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Complete Guide to Skid Steer Rentals

Category: Equipment and Solutions

Skid steer loaders are one of the most versatile pieces of powered equipment in today’s rental market. In fact, construction equipment rental companies find their customers have a steady demand for all sizes of skid steers. That includes a wide range of skid steer loaders with a broad assortment of attachments. The versatile tasks performed byskid steers makes them popular as rental equipment company inventory.

What Are Skid Steers?

Skid steers operate just as their name sounds. Rubber-tired skid steer machines maneuver through the operator braking one set of the four tires and putting power to the other set. For instance, a skid steer operator can apply the brakes to the left side wheels and accelerate the right ones. That opposing force causes the machine to turn left, or counter-clockwise. Right, or clockwise, turns happen the other way around.

The magic in skid steer operation comes from a loader’s ability to turn 360 degrees within its own tracks or radius. That allows exceptional maneuverability and makes the humble skid steer an invaluable tool for all types of tasks. You’ll find skid steers on jobs ranging from paving to snow clearing, as well as every conceivable construction project.

However, that creates a challenge for those  looking to rent a skid steer machine. Questions may arise as to  the best skid steer for farm use or the best skid steer for landscaping. The best place to turn for advice is your local rental equipment company, but make sure they handle quality equipment like Cat® brand skid steers. That’s especially so if reliable, cost-effective machines that Cat is famous for is important to jobsite productivity.

This skid steer guide is a specialized construction equipment rental guide. It drills into what size of skid steer is best based on purpose, necessary power and the accessories that are right for your job. It examines different features on Cat skid steer models and what renters should look for. It also explains common skid steer terms and  best rental options are. That could be daily, weekly or monthly rental agreements.

Skid Steer Advantages Over Other Machines

One of the main reasons to rent a skid steer is because of the advantages they offer over other machines. Conventional loaders used to be large machines for moving material like sand and gravel. These big loaders moved a lot of material in a hurry, but were limited to pit operations and general roadwork. Large loaders served few tasks, unlike the highly versatile and smaller skid steers seen everywhere today.

Don’t be confused by compact track loaders, which are rubber-tired skid steers’ cousins. Tracks have their place, but true skid steers are still tire-driven. That’s because wheeled skid steer machines have so many advantages over their competitors. Here are a few areas where wheeled skid steers excel.

  • Operating speed:Rubber-tired skid steers are fast machines that travel great distances in short times. That’s something track machines can’t do. Loaderscan increase the speed of task completion.
  • Maneuverability:Skid steers are the most maneuverable machine able for rent. They can turn on a dime and fit in the smallest confines. Whether  backing up, turning or going ahead, nothing beats a skid steer for flexibility.
  • Transportability:Most skid steers are compact, lightweight machines that transport easily. If jobsites are nearby, a skid steer can be drivenfaster than it can be loaded and hauled. If it’s necessary to transport a skid steerto a distant job, it’s is easy to put on a trailer and pull with a pickup.
  • Economical:Because they’re small, skid steers use far less fuel than big conventional loaders or even track machines. Most skid steers have diesel engines. The newest Cat models have turbochargers that significantly extend fuel consumption while offering more power.
  • Versatility:Here’s where true skid steers really have the advantage over other machines. Today’s best skid steers like Cat products have universal attachments. More than 40 different tools can fit on the rented skid steer, turning it from a brush cutter to a snow plow in seconds.

Choosing the Right Skid Steer Rental

Knowing the jobsite’s purpose is the key to renting the right skid steer. Every reputable skid steer rental company will immediately ask  about the intended use of the machine allowing for proper recommendations.

It’s known as “right-sizing” in the skid steer rental business. Two common mistakes people make in renting a skid steer are selecting undersized or oversized machines. Either way makes it difficult to  get the right performance with the wrong machine. It’s accurate to say that the bigger the machine, the more powerful it’ll be. However, that’s not necessarily the best value, as bigger machines come with their price. They can cost more money to rent, consume more fuel than necessary and the machine may just be too big to work in your project’s parameters.

Skid steers measure anywhere from three feet to more than six feet wide. They also range in height from five feet to more than 10 feet. That’s a wide size range. It’s a proven rule to always select the right-sized machine, depending on the job.

Perhaps  the necessary tasks require multiple purposes for renting a skid steer. Landscaping jobs are a prime example, where a  rental machine may be used for lot clearing, brush cutting and stump grinding. Or, a construction site might require  excavation backfill and the loading or unloading of trucks.

It is important to  discuss jobsite needs when  negotiating a skid steer rental agreement. A powerful machine may be necessary upon project start, and then can finish up with a smaller, less expensive skid steer. Rental companies that handle Cat brands are very flexible about machine swapping during a single job, which provides the best value and return on  rental fees.

Lifting Capacity

Although skid steers are rated in weight, dimensional sizes and horsepower, one of the most important issues when renting the right machine is its lifting capacity. Skid steer design places the primary empty weight on the rear end. This area is where the heavy parts like the engine, battery and fuel tank sit. Designers intentionally leave the front section for the live load capacity. That could be earth, wet snow or any combination of products placed on a pallet.

Skid steer lifting capacity is pound-rated. Small machines have around a 1,500- to 1,800-pound lifting capacity. Mid-sized loaders can lift between 1,800 and 2,200 pounds. Any lift over 2,200 pounds is considered a large-capacity machine.

Lifting capacity goes hand-in-hand with machine power performance. Lifting capacity relates to the skid steer’s boom, but that also translates into its bucket strength. When digging in hard ground, a large-capacity machine is necessary, even if the the load does not need to be lifted to a great vertical height.

Speaking of vertical lifts, skid steer terms such as “vertical” and “radial” lifting,  are related to the machine’s boom design. Vertical-lift booms safely raise material straight up to high heights. That could be over a dump truck box or high on a storage rack. Radial-lift booms have a longer forward reach. They’re designed to dig at ground level and safely handle low-height loads.

Skid steer rental experts might state there’s not much difference between the two lift types when using a machine for general purposes. That’s true in most applications. It really depends on the purpose and how high to lift a load. A rule of thumb says if  a lift to to eye level is necessary, a radial boom is best. If you need to lift above the head, a vertical lift skid steer is best.

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Tire Types

Skid steer tire types are highly important. Your Cat brand rental agency will know this issue through and through. However, for the novice or occasional skid steer renter, making sure the machine has the right tires might seem confusing. Again, it comes back to what purpose you’re using the skid steer for.

You will see three general tire types on skid steers. From there, details branch out to the rubber composition, tread design, ply numbers and inflation ratings. Let’s start with the three basic skid steer tire types.

  • Air-filled tires:Most skid steers have air-filled or pneumatically inflated rubber tires. You’ll see pneumatic tires on most job sites, and there’s a good reason they’re popular. Air-filled tires are economical, long-lasting and provide a smooth ride. That’s important for operator comfort and safety, especially when the machine travels long distances at high speeds.
  • Foam-filled tires:Occasionally, skid steer tires contain an injected blend of polyurethane foam which effectively makes tires puncture-proof and prevents flats that stop a machine’s operation. Downtime is expensive time on skid steer jobs. You’ll find foam-filled tires in high-risk places where surface or sidewall punctures are common.
  • Solid rubber tires: These are heavy-duty tires used in rough conditions where regular pneumatic or even foam-filled tires won’t stand up. That includes places like demolition sites, scrapyards, landfills and rock quarries. A drawback to solid tires is their ride. There’s very little give or flexibility, which makes the ride hard and uncomfortable.

Tire technology has advanced by leaps and bounds, like many other features built into skid steers. An important feature to look for is the tread design and ply rating. Ply doesn’t refer to tire thickness. Rather, it’s a strength measure — multi-ply tires are stronger due to their layered design. Open-tread tires work best in muddy or sandy conditions as they throw out debris. Closed or tight tread designs are best suited for solid surfaces like asphalt and concrete.

General Skid Steer Features

Today’s Cat-brand skid steers offer many features to make operator experience better and job performance more efficient. One of the big things to watch for is the machine’s controls. For years, skid steer operators used a system where handles determined speed and direction, while foot pedals controlled the boom and attachments. Now, most modern skid steers use a simple joystick control system.

Cab design is another feature to look for. Most small skid steers still have an open cab that exposes the machine operators to elements like heat and dust. Larger, modern machines have closed cabs equipped with heaters and air conditioners. There’s a trade-off here between comfort and control. Most operators report better visibility from open-cabbed machines.

Ride is also important when selecting the right rental skid steer. Some machines have excellent ergonomic design where operators sit in suspended seats and hardly feel the impact from uneven rides. New skid steers also have advanced suspensions to make long days in the driver’s seat quite enjoyable.

Smart design has arrived in Cat skid steers. Cat-brand machines offer intelligent leveling where the skid steer automatically levels itself to avoid potential tipping. Electronic controls make engine and drive train operation easy, as well as attachment changes. And, no new technology would be without remote control. Caterpillar and TORC Robotics offers the Remote Task control for smaller D-series skid steers. Operators stand back from the machine and run it with a handheld device.

Skid Steer Attachments

The real beauty in  renting a skid steer is the wide array of tools or attachments available. Cat machines have universal “quick-attach” coupling where mechanical and hydraulic assists are the same on every machine. That means a rental skid steer can turn from a loader to a forklift in an instant. Here are some of the popular skid steer attachments availablefrom your Cat dealer:

  • Augers
  • Buckets
  • Brooms
  • Blades
  • Backhoes
  • Booms
  • Brush cutters
  • Cold planers
  • Grapplers
  • Hydraulic hammers
  • Mowers
  • Rototillers
  • Snowblowers
  • Stump grinders
  • Trenchers

No matter what the purpose for using a skid steer for, a Cat rental dealer is sure to have the right attachment. When exploring options, ensure safety and appropriate usage is addressed.

Safety With Your Cat-Brand Skid Steer

Cat-brand skid steers are safely designed for use by occasional operators. Before taking delivery, the Cat dealer will review all the machine’s safety features and proper operating procedures. That includes controls, safety devices and warning systems.

NMC The Cat Rental Store is the Midwest’s oldest Cat rental dealer. they have a wide selection of Cat skid steers, ranging from the small, open-cab 226D loader with a 1,550-pound capacity to the large, closed-cab 272D machine capable of handling 3,650 pounds. All machines are safe, reliable and well-suited to rental operators.

NMC The Cat Rental Store takes your safety seriously and offers full consulting services along with training packages for the safe operation of the Cat rental skid steer with confidence. Be aware of surroundings and know where other people are at all times.

If you have questions or need any assistance in selecting the right Cat skid steer rentals ,  NMC The Cat Rental Store staff is standing by. For more information or a free quote, contact NMC The Cat Rental Store today. Or call 800-628-6025 or 855-NMC-RENT.
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