Bulldozers, also known as dozers, crawler tractors, or crawler loaders, are found on just about every mining and construction site worldwide. In this Shop Talk Blog post, our goal is to discuss answers to common questions regarding our beloved bulldozer, including the origins of the bulldozer, how they are used, how they work, and what the biggest production bulldozer looks like.
The where/who/why of bulldozer invention
Here's a fun fact: the first design that led to the bulldozer was powered not by a horse, but by a goat! It was designed in 1713 by M. D’Hermand, Frenchman, and was basically a trailer with crawler treads that was pulled by goats. However, like many other crawler tread designs in the 1700s and 1800s, this design never made it past the prototype stage.
In 1901, Alvin Lombard designed a steam-powered log hauler with crawler treads to improve traction in the snow. In another interesting twist, while the first designs were powered by steam, they were steered by horses. That feature remained until a steering wheel and sled system was added to the machine.
Bulldozers truly became a reality through the work of Benjamin Holt and his crawler tractors. The goal of using crawler treads was to keep the tractors from sinking into soft soil. At the same time, David Roberts of R. Hornsby & Sons was working on a similar design to deal with similar issues. From there, many other companies began to implement crawler treads in their tractor design, leading to the modern bulldozer.
What is a bulldozer used for?
There are many different uses for a bulldozer. Most bulldozers have a blade at the front of the machine and a ripper at the back. The blade moves material from one place to another. The ripper does what its name implies: it rips the ground apart to make it easier to work with or to transport. This combination can be used to facilitate grading, prepare hard ground for planting, etc. There are numerous attachments that can be added to extend the type of jobs that bulldozers can be used for.
How does a bulldozer work?
The key to what makes most bulldozers special is their continuous tracks. A dozer's track design allows it to float over soft ground by distributing the weight of the machine over the tracks. It can successfully function in areas where a wheeled machine would either have difficulty maneuvering or find itself stuck. These tracks also provide the tremendous amount of traction needed to push material with the dozer blade or rip up hard surfaces with the ripper.
Can a bulldozer remove stumps?
Sometimes! Smaller stumps should be no problem, but stumps that weigh hundreds of pounds will need a more powerful bulldozer. Some experts agree that an excavator is a better solution for removing stumps; they can loosen the soil around the stump, easing the removal process. Others recommend backhoes, since they can get under the stump for leverage.
In short, while using a bulldozer is one approach to removing stumps, it's not necessarily the best one. Don't be surprised if you break a blade trying to push stumps over!
What is the world's biggest bulldozer?
If we limit ourselves to the world's largest production bulldozer, the answer is the Komatsu D575A. It has 1,110 hp, weighs over 300,000 pounds, and stretches over 40 feet long and 16 feet high. This powerful dozer first made an appearance as a prototype in a 1981 ConExpo and went into production 10 years later. The Komatsu D575A is primarily used in mining, and is available in two models: the D575A-3 dozer and ripper, and the D575A-SD Super Dozer.
Bulldozers are indispensable in a variety of industries, including but not limited to construction, mining, and forestry. With so many attachments available to extend their functionality, it is no wonder that they have remained popular since the first prototype was developed back in the 1700s. If you have any bulldozer-related questions you'd like to see answered, leave us a comment below.
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