Cat 330 and Cat 330B Loader

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Looking in the Back door of the Cat 330B

History of the Cat 330

The Cat 330 base machine was introduced in 1992, and was manufactured in Europe, Japan and the US. It is estimated that worldwide some 9000 of the original Cat 330's were made. It was replaced in 1996 with the Cat 330B and around 12,000 of the B models were made through 2002 when the C model was introduced and produced in the 2002-06 era when the final version, the Cat 330D was released and made briefly. Fundamentally, the models aren't all that different. For the most part the various designations appear to correspond to EPA emissions regulations. 1996 was the first year that Diesel engines needed to be certified for emissions in off road machinery, although the Cat 3306TA set at 222 HP was used in both the 330 and the post 1996--330B model. Beginning in 2003, the engine was changed to the electronic Cat C9 and the horsepower increased to 247 hp. Post 2006 the Cat 330D model was produced with 268 HP suggesting yet another engine revision. Some 6800 of the 330C models were made as excavators, and production was expanded to include Brazil and China. Production of the 330D is estimated at around 600 based on looking at the serial numbers.

In the excavator business, it has become customary for the first couple of numbers of the model number to represent the metric ton weight of the machine. However this machine was made in many configurations all of which were heavier than the base machine. The forestry machines always weight a lot more because they have extra guarding and a 'hi-walker' undercarriage. The version featured here has a Jewell after market boom and after market OSHA cab on it. It's a rear entry cab made to ROPS specifications (as compared to the sheet metal cabs standard on excavators) It is also elevated so you can see what you are doing, and it has a tilt mechanism so it tips forward for transport as otherwise it would be unmanageably high. You get in the thing by starting over on the right front cornet and get first up on top the house and then you can open the rear entry door. Inside the cab is very roomy (see photo). This model which we acquired in 2013, shortly after its 10th birthday, is a whole generation newer than the LinkBelt CII's that we have been using which date from 1989 to 1995.

This machine was primarily made as a Feller Buncher, and it also appears on our 'Big Iron' page as the Cat 330B Feller-Buncher. the conversion requires removig the grapple and grapple riser and replacing them with a falling head (2 pins and a hand full of hose connections).

Original Article on the Cat 330

written in the mid 1990's

Once again, this is definitely not a VanNatta Machine. It is presented here as a typical example of a contemporary hydraulic log loader. The log loader is modified somewhat from the standard excavator. Most obvious is the high clearance carbody which provides 30" of ground clearance instead of 20" which is standard. The track gauge is also widened from 8'6" to 9'7" for greater stability and the overall weight is increased to 89,000 lbs up from the 76,000 lbs standard for the excavator. Other specifications are set forth in the table:

Engine Cat 3306TA@220hp
Weight 89,000 lbs.
Hydraulics 2@63.4gpm
WorkingPressure 4980 psi
Reach 32 feet

It is one of Cat's larger machines and the high ground clearance is of importance. You see these machines also are used in some situations for 'loader logging'. In this method of logging the loader is simply driven out through the woods and the operator picks up the trees and swings setting them down as far as he can in the direction of the landing. This is repeated in multiple passes through the woods. Instead of a well defined landing, the logs are just relayed to where they are in reach of the truck road. The loader then walks down the road behind the truck and loads out the trucks. A high ground clearance loader is appropriate for this so it can drive over stumps and debris out in the woods.

Early Cat 330

On flat ground this is quite effective. The principal downside is that it does some pretty nasty things to the undercarriages of the machines. Those undercarriages sort of assume they will be driven on flat firm surfaces and when you start driving these machines out through the woods, it takes its toll on the hardware. I think the loader loggers sort of regard their loaders as expendables. Beside just wrecking the tracks, it is not unheard of for the loggers to break the carbodies (the lower frame). The carbodies are designed as a single rigid platform to support the weight of the machine and provide a place for the tracks to attach. If the operator '3 corners' the machine and then 'rares on it' (and that is the nature of loader logging) the car body is put to the test, a test that it sometimes fails. The tendency is to use smaller lighter loaders for this. The don't need the 4 foot wide pads of the large excavators which means they get around better, but they are also pushed to the limits of their capacity which means the pieces come of them more quickly.

This logging method has become increasingly popular in recent years. It is not unusual for an operator to add hydraulic winches to such a machine to yard out the hard to reach corners. This method has a lot of believers and sets the stage for a 'one machine in the woods' logging operation. Just don't buy the machine after it has been used for this.

- - Updated 12/29/2015
- - Updated 12/20/2012
- - Updated 04/20/2008
- - Updated 2/08/01
- - Updated 03/27/2008