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Author Topic: How Not to Unload an Excavator  (Read 200 times)

coloradogreen

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How Not to Unload an Excavator
« on: February 13, 2020, 08:23:40 AM »
As discussed in Partsman88's thread showing the video of a lowboy driver attempting to side-load a 160G and sliding off the trailer, I mentioned a technique referred to as "side-sloping" a machine off a trailer.

Side-sloping refers to off-setting a machine as you walk on or off a trailer to the uphill side of a trailer when you can't load on even ground. It's a skill that takes practice to get right, judgment, and a reasonable understanding of physics, as well. The most common situation in which you have to side slope is something like street-loading an excavator on a residential street. Most streets, especially secondaries, are built with a crown so water is pushed to the gutters. If you don't have a suicide lane (median between lines) to work with, you'll typically need to load to one side of the street or the other, meaning the trailer is now laterally on an incline.

One of the areas I specialize in is getting machinery into exceedingly tight or difficult areas. The dovetail I have posted pictures of that I use is far beyond and stronger than 90% of the dovetail equipment trailers on the road. As a comparison, most hydraulic beavertail trailers tare at about 16,000-18,000lbs. The one I use? 26,000lbs on it's own. It's a tank. I've put 90,000lb excavators on it before, which is about maxing out it's capacity.

The trailer makes me exceedingly maneuverable due to the axle position in comparison to a standard lowboy. I've backed 323 CAT's down alleys, alleydocked dozers off of downtown streets, and taken iron up immensely narrow canyon roads.

Recently we got a request to take a 245G John Deere excavator with a thumb up a road called Sunshine Canyon Dr. The road had three 14% grades, and about a half dozen switchbacks. Grossing about 106,000lbs with the 245G on the big dovetail with the green Pete.



We're in the time of year where snowstorms come and go and we have to find windows of opportunity to get machines hauled. Following the most recent blizzard, we had a half day window to get this Deere up the hill. Having taken a 320F CAT to the same location for them, I knew the potential for complications that lay ahead. Three 14% grades, about a half dozen switchbacks, a narrow old neighborhood. Fun. Yes, I had a pilot, even for that dinky thing.

Having made it up the grades, through the old neighborhood, and around the switchbacks, I came to where the pavement ended where we would unload.

Naturally, the county only plowed so much of the road. I don't blame them, they aren't anticipating a 60,000lb excavator being brought up this road in February. I had to offset the truck on the roadway enough to allow locals a lane to come in and out. This put me on a side slope. That, in and of itself, isn't what made the situation hairier than usual. I've side-sloped dozens of times. However:

The machine had icy, snowy, wet tracks from the recent storm.
I was steel-on-steel.
The road was a 6% gradient, meaning I was driving the excavator downhill as I unloaded.
The road had ice, as well.
I was side-sloping.

Not to mention, with a lowboy you'll be about 18inches off the ground unloading. I'm 40inches off terr-firma with the big dovetail.

Add all of that together and you're really playing with phyics.



Offset to the uphill side as I walk down the deck. As soon as the boom is past the tail, I uncurl it and have the bucket about 2 inches off the ground. By now, I've driven the excavator about 4inches to the high side of the trailer.

When I feel the bucket contact the dirt road I begin folding the stick (second arm of the excavator that the bucket attaches to) back towards me as I track forward. This allows the machine to walk straight out with the tracks in the air.

Once I get beyond the lateral center-of-gravity of the machine I begin to raise the boom (first arm, attaches to excavator body). This allows me to control the excavator setting down on the ramp. I'm now on about a 30% slope with the machine, this is where it can go bad very fast.

I continue tracking forward , curling the bucket, pulling the stick back and raising the boom as needed to support the excavator walking down the ramp. Moans, whines, and a few creaks, finally the tracks are on the road. I continue the controlled decent until I'm about 80% off the ramp. She can slide now without tipping over. Off we drive, the machine is safely on the ground.



This is not a technique I reccomend to anyone without significant time or knowledge of machinery attempt.

If you're wondering why I didn't set the boom to the downhill side to prevent tipping, read the thread Partsman88 posted and think about the potential problems. Also, that hillside is private property.

This is also the least complicated haul for me so far this week.

Troy.
« Last Edit: February 13, 2020, 08:42:37 AM by coloradogreen »
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How Not to Unload an Excavator
« on: February 13, 2020, 08:23:40 AM »

JJG

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Re: How Not to Unload an Excavator
« Reply #1 on: February 14, 2020, 12:55:03 AM »
Interesting..........always nice to hear from the guys who do it all the time! I only had to load one machine in my driving days on a Trailking RGN, the load was an old  tracked Gradall , a big square beast!! With the RGN I was flat on the ground till climbing up the deck, I can see what you have done here is hugely different!

Jim

partsman88

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Re: How Not to Unload an Excavator
« Reply #2 on: February 14, 2020, 01:33:29 PM »
Great explanation Troy. Physics is not my area of expertise but you did a great job of explaining it in a way I kinda understood. Sounds like a tough skill to master but if you can do it it only makes you more valuable. Do companies prefer heavy haul drivers that cost more (but know what they're doing) vs. guys willing to take less that don't have experience?

coloradogreen

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Re: How Not to Unload an Excavator
« Reply #3 on: February 15, 2020, 06:18:43 AM »
Great explanation Troy. Physics is not my area of expertise but you did a great job of explaining it in a way I kinda understood. Sounds like a tough skill to master but if you can do it it only makes you more valuable. Do companies prefer heavy haul drivers that cost more (but know what they're doing) vs. guys willing to take less that don't have experience?
I suppose, ultimately, it depends on the type of lowboy operation and the work they're being hired out for. Generally speaking, you'll take the driver with the most experience that you can afford. But, if the company only runs standard 6-axle set-ups (3 axle tractor, 3 axle trailer) hauling "routine" oversize (966 Cats, 270 Komatsu's, figure most general construction machinery that is 60,000lbs or less), then you a less experienced driver is an option. Most anyone who has operated stepdeck or flatbed can be trained into a decent 6-axle lowboy driver.

However, when working with specialized trailers, or highly specialized work like winching, broken machines, unusual machinery, complex locations, etc, your pocketbook will thank you for hiring a highly skilled driver with judgment and experience.
Your friendly neighborhood vegan heavy haul punk.


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IMAGES COPYRIGHT TROY MILLER/ 10-4 MAGAZINE

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Hank's Truck Forum

Re: How Not to Unload an Excavator
« Reply #3 on: February 15, 2020, 06:18:43 AM »

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