Scrapers Leave Their Earthmoving Imprint

By Lynn Landberg, Senior Editor | September 28, 2010


Cat 623G
Elevating scrapers such as this Cat 623G have the advantage of being able to load themselves without the help of a pusher.
Pull-type scrapers working in tandem can economically move a lot of dirt. This Miskin "scraper train" uses two 18-cubic-yards units.
$237,000 - $1,235,000
Price range, self-propelled scrapers.
*$10,000 - $60,000
Price range, pull-type scrapers.

Source: "Contractors Equipment Cost Guide," published by Market Watch - 800/669-3238


To the casual observer, the scraper market may seem to be shrinking. But a closer look reveals that scraper choices today are growing. True, the number of manufacturers making self-propelled, or conventional, scrapers has shrunk to two¡ªCat and Terex (three if you count Fox's hybrid between a conventional and pull-type scraper)¡ªbut pull-type and towed scrapers have shown a rise in popularity in recent years. The pull-type scraper predates the self-propelled scraper when massive scrapers were pulled by crawler tractors. Then, the pull-type scraper shrank in size and became associated with agricultural uses. Now, a number of those scraper companies that have typically been involved in the agricultural market are producing larger, heavier units for construction use as well.

We mentioned "pull-type" and "towed" scrapers. That's a fine distinction, but one that should be clarified. Rome Plow, a company making both scraper types, refers to a scraper with dolly wheels in front to support the front of the bowl as a "towed" scraper. Hitch-mounted scrapers, similar to conventional scrapers, are referred to as "pull-type" scrapers. For our purposes, we'll refer to both types as pull-type scrapers.

Then, of course, there are the elevating scrapers and conventional, or open bowl, scrapers. The former is equipped with a ladder-type conveyor located in the bowl to lift the material as it enters the bowl and transports it to the rear. It can load itself and is popular on smaller jobs such as site preparation or agricultural applications.

Full range of scrapers

Caterpillar, with 16 models, runs the gamut of self-propelled scraper types. In addition to the open-bowl type, Cat also offers three elevating scrapers and three tandem-powered scrapers. The latter have twin engines and are designed to handle steep grades and poor ground conditions. These machines can operate independently or with the help of a pusher dozer.

They also can be equipped with a push-pull arrangement using a hydraulically actuated bail and cushion plate on the front of the tractor and a hook attached to the rear of the scraper. The arrangement allows a pair of scrapers to link together when loading, with the rear scraper pushing the front scraper through the cut. As the front scraper emerges from the cut, it pulls the rear scraper through the cut.

Cat also offers an auger arrangement that also provides self-loading capability and dust control. Regardless of the type or size of scraper, Cat points out that its self-propelled scrapers are equipped with the latest features such as joystick hydraulic control that replaces levers, buttons and switches in controlling bowl functions. Electronics have replaced mechanical features, eliminating links and levers found on previous models.

Other self-propelled scrapers are offered by Terex, which has two models, in the 17- and 20-cubic-yard class. Both machines have a seven-speed electronically controlled transmission with sequential "bump" shift for smooth, low-effort changes. The 20-cubic-yard scraper has a positive roll-out ejector operated by a single cylinder. The 17-cubic-yard elevating scraper has a combination sliding floor and ejector end gate controlled by two single-stage, double-acting hydraulic cylinders.

The Fox scraper consists of an elevating scraper pulled by a 110-hp Caterpillar 446 tractor. The bowl has a fixed edge, allowing for a true finish grade scraper. From the tractor, the operator has a clear view of the cutting edge. The scraper has three axles - two on the tractor and one on the bowl.


Number of Models:
112  Number of pull-type scraper models listed by participating manufacturers. 
18 Number of self-propelled scrapers listed by participating manufacturers. 
Source: Construction Equipment 

Pull-types strive for economy


The overriding consideration on any earthmoving job is the cost of moving the material. Proponents of the pull-type scraper say that their choice can move dirt more economically than can a self-propelled unit. That can be up for debate where a number of factors have to be considered when evaluating a pull-type vs. self-propelled scraper. But it is safe to say that the pull-type scraper has come into its own as several companies offer construction-grade pull-type scrapers. Scraper trains consisting of two pull-type scrapers hitched to a large agricultural tractor or crawler tractor have proved themselves on earthmoving jobs.

Miskin, which has long built scrapers for agricultural use, now offers pull-type construction scrapers in sizes ranging from 7 to 24 cubic yards. The company emphasizes the heavy-duty qualities of its construction scrapers and notes that configuration of its scraper bowls keeps the dirt from stacking up too high, making it easier to load without the aid of a pusher. Miskin also calls attention to its "tip-out" ejection system, which, it says, unloads faster than a scraper with a push-out ejector and can unload on the fly.

Well-known for its massive agricultural tractors, Steiger Manufacturing also offers a line of Toreq scrapers ranging in size from 6.5 to 18 cubic yards. Even its smallest scraper, says Steiger, is up to taking on construction work. The largest machine is a front- and rear-wheel model that has independent hydraulic circuits that control cutting depth, front gate operation and soil ejection.

Rome Plow's newest pull-type scraper is an 18-cubic-yard machine designed to be pulled by a 300- to 400-hp crawler tractor, depending on whether the tractor will be pulling one or two scrapers.

Also new is Noble's 17-cubic-yard scraper, with a cellular structure design in the bowl sides, floor, apron, ejector and rear frame for increased strength and durability. Noble emphasizes that two of its scrapers can be transported on a 48-foot trailer.

ICON's D Series scrapers have a hinged bit, swing floor design that sets the bit in a controlled depth position while leaving the sidewalls in a fixed position when ejecting. The Contractors Series scrapers use a swing-wall ejection system. Both series can be set up for tandem work.

Ashland offers the I-180TS scraper as its candidate in the construction class of pull-type scrapers. It calls attention to the scraper's ability to deal with tough material conditions such as clay because of the pushoff cylinders and 54-inch apron clearance. Ashland also notes that its forward blade design evenly heaps material front to back.

Regardless of make or model, it's best to look at features that promote durability and a tractor size that can efficiently work with the pull-type scraper. Most manufacturers provide horsepower guidelines and hydraulic requirements for their pull-type scrapers.

Basic Specification Ranges: Scrapers
Company Types* Bowl Capacity (cu. yds.) Empty Weight (lbs.) Width Of Cut
*P = pull-type, S = self-propelled, E = elevating
Boldface indicates range extremes.
Specifications shown here are based on information provided by the manufacturers and Spec Check and are given here for comparison only. Specifications are subject to change and manufacturers or their distributors should be contacted for the most current information. 
Ashland P 11.3–18 11,580–24,000 85.5″–126″
Caterpillar S,E, auger 11–44 33,000–167,270 92.5″–152″
Fox Products S, E 7 24,440 86.2″
ICON P 14.5–18 15,800–22,600 123″
Miskin P, E 9–24 10,500–35,280 84″–168″
Noble P 17 20,000 120″
Rome P 5–26 2,850–21,300 84″–192″
Steiger P 6.5–14 5,000–17,500 80″–104″
Terex S, E 17–20 62,325–65,060 118″–118.5″



Web Resources
Fox Products
Rome Plow




Height-Adjustable Rear Axles

Toreq Earth Scrapers from Steiger feature forced straight front ejection for even, smooth spread of the spoils at the desired depth. All scrapers have the same hydraulically operated rear gate design for a straight, uniform push off of the spoils and elimination of dump-type unloading. A unique hourglass roller design remains parallel to the ground during loading operations for increased operator cutting control. The rear axles are height-adjustable, enabling the user to adjust and maintain a level position. One of the largest models, the 18000 shown here, has independent hydraulic circuits that control cutting depth, front-gate operation and soil ejection.

Number of models: 8.

Noteworthy features: Hourglass roller design, 360-degree swivel joint, wide gate opening, laser technology ready.

Click here for more information


Forward Blade Design

The forward blade configuration of the Ashland I-180TS scraper is designed to evenly heap the material from front to back. Loading is easier, thanks to the combination of 126-inch width of cut and front lift control over the blade set. The push-off cylinders and 54-inch apron clearance makes getting rid of wet clay, stripped sod or muck quick and easy. A dual support system for the 3.5-inch pass-through axle clamped onto a solid steel pillow block system and two 29.5×25 E3-L3 28-ply earthmover tires help provide good flotation. The scraper has an 18-cubic-yard heaped capacity.

Number of models: 33.

New models: I-180TS, I-155XL2.

Noteworthy features: Durability, flotation, front load design, quick blade response.

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Easily Changed Towed Attachments

Powered by Caterpillar modules and components, the Fox 673–4 elevating scraper includes a 102-hp Cat engine, a Cat four-speed forward and reverse transmission and a Cat differential lock. The 7-cubic-yard machine has an operating weight of 41,240 pounds. A quick hitch and quick-coupling hydraulics make it easy to change towed attachments such as a 2,000-gallon water tanker, a 7-yard dump and a 7-yard bottom dump as well as the scraper.

Number of models: 1.

Recent changes: New motor with less speed and more torque.

Noteworthy features: Bowl has fixed cutting edge, good view of edge, three axles, simple design.

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Twin Engines Add Power

The 627G from Caterpillar is a 20-cubic-yard tandem-powered scraper, with the twin engines giving it the ability to handle steep grades and poor underfoot conditions. The machine can load independently or be push-loaded. The single-lever implement control combines the traditional three implement levers into one joystick. Machine status and real-time information is provided to the operator with Cat's electronic monitoring system. The fully integrated, electronically controlled power train offers improved power, enhanced shifting performance and specified diagnostics.

Number of models: 16.

Recent changes: Improved cab comfort.

Noteworthy features: G Series has electronically controlled engines and power trains, electro-hydraulic single-lever implement control.

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Encased Hydraulic Hose

Scrapers from ICON include the D Series and the Contractors' Series. The Contractors' Series has a Swingwall eject system. Exposed hydraulic hose is encased in steel tubing and an integral side beam provides added strength. Heavy-duty 12-×12-×½-inch hitch beams have T-I encasement on the model 19C. A safety lighting system is standard as are rim-mounted mud bands that reject dirt and debris.

Number of models: 2.

Noteworthy features: Heavy-duty axles, high bit to ground clearance, bulkhead-mounted hose attachments with dual spring holder, remote routed grease points.

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Standard Ripper Teeth

With a 17-cubic-yard capacity, the 417 scraper from Noble has a cutting edge width of 120 inches at a 30-degree angle with a maximum depth of 12 inches. Cutting and router bits are hardened and reversible for extended wear life. Ripper teeth come standard. A minimum of two hydraulic circuits is required to power the substantial hydraulic cylinders. Two bowl lift cylinders have a 5-inch bore by 18-inch stroke, with a single 5.5-×61-inch stroke cylinder powering the ejector. Two hydraulic cylinders actuate the apron. Two units can be transported on one 48-foot trailer.

Number of models: 1.

New models: 417 Pull Scraper.

Noteworthy features: Cellular structural design, 17-cubic-yard capacity, hardened steel ball and cap bearings at the draft frame and apron pivots, reversible cutting edges, ripper teeth and multiple hitch configurations.

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Solidly Built Machine

Miskin emphasizes that its new D-18 scraper is a true construction-grade machine. The frame consists of solid, rigid steel between the hitch and the blade. The tractor's pulling force does not travel through any pivot points, hydraulic cylinders or pins. A larger heavy-duty hitch fits industry standard drawbars, with a 360-degree rotation that won't bind or break under tough conditions. The wheels pivot rearward, transferring more weight to the tractor for traction when loading.

Number of models: 27.

New models: D-18.

Recent changes: Improved durability and ease of maintenance, oil-filled hubs, larger tires, cushion ride, improved hitch, larger hydraulic lines and hydraulic components.

Noteworthy features: Unloads on grade, easy loading and faster unloading, new tires provide high flotation.

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Electronic Engine Management

The S17E self-propelled, elevating scraper from Terex has an electronically managed engine for increased power and torque. The 285-hp engine teams with a powershift, counter-shaft type transmission that features eight speeds forward and one reverse. The top six forward gears have automatic lockup. Sequential "bump" shift results in smooth, low-effort changes. The cutting edge is in three sections, allowing either a straight or variable drop center. The two end sections are interchangeable.

Number of models: 2.

Recent changes: Power-down apron.

Noteworthy features: Electronically controlled transmissions, cushioned bowl suspension, panoramic operator's compartment, two-speed reversible elevator (S17E).


Individually Mounted Wheels

New to Rome's line, the 18CMX12.5 high-capacity contractors' scraper has an 18-cubic-yard capacity and efficient, self-loading bucket design. Standard features include a height-adjustable yoke hitch, tandem hydraulics and hitch, and extended Stinger center blade. Wheels are individually mounted and equipped with four 20.5R25 VUT (L2) radial tires. An innovative hydraulic system and heavy-duty 7-inch-diameter cylinders are designed for laser cuts and even spreading control. Options include a laser-receiver mounting bracket, drawbar assembly for the tractor, and even cut center blade. Tractor requirements are optimum 25 gpm @ 2,500 psi and 300 to 350 horsepower.

Number of models: 40.

New models: 18CMX.

Noteworthy features: Complete line of pull-type and towed scrapers; sizes from 5 to 26 cubic yards.