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  1. #1
    Veteran Member Flatheadyoungin's Avatar
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    Southern, OH
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    New Holland TC45 Shuttle

    Default What to look for when buying a dozer

    I'll admit it, I don't know jack crap about dozers. It'll be a while before I try to buy one to do some more cleaning, widening my driveway, build a pond, etc on my land.......However, when I want something like this, I start looking years in advance so I'll know when a good deal comes along.

    I don't know what I'm looking at. I'm not partial to any brand or even any particular size but because of the availability of parts, etc. I'd say I'm looking for a John Deere 350. What should I look for in one? What is this "undercarriage" see mentioned so much. What about rollers, sprockets, pins, tracks, etc.? How many hours. Do they make them in standard shift/shuttle, etc?

    Give me a quick lesson, here....

    EDIT: I know repairs can quickly add up to more than the dozer is worth, so I want to know when something has been "babied" or taken good care of......

    also, i've got time (i guess you could say that) but i don't have much money.....so something completely different (outside the box) would be ok too.....or an older model dozer.....
    TC45 Shuttle, 270 hours, 758C backhoe, 16LA loader

    Well, I looks like I just bought myself a lot of work.....

  2. #2
    Elite Member
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    Bedford, VA
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    John Deere 2320

    Default Re: What to look for when buying a dozer

    There is an excellent post around somewhere from Eddie Walker and others regarding the same topic.. It ran for pages and pages and was full of great information.. IF after reading it you still want a dozer you will be much better educated and prepared the the 'issues' that can come up

    good luck

    Brian
    Bedford, VA
    2320 w/ 62D MMM, 200CX FEL, Pats EZ Change, LX4 Cutter
    Co-owner (with my father) of John Deere 790, 30 HP, 4x4, 513 cutter, 70 FEL
    2012 Nissan Xterra Pro-4x

  3. #3
    Super Member
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    SF Bay Area-Ca Olympia WA Salzburg Austria
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    Cat D3, Deere 110 TLB, Kubota BX23 and L3800 Craftsman Mower, Deere 350C Dozer

    Default Re: What to look for when buying a dozer

    I originally was holding out for a nice JD 350C because it did not exceed my towing capacity.

    I ended up buying a CAT D3 because I found a good one... My only negative or plus is that I can't move it. It's a plus, because a lot of "Friends" have asked to use it until they find out how much they will spend moving it.

    What ever you buy, make sure it's something parts are available and it has the features you need... for me it was a 6-way blade and rippers.

    My Caterpillar Dealer has been great the few times I've needed something. They made up a hose I damaged while I waited...

    A small dozer can do a lot of work... just takes longer.

    JD 350C dozers really hold their value around here...

    Look for hydraulic leaks, put the machine through the paces... it should operate smoothly... especially the steering.

  4. #4
    Gold Member CCWKen's Avatar
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    South Texas, USA
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    Ford 3910, JD 420C, Kubota G32XKS

    Default Re: What to look for when buying a dozer

    And besides that, they're really fun to drive! I have a '56 JD 420C. Yeah, it's old and small but I've done nothing to it but lube, change the oil and tune ups. It's done everything I've asked it to do. It was an old pipe layer so it has a 10' boom and dozer blade. I use it to maintain the dirt driveway and the boom has really come in handy for lifting or moving things around. What I like is that it has the street cleats (no grousers) and it doesn't tear up the yard or the drive way.


  5. #5
    Platinum Member BarryinMN's Avatar
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    Minnesota
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    JD, Allis-Chalmers, Zetor

    Default Re: What to look for when buying a dozer

    here is my 350 power steering and power reverser.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails -dscn0361-704-x-528-jpg  
    Veneer Tree Farmer

  6. #6
    Super Star Member EddieWalker's Avatar
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    Tyler, Texas
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    Several, all used and abused.

    Default Re: What to look for when buying a dozer

    I'm in a love hate relationship with my dozer. It does what nothing else will do, but it also causes me more pain and suffering then everything else that I have combined. It's a Case, which has a great local dealer, so parts are fairly easy to get, but as I found out a few months ago, Case no longer makes or even knows where to get a replacement fan. They spent a week trying to figure out what would work from another machine, but while they were doing that, I found a used machine being dismantled in Florida.

    Dozers are expensive. It doesn't matter what you pay for it, you will end up spending the same one way or another. If you buy new, you will spend it up front. If you buy used, you will spend it on repairs. If you are very lucky and don't do very much with it, you might get away with very few repairs and nothing too expensive. I'm not very lucky.

    There are basically two types of dozers. Small and big. Small is cheaper, easier to move around on a trailer and are usually more common. They can do a fair amount, but do have their limits. Moving dirt and digging ponds can be very difficult if the machine is too light or underpowered to dig into hard packed soil. I ran a John Deere 450G at my place before buying my Case 1550. The Deere just slid across the dirt. If I angled the blade, I could get the tips to dig some, but otherwise, it was useless for digging.

    I used it for clearing land, but found that it was only good on small saplings. Anything that was partially grown would stop it and spin it's tracks. Digging out those trees and pushing them over was very time consuming, and in allot of cases, just not possible if the ground was too hard to dig into. It takes a big hole to take out a tree with a dozer if the dozer cannot push it over.

    Then there was the real problem, pushing the debris into a burn pile. The small dozer just didn't have the power to push a full blade worth of trees. The tracks would spin and I'd have to try it with fewer and fewer trees. Even with a smaller load, it wouldn't turn with the load. I had to stop, back up and reposition myself to go in the direction that I wanted to go.

    That was an 80hp dozer. For trails, maintaining roads and smoothing out the dirt, it's great. I enjoyed the heck out of it going through the woods and creating ATV trails. I would push over the small stuff and work my way around the bigger trees. It was allot of fun.

    For serious land clearing and digging, I went with a 169hp dozer that weighs almost 40,000 pounds. It will dig in hard dirt, it will push over trees a foot to a foot and a half thick without too much effort. Bigger trees sometimes if the soil is moist, but in the heat of summer, the size of the tree it will push over is smaller. Sometimes it wills snap a tree off and then you have to deal with the root ball.

    It will push a full load of trees and turn with that load. It has an 8 way blade, so grading and shaping the land is easy. I can carve roads, or clear trails with it. It's too heavy to move around, but since it's just for here, that's not a consideration.

    My neighbor has a guy with a Cat D4C that he hires to do work on his place. That dozer can accomplish quite a bit, but they still use a full sized backhoe and have had excavators in there several times to take out the bigger trees and dig his pond. That dozer was good for fence clearing, but not any good for big areas. It just can't handle large loads of trees and debris effectively.

    When you decide to buy, you need to think of what you want to do with the dozer and decide how big you need it to be. Those who say a small dozer will do anything a big one will have probably never run both. The amount of dirt that I can move in a day compared to the JD450 isn't even close in comparison. The amount of land that I can clear in a day or week is also not even close.

    Parts are not that big a difference between small and big machines. Engines are bigger, but a turbo or starter or whatever that you need to replace is gonna be priced more on who makes it then how big the motor is.

    The other difference between dozers is how it's driven. Clutches or hydrostatic. The Deere was clutches and allot more work to operate. Older machines will all be clutches. I have no idea what it takes to replace or even adjust them. I know it's doable because people have been doing it forever. What it takes is just a mystery to me, and hopefully will remain so.

    Hydrostatic is what I have on my Case dozer. The engine runs a set of hydraulic pumps, that in turn drive the tracks. The pumps are fairly straight forward, but extremely expensive. For my dozer, replacement pumps cost $25,000 each from Case. I had to rebuild one of mine, which cost $2,000. In order for them to give me a warranty, I also had to have them rebuild the drive motor. That was another grand. I had to take them out of the dozer and bring them to the rebuild shop. Just finding a place that was qualified to do this took allot of effort. I won't get into what it takes to remove those parts or how you have to get the tracks off the ground and run the dozer when you install them, but it's not a simple task.

    Which brings me to the main things you need to know about owning a dozer. It is just about impossible to find somebody to fix them for you. In simple terms, you are not that important to the dealer or an equipment mechanic. The time it will take for them to come out and deal with you cost them money because they can make allot more taking care of their big customers. You either need a very good friend or family member to fix it for you, or you will have to learn how to do this yourself. I've had to replace my tracks by myself, rebuild my engine by myself, rebuild that hydraulic pump by myself and just about every hydraulic cylinder. There's not much that I haven't had to fix on it, but I know that it's just a matter of time until those things break down too. You will need allot of tools, something that will lift heavy parts and patience. Some things are very expensive, so you will have to either have deep pockets, be good at saving money, or a credit card ready to go. Some repairs have to be done out in the field. I've had branches take out hoses in some terrible locations. I spent a day with a chainsaw cutting branches and trees up so that I could tunnel under the back of the dozer to get a hose that had snapped off. I think it was $20 for the hose, but it was a day of misery to change it.

    Running a dozer is fun for the first day, maybe even the first week, but then it gets painful. They beat you up, require total concentration at all times. You don't just drive it, you are also working the blade, which is really two points. Each outside tip is what you watch and have to pay attention to. Your eyes only see one tip at a time, so it's a constant battle to know what's going on with both ends of the blade at the same time. Add steering the dozer and your speed to the mix and you'll find that it's allot to pay attention to. My dad has been trying to do this for years now, but just doesn't get it. Others have been out here and tried, but go too fast and can't control the blade. Getting them to slow down sounds easy, but it doesn't happen. Even at a crawl, working the blade requires allot of practice and concentration.

    All this concentration on a very rough riding machine that makes allot of noise will just wear you out. That's when it's running good. If it's giving you problems, then it's even more exhausting. Not to mention frustrating. The fun factor disappears real fast.

    After you decide what sized machine you want, what brand that has a dealer close to you with parts and how much money you can spend, you'll need to start looking at machines. A dozer has just a few main parts to them to look at, so it's not all that complicated. The engine is pretty basic. If it's running strong, then it's fine. If not, you get to decide if it's worth fixing. The same is true for the drive train. If the clutches or hydrostatic drive work, then you're good to go. To check that, put the blade down into the dirt as far as it will go and spin the tracks going forward. If both tracks spin at the same speed, you're probably fine. If not, then there might be a problem. Don't listen to the person selling the machine, they are probably lying as to why it's not right and how simple it is to fix. Everything is cheap and simple to fix when they are selling it, but for some reason, they never do these cheap and simple repairs themselves.

    The hydraulic cylinders are simple and fairly easy to repair. If they are leaking, that's not a big deal. Same thing with the hoses. Not something to pay allot of attention on. Even brand new looking hoses will rupture on you, it's just part of owning equipment.

    The real money and what you really need to know about is the undercarriage. This wears out, it's normal and just what happens when you run a machine. Avoid the wide tracked, flotation type of tracks, they wear out faster and cause more problems because of the twisting of the tracks when you turn. The sprocket can be either a one piece unit or multiple pieces. I thing mine is five pieces. The one piece sprocket can be a pain to replace because you have to take the tracks off. The multiple piece sprocket is easy and you can change them without allot of effort. Just unbolt each piece and install the new one, move the dozer forwards or backwards to expose the next piece and do it again. The rest is where you run into money.

    The main thing is how much wear is on the bushings. These are the round metal parts that go into the sprocket on the tracks. The sprocket makes contact with the bushings to drive the dozer. These have to be pressed on and off. They have two lives, one on each side. Brand new, they are perfectly round tubes, but after so many thousand hours, one side will wear down. When it gets to a certain point, you have to remove the tracks and bring them to a place that will turn them for you. Cost of this can be in the $5,000 range. That's what I've been told, I haven't done this yet as mine were just turned when I bought my dozer and when they wear out, I will have to buy new ones.

    Before buying, take somebody with you who knows about dozers. Hire him or do whatever it takes to have him look it over. Be careful on this as some guys who are great operators don't have a clue about fixing them. Be sure to know this before you make your decision. Again, some mechanics know allot about fixing them, but nothing about operating them. You can also take pictures of it and post them here. Maybe we can help, or spot something that might make a difference in whether you buy it or not.

    Good luck,
    Eddie

  7. #7
    Elite Member SnowRidge's Avatar
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    Power Trac PT-425 / Branson 3520

    Default Re: What to look for when buying a dozer

    Eddie "Killjoy" Walker, you have just cured my lust for a dozer.

    On the other hand, you have probably saved me grief and money.

  8. #8
    Platinum Member
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    2004 JD 4310 300CX 72MM, dozers, excavtors, bachoes, loader, tractors.

    Default Re: What to look for when buying a dozer

    Don't think that way people considering buying a dozer. Boo on you Eddie. Of course I would say that because I sell the darn things. I personally have sold over 200 of the small dozers in Komatsu and Mitsubishi and have a GREAT track record. These little units ARE cheaper to fix and repair for sure. You can replace a complete u/c for $4000-$5000 if you didn't buy it already ready for work. Shoot the bigger machines would barely replace the chains for that. I know this because I sell u/c too.

    If you do decide to buy it is always best to have someone with you that really does know what to look for. I've seen dozers advertised that said u/c in excellent (90% remaining) condition and the pads are wore down to knubs, front idler is almost off the frame rail, and the sprockets are pointed or sharp. Then there are bolts broke off the crossmembers where they attach to the frame rails that I've over looked before and then the bull work starts.

    I actually find that running a bulldozer is calming and you can get rid of your thoughts by operating it for a while. You WILL forget all about your daily problems guaranteed but hopefully they are not replaced with new problems with the dozer. It is like anything and you may get yourself a lemon but that is not likely if you have any luck.

    Darin

  9. #9
    Gold Member cbturf's Avatar
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    Default Re: What to look for when buying a dozer

    I just wish Eddie would stop holding back and learn to express his true feelings.
    I'm the ugly guy with the hot wife!
    Never ask a barber if he thinks you need a haircut.

  10. #10
    Super Member
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    Cat D3, Deere 110 TLB, Kubota BX23 and L3800 Craftsman Mower, Deere 350C Dozer

    Default Re: What to look for when buying a dozer

    Quote Originally Posted by EddieWalker View Post

    Running a dozer is fun for the first day, maybe even the first week, but then it gets painful. They beat you up, require total concentration at all times. You don't just drive it, you are also working the blade, which is really two points.

    Good luck,
    Eddie
    Working my hillsides... I find 3 to 4 hours is my concentration limit before I do something stupid like turn the opposite way from the way I want to... not good on a hillside.

    At the same time, it is therapeutic... nothing like pushing some dirt around after a hard week on the job to give a little boost...

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