Fritcha's Construction — a New Haven, Ind., firm owned and operated by brothers Troy and Todd Fritcha — recently completed a levee expansion project in New Haven to protect a golf course from the rising banks of the Maumee River. This involved hauling in more than 20,000 cu. yds. (15,291 cu m) of dirt and building the levee more than 2 ft. (.6 m) higher than its existing structure.
To complete the dozer work on the project, Fritcha's Construction used the new 1150M dozer from Case Construction Equipment. This machine — part of the new M Series of dozers from Case — provided Troy Fritcha (who doubles as the company's primary dozer operator) with advances in productivity, controllability and comfort that helped improve overall operation.
“So far so good,” said Fritcha. “It's really nice, it's quiet, it's got a lot of power and the fuel economy seems to be doing really well.”
Earthmoving is part of the Fritcha family DNA. Troy and Todd's father founded the company nearly 60 years ago (2014 marks that milestone). Fritcha's Construction tackles projects ranging from residential excavation to site preparation for commercial developments, and also has made a niche for itself in rail and highway accident cleanup.
As dedicated earthmovers, the company relies heavily on bulldozers. The company currently owns older machines in Case's 1150 size class, but put the new 1150M to the test on the levee expansion.
The new low-ground-pressure 1150M operated on this job weighs in at 32,632 lbs. (14,801 kg) and features a drawbar pull of 48,000 lbs. (21,772 kg). It is powered by a 127.4 hp (94.7 kW) Tier IV Interim engine that features Case exclusive Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) technology.
“For the size of the machine, it will take the haul truck load in a couple of swipes,” said Fritcha. “It's got plenty of power pushing up the hill… it holds the slopes well. It's hands down faster than what I'm used to. You get a lot more done.”
“Farther back on this project there were some two-to-one slopes and that's what I was testing it on, and it seemed to do really well.”
As the first dozer line in the industry with SCR technology, Fritcha said that the engine provided strong machine performance and that adding diesel exhaust fluid (DEF) was not a problem. he added that the power and speed of the dozer contributed to being able to shave considerable time off the job compared to his older models.
“I guarantee it would take an extra day or two [with the older models],” said Fritcha. “[It provides] a good day [in time savings].”
The 1150M also is easy to maintain, even with the new technology. All hydraulic checkpoints, filters and electric fuses can be reached from the ground level for easier access.
“We do all of our own maintenance,” he added. “We don't have a mechanic per se. Each of us does our own grease. Checking the engine oil is nice. Everything is laid out really well. The grease fittings are convenient so it doesn't take long to grease the machine at all… it makes it easier than chasing them all over the machine.”
Dialing in Controls Improves Operation
The new M Series dozers from Case give operators the ability to dial in blade steering sensitivity, dozer steering sensitivity and shuttle sensitivity to three different settings (smooth, moderate and aggressive) to better match ground conditions and operator preference.
“The blade steering responds quickly, I like the thumb control,” said Fritcha. “When you're doing side slopes and you're angling the blade and pushing dirt, you want to be able to control your windrows, you don't want the stuff going all over, so the quicker you can turn, the better it is.”
The machine responds equally well to steering in relatively tight spots.
“That's a ten foot, six inch flat spot on the top of the levee, and you can counter-rotate right on top,” he said. “That makes it good when you've got trucks coming and you've got dirt and you want to turn around and go the other way. You're not putting dirt on the silt fence and you're not going back and forth four times just to make a turn.”
Shuttle sensitivity allows the operator to adjust how the machine operates when they shift from a forward motion to a reverse motion.
“On a dozer like this, you don't want to be jerking around,” said Fritcha. “From forward to reverse, it doesn't matter which gear you're in. It doesn't throw you backwards or forwards. It's nice and smooth.”
Operator Cab Key to Comfort, Productivity
Another aspect of the 1150M that stood out to Fritcha is the overall design of the cab. The 1150M features a positive pressure cab that helps keep out the elements by pushing more clean/filtered air into the cab. It also comes with full environmental controls (heat/air conditioning) to keep the operator comfortable.
“The rest of our dozers are open cabs,” said Fritcha. “When I can go home at night and not have dirt everywhere, and I'm not tired, it makes a huge difference. It's quiet. It's got a radio. It has great visibility out the windows.”
The visibility afforded by the 1150M ranks with the best in the industry. Floor-to-ceiling glass at the doors with a direct line of sight to the blade corners assists in placement accuracy.
“The visibility is good,” Fritcha continued. “You can still see the blade tips whether you have glass or not, and that's the main thing. You want to be able to see where your blade's at and what you're doing.”
The new 1150M features a considerably quieter cab than its predecessors due to the way it is positioned and sealed. The quietness of the cab is extremely important for operator comfort.
“It's such a huge advantage to have a cab where you don't have to wear ear plugs,” said Fritcha. “My dad ran dozers for 50 years and he never wore anything, and you could tell [it affected his hearing]. You never think about that stuff until it's too late.”
“All-in-all, it's extremely nice, it's been a pleasure to run,” said Fritcha. “You can get a lot of stuff done with that machine.”
(This story also can be found on Construction Equipment Guide's Web site at www.constructionequipmentguide.com.)