How to Operate a Wheel Loader (ep. 065)

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hey everyone Randy with extreme sandbox

today we're gonna show you how to

operate a wheel loader so we get lots of

people that we get to come out here show

them how to use this equipment everyday

so we thought we'd do a quick overview

video just to show you how to operate

the basic controls and our Komatsu wheel

loader so let's check it out first it's

always three points of contact anytime

you get in and quit man you always want

to make sure the doors are locked all

the way open after you get in any piece

it's always about put your seatbelt on

first and then for any equipment again

doors can be locked open but we

generally recommend having them closed

there's a latch on these loaders right


okay so seat belt is on first thing I do

is start this thing okay so first thing

after you start the equipment I'm just

over viewing the dashboard make sure

there's no warning symbols anything like

that and we're ready to go

so now just make some minor adjustments

again we're going to be going over our

Komatsu wa2 70 wheel loader controls are

pretty similar with different brands out

there but again I'm gonna go over

specific to what Komatsu is and yeah so

we'll show you those first and foremost

the seat position you want to be

comfortable on a wheel loader so I'm

gonna make some minor adjustments

come on suit loaders we have have an air

ride seat if I just pull that once it'll

actually be auto adjust based on my

weight so it feels good

I'm gonna pull myself forward okay again

seat belts on there is usually an

armrest on the side here pull it down so

I feel comfortable on the loader here so

now I just want to do a quick overview

on the controls while inside the cab

here there's several different ways

configurations to operate a wheel loader

most typically for the smaller models

they've still got a steering wheel in

them and then your right is your tool

control basically your boom and bucket

control you will see in other wheel

loaders as they get larger there are

going away where there's takin the

steering wheel

and it's a second joystick on the left

to do your steering so that might be one

other configuration you'd see but

probably most typical is just a standard

steering wheel in there so if we look at

it if we start kind of right-to-left

over here on the right of my controls

for if I need to make any adjustments

for my ways to change the the shifter on

this there are two different ways to

shift the Komatsu loaders they either

have a button here on the joystick

that's forward neutral reverse right

here they also have a shifter on the

left side of the steering column

typically out here we always just teach

with the left hand it's better because

it's just left as driving right is your

tool control that's the easier way for

anyone new to learn but a more advanced

operator might just do everything with

their right thumb and in that case there

are buttons over here to basically

switch which configuration you're gonna

be using the other controls are more

like traction controls so there's always

settings we keep ours on automatic which

will if I switch these switches it'll

tell me on the display as well I see an

a on there generally automatic is what

you want that'll keep your wheels from

spinning but if you needed to go to max

it'll basically put as much where it

might almost start spinning your tires

when you're going into a load but

generally automatic is the best again

your right joystick is gonna be a boom

and bucket control so I'll show you here

in a moment

and then we have a lockout lever this

red switch to the right is basically

locking out this joystick so you see

nothing works on this so they eventually

I'll activate it that way looking over

in front again our Komatsu loaders have

a backup camera right here to my right

corner so you can see and then looking

at the dashboard again all the standard

configuration can warnings indicators

that we need on there for a Komatsu on

the right side the blue buttons are

always your climate control so I have an

automatic climate control in here

that'll set that all the blue buttons

here I can also ask and access any of

the menus with the little buttons below

it and the left side got lights I've got

a basically an auto kind of a ride

control switch here that basically

controls my boom when I'm driving it'll

make some minor adjustments to make it a

ride a little bit less stiff so that's

one there we got lights switches over

there and then

and I have this one switch that is my

disconnect to my bucket it's got a quick

connect on there so you can put

different accessories and attachments on

there and then the steering column again

steering wheel usually has this little


steering up this thing I'll show you in

a moment it'll basically swing the cab

both directions so the key there is the

front wheels don't actually turn the

entire machine pivots this is live even

with the parking brake on and then

shifter on here I got my speed settings

on the side of this one two three and

four we usually start out at two on the

right side a standard yet lights got

white verse things like that probably

the most important there in the

beginning and I went over the lockout on

the right side for the joystick more

importantly my parking brake you'll see

a red switch on the dash and on the

display I've got a red P that means this

thing isn't gonna go anywhere if I try

and put it in forward it basically beeps

at me right now telling me I'm still in

park and it's not gonna let me go anyway

then down for your feet really standard

you got a gas but on a brake pedal right

there the brake usually on these there

are two different the brake pedals are

connected so you can use your right or


we generally teach new operator just use

your right foot because that's most

typical what people are using when they

drive their car and a more advanced

operator might use both because you can

give it some power while you're going in

we can also apply some brake there's

some different strata techniques there

but for new operators easier just to use

your right foot and that's all the basic

controls for the wheel loader okay so

now some of the basic operations again

the first thing I want to do is I'm

going to toggle the switch that'll make

my right joystick live so now with this

one the boom in the bucket control if I

pull back you'll see the boom will start

raising now most excavators have an auto

level I'm sorry most wheel loaders have

an auto level that will basically curl

the bucket away so it's doing that

automatically for me that so it doesn't

curl material over the back end so that

is up in the air if I go right hand to

the right it's going to dump the bucket

and if I go right hand to the left will

close the bucket and then right hand

forward is what brings that back down


okay so now next we're gonna go into

driving to wheel loader so now let's go

over driving so the next piece there we

want to get that boom and bucket and

driving position and generally what we

recommend is down below your dashboard

obviously if it was any higher I

wouldn't be able to see over it but you

also don't want to have it too low

because if I have it all the way to the

ground it will absolutely is drag along

and you'd really don't want to drag the

bottom of your bucket so a few feet off

the ground

now we teach our buckets to our clients

to be closed so right now you can see

it's kind of curled all the way up a lot

of operators will probably drive with

the bucket ready to dig which is kind of

a flat configuration where they're ready

to go down that's probably the more norm

that way they're ready to go right into

a pile but again for us we like to keep

it curled just to be safe because if you

have it open too much and you're driving

a little bit uneven you do have the

potential that digging into the ground

which would not be good so my boom and

bucket are controlled now I'm gonna go

over and take off my parking brake again

don't do this until you're actually

ready to drive so I'm gonna click the

switch and parking brakes off the

machine is then live so we're ready to

drive so if I have my left on hand on

this knob I've got my shifter here on

the left side I'm gonna click it in to

forward and then if I just give it some

gas it'll start going straight

now again the big thing with the wheel

loader is the front tires are not going

to turn at all it's actually the entire

machine pivots so if I go all the way to

the right articulates at the center of

the machine so I go all the way that way

all the way to the left this is how you

turn the wheel loader the front tires

aren't actually turning it's the center

of the machines pivoting so that's

forward I hit stop put it in reverse

and I can start backing up I do have a

backup camera there I can look at but

it's also good to look out your mirrors

look over your shoulder know where

you're backing up and I'll stop there I

always try and stop with your foot put

it neutral

put it back and forward and now we're

ready to drive back around so this time

I'm going to drive around this dirt pile

in front of us and we're gonna come over

and we'll show you how to scoop so

ideally you want to be lined up straight

on the pile you don't necessarily want

to come in at an angle

so once I'm lined up fairly straight

here now it's just getting my bucket in

the right configuration so I'm gonna

open the bucket up obviously you can't

drive in with that thing curled up so

you generally want your blade to be

horizontal level the best way at the

sandbox here on our buckets you'll see

little red lines actually on top of our

bucket corners that kind of matches the

blade angle because you're gonna notice

sitting on behind this thing most new

operators you can't see the bucket so

it's really judging if you look at the

lines on the top of the wheel loader

there's usually a straight line on the

bucket that gives you a good indication

what that blade angle is you don't want

to be too if you're too open you're

gonna dig a big basically trench right

in front of you you also don't wanna

have a curled up though so once you're

lined up you bring it down to the ground

usually I might touch the ground and

then pull it back just to get it about

six inches off the ground and then we're

ready we're always already in forward

here so I'm gonna drive straight in

and if I just give it gas you'll see it

just stopping on its own because the

auto traction control now what you don't

want to do is if I just curl it up right

now and I can demonstrate this you'll

see it basically just took one scoop but

there's very little fill like I can

raise this up and just get enough room

so you have that you can dump it and

then I go to the right that dumps it but

there wasn't much in there so the proper

way to do that I'm going to back up so I

can get line back up

pull it back and forward come down to

that ground again make sure um flat now

really to get a full load you have to be

driving into this pile while you're

pulling back in your right hand to

really fill that bucket then at the very

end is usually when you're curling it's

usually right around your dashboard

level so for a new operator I generally

recommend just going straight into this

pile again same way till it's stuck now

instead of just curling though this is

where you want to start giving it some

you know when you're hitting your gas on

it to give it some power you'll see my

wheels are starting to spin I'm gonna

keep giving a gas I'm gonna keep pulling

on my right hand and then as I'm going

pulling back I'm also just adding a

little bit of curl at the same time and

that's really giving me a full bucket so

you can see how I got a much fuller load

on that one and that because I was

pulling up into it really scooping that

up now before I back up you do not want

to raise this any higher this is where a

wheel loader is very top-heavy so in

general I'm going to illustrate in

Reverse because I can back straight away

from that pile as I'm backing up though

I need to bring this back down into a

driving position so I'm gonna bring it

down it's curled all the way up

generally right below the dash again you

want to be able to see over this thing

and then I would basically drive to the

other side or I'm gonna be able to dump


the key here is low and tight you've got

a very heavy load hanging out in front

of you that's where it's important that

you stay low to the ground you do not

want to be driving a wheel loader with

that bucket way up on the sky and then

we're gonna come back around and again

really important to try and straighten

up you don't necessarily want to go in

like a side like this and start pulling

back the machines a lot more stable when

it's basically lined up straight now as

I'm coming forward slowly this is where

I can start raising it up and you're

gonna need enough room to build a clear

when you dump so the buckets gonna come

down about three or four feet now you

don't want to let your tires drive up

the mountain so this is where I'm kind

of watching my tires I can start feeling

its way a little bit there and then once

I have enough room I'm going to go right

hand to the right to dump it

there you go and then the final thing I

always we teach our clients to close it

again just to make sure it's in the

closed position all the way now the

excavators have I'm sorry the wheel

loaders have different auto sets so for

an operator it can kind of return to dig

so on the Komatsu if I just go all the

way like this in your left hand it'll

stop and you can set that difference

that way when I go down it's maintaining

that this is for someone doing

repetitive like loading a dump truck

something like that all they're gonna

have to do after they dump so if I'm

dumping right there I can go ahead and

click it and reverse and with my right

hand I can just click like that and it's

gonna take it or turn the day so it

gives that angle I bring it right back

down and it's ready to go it's holding

the angle again you can set that at

different settings you need to take one

more scoop

again I'm giving it gas and going in at

the same time and that's ideal you what

you want you want to see a really full

bucket now the key here again is low and

tight low to the ground

as I'm driving again I'm keeping it kind

of below my - I don't want to be down a

lower you'll see if I go down a low or

not only do I lose some of my material

but I'm also gonna start dragging that

so that's why it's key to be just a

little bit off the ground

straight now and again this is where

when we start raising it up

this is where you're really at the

riskiest spot in a wheel loader these

machines as you see they sway very

top-heavy this is not something you want

to do you do not want to be driving

around Reverse you see how the whole

machine is swaying this is where you're

at the most risk with a wheel loader so

loading a dump truck anything above your

cab this is where it's very important to

be nice and slow make sure you're not

backing up you're not making any sudden

changes in direction go up there and


so that's the basics on how to dig with

a wheel loader now the other thing you

can do with a wheel loader is floating

the blade really the bucket I should say

it's kind of similar to a dozer or even

a skid steer can do this as well but

I'll show you there's two kind of

primary ways to do this if I Drive out

here so there's basically a way to

disengage the hydraulics to the boom so

what you want to do with that is I'm

gonna set this thing down flat on the

ground right there I feel I'm flat with

the Komatsu wheel loader if I just take

this joystick and just basically jam it

forward a little bit you see it's

actually sitting in the forward position

I can take it out of flow right there

this is also very similar to what you're

doing a skid steer so most skid steers

are the same way as you jab that forward

it disengages the boom

I can still curl and uncurl but what

you're gonna notice is the boom itself

is disengaged so it's just taking the

weight of that bucket you only want to

do this in Reverse you would never want

to be driving forward what it does it

kind of compacts down so it smooths out

things so I'm just gonna do a little bit

of a slope there where it's flat and I'm

gonna hit I'm gonna reverse

again you'll see how it kind of just

flattens thing out it kind of compact it

you could have a load of dirt in there

if you wanted some more weight to really

push down on it I'm watching where I'm

backing on my backup camera and then the

key there is at the end I pulled it out

a float you don't listen I don't want to

just pick it up because there might be a

pile of dirt behind my bucket so I'm

gonna keep backing up a little bit and

then just let it trail out easily on its

own so it's in the air that's one way

when I went flat with the bucket

the other way you can kind of do this

bucket down it really takes it out more

if there's more rough terrain there so

if I raise this up and I can see I'm

basically looking behind my bucket right

now I can see the bottom of the blade so

I'm gonna go down touch it now again you

can see the difference here I can

actually this will start to pick up my

front end you see right now the boom is

powerful enough to pick up the machine

so you don't want to be doing that I

just want to be gently touching the

ground and then again if I just put that

in right now it's just floating it's

just right the weight of the bucket is

on there so I'm gonna hit reverse again

and same thing I can see behind I'm

watching where I'm reversing

and it's a little bit rougher but it

also evens things out almost like using

a dozer blade now again at the end of

this if I were to just pick this up

right now

I'd have a big pile of dirt and that's

not what you want so I'm gonna keep it

down there it's out of float so now I

actually have the machine holding it up

and I'm gonna keep backing up a little

bit and try and just let this trail off

if I have to pull back a little bit on

my right hand again I'm still watching

where I'm driving I'm I have to push it

forward but you see I've kind of left a

nice smooth motion there perfect and

then to park the machine generally I'm

putting it there I want to rest my

bucket flat ideally put it down on the

ground for the Komatsu I'm gonna go

ahead and disengage the lockout lever

I'm sorry engaged like a lever for my

bucket control so you see now that does

not doesn't work and it's always

important put your parking brake on so I

verify have a red pea on there so I know

the machine's not gonna go anywhere

after that pick this up seat belt off

I'm gonna slide my seat back turn my

machine on and then my door make sure

they lock in place and then always three

points of contact so that's how you

operate our Komatsu wheel loaders

hopefully you guys enjoyed this episode

please post in the comments if you have

any more questions or if you're an

operator has some tips or tricks please

post that in the comments thanks for

tuning in we'll see on the next episode