Diesel, Dirt, and Torque: Watch These Caterpillars Move 300,000lbs Of Dirt At A Swipe!

Diesel, Dirt, and Torque: Watch These Caterpillars Move 300,000lbs Of Dirt At A Swipe!

(Words by Greg Rourke) – Let’s say you need to move some dirt. You could get a spade shovel and wheelbarrow and spend the day sweating your ass off and end up looking like you didn’t do anything. An excavator and dump truck(s)?  Maybe, but most dump trucks can only haul about 25 yards at a time. So…what to do if you need to move a lot of dirt in a small amount of time?  I betcha we have a video to solve that problem.

In this case, a trio of Caterpillar 637 scrapers move a bunch of dirt in short order. The guy who did the video said he had three scrapers, and three sons, so he put ’em to work. They were moving dirt to cover some rock outcroppings to expand some farmland. Moving dirt with scrapers allows dirt to be removed without making a huge hole, and also allows it to be spread out when dumping, rather than making a big pile one would get with dump trucks.
The Cat 637 was once the biggest Cat scraper, but now others are larger. They are powered by a 3408 Cat V8 engine, at 500 horsepower. That’s a lot, but as the late Billy Mays might say “But wait, there’s more!” Another smaller Cat diesel is in back, adding 275 horses to the equation. Still not enough? In many cases, it isn’t. So these are designed for push-pull operation. Note the loop on front of two of these babies. They grab a hook on back of the lead machine, and in this case they link up all three.
Now they scrape one at a time, while the others push or pull. That’s nearly 2400 horsepower powering 12 tires. Each machine can move 50 yards of dirt, heaped. A yard of soil weighs around 2,000 pounds, depending on various factors. So now we’re moving 150 yards of material, 300,000 pounds worth, with every cycle. And note how quickly they fill a machine…clearly not their first rodeo.
So next time the missus wants you to move some dirt around the yard for some landscaping, just look up your local dirt work contractor and ask them to send out a 637 or three. You’ll be in a lawn chair with your tootsies in Junior’s wading pool before lunchtime.

Press play below to watch this trio of scrapers get to work!

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3 thoughts on “Diesel, Dirt, and Torque: Watch These Caterpillars Move 300,000lbs Of Dirt At A Swipe!

  1. TheSilverBuick

    Our #1 shovel with a good operator and trucked up will move around 160,000 pounds of rock every 45 seconds.

  2. Fiatdude

    Changing a few facts here — These are 637 scrapers and they each move 30 yards of dirt – the 657’s move 50 yards of dirt — these are about half the size of a 57 and where it is taking 3 637 scrapers to move what 2 657 scrapers would do on a pass, but when you get in tight areas the handling of the 637’s make them really valuable to a lot of contractors…

    I’ve worked a couple of spreads where they were running 100 to 250 of the 657s every day — and these projects were 20 to over 50 million yards total of moved earth — — now we call those projects Orange County in SoCal LOL

  3. Greg Rourke

    I used specs on the current 637 from the Caterpillar web site, showing 50 yards heaped, 41 struck. Earlier models must have held less.

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