I felt like a kid today, and that’s always such a great feeling. Coming to the Bobcat Atlanta Media Event in 2010, I didn’t know what to expect. I sort of expected to feel overwhelmed and ignorant – even more than usual. I thought, sure, I’d do fine on a 1962 Allis Chalmers, or Farmall H from 1941 (the tractors I grew up around on our southeast Kansas farm). Then, I got on the Bobcat CT450 tractor – with a semi-synchronized gear transmission (SST) – with a rear-attached soil conditioner, set the speed, and let the machine do the work. I was fascinated by that tractor. Heck, throwing out all those terms makes me feel like Hank Will.
In the coming days I’ll post some video of Lance Mathern, general manager of Bobcat utility products, talking about that tractor, the SST system, and Bobcat’s ever-increasing product diversity. Bobcat rolled out the SST option for its CT335, CT445 and CT450 compact tractors in January.
But a 5-ton excavator with all the gadgets and levers?! I’d never been on one. The only time I’d really ever sniffed running a boom, I was running from it, as an incompetent concrete foreman was dropping basement wall forms on the jobsite.
Turns out, this was an experience much more about learning than about feeling any sort of ignorance or, especially in my case, outdatedness; and the good folks at the Atlanta Bobcat dealership are to thank.
Picture a greenhorn gear-boy out there clueless on some red dirt, neck getting redder by the minute, but absolutely lost in hopping from machine to machine. That was me; just like a kid. I pulled the door off a skidloader because I thought the emergency exits were the regular handles. It was only reassuring when one of the Bobcat guys walked toward me laughing, saying he thinks a lot of people do that when they buy these machines. So, I laughed a little, got down on a knee, looked for the bolt I’d popped off, and did what any good journalist would do: snapped some pictures so maybe somebody doesn’t make the same mistake I did.
Those yellow handles?! Those are emergency escape latches. Don’t pull those unless it’s an emergency.