How to Operate a Bulldozer (ep. 061)

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hi everyone Randy with extreme sandbox

here today we're going to show you how

to operate a bulldozer so we get a lot

of clients a lot of different

backgrounds out at our sites and we've

also get inquiries about how to do it so

today we thought we'd put you in our

Komatsu D 61 and kind of go over the

controls and show you what it's like the

operative bulldozer let's check it out


so first thing know there's always a

lock lever on the door so the doors can

be actually locked open but a lot of

people have trouble trying to figure out

how to close their doors so this little

lever if it was locked

would latch it so I'm gonna go ahead I

turn the key one click here for this one

we're sliding the system boot-up holding

it all the way over and that's starting

it while I'm waiting there I'm gonna put

my seat belt on now a lot of controls

there's a lot of different types of

bulldozers out there you know I we've

operated different brands I'm gonna kind

of make this a little bit generic

but it applies to really a lot of

different pieces almost all of them have

some kind of digital display on there

obviously the basics knowing where your

fuel level is seeing if there's any

warning signs anything like that right

now everything looks good here usually

for a bulldozer got two joysticks and

the levers are pretty standard left is

always driving right is always your

blade control those are the two

different components then you've always

got some other pieces on the equipment

for accessories so like this one got a

lever here on the right side this would

be for like a ripper so sometimes on the

back of a dozer you'll see a big like a

thumb or something that you can put into

the ground and tear through frost or

hard ground

that's what operate that so there's

usually an accessory piece there

other than that there's always some

other buttons each different brand of a

manufacturer has a few different tweaks

on it but again the controls overall are

pretty similar the key there is most

bulldozers have a single pedal so if you

look down here I'm holding the pedal

down that's a decelerator pedal that'll

basically bring the engine down to idle

when we're going it's basically a stop

in other machines there sometimes are

two pedals one does the same thing it's

a decelerator the other one I like to

call brake brake and literally for some

larger dough's or just putting the

engine down to idle the machine will

still roll so you actually want to push

the second brake pedal that'll actually

stop the Machine completely our machines

at the sandbox have just one pedal which

is probably the more norm now adays so

that said climate control again our cabs

are fully climate controlled we run

newer equipment but you know depending

on we have a lot of open cabs that's

pretty common so but we have air

conditioning over our shoulder here we

have our throttle on the left right

there up and down you can hear the

engine coming up and down there and

again my joystick so with this machine I

got the throttle up you'll see this foot

pedal you can't hear that bringing it

down to idle so putting the air

conditioning down a little bit and I go

either way

now for every dozer for Komatsu's they

have safety lock levers I really like

the design they have they have to safety

levers one on each side and one controls

the right joystick one controls the left

cat runs a I believe is a switch a

parking brake switch that would be on

the dashboard on John Deere I believe

has a single lever on one side each bank

face a little bit different but there's

always gonna be lock lever some safety

device whether it's a parking brake or

something that'll make that machine safe

obviously you don't ever want to have

someone up on the tracks near the

equipment when you engage these okay so

right now I've got my foot down I go

ahead and pull these up and pull

one at a time and those basically

activate my joysticks so now both my

joysticks are live I'm in neutral now

for driving this your left hand again is

steering so you've got for this one

forward neutral verse and it basically

flips through the gears and then the

steer it is left or right again each

manufacture is a little bit different

something you'll actually twist it a

little bit to turn left or right come on

sue just goes left and right like this

and then for speed control there's these

little buttons on the left joystick and

on the Komatsu you've got a digital

display in front of you that basically

again you may or may not be able to see

this the little bars are going up and

down and that controls you got an F for

forward R for reverse that adjusts our

speed setting on them back and forth

again each manufacturer is a little bit

different and how they make those speed

adjustments but there's usually

something on that left joystick that'll

adjust that so that's our left now our

right joystick is our blade control so

with this right joystick in general if

you pull back you'll see my blade is

raising up these things hydraulics

always have hard stops so they're gonna

stop on their own it's not you don't

want to hit them hard but again people

you don't don't worry too much see if I

pull all the way back in the right it's

all the way maxed out so it goes forward

right and back up and down and then if I

go left and right

it basically dips the blade corners down

one side so if I push it to right goes

right which is left it goes left and it

goes back and forth like that and then

the Komatsu there is a blade swivel it

basically swings the blade so there's a

little thumb here on the right that if I

toggle this if I pull back on it it

swims me to left push forward it goes to

the right and this is basically again if

see go back and forth here we'll go both

directions again

generally most dozers have a six-way

pitch blade so you got the up and down

you got the corners up and down and then

you got the swing back and forth again

some other dozers can actually roll the

blade - so there's might be an eighth

pitch blade there and then the other

option some of it I've seen it on cat

equipment some have a blade shake so

usually there's a hole a button down

there it actually shake the

lay to remove any material on there for

a Komatsu it's not really necessary we

don't want to go up the hill we've

lowered the blade to dump any dirt off

it that's all of our right the other

joysticks buttons on your the right on

the Komatsu is a float it basically

disengages my hydraulics to the blade so

if I go down to the ground and I just if

I hold it forward and push it I get a

float symbol on here I'll go over that

in a little bit what that looks like

that's makes me when you're back trying

when you want to smooth out material and

I get a float symbol on here I'm gonna

take it out of flow and then there's

other like a joystick there's a button

underneath if this was an intelligent

machine at least for a Komatsu this is

what turns on my automatic so if it's if

it's set to great or whatever that would

engage that so that's all the joysticks

all the controls there so now again

pretty simple right to drive it I'm in

driving position get the blade usually

want the blade a few feet off the ground

so you can see all the way over it

you're not Dutch I'm gonna put it in

forward gear which is right there and

then if I'm gonna set my no he's

recommend starting slowest so I'm down

to two tick marks and now if I just let

my foot off that dozer is driving on its

own you'll see I got no feet nothing on

the controls now the machine's driving

on its own now with my left hand again

if I want to start steering to the right

I just start pulling that to the right

and again for the Komatsu it's just

going to the right like this if it was

some other machines you actually have to

turn that left joystick now I'm gonna

start ramping my speed up a little bit

so I come I'm at the lowest speed

setting so if I just start pushing up on

this left you'll see my starts going up

on here I can see on my digital display

again you may not be able to see that

every manufacturer is a little bit

different setting for how they're gonna

show that but on the Komatsu the way we

have it set is this showing those little

tick marks going up

and this is max speed right here so you

see if I just let it go I'm not doing

anything now to stop it I just put my

right foot down what you don't want to

do is you don't just want to jam it out

of gear you always want to try and stop

it with the foot pedal that phrase your

engine down before you start shifting

gears what do you necessarily hurt it

but from a safety perspective you always

want to stop your machine before you

change direction on that at all so now

I'm stopped I click it into neutral and

I can click it in Reverse

now in Komatsu my Center display they

have a backup camera nice so you'll see

once I'm in Reverse I got my backup and

then my speed is actually up in the

corner and I can do the same speed

settings there at my lap so now I start

letting it off a little bit obviously

watching out where you're backing out

I've got a rearview mirror in front of

me and tell people look over their

shoulders and I'm looking at my screen

right there so I can back and I adjust

my speed either way and then I push

again I stop with my foot I'm always

stopping with my foot pedal put it back

into forward and then I can slowly start

letting that foot pedal off again in

this configuration the machine will just

drive on its own when it's going in a

straight line I'm not feet aren't

touching anything joysticks aren't

touching anything

now I can ramp my speed up a little bit

we're going to go around this barrel and

start pushing some dirt

now the key on a dozer and anything is

slow kind of subtle little adjustments

with the blade you see as hard as I hold

this it does that turn if I hold this

all the way over you'll literally see

one of my tracks actually starts going

reverse my opposite so this thing will

turn on a dime it'll do a 180

obviously you're kind of disturbing a

lot of the ground there so you try and

do nice slow subtle little adjustments

there for us I'm just trying to line up

over here to push dirt straight that way

so I'm kind of where I'm at where I want

to push dirt so first thing I generally

tell people I recommend setting speed

all the way down so I go down to the two

tick marks for a new operator dozer the

toughest thing is letting your brain

keep up with the blade and the machine

and that's why for a newbie you want to

be at the lowest speed setting otherwise

you just can't keep up the trick the

dozer was probably the most difficult

ones to master just because it's one of

those few pieces that if you make a

mistake you're gonna drive over your

mistake in like three or four feet your

tracks will actually go over that so it

ends up a lot of newbies will have

rollercoasters there where they're going

there correcting the blade angle so it's

always wise to start at your slowest

speed now I'm in forward on lowest speed

this is where I can make my blade

adjustments now as I go down here if I

see I can try and get it somewhat even

or level and push down now again if I

were to push down the CL this actually

will pick up my machine I'm can do it

you don't want to start like that

because the moment I start going forward

my blades gonna sink into the ground and

create a big old divot so generally you

want to be right above the ground and

let this go nice and slow and if I

needed to make little adjustments here

again I got all those six different

pitches there I'm just gonna let this

start going on its own slowly here and

again you slowly want to cut in you kind

of gotta protect predict what the

machine's gonna do cuz I know if my

tracks are gonna drive over this lip

here my whole machine's gonna pivot

forward um so that's where I might have

to make a little blade adjustment

we're gonna go in here I'm gonna start

pulling back on it a little bit just cuz

I see my machine going over the edge

there and I don't want to get too loaded

but as I start my tracks start bobbing

them out I'm making little adjustments

it's kind of I call it the seat in the

pants feel you're trying to feel your

butt which way the machines pivoting you

want to get to this point where you're

at max loads so right about here you see

my machine just pretty much stops that's

where you kind of want to ride that edge

you know where you're almost stopped but

not all the way so now I'm just pulling

back just enough to make motion you see

dirts kind of coming over the side this

is where if I see one sides get more

dirt than the other again it really

depends what I'm trying to grade too for

us here at the sandbox a lot of it's

just we're trying to create a nice grade

a slope going up so I pull back a little

bit and then I just let this machine

drive it all the way out on its own

again I'm not touching an ting in the

lip sometimes minimal improvements

better is let the machine drive through

it on his own once I'm there I can dump

my blade if I need to this all right

just kind of drop it forward if there's

material on it and then you always want

to retract your blade anytime you're

backing up newbies a lot of times will

keep their blade down a little bit what

happens then inevitably you end up

catching that hill or whatever you're

grading so a lot of times it's best just

to have it retract it now in Reverse I'm

going to bump my speed a little bit

and that's it for this one I'm gonna go

for a deeper trench so I'm gonna back

all the way out put it back at the

forward I lower my speed a little bit

more again the trick here is really kind

of realizing that your blade is creating

your roadway in front of you

I'm gonna go a little bit faster

obviously I've been doing this a bit for

newbies I do recommend the lowest speed

setting but maybe we'll do a couple

pushes and if I feel so right now I feel

my tracks kind of a little bit to the

right I'm sorry a little bit to the left

so that's where I might dip my blade to

the right because it's giving me a

little bit more material or Phil over on

that left side to raise the machine I'm

gonna back out do one more go finish the

farther the push the tougher it is to

maintain that grade so again I'm

lowering my speed

oh not at the sandbox we'd like to go

over these things probably not something

you do on a jobsite but usually we grow

up and kind of teeter-totter bulldozers

are very stable machines so that's the

only real benefit is a lot of that

weight is down low between the track so

the mission really you know I'd say

tough to get in trouble in a dozer

because uh pretty stable unlike an

excavator or wheel loader so that's kind

of pushing dirt now let's do I could

show a little bit of back feeling so I'm

then on this if I just want to spin all

the way around I can literally do a 180

and now I'm aiming at my trench again

for this I'm just dropping that blade

dropping my speed and I'm just trying to

get my blade right at the base here

these are kind of short repetitive


always want your nose ideally aiming

towards the deepest part of the trench

because you'll kind of that's where

we're trying to push our material now

this is where we might start using that

blade swivel so if I come off here on

the side my nose is still aiming over

there but I want to pull all this

material this ridge line on the right

side to the center this and the feed

from Minnesota I call it snow plowing to

kind of pull that blade in and again I'm

watching my corners I got my speed down

this is where I'm gonna go forward here

and again I'm watching you're always

watching your tips and you're trying to

see where you're at with the material

with the side of the plane here on the

ground and I'm trying to just maintain

that on both sides but this is kind of

pulling material into the center and I

kind of hook it in at the end there to

really get it all into that trench

and then

I do one more those from the other side

so as I'm backing up I'm turning that


and this one I'm pulling into the center

to the right now and trying to kind of

combine the both of all

right there and now that I've got two

ridges kind of pulled together in the

center I'm gonna do one more push right

down the center again reversing is kind

of the time you can make up speed

because you go back or it's a little bit

quicker and quicker I don't want to get

played in too deep here but I'm going to

try and carry this all the way forward

and then I'm just trying to get all this

to kind of fill it in

generally it did pretty close not ideal

again for doing it quickly so we try new

it now now we show back feeling a little

bit back dragging I did a rough finish

there now generally most dozer work is

done pushing forward but there is a way

to back drag and use the bottom of the

blade going reverse Komatsu you said

there's a right thumb trigger on the

very top so the bottom trigger there

goes left and right swings it this one

actually helps engage so if I push this

all the way down and I press that button

I get a float symbol right now the blade

is floating and what that means it's

basically disengage the hydraulic it's

not gonna raise it up or down I can

still go left and right like this and I

can even twist it left and right but it

will not put any downward pressure on

there the other manufacturers all have

something similar if I were I think

caterpillar you just jam the right

joystick forward all the way in the

locks it forward I bully again each

machines a little bit different but

almost all them have that feature built

in now I cook it in reverse and I start

backing up these ones you can do a

little bit faster you're gonna see a

nice smooth this is where you start

feeling your machine like right now I

can feel which sides pick it up

you try to do these in a straight line

but now I feel my right side dipping so

I'm gonna lose some of that material so

I'm dipping my blade because my machine

right now is sideways but I'm trying to

compensate that in the front with my

blade angled so I'm going left and right

here well you can see out in front of me

then I've got it's kind of packing it

down getting a nice smooth finish there

the key here though at the end you want

to take it out of float so now right

here I'm going to kind of stop I'm gonna

pull it my right hand back I don't want

to pick up the whole blade right now I'm

gonna lose a big pile of dirt right in

front of there so I just want to take it

out but I want to keep backing up and

now this right

manually try and pull the blade while

I'm backing up to let it trail out on

its own so you don't leave a big pile of

dirt you're obviously watching where

you're reversing so I'm looking at my

plate if my backup camera perfect no we

will basically Park this so that's about

it other than that you know I didn't go

over much the settings are all different

from each piece you know obviously

there's lights in this one you've got

wipers above my head over here all of

the machines are gonna have some of

those basic amenities but now with the

park it obviously you want to be in

neutral right there you want to set the

blade on the ground like this once the

blades on the ground I usually let my

foot off once you hear that engine you

know you're an eye ear neutral to verify

because it's not all anyway then we go

ahead you always want to disengage your

safety lock levers again never ever ever

get in or out of a piece of a gun when

these things engaged this is your

ultimate safety like your parking brake

put them down I'm gonna turn the

throttle down and we're good

turn the Machine off I usually let it

idle for a thirty Seconds to a minute or

so three points contact coming down the

machine so that's how you operate a

bulldozer again by no means am I an

expert but that would at least show you

enough of the basics to get you started

takes operators experts years and years

and thousands of hours to get really

good at grading but that at least shows

you how to safely operate a bulldozer

thanks for tuning in