American 35 A Excavator

Excavator
American 35 A
American 35A
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Excavator
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American rear view
American rear view

Featured here is the American 35 A Excavator. This is a newer version of the American 35 which has it's own page. If the machine seems similar to an American 35A listed among the log loaders, it is no accident.

When we upgraded our log loader line, we were happy to retire this machine as a log loader, but it was better than the American 35 Excavator we were using so we executed our long standing plan of taking the excavator front off of the American 35, and moving it to the American 35A. This hand-me-down solution resulted in us having a better excavator because we had retired a log loader.

The "A" series Americans were an incremental upgrade to the original models. Two subsystems are significantly different. The undercarriage is changed from the obsolete cast pad and pin solution to Cat D7 Rails, rollers and Pads. The cast pad design was built for quarry shovels who were assumed to spend their life sitting in one place and perhaps repositioning themselves now and then. Those undercarriages were tough and would take the pounding of the machine banging around, but the pinned together pads were never intended (or suitable) to driving all over the planet as is the custom and use of excavators.

Both versions of the American were a couple of jumps ahead of the Hopto and Koehring machines which can be found on the either the excavator page or the log loader page in that they completely discarded the mechanical drive sequence. Instead both had a gear box with multi gear reduction powered by a Commercial Shearing motor on the track group. While not competitive in simplicity with the drive motor/planetary reduction used in modern excavators it was about as good as could be done with low pressure hydraulics.

The gear boxes while not functionally different between the 35 and the 35A, the latter box was stronger and a bit larger which was a good thing as the 35's often failed.

The other significant difference between the two is that the 35A had a piloted hydraulic system. Instead of 3 foot long levers mechanically connected to the spool valves for control the 35A has joysticks that activate a pilot hydraulic system that in turn operates the main spool valves. This means that you can run the machine with a couple of fingers instead of getting a physical workout on the 'levers'. Unfortunately, the piloted controls were not fully perfected at this time, and they lack a certain amount of 'feel' found either on the manual ones or the newer generation piloted models. While it's less of an issue as an excavator than as a log loader you still notice it. It's hard to move things 'just a little'. While certainly a couple of jumps better than the Koehring Air over hydraulic solution, it is still 'clutsy'.

We have the machine sitting in a borrow pit and use it load trucks. It's a hard digger and suitable to this task. It is not nimble however, and one can easily understand how the imported machine ran American along with most other domestic manufacturers out of business. They simply had a better product for less money, mostly made possible because they were able to perfect the use of high pressure hydraulics which allowed for drive motors powerful enough to make the machines walk quickly, and for smaller hoses and cylinders because less oil has to be moved to do the same work if the pressure is higher.

This machine is from the mid 1970's. American met the fate of all the other US manufacturers relying on low pressure hydraulic technology. They mostly were not around after the recession of the early 1980's.

- - Updated 01/05/2013
- - Updated 05/24/2011
- - Updated 05/10/2009