The DL450 compact dozer loader, also known as Project Minotaur, was launched as a concept machine by Case Construction Equipment at Conexpo 2017 in Las Vegas in March.
Case says it is the industry’s first fully integrated compact dozer loader and it has more than 30 new patents pending for it.
The core feature of the DL450 is a C-Frame dozer interface that pins directly into the chassis of the machine. This provides the stability and smooth operating plane of a compact tracked loader and ensures that all operating power and stresses are channelled through the machine’s chassis and not its loader arms.
The C-Frame can then be unpinned from the chassis and disconnected like any other attachment, allowing the machine to perform like a standard loader.
Beastly power and beautiful versatility, it seems.
The main body was born from the base frame of a TV380 CTL – the largest and most powerful compact tracked loader (CTL) in the Case family – and further increased in size to handle the greater load.
“The problem with dozer attachments common with CTLs and skid steers – while effective in specific operations – is that they channel all operating stress through the coupler and the loader arms, and are really only suitable for groundline work,” says Case marketing manager John Dotto. “This affects performance and adds wear/stress to those components. The operator gets true dozing performance with this machine – no arm float, a consistent plane and true six-way blade performance through the machine’s new controls.
“One of the inspirations for this machine was the old 450 Series Case dozers – a very popular product for its time that you still see contractors operating today,” says Dotto. “Our engineers focused on building performance and operating characteristics similar to that platform into this machine. Early indications show that they’ve accomplished this, with an anticipated drawbar pull of around 21,000 pounds.”
But before we all get too excited, there is no launch date for this machine yet, nor are there yet any firm plans to go into production. Conexpo was all about gathering feedback from potential buyers and testing the market.
While the frame is based off of a vertical lift machine, Case engineers built the pushing power and frame strength of a radial lift machine into the design. The DL450 marries that TV380 frame with the radial-lift loader arm design similar to a Case legacy 465 skid steer. The cab and controls inside of the machine will feel familiar both to operators of CTLs/skid steers and dozers. Similar to ISO controls, forward and reverse travel, and steering is controlled with the left hand. Boom and bucket controls are manipulated with the right. Those same controls in the right hand control the lift, angle and tilt of the six-way blade.
Dozer control features such as blade shake and pitch adjustment will be incorporated.
Counterweight has been added to the machine, and the undercarriage has steel tracks and grousers, a fifth roller for better traction (compared to the standard four on a regular CTL) and greater ground clearance to reduce the likelihood of drag.
The design includes a rear integrated ripper, without impeding access to daily service points.
The prototype DL450 on show in Las Vegas was fitted with a Leica Geosystems 3D grade control system – Case sees the integration of these technologies as a natural fit due to the dozing performance of the machine.
“The DL450 provides a distinct 2-in-1 advantage to the contractor who has considered purchasing a small dozer,” says John Dotto. “With the dozer loader, they can buy this machine with confidence knowing it will have the full utilisation of a CTL and can easily be transitioned over to a dozer. For contractors who rely on smaller dozers, they can add this and seamlessly pick up the functionality of a CTL. We see this as something that will help contractors achieve ideal utilisation rates and simplify the footprint of equipment they deploy to a site.”