Caterpillar launches Cat C Series Wheel Feller Bunchers

The engine was placed at the back of the machine for better weight distribution and balance.


Caterpillar is introducing a completely redesigned wheel feller buncher family with significant advances in performance, reliability and serviceability. Customer feedback at every stage of development drove the design of the new models, the Cat563C and 573C. The company is also introducing the new SH-56B high capacity bunching saw to keep pace with the increased capacity of the new feller bunchers.

“We started by talking to Caterpillar customers and non-customers to learn what they needed in the next generation of wheel feller bunchers,” says Matt McDonald, Caterpillar Forest Products product performance engineer. “Throughout the design and testing phases we kept our focus on what they told us.”

More power, less fuel

The Cat C7.1 ACERT engine delivers more power and burns less fuel than previous models. Power is delivered where and when it is needed as a result of PowerDirect Plus, new technology that optimizes machine efficiency and productivity. “Operators will have better performance in all functions on both steep and flat ground,” McDonald says. “Simultaneous lift-tilt and lift-steer functions are significantly faster than major competitive machines. Saw recovery time is also significantly faster.”

The C7.1 meets U.S. Tier 4 Interim emission standards. New technology was incorporated to ensure that changes to meet emissions requirements would not reduce uptime or shorten service life. Productivity is not affected by the Cat Clean Emissions Module and its active regeneration process. The system will not interrupt work and can regenerate during machine operation with no impact on machine performance.

Stable and maneuverable

The engine was placed at the back of the machine providing better weight distribution and balance between the front and rear axles. “This revolutionary design gives the C Series stability — even when carrying big timber on steep or uneven terrain,” McDonald says.

The center articulation joint is positioned between the front and rear axles to facilitate tire tracking. Combined with the improved weight distribution and balance that results from the rear engine position, the agility of the C Series is a distinct advantage. 

Ground level servicing

The C Series is the first wheel feller buncher that can be serviced standing on the ground. This includes fueling. The fuel tank is located behind the rear axle and the fill is at ground level. “No more climbing up on the machine, dragging a fueling hose to fill the tank,” McDonald says. “It’s easy and safe.” Hydraulic oil also is added at ground level with a standard electric hydraulic oil fill pump and a quick coupler hose stored on the machine. Oil is pumped through the filtration system before it enters the tank, safeguarding the hydraulic system.

The tilt cab and large hinged doors on three sides and at the bottom of the engine compartment provide ground-level access to the engine, hydraulic pumps and all key components, including fuel, air and oil filters, drive belt, hydraulic hose connections, water pump, AC compressor, alternator and starter, to name a few. Short hoses and electrical wires that are bulkheaded between systems also contribute to the ease and safety of servicing the C Series machines.

Field and lab tested

Robust box section frames and a field-proven center hitch design provide a solid foundation. A dual pad pump drive, steering cylinder mounts and chrome plated lift arm and tilt link pins are examples of design changes built into the C Series to increase machine life.

Fast and smooth multi-functioning is due to a high performance control valve. “We put the control valve and hydraulic pumps through extensive lab ‘torture’ tests that simulated the most brutal logging conditions and environment,” McDonald says. “The tests verified a significant increase in the service life of the control valve and pumps.”

Cool, debris free

In designing the C Series, special attention was focused on keeping the machine cool and free of debris. The machine is segmented into separate compartments that are pressurized to prevent debris from entering. Less debris build-up means less time required for cleaning it out and better performance. The pressurized airflow keeps electronics, sensors and other key components cool during long workdays.

The high capacity cooling system and on-demand reversing fan keep the machine running at the proper operating temperature, optimizing performance, durability and fuel efficiency. The oversized, hydraulically driven fan spins at a slower speed overall and only turns as fast as needed to maintain proper hydraulic and engine temperatures. It automatically reverses every five minutes of run time to keep the cooling system free of debris.

Operator comfort, adjustability

The cab is centered between the axles for a smooth ride. The standard air suspension seat with neck and back support and new high capacity HVAC system adds to operator comfort. A clean three-piece front windshield, large rear windows and skylight give the operator a 360 degree view, including the rear tires.

The C Series features additional functions including Control Adjustability to customize the machine operation for each operator, Terrain Selection Mode to optimize performance on hills or flat ground, Creep Mode to improve machine functionality particularly in first thinnings, and Road Steer Mode for high-speed transport of the machine. These functions, combined with complete electrohydraulic controls, provide the operator with a smoother machine, increasing productivity.

New bunching saw

New work tools have been developed to meet the increased capabilities of the C Series wheel feller bunchers, including the new SH-56B, featuring Caterpillar’s patented Strait Grip bunching finger and no-pinch-point tower. “The SH-56B is the most versatile and balanced high capacity bunching saw in the market. It keeps bunches tightly compressed and straight, providing excellent productivity in thinning applications,” McDonald explains. “It also optimizes skidder and loader efficiency because the stems are well organized.”


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