Test Drives

Cat® 216B3 and 226B3 skid steer loaders

skid steer

There’s no better indication of a machine’s success than longevity, and when it comes to the Caterpillar B3 range of Skid Steer Loaders – the 216B3 and 226B3 – it’s hard to argue with a success story that spans over two decades in the earthmoving sector.

From recycling centres to commercial and civil operators, the B3 range has stood the test of time and continues to deliver.

For any business or operator in the earthmoving, building and construction game looking to boost performance and enhance productivity, there’s an impressive list of standard features on the B3 series that sets it apart. Impressively, a lot of these features have been with the machine since its inception and come as standard inclusions on the 216B3 and 226B3.

A good example includes the Pilot Joystick Controls, which improve operator ergonomics and overall handling and precision of the Skid Steers. Having both hand and foot throttle controls enable the operator to set minimum revs by hand and use foot throttle when required. With just a little tap of the foot throttle to get the machine really working hard. This clever combination of throttle control not only simplifies the operating process but also reduces fatigue over the course of long, days, weeks and months.

Another big tick for this system is the reduced noise which makes the 216B3 and 226B3 a great choice for machines that need to work in noise sensitive areas, like community areas such as playgrounds, schools and hospitals.

Lastly, the reduced fuel consumption of this dual throttle system is something that will add further value to business owners over time.

As operators of Skid steers will tell you, having a clear view to the bucket cutting edge provides a confidence, enhanced efficiency level and safety that can’t be matched. Along with this enhanced bucket visibility, a large convex rear-view mirror and safety lift-arm brace contribute to the confidence of operators and the sense of safety that comes from working in a well-designed and safe working environment. The B3 range has clearly been designed to be a workhorse with safety and visibility at its core.

skid steer

Air conditioned enclosed cab option

For those looking to spec up their B3, Caterpillar offer plenty of options for both the 216 and 226 models. The most significant upgrade would be purchasing either with an air conditioned, enclosed cabin.

Early morning starts in the rain on winter days will be completely different with the heater on to keep the operator dry and comfortable. Summer conditions will equally keep operators happy and comfortable regardless of the Australian climate.

The 226B3 has a high-flow option for outfits with heavier duty requirements, and both the 216 and 226 come standard with continuous proportional flow, infinitely adjustable by the operator. This allows operators to dial in the performance of their machine to suit the exact requirements of each specific task.

The cab is spacious and well-designed for larger operators, who will enjoy leg room and comfortable seat. At the end of the day, all of these factors combine to a happier and more productive operator.

One of the strengths of the B3 series is the vast range of Cat attachments, which open up significant value for the investment and tackle an extensive and varied range of tasks. Cat augers, trenchers, profilers, brooms and hammers are all available for the B3s, making the B3 a perfect choice for a wide range of earthmoving and construction specialists.

Time and again, we speak with operators who have opened up new and exciting opportunities by taking advantage of Caterpillar’s range of attachments. It’s this exact flexibility that has made the B3 range such a successful and popular choice over the last two decades.

Specialist Rohan Mills

Earthmoving Equipment Magazine paid a visit to Cat® dealer, William Adams in Melbourne and met up with Caterpillar Product and Application Specialist, Rohan Mills to find out why the Cat range of Skid Steer attachments has been so successful for so long, and explore a few not-so-well-known highlights on these impressive workhorses.

“When you look at the number of features originally introduced into the B3 range some 22 years ago that still feature in the modern-day machines, it shows just how advanced these machines were and just how right Caterpillar got it,” said Mills. “But then look at features like the in-line pumps, which improve hydraulic efficiency while removing belt requirements. Combined with anti-stall hydraulics to manage rimpull and power to the implement, you start to understand better why the B3 range is still so successful today.

“For operators and business owners moving material, digging holes or trenches, and even using hammers, you can’t go wrong regarding the true value of your investment,” the Cat expert explained. “The B3s were always aimed at outfits requiring strength, power, reliability and efficiency. But for those looking for that little bit extra hydraulic power, the 226B3 can come in the high-flow option, which takes hydraulic flow from 61 litres per minute to 104 litres per minute – making those heavier draw attachments even more productive onsite.”

skid steer

The wrap up

Watching the nimble 216B3 and 226B3 undertake various tasks with the four-in-one bucket – like material handling, back blading, and other activities – an appreciation quickly grows for just how much work even a single machine can get through. Let alone a fleet of these workhorses.

The impressive reach of the bucket and significant hydraulic performance, along with engine power and ground speed, make the B3s an extremely desirable investment for operators looking to bolster onsite productivity. Add in the potential for such varied attachments and flexibility, and it’s easy to see why B3s have received such impressive report cards for over 22 years.

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