Seventeen-Year-Old Loader Keeps on Ticking

Staff | September 28, 2010

The engine in this 1990-model Deere 544E has been overhauled twice. A new torque-converter bearing was installed in 1999, and the original hydraulic pumps worked 44,600 hours before being replaced.

The loader charges hoppers with the lime rock and metallurgical coke used to produce 300,000 tons of sugar annually at American Sugar Crystal's sugar beet processing plant in East Grand Forks, Minn. It also scoops lime waste and hauls it to a disposal site about a mile away.

The 544E's secret is engine oil changes every 10 days and regular preventive maintenance, according to Kevin Grove, service manager at RDO, American's Deere dealer.

"For that application, most people would have owned three or four loaders in that time," Grove says. "American Crystal Sugar people are sticklers about maintenance, and it pays dividends."

Bruce Keifenheim, factory engineer, says the company has no near-term plans to trade the loader.

"It's in decent mechanical condition. It's just old," he says. 00,000-hour mark."