I’m going to lay my cards on the table and let you know that dozers are in my top three machines that I love operating, and for lots of reasons. When they’re large, you can move enough material in one day to keep Costa the gardener happy for five lifetimes. When they’re compact, you can place enough detail into a job to keep any ATO auditor happy. Long story short, you can make some cool statements with dozers, sometimes big ones, other times small ones.
They’re a bit of a handful to master but once you start putting the pieces together, they’ll leave a smile on your dial and keep you employed for the rest of your days.
Here are 5 tips to help your reach Jedi Dozer Operator status:
- BLADE POSITIONING
If your dozer’s fitted with dual tilt blade cylinders, this next piece of advice is critical to introduce into your dozer game.
- Dig – Tilt the blade forward with an aggressive angle. This helps to load the blade in double quick time.
- Carry – When loaded, lay the blade back to ‘carry’ the material to its destination.
- Spread – Time to unload, tilting the blade all the way forward. This helps the material to fall off the blade.
If you nail the above, you’ll see your production numbers start trending north!
- WORK YOUR CUT FROM THE FRONT TO THE BACK
Now, for some this might bend your mind a bit but trust me, this will afford you the opportunity of moving bulk material quick!
The reason this is the preferred method of attacking a cut is that the reverse cycle of a dozer is the most redundant part of the process. We can’t eliminate it but we can definitely reduce it. By beginning your push at the start of your cut, you will increase your cycle per hour and decrease the percentage of time spent in reverse.
At the start of your dozer apprenticeship, trimming will tend to frustrate the bejesus out of you. You will get it, it just takes time. So, what I suggest is if you’re blading and start to experience a few ‘woo boys’, ‘speed humps’, ‘fancy work’, ‘waves’ – you get me – stop and step over half a blade width and take another blade. This will give you the best opportunity of cutting the ‘waves’ out.
Speed is another element you need to consider when trimming. Some like to trim in second gear wide open, some in second at half RPMs and some tend to use first gear. Experiment and work out which way is your jam and run with it.
- CROSS STEERING
This one is the business and when mastered will make your peers scratch their collective heads and ask themselves, how?
Cross steering is pulling in the opposite clutch to the direction that you want to travel. For example, if you want to gradually turn right, engage the left clutch only. Works best when on a grade.
How does it work?
By pulling in the clutch on one side, it causes that track speed to increase at a rate faster than the opposite track that is in gear. Thus causing the dozer to steer in that direction.
This technique is unbelievable for finishing off when working on grade. I also find cross steering super handy when I’m working in steep country. It’s predictable and can reduce engine over speeds.
- THE RACE OF DOZING IS A MARATHON, NOT A SPRINT
Yes, dozers are one of THE coolest machines in our industry. Yes, they will melt your brain and test your metal when you first get a chance to operate one. But, you will conquer them… well, only if you want to that is.