Drott 80 Cruz Air Excavator

Drott 80 excavator
Drott 80 excavator

Featured here is a quite rare Drott 80 configured as an excavator. There was a considerable number of these machines sold around configured as log loaders, and a run down on them is found on another page at this site.

This particular machine is slightly older than the Drott log loader. The main difference is the engine. This machine has a Detroit 8V53 for power (which was last manufactured in 1973) whereas the Drott Loader shown on the companion page features an 8-V71. Also this machine has a sheet metal cab which has been retrofitted with a ROPS guard while the newer model has a heavy steel cab. There is also a slight different in the outriggers. This machine has a one position outrigger while the newer ones have a 2 position outrigger. In the second position, set with a pin change on the lift cylinder, the outrigger will extend downwards further but doesn't fold all the way up. this latter position is most useful on uneven ground, but leaves the machine about a foot wider when the outriggers are retracted.

This particular machine in its youth belonged to a railroad in Canada. Not surprisingly the insides of the tires are scuffed from driving down railroad tracks. It is not known to this writer precisely what the railroad used the machine for, though clearing slides and the like would have been its forte'. Hopefully some day someone from a Canadian Railroad will tell me just how it was used.

Why a Rubber Mount

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A snow day
If you have looked around at all, you probably know that most excavators are on tracks. They always have been and probably always will be. There is a small niche market, however, for rubber tired excavators. The choice has to do with moving the things. The track machines are easily loaded and unloaded from a lowboy, and the tracks are very adequate for moving them around the work site. Indeed, if it is soft or muddy, the rubber mount is helpless. Similarly if you are trying to see how many miles of ditch you can dig before sunset, the track machine has an advantage as it has no outriggers to lift, so it can be relocated a few feet to get a new 'bite' very easily.

On the other hand suppose you are cleaning out culverts that are half a mile apart or loading out of a pile. The strong point of the Drott is that if you have jobs scattered around you can saddle up and drive the machine a few miles without having to send for a lowboy or killing off the undercarriage. Moving a track excavator 500 feet in an undertaking, but one of these creatures drives reasonably at 5-10 MPH. If wandering around digging here and there is you thing, the rubber mount wanders further and faster than the track machines.

In today's world rubber mount excavators are few and far between, and those that do exist are usually considerably smaller than this 85,000 lb bemoth. Presumably one can wander around and clear plugged culverts with something smaller and lighter (maybe).


Drott 80 excavator
Dog leg in boom adjusts

Of particular interest is the 2 piece boom. It is shown here in the straight position but it can be shifted to the other pin position which will greatly increase the dog leg in the boom for greater digging depth. Also as with the log loader Drotts, the back of the boom cylinders are on a toggle which provide a high and low position. In the 'high' position the boom won't go low enough to smash the engine house, but in the low position it will impact the engine house if you try to swing over it. The boom cylinders are mounted above the boom which is an unusual position for boom cylinders. Also rare are the dual stick cylinders. Usually a single larger cylinder is employed in this position. Use of low pressure hydraulics makes this machine look more muscle bound that it is. Sharp eyed observers will notice a plethora of hoses going forward on the boom. There are actually 2 unused circuits going forward. This implies that a hydraulic clam bucket, thumb or wrist action bucket may be readily installed without additional plumbing. Although the bucket doesn't look out of size for the machine, bear in mind that it is 4 feet wide.

We are not sure of the exact date of manufacture for this machine but 1970 would be a fair guess.

After you spend a few days running this monster you fully understand why they don't dominate the world. While I am pretty sure that it was a sweet improvement over cable machines it likely replaced, compared to today's hydraulic machines, slow is all you can say. The bucket is so large that it will load a 20 yard truck in just a few minutes but ponderous is the word. The bucket holds close to 2.5 yards and 8 buckets has you looking for a place to dump the rest of the bucket. You have to move a lot of oil to fill those dual boom and dual dipper cylinders. This model has been bit with pumps big enough for the occasion, but the engine really isn't up to turning them.

The controls are a unique combination of foot and hand levers. The swing, and bucket are under your feet with the crowd and the boom utilizing your hands.

The two extra functions not used in the excavator configuration are a left/right on the boom left and an extra lever on the far right of the cab. On the log loader these functions open/close the grapple and rotate the grapple respectively.

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Unlike the track excavators, the power down on the boom has been disabled to assist you in keeping the thing sitting on the outriggers. The boom is heavy enough to provide adequate digging force so it is not really a problem. I"ve principally used this machine in a quarry loading out rock trucks with it. The bucket is about as large as you can hold over a 20 yard belly dump and still get most of the rock in the truck. You can reach sufficiently to load a belly dump even if you have backed up to the 'engine end'.

The one thing you do need to be careful of, however, is to lift the boom high enough so the bucket clears the side of the belly dump. I didn't once and it took the welder guy half a day to weld the side back in the belly dump. There is something about the forces of a couple yards of rock swinging on the end of a 40 foot radius that is not very forgiving.

Mobile excavators as they are called still exist, though they are rare. Usually however, they are significantly smaller than this model.

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