Product Report: Caterpillar C-Series skid-steer and compact track loaders

Updated May 31, 2012

You don’t need the ability to read tea leaves when it comes to divining Caterpillar’s plans for its skid-steer and compact track loader lineups. Starting next year, new, completely redesigned C-Series models will replace selected B-Series machines. These new machines will allow Cat to offer landscapers more machines to cover an even wider array of applications and allow its customers to expand their business opportunities accordingly.

According to Kent Pellegrini, green industries segment manager for Caterpillar, three new C-Series machines – the 246C, 256C and 262C models – will replace corresponding B-Series skid-steer loaders. At the same time, the all-new, 272C will take its place as Cat’s largest skid-steer with a rated operating capacity of 3,250 pounds.

“We have introduced five key performance improvements for C-series loaders,” Pellegrini explains. “These include industry-leading breakout forces, increased rated operating capacities and ranges, higher horsepower engines, high-flow auxiliary hydraulic systems and increased drawbar pull. And thanks to our new, proprietary electronic torque management system, we’re able to efficiently harness the power of these machines and apply it where and when landscapers need it.”

More power and two new undercarriages
C-Series compact rubber track loaders share many of the same upgrades as the new skid steer models, although the machine nomenclature is different. The new model lineup includes the 277C, radial-lift track loader, and two vertical lift machines – the 287C and 297C.

“All of the machines – even the big 297C – offer track ground pressures of 4 psi or less,” Pellegrini notes. “Our most powerful B-Series loader was rated at 78 horsepower, and yet the 277C and 287C machines are rated at 82 horsepower and the 297C offers 90 net horsepower.”

Pellegrini says Cat engineers put a lot of effort into improving their existing design with an eye toward making C-Series models faster, more productive and less expensive to operate.

To start with, there are now two undercarriage options for all three C-Series compact track loaders – a base option SL system or an optional, high-performance dual level undercarriage.

Both tracks feature 11 percent more torque than B-Series undercarriages, independent torsion axles and 3 lugs for enhanced guiding. Most impressively, Cat has reduced removal time for both undercarriages from one hour on B-Series machines to 15 minutes, and both systems feature separate, low-cost wear items to further reduce maintenance costs.

The main difference between the two undercarriages is their speed offerings. The SL
undercarriage has only one speed option, while the dual-level undercarriage has an additional high-speed function.

A safer and more comfortable cab
Perhaps the most innovative C-Series feature is its new sealed and pressurized cab. “This is a Caterpillar industry-first,” Pellegrini says. “As soon as the loader is started, positive air flow inside the cab seals it from dust, pollen and other airborne contaminants, providing a cleaner interior environment combined with a high-efficiency HVAC system and reduced sound levels.”

As always, operator safety and comfort were C-Series priorities, leading Cat to offer an industry-first, premium air ride seat, in addition to static and vinyl suspension seat options. Other ergonomic features include a wide spacious cab with uncluttered floor seat-mounted joystick controls and an advanced machine information control system with 10 different speed settings. A selectable pattern control system is available as an option.

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