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Certified Power Train Rebuilds Give Cats Multiple Lives

Fri September 12, 2008 - Northeast Edition
Maura Bohart

If domestic cats have nine lives, how many lives does a Cat machine have?

Five turns out to be the answer.

Foley CAT of Piscataway, N.J., used the winter to breath new life into some of its customers’ equipment. Cat certified power train rebuilds completely restore the radiators, engines, transmissions, torque converters, final drives and axles of machines.

“It’s better than buying new. You get a second life out of the machine,” said Rob Whaley, purchasing manager of Weldon Materials.

Weldon recently rebuilt the power trains in two 773D haul trucks and one 988G front-end loader with a Cat certified rebuild from Foley.

“It took about 10 weeks,” Whaley said, “and now the machines are running great.”

Weldon has done rebuilds in the past and has concluded they are a cost-efficient way to get more performance out old machines.

“Cat machines are made for the purpose of having multiple lives,” said Mike Held, vice president of marketing of Foley CAT, “so [the customers] take advantage of that. Instead of paying for a new piece of equipment, they’re going to pay 30 to 35 percent of that cost to rebuild the power train.”

The rebuilt machine also comes with a three-year or 5,000-hour warranty on all rebuilt components.

“That’s basically the same as a [new] machine warranty,” said Jon Souliere, service manager of Foley CAT.

Stavola Construction Materials of Tinton Falls, N.J., also finds certified rebuilds beneficial. It rebuilt a Cat 992 wheel loader.

“We like the 992Cs and Ds because they’re very reliable,” said Rick Young, chief operating officer of Stavola Construction Materials.

Stavola chose to rebuild during the winter, because its loader is primarily used for quarry work.

“The rebuilding was in conjunction with the typical winter shutdown of the quarry,” Young explained. “While Cat was rebuilding the loader, we were rebuilding the quarry’s crushers.”

Stavola’s mechanics understand how machines work and were able to detect when it was time for a rebuild.

“There are a number of parameters in a piece of equipment that you observe through its life. When excessive wear occurs, metal in the oil samples starts to rise, so we look at oil samples. Fuel consumption and the operating hours of the equipment components are also important.”

Young enjoys the service he receives from Foley CAT.

“We deal directly with the account service representative — in this case Alex Albrecht. He coordinated the proposal for the repair and then the actual repair. Alex is very good and he monitors the shop’s activities and the scheduling of the work.”

Cat also performs complete certified rebuilds, which strip machines down to their frames and completely rebuild the cab, engine, power train, radiator, transmission, torque converters, gages, wiring, steering wheel, controls, pedal and many other parts. Certified rebuilds replace approximately 7,000 parts.

“Except for the bucket and the wheels, we touch everything else in a complete rebuild,” said Souliere. “Even the hardware and brackets are stripped off the machine.”

Foley also updates any out-of-date components during the rebuild.

“Cat forwards us a list of what we need to do,” explained Paul Kirchberger, shop foreman of Foley CAT. “It usually revolves around the main operation of the machine — engine, transmission final drives — things like that. It really affects the integrity of the product when it gets done.”

Complete rebuilds also can be depreciated as if they were new machines, allowing companies to save tax money, according to Souliere.

When a power train rebuild is complete, Foley performs up to 200 tests, checking the hydraulic pressures, transmission, cycle times of the hydraulics, brake operation, engine rpm and all other functions of the machine. Even more tests are required for a complete rebuild — approximately 350.

“We have to forward everything to Caterpillar when we’re done,” said Souliere. “Otherwise they won’t warranty it. They’re standing behind it and we’re standing behind it, so we have to do it right.”

Many Cat machines are eligible for the rebuild, including track-type tractors, track-type loaders, wheel loaders, wheel tractors, soil compactors, landfill compactors, motorgraders, scrapers, off-highway trucks and off-highway tractors, and these machines can be rebuilt multiple times.

“You can rebuild a power train up to two times, do a complete rebuild, and then rebuild the power train again,” said Kirchberger, “so Cat machines have up to five lives.”

However, there are some machines Foley won’t rebuild.

“[In some cases], Foley may elect not to do the rebuild, because of the condition of the machine. If the cost exceeds 70 percent of the machine’s value, then it just doesn’t make sense to rebuild it,” Souliere said.

But for those machines that are eligible, rebuilding can keep a great piece of equipment alive.

“We’ve done Cat rebuilds before and I’m sure we’ll do them again,” said Whaley.

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