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New to loader. Any tips??

Discussion in 'Heavy Equipment' started by HALH VT, Jan 20, 2009.

  1. HALH VT

    HALH VT Senior Member
    from Vermont
    Messages: 128

    I have about 40 rural residential driveways/private roads. Every year at some point I rent a backhoe/loader to bust back the piles at the entrances and by the the buildings. Over the years I have used a Cat 416, and 420, a Case 580, and a JD 410. I arranged for a backhoe last week, but the excavation company called me today and said they are giving me a JD544 articulated loader instead, because it is already right next door. I am going to meet their operator tomorrow and get a short training session from him. Probably it will be: here's how it starts, here's the shifter and the brake pedal, this lever makes the bucket go up and down, see you later.

    So, does anyone have any advice?
    How is this machine different from what I am used to?
    How much trouble can I get into with it?
    Any specific warnings?
    Am I getting nervous for no good reason?

    I will get a chance to practice with it on my own property in a fairly open and unobstructed area, before I head off to my paying customers.
  2. sk187

    sk187 Senior Member
    Messages: 338

    I have 2 544j's and both are different.

    The fancy one has a all in one joystick. Basically, all controls are done by one lever with several buttons (bucket controls, gears 1-4, FNR, and controls for any 3rd valve mounted attachment.

    The more plain one has the standard FNR and gears all on the steering column.

    Almost everything in it is digital, there is a control panel that does anything you want with the press of a button.

    They are very comfortable and have a much better view then any loader I have owned.

    Basically you cant go wrong with a 544 over a backhoe even if your loader isnt a J series its still better.

    In general its just like any other loader you have used just bigger and some controls are in different places but easily figured out ............ and all jd's are 1 stick bucket control (as far as I know).

    The link in my signature has my 2 544's stacking snow.
  3. WingPlow

    WingPlow Senior Member
    Messages: 634

    we used to run a 644, and i'll agree...it was the most easy operating machine around

    good visibility, quiet and smooth...i'd give almost anything to get it back and get rid of the volvo we got now
  4. snow game

    snow game Senior Member
    from RI
    Messages: 255

    The only thing a novice should watch out for is the tipping weight when turning. Its probably nothing you have to worry about with snow, but the first time you have heaping bucket of wet soil in it you will know what i'm talking about when you make your first sharp turn with any sudden movements. Other wise you will love it and pay for one next time. Good Luck
  5. HALH VT

    HALH VT Senior Member
    from Vermont
    Messages: 128

    Thanks for your advice.

    I went out and did it and it went real well.

    Like I thought, the "training" was mostly: "here is the brake, the throttle, the gearshift, have a nice day."

    It's a 544E, I posted pix of it last year, its about half way down the page http://www.plowsite.com/showthread.php?t=58960&page=2
    It doesn't have the wing on it now, no need for it yet.

    The most annoying thing compared to the backhoes was the GP bucket, with teeth. I found that it was very difficult to do a clean job, and I will be touching up with the plow tomorrow.

    What I was mostly nervous about was mis-cuing with the articulated steering, and slapping the bucket sideways against something expensive. It turned out not to be an issue at all. You sure can sneak it around things easier than a straight frame machine.

    The visibility is awesome compared to a backhoe. You are looking right down at the bucket, and can see all the corners of the machine as well.

    I will definitely try to get this machine the next time I need one.
  6. HALH VT

    HALH VT Senior Member
    from Vermont
    Messages: 128

    I forgot to say. The most difficult part of using any heavy iron on residentials, is resisting the temptation to make "Free landscaping improvements."

    "Gee, I don't have any idea what happened to your decorative boulders. I know they were there the last time I plowed, because I backed over one of them"

    "Your drive really looks better with those shrubs set up on the opposite bank."

    "Nobody has offered to buy that POS car you had for sale, so I put it down in the ravine out of the way."

    If only I could get away with it.
  7. 4x4Farmer

    4x4Farmer Senior Member
    Messages: 953

    LMAO Hahahahaha, I hear ya there!! So tempting some times!
  8. Wicked500R

    Wicked500R Senior Member
    Messages: 394

    sorry to say.. I hope it's not you...lol but that operator in the 1st 544 don't know how to stack...:dizzy:
  9. cretebaby

    cretebaby PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 4,162

    How many hours do you have in a loader?
  10. Wicked500R

    Wicked500R Senior Member
    Messages: 394

    Hours ? I don't count the hours.. I count the years and I'm over 15...
  11. cretebaby

    cretebaby PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 4,162

    Please post a video then

    And thanks I am over 15 also LOL
  12. Craaaig

    Craaaig Senior Member
    Messages: 156

    Just try to stay level for the most part if you are not used to the machine and watch your tipping weight. I would also suggest when you are running over grass areas keep your bucket tilted slightly back to help reduce lawn damage.
  13. DGODGR

    DGODGR Senior Member
    from s/w co
    Messages: 641

    I think you are getting pretty good advise so far but would like to mention something that seems to have been over looked. If you are using the loader (or any articulated machine) in close proximity and parallel to a long object (like a building or even a vehicle if you are close enough) that you must be very careful as you are steering. If you are not you may inadvertantly bump the object with the bucket or one of the tires. Good luck.
  14. HALH VT

    HALH VT Senior Member
    from Vermont
    Messages: 128

    I mentioned in my second post that I was nervous about that. Fortunately, the situation didn't arise. This is not the first articulated machine I have driven, as I have some limited experience with log skidders, but that was long ago, and as I said limited.

    Today I was doing the billing for this, and compared it to last year, when I did the same route with a CAT 416 backhoe. This year I did it in about one third as much time. Last year I had about an hour more in travel time, there was more snow and the banks were frozen harder, but I still think it was a real improvement. It was also a lot easier on me. Twenty-three hours in that CAT, in a day and a half, was just about enough.
  15. HALH VT

    HALH VT Senior Member
    from Vermont
    Messages: 128

    I had the 544 again this weekend for some cleanup on a couple places where the banks were creeping in again. This time the wing was on it, and while i hadn't gotten it with winging in mind, I just "had to" try it out. I can see that I would need quite a bit of practice to become very productive with that setup. It is nothing like using a wing on a truck. The articulation of the loader as you steer affects the angle and location of the wing, sometimes very quickly. Because it is mounted to the back of the loader, if you are crowding the bank too much, when you try to steer away, the wing actually goes further in. Conversely, if you try to get closer to the bank, it pulls away. There is a third hydraulic control that lets you extend and retract the wing without raising it, and I can see that it could be used to keep the wing on a more or less straight path, but again, practice. I think that if I need to have all my accounts gone over with the wing, I will hire the loader with an operator, and just run it myself for pushing piles.

    Having the wing also adds a little excitement to side hill operation, I have watched this in the past, with another person operating, the left side gets light real easy, on a lot less slope than you might expect. I think a counterweight on that side would help a lot. The wing also hangs out beyond the tires when it is raised, and blocks part of your view to the right.

    The wing is very good for what it does, with an experienced operator, but not something I would want hanging off the loader all the time if I wasn't using it.