Job-matched attachments make loaders versatile
Give a skid-steer loader to a public works crew and it’s likely members will find new ways to use it – even in winter; even in the North. In fast-growing Fargo, N.D., for example, where new homes have cluster mail boxes at the curb, four blizzards this past winter, left mail boxes buried – in some cases, up to eight feet high.
Two skid-steer loaders with snow-blowers helped clear out the mail box areas, according to Dennis Walaker, manager of operations, Fargo Public Works Department. “With the directional chute on the snowblowers, we can put the snow exactly where we want,” he says.
The loaders, which are manufactured by locally based Bobcat, are more than just snowplows.We use them all year, for a variety of jobs,” Walaker says.
In Hartland, Wis., an ordinance requires residents to clear sidewalks of snow within 24 hours of the end of a snow-fall. The city uses a skid-steer loader that is equipped with an angle broom, bucket and a snowblower.
“All our sidewalks and paths are five-feet-wide or less,” says Mike Gerszewski, foreman of the Department of Public Works.
“The mounting system allows us to change attachments in minutes,” he says.
When there is a snowfall of less than two inches, “we sweep sidewalks with the angle broom,” he says.For amounts of two to three inches, we use a bucket to push it off the sidewalks. The snowblower comes out for four inches or more.”
Clearing snow from downtown sidewalks in the central Michigan town of Vassar is usually quick work because the community of 2500 has only a four-block downtown area. A skid-steer loader, equipped with an angle blade, is perfect for the job, says Ray Hess, superintendent of public works.
But, even though snow removal might not take very long, Vassar’s loader is far from idle in the winter. Job-matched attachments help keep the loader working.
“This past january, we installed 300 feet of sewer and water lines for the expansion of an industrial park, Hess says.We put a hydraulic breaker on our loader to loosen the ground, which was frozen 14 to 16 inches deep. Then we switched to a backhoe attachment to complete the digging.”
Things are a little different in Eden Prairie, Minn. The Minneapolis-area suburb has 80 miles of sidewalks and walking trails, as well as a community center parking lot that has to be free of snow by 6 a.m.
Additionally, fire hydrants and intersections need to be cleared quickly. The tasks are handled by four skid-steer loaders and 20 operators, working around the clock.
“It usually takes us two days to get all this done after a snowfall,” says Kirby Paulson, of the city’s Public Service Department.Our four loaders are equipped with snowblowers and angle blades.”
Even the city’s planer attachment is brought out in the winter. “We have a popular hill that is used for sledding.” Paulson says.At times, very rough, dangerous ice bumps form. We use the loader and planer to grind them down, making the 100-yard incline safe.”