Industry Training

The machines operated in heaven – Scrapers

Now, I’m on record as being a huge fan of scrapers. Back in the day I spent a good portion of my ‘’apprenticeship” sitting on them. I started out on an elevating scraper, then progressed to open bowler, and ended up wheeling twin powered scrapers across a range of applications. Bloody great times indeed!

Pound for pound (and in their economic zone of application), they are THE most cost-effective way to move and place dirt.

Why you ask?
Well, they can load on the run, move across the ground quickly, unload in a measured lift (on the run), and they can also assist with compaction. They rarely stop moving.

Here are 5 tips to becoming a better scraper operator:

    One of the biggest mistakes that most people make the first time they get on a scraper is trying to match it with the experienced operators. Trust me, don’t. Just cruise around at your own speed.

Scrapers are an articulated machine. Add velocity, throw in a good portion of inexperience and any little “moment” you have is amplified by a thousand. Remember steady, steady…

If you find yourself getting into a spot of bother, drop the bowl immediately. If you’re on an edge and you lose the front or rear of the scraper over that edge, DON’T turn up hill. Turn down hill and drop the bowl and wait for the cavalry to arrive.

    Like any tyred machine in our game, you must do your best to preserve them. Scraper tyres are no different. When you’re in the cut or even sometimes on the fill, don’t have your foot flat to the floor zoning out to your favourite Celine Dion track. You must tune into the feedback the machine is giving you and adjust.
    Clean as you go. What I mean by this is when you pull into the cut area, scan the floor to see if there’s any windrows or high spots, etc. If there is, trim them on your way through to a thicker part of the cut.

Utilise the straddle loading technique.
Say what now?
Straddle loading is all about leaving a strip of material in between each cut of a scraper. The next time you pull into the cut, straddle that strip (commonly known as a bone) of material for easier picking and quicker load time.

And the last one for the cut, remember, it’s not how much you fit in the bowl, it’s how often you fill it.

    Don’t go rogue and dump anywhere, chain dump wherever possible. Chain dumping works as follows – scraper 1 runs its load out, scraper 2 starts unloading from the end of scraper 1’s load, repeat until you reach the end of the fill, then start from the beginning again.

Be consistent on layer depth, it’ll change depending on material type and moisture content required, but whatever the magic number for the layer thickness is, stick to it. This helps massively to gain consistent compaction rates across the fill, so your compactor operator will love you. Another advantage with consistent layers is you’ll have less low spots, which tend to hold water when it rains.

    Scrapers are the bomb, they’re a bunch of fun, they can hog dirt like tomorrow, and in the right hands are an able trimming machine. But when you think you’ve got them dialed and let complacency into your game, scrapers will bite you and bite you hard. I am saying this from experience having put a scraper on its side 25+ years ago. Not my finest day at the office. I was embarrassed and hugely sorry for the fella that owned the scraper.

Don’t let pride cloud your judgement.

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