Earthmoving Report: Caterpillar Expands Mini Excavator Line

By Rod Sutton, Editorial Director | October 27, 2011

Caterpillar adds three models to its line of mini excavators with operating weights less than three tons. Cat 300.9D, 301.4C and 302.7D CR operating weights are 2,061; 2,921; and 5,681 pounds with canopies, respectively.

The excavators are manufactured by Wacker Neuson as part of a 2010 strategic alliance covering minis in this size range. Cat models produced through the alliance will be marketed in Europe and the United States. The machines are produced to Caterpillar specifications with Cat attachment linkages, says product specialist Rob Jackson.

The Cat 300.9D is the smallest machine in the range and has an 18.4-horsepower Yanmar deisel. “Eighteen horsepower on a 1-ton is quite a bit,” Jackson says, but the power supports the hydraulics and cooling required to power a soon-to-be introduced Cat H25 hammer.

Jackson says Caterpillar expects 50 percent of the machines in this category to be used with hammers, so they designed the hydraulics to support them. A twin gear pump hydraulic system creates a maximum stick breakout force of 1,011 lb.-ft. and a maximum bucket breakout force of 2,000 lb.-ft. The mini comes plumbed with auxiliary hydraulic lines with quick-disconnect fittings.

On the two smaller units, the 300.9D and 301.4C, Caterpillar has placed the boom cylinder on the top side of the boom. The design protects the cylinder, Jackson says, as these machines will likely be operated in tight spaces and during transport.

A front-shovel mode on the mini excavators was specifically designed for using pin-on or coupler-based buckets in tight spaces, Jackson says. By attaching the bucket in this position, the operator can move dirt out of the backwall of a trench instead of back into the trench. Other applications, he says, include digging material from under a sidewalk or utilities, and dumping fill and loose material directly up against an obstacle, such as a house.

The Cat 301.4C fits below the current Cat 301.8C with an operating weight range of 2,921 to 3,340 pounds, giving Caterpillar an additional offering in the 1.5-ton range, popular in the rental market. A 24-horsepower Yanmar engine provides bucket breakout force of 3,597 lb.-ft. and lift capacity at the front of 1,576 pounds. Over-the-side lift capacity is 739 pounds with the tracks retracted; 1,091 pounds with the standard 51.2-inch extendable rubber tracks.

The third mini expands Caterpillar’s compact radius line. Cat 302.7D CR is the lightest compact radius model and has the same 24-horsepower engine as the 301.4C. This unit also has a load-sensing hydraulic system for a maximum bucket force of 5,058 lb.-ft. Two-way auxiliary lines are standard, and a joystick-mounted proportional auxiliary control allows fine control of attachments.

The two larger models can be order with optional cabs. The Cat 300.9D has a foldable overhead protective structure mounted on the front, which can be fitted with an additional guard to protect the operator during use of a hammer. 

Jackson says the company looks to double its market share in the less-than-three-ton  category. All three units will be available by January 2012, giving Caterpillar five models the range.

Mini Excavator Specifications

  Cat 300.9D Cat 301.4C Cat 302.7D CR
Operating weight w/ canopy (lb.) 2,061 2,921 5,681
Engine (hp) 18.4 24 24
Max breakout force (lb.-ft.) 2,000 3,597 5,058
Track width retracted/extended (in.) 27.6/33.5 39/51.2 Retracted 61.8