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A Tracked Shovel' or Tracked Loader is an construction machine consisting of a heavy chassis and tracked undercarriage with Bucket mounted on loader arms for digging and loading material. The history of track loaders can be defined by three evolutions of their design. Each of these evolutions made the track loader a more viable and versatile tool in the excavation industry. These machines are capable in nearly every task, but master of none. A dozer, excavator, or wheel loader will out perform a track loader under a set of conditions, but the ability of a track loader perform almost every task on a job site is why it remained a part of many company's fleets for years, but now due to the transport cost has lost out in favour of Backhoe loaders on rubber tyres in the UK.

History Edit

The first machines were converted from Crawler Tractors by the addition of 3rd party kits. The first ones being winch operated, from a front or rear mounted cable control unit by clutches Eventually firms like caterpillar realised they were missing out and signed deals to licence the designs, then took over the suppliers

These track loaders lacked the ability to dig in hard ground, due to relying on the weight of the bucket to lower it back down, as did the bulldozers of the day. They were mostly used for moving stockpiled material and loading trucks and dumpers. The first machines lifted the bucket up on rails more like a forklift. visibility was very poor.

Basic DesignEdit

The first major design change to track loader came with the integration of Hydraulics systems. Using hydraulics to power the loader linkages increased the power of the loader. More importantly, the loaders could apply downpressure to the bucket, vastly increasing their ability to dig unworked ground. Most of the track loaders were still based on a bulldozer equivalent. The weight of the engine was still on the front half of the tracks along with the heavy loader components. This caused many problems with heavy wear of the front idler wheels and the undercarriage in general. The Caterpillar 983 track loader, the second largest track loader ever built, was notorious for heavy undercarriage wear. Modern machines have the Engine at the rear.

Some machines could actually dig in front and tip behind the machine, by loading over the top. One machine being the Bristol Europa, with schaffer Hydraulics.

The hydrostatic drive system was the second major innovation to affect the the design of track loaders.

Track loaders have become very sophisticated machines, using hydrostatic transmissions and electro-hydraulic controls to increase efficiency. Until the rise in popularity of excavators, track loaders had little competition digging and loading jobs.

Now, the lower owning and operating costs, versatility and acquisition costs of hydraulic excavators are making track loaders a "thing of the past"... according to some !!! But a Good operator can spread and form to level road base to a high degree of accuracy, with the relevant cross falls /Grades, compared to a wheeled loader due to the lower stable platform and greater pushing capacity.

The Invention of the 6 in one bucket giving greater control and versatility to the machines.

Manufactures & Model Listing Edit

Collectable MachinesEdit

These are very collectable as they are relatively simple and can be used to do the odd job around the farm or yard. A lot of machine were just parked up as they were worth litle to sell as moving them if they had broken down was a problem, but offten the arrival of other machine like backhoe loader or loading shovel and more powerful tractors with a integral loader meant that the tracked shovel was just not used any more.

Popular models Edit

  • Drott BTD6
  • Drott BT6
  • MF 100B
  • MF 125B
  • JCB 110 (fairly rare)
  • Cat 931


  • Caterpillar chronicles
  • Payline - International harvester
  • MF construction plant
  • 500 years of Earth moving
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