Bringing a whole new meaning to the term “hybrid machine,” Caterpillar has introduced the 304.5E2 XTC, an excavator with skid steer capabilities.
This 4-ton Xtra Tool Carrier model excavator was conceived about four years ago by Cat’s Greg Worley, who realized replacing the machine’s dozer blade with a skid-steer interface would eliminate the need for two machines in many applications where an excavator might be used in tandem with a skid steer.
“No customer asked for this,” Worley said with a laugh during a recent press event at Caterpillar’s Edwards Demonstration and Learning Center in Peoria, Illinois. “It literally started as a garage project between us and the engineers.”
Aside from the skid steer interface, which adds about 1,000 pounds to the machine, this is a standard 304.5E2 excavator. The machine is powered by a Cat 2.4 engine rated at 40.2 horsepower.
Although the 304.5E2 XTC configuration demonstrated and shown at the event featured a 72-inch MP bucket, using the XTC button on the joystick allows quick coupling to a GP bucket, forks, a blade, brooms, power box rakes and trenchers.
“Load and carry is a large part of this [machine’s appeal]. We started with a GP bucket, but there wasn’t quite enough dump height. But with the MP bucket you can dig materials straight into that bucket,” Worley explained, adding that the configuration greatly reduces backfilling time. “Now, it’s not a skid steer. You have a 6-inch dump height. But as far as what a skid steer can do with an MP bucket, this machine can do that, just not quite as fast.”
With the MP bucket equipped, which uses Cat’s straight blade as its back plate, lift capacity is 1,158 pounds with a maximum height of 37 inches and reach at maximum lift and dump of 80 inches.
When the excavator is equipped with a 42-inch fork, it can carry up to 1,323 pounds of materials. That could come in handy when installing fence posts, for instance, allowing the operator to both carry the posts and dig the holes.
It’s also useful in residential construction in subdivisions that require roads be kept clean, Worley added. “Now the operator can finish his work, then use a broom to clean up.”
And when the T9B trencher is hooked up, 18 inches of trenching can be done.