Deere Tractor-Scraper Combo Breaks New Ground

Tue June 04, 2002 - West Edition
Nick Speer



After years of experience in the earthmoving industry, Barrie Foster, owner of BF Foster Company Inc., found he could save time and money on his jobs by using a tractor and pull-type scraper combination. Foster owns two 9400 four-wheel drive John Deere tractors and four 1812C carry-all pull-type scrapers, along with several other pieces of earthmoving equipment.

Foster’s challenge last year was removing and cooling coal-mining refuge in Logan, WV. As of September 2001, he was two months ahead of schedule and very impressed with the work his tractor/scraper combination has done for his business, especially in this unique application. Foster is now working toward a job moving 3 million cu. yds. (2.2 million cu m) of material using new John Deere tractors and scrapers.

Another success story comes out of Denver, CO, with a very large dirt moving construction company named Dynamic Development. Vice President Blair Gab is very impressed by the amount of material and savings he has with his John Deere tractors and scrapers. With strong dealer support from Greeley, CO, Bi-State Machinery is able to service, support and keep Dynamic Development moving material day-in and day-out.

These examples are typical of dirt contractors who move material with tractors and scrapers, a concept that has gained momentum in recent years. From southern Florida, northern Illinois, to central California and throughout the United States, contractors are bidding jobs lower and finishing earlier or on time because of their use of tractors and pull-type scrapers.

John Deere offers numerous packages of earthmoving equipment when it comes to the tractor/scraper combinations. Anywhere from 225- to 450-hp (167 to 335 kW) tractors and 13- to 18-yd. (12 to 16 m) scrapers are offered for several different applications. Throughout the United States, applications include laser land leveling, general construction, road construction, mining, digging or capping landfills and more.

The industry has traditionally used self-propelled scrapers for earthmoving applications. However, tractor and pull-type scraper sales have increased dramatically in the last few years, said Rick Ayers, scraper product manager of John Deere. “We see the overall tractor/scraper machine population going up 5 to 10 percent a year.”

The main reason for the increase is reduced equipment and earthmoving costs compared with self-propelled scrapers. “We move material a lot more economically with tractors and scrapers than we ever have with the self-propelled machines. And we’re doing it on less fuel per hour to move the yardage,” said Kevin Helton, Helton Construction and Excavating. Helton moves dirt and clay soil in Kansas.

“With the John Deere tractors and scrapers, we don’t have to have the grader out there smoothing the haul road, we don’t have to have the dozer on the fill — we don’t have to be pushed to load. You need to work as many days as you can in construction,” said Helton.

John Deere four-wheel drive tractors can come equipped with all the construction needs: back-up alarm, tow cable, heavy-duty axles, high flotation/heavy-duty radial tires, etc. The same goes for John Deere scrapers: aggressive cutting edges, 10- to 14-ft. (3 to 4.2 m) cutting widths, heavy-duty radial tires and many other different combinations. One of the most attractive benefits to the tractors and scrapers is the price of new equipment. A tractor/scraper combination is approximately one-third the price of some new self-propelled scrapers, with more yards of material moved — up to 36 cu. yds. (27 cu m) per cycle.

According to Mat Zeringue, the aftermarket product analyst for John Deere scrapers, “When you have the proper tractor tires and ballast as well as the correct horsepower-to-scraper ratio, there is absolutely no need to use a bulldozer to push-load the tractor-scraper combination.”

The tractor/scraper equipment reduces fuel consumption, increases cycle time and allows for a more efficient earthmoving operation overall compared to the self-propelled scrapers.

Foster said that he is moving material anywhere from 10 to 30 cents less than an excavator and dump truck or most self-propelled units on a .5 mi. (.8 km) or less. Foster also is planning future operations where he can use his John Deere tractors and scrapers for laser leveling on site preparation work. He intends to top load the scrapers behind tractors where articulated dump trucks will not climb the steep hills. Every month, new ideas for tractors and scrapers come into Cameco, the John Deere scraper factory located in Thibodaux, LA.

Earlier last year in Albuquerque, NM, John Deere introduced a new line of tractor/scraper combinations: the direct-ejection heavy-duty scrapers, ranging from 14 to 18 yds. (12.8 to 16.4 m) and the 20 Series four-wheel drive tractors ranging from 280 to 450 hp (209 to 335 kW).

Wherever it is used, the tractor-scraper combo helps contractors.

(Nick Speer is a product manager for John Deere.)