On the bucket, it was excellent very well built with cylinder protectors. In fact I may buy a Komatsu bucket for my CASE. Rear. Very poor. The machine is long with a "tail" like NH or Deere. I am not used to it nor did I like it. Very difficult to gauge were the end of the machine is at. I like the CASE, CAT, Bobcat designs as far as body configuration. Realizing that the increase length may give more stability, it is at the loss of maneuverablity. I'll take maneuverablity any day over stability (which I think in skid steers is more perception than reality). Side. It was OK but you couldn't see the wheels very well. We spend a lot of time running a Preparator so we go backward as much as we go forward. It would be very hard to see sprinkler heads coming in that machine. The Komatsu had a different style coupler and so we did not run any attachments with it.

    Machine feel: It was underpowered and I did not care for the antikill feature. It was louder than the CASE machines. The machine seemed to surge at times, maybe do to the antistall or not I am not sure but it seemed to struggle staying in its powerband. When pushed hard it would make some hydrualic noise, not near as bad as a Bobcat, but noticeable at times. Very rough riding and I don't know why, it should have been as smooth as the 95XT but it would flat wear you out, and again the seat really sucked. It did not have ride control. What I thought was the ride control button was the bucket float. The linkages were loose for only having three hundred hours on it.

    Controls The pilot controls were the best I have run as far as feel. Hands down better than CAT or Takeuchi pilots in that area. After an hour in the machine I was able to grade extremely tight against fences and walls. there was no jumpiness or oversensitivity. It had some feel to it, not like a servo controlled machine but better than any other pilots I have run. The biggest problem as I stated above was the lack of multifunction capability. It is so poor I am surprised they released the machine like that. You would have to be a very slow operator to not have a problem with it. CAT's multi function ability is much better. I really didn't care for the antikill on the CAT but at least you could over ride it. The Komatsu is "on" all the time. I am used to being able to pull the engine down without being overridden by the machine.

    The Komatsu salesman picked the machine up and I told him what I thought. He says he'll try and sell it to a farmer/dairy. That's probably a good place for it. Certainly anyone using it commercially will struggle with it. Today CAT called letting me know they are still around. Ironically, the CAT salesman was with Komatsu for 6 years and actually had some input on the Komatsu skid steer. His thoughts were very much on par with mine. When they (CAT) get a conversion kit (CASE controls) in for their machine, there going to bring one out. I ordered my 440 in November I think and still haven't seen it. I am getting a little impatient.

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