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Buying Guide: What to consider before purchasing a compact track loader

April 12, 2021
During the past 20 years, compact track loaders (CTL) have gained in popularity. It seems every business, from landscapers to crushing operations to construction companies have found uses for the rubber-tracked machines.

If you don’t already have a CTL, or are thinking about adding one or more, there are considerations prior to buying or renting. Among the most important is determining the application(s).

1. Determine the application(s)

“Traditionally, compact equipment would be used for simple grading, excavation and dirt work applications,” indicated Takeuchi Product Manager Lee Padgett. “Now, with improvements to auxiliary hydraulics and advanced machine controls, the range of applications these machines are able to perform in has greatly expanded to include tree spades for nursery work, power rakes for soil conditioning, mulchers and mowers for clearing large tracts of vegetation, trenchers for irrigation placement, hydraulic breakers/shears/pulverizers for demolition, and even off-season applications such as snow removal can greatly increase revenue.

“Once you have determined what tasks you want to do, you have to think about class size,” he added.

2. Consider Class Size

Takeuchi manufactures several models to fit across a wide range of job sites and applications, Padgett noted. Current sizes range from the 3,300-kilogram-plus (7,400-lb-plus) TL6R to the 5,800-kilogram-plus (12,860-lb-plus) TL12V2.

“Determining which best fits your needs will include taking into account operating weight, horsepower, bucket and lift capacity and auxiliary hydraulics,” said Padgett. “Understanding these and how they affect the ability to perform in your specific applications with the greatest productivity and efficiency possible is essential.”
 
Matt Chatters, SMS Equipment Sales Rep, Light Construction pointed out how all these attributes are inter-related and affect performance.
“The size of the bucket needs to be balanced for a machine’s operating weight and horsepower,” Chatters explained. “The operating weight acts as a counter-balance to what you’re trying to lift. If the bucket is too big and you try to cut with it, the machine is going to be underpowered, will stall and lack production as a result. Takeuchi does a great job when it comes to balance and recommending a bucket size that optimizes power and capabilities.”
Weight can easily be overlooked but should be a major factor in the decision, Padgett said. “It’s critical as it plays into what type of truck and trailer combination you will need to move the machine, and it will determine the type of license requirements need to be met in order the transport the machine.”

3. The Operating Platform

Another consideration is the operating platform. All have the option of a canopy or a climate-controlled cab.
 
“A cab is the best choice for Canada, especially if you are going to use the loader year-round,” stated Garry Fournier, SMS Equipment Sales Rep, Light Construction. “A comfortable operator is more productive and having heat in the winter when you’re using the loader to clear snow and air in the summer when moving materials around the job site makes a big difference.”

4. Attachments delivering year-round versatility

The ability to use a CTL year-round is more probable if it’s properly equipped to handle attachments, according to Padgett. He said pressure, flow and overall weight of the attachments should be considered, otherwise performance suffers.

“High-flow capability on the primary circuit allows you to run a wide range of hydraulic attachments such a mulcher more efficiently, increasing versatility and productivity,” said Padgett. “Some of the more common attachments include deck mowers, augers, trenchers and grapples. ”

Ian Webster, SMS Equipment Sales Rep, Light Construction said the machine’s cooling ability should be taken into account when it comes to attachments.

“Can it dissipate the heat generated by the attachment?” said Webster. “If it doesn’t, there are options to add additional remote-mounted cooling packages to help compensate. Additional considerations, are do you want a manual quick attach coupler or a hydraulic one you can control from the cab, does the attachment require a case drain line and does your loader have one, the machine’s lifting capacity, correct hydraulic couplers and hose sizes and is there proper wiring if needed.”
“With the proper set up, a CTL can be one of the most utilized machines in your fleet,” Webster added. “In addition to traditional applications, it can be a power broom, mulcher, auger and a snow removal tool with a blower, blade and bucket and much more.”

Additional considerations

There are other important questions to ask such as should I buy new or used?

“It depends on your budget,” said Padgett. “New machines may have less maintenance and repair costs up front while a used machine will have a lower entry cost but may need repairs more quickly. If you are looking for a lower cost upfront and can find a well-maintained used machine, that may be a good fit.”
 
Padgett added that buying versus renting should be on the table too. “Renting can be a good option if you only need a machine occasionally or for a short-term period and you can’t justify the added expense of machine cost, truck and trailer for transporting, maintenance and insurance expenses.”

SMS Equipment can assist you in determining which Takeuchi compact track loader is right for you.
 
“We’re here to collaborate and help you make the best match,” said Fournier. “If there are questions, we encourage customers to give us a call to set up a meeting or to demonstrate a machine.”

 Matt Chatters, Sales Representative, Light Construction
  • My 25 years of experience in the construction industry as both a manager and a business owner provide relatable practice when it comes to overcoming the challenges of purchasing the right equipment with the right dealer.
 Garry Fournier, Sales Representative, Light Construction
  • With over 20 years of consultative selling experience in the light construction industry within the Calgary area, I pride myself on being able to understand and solved the needs of our clients in a timely manner.
  • Having worked with clients on wide range of projects, I have the equipment knowledge and experience to save you time and money.
 Ian Webster, Sale Representative, Light Construction
  • As a Red Seal Journeyman Technicians, I have over 10 years of experience in the industry, working on all types of equipment ranging from compact units to various construction equipment.
  • I provide a wealth of mechanical knowledge to my clients, whether it’s assisting them in the event of a breakdown, providing guidance in repair process or offering quality sources for parts and service.

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