Equipment Spotlight: Caterpillar D11

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Caterpillar D11N

First introduced in 1986, the Caterpillar D11N was the first crawler tractor in the D11 series that improved upon many of the features of the Caterpillar D10 crawler tractor, but on a larger scale.

Its overall 34.9-foot length (with blade), 11.8-foot width over tracks, and 28-inch shoe size, made it a much larger and more laterally stable machine than its predecessor, especially when traversing over mud and snow.

But when it came to the design of the D11N'€™s drive system, Caterpillar knew not to mess with a good thing. The Caterpillar D11 borrows from the D10 and uses Caterpillar's unique 'High Drive' (elevated drive sprocket) system, which is easily distinguishable from the triangular shape of its tracks when viewed from the left or right side of the machine.

The high drive system spreads engine torque over multiple gear teeth so the system can withstand more rotational force. The system is built upon a modular design that makes it easier to disassemble when maintenance is required.

The newest member of the family

The D11N was followed by the D11R In 1996. The newest member of the D11 family included fingertip controls and an electronic clutch and brakes.

To reduce operator fatigue, Caterpillar also replaced the traditional hydraulic multi-levers system with a single-lever (joystick) steering system to reduce hand and body movements and associated operator fatigue.

Caterpillar D11R crawler tractor crossing the auction ramp Caterpillar D11R crawler tractor crossing the auction ramp

Power boost

When the Caterpillar D11R first came out, its engine was capable of generating 770hp, which was later increased to 850hp.

The major change Caterpillar made by the time the D11T rolled out of its East Peoria plant in 2008 was in the engine compartment.

The Caterpillar D11T relies on a CAT C32 engine with ACERT'¢ technology to generate 850hp. The newest D11T versions feature an Ok-to-Start system for electronic fluid level verification and an Enhanced Auto Shift system (EAS) for better fuel economy. Both the D11R and D11T are available in a sturdier CarryDozer (CD) model.

The blades on the D11R CD and the D11T CD can handle up to 57 cubic yards of material as opposed to the 35.5 cubic yards handled by the blades of a regular D11R and D11T.

D11 blades are made from high tensile steel for strength and durability. They are suitable for fine grading and for moving material over gentle slopes and short distances.

Four types of blade options are available:

  • Straight-Blade (for grading and greater penetration)
  • Universal-Blade (for carrying more material over greater distances)
  • Straight-Universal Blade (combination blade)
  • Coal Universal Blade (for handling up to 74.9 cubic meters of coal)

For ground breaking work, single shank or multi-shank rippers attachments are also available.

The Hollywood connection

Those familiar with the capabilities of a D11 in a construction, mining or agricultural setting, might be surprised to know that the D11 has also played a supporting role in the 2009 movie Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. Better known as Rampage to Transformer fans, the D11 Constructicon made up the left leg of Decepticon General Devastator.

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