Turf Magazine - March, 2013

FEATURES

Tooling Around in the Snow

Editors put two new Bobcat utility vehicles through their paces in Lake Tahoe
By Ron Hall

QuickLook: Bobcat 3600 Utility Vehicle

Transmission: Hydrostatic

Drive system: 4X4 and AWD

Horsepower: 24.8 hp diesel

Integrated attachment: Bobcat snow blade

Accessories: Spreader, sprayer

Vehicle towing capacity: 2,000 pounds

Cargo Box load capacity: 1,250 pounds

Maximum travel speed: 30 mph

Operating weight: 1,955 pounds (without cab)

The life of most business press editors these days consists mostly of sitting behind a computer reading, editing and pounding out articles. Those of you that started a landscape business because you like to be out in the field doing production and talking up prospects and clients may now also find ourself nailed too often and too long an office chair.

But, fortunately, from time to time, even desk-bound editors (hopefully like many of you) break from routine and get to do something in the field - something that gets your blood flowing again. So it was when I was invited to participate in the rollout of several exciting new utility vehicles by Bobcat Company earlier this winter. Bobcat Company is the North Dakota-based company of manufacturer of skid steers, compact track loaders a broad range of other rugged compact equipment.

Specifically, I got the opportunity to drive and operate Bobcat Company's two newest work-saving products: the 3600 and 3650 hydrostatic drive utility vehicles. What editor (or landscaper for that matter) wouldn't jump at the chance to put some shiny new utility vehicles through their paces? And at beautiful Lake Tahoe to boot. It didn't take any coaxing for me to board a plane in Cleveland and fly to Reno, Nev., where the fine folks at Des Moines, Iowa-based Two Rivers Marketing had arranged a taxi to whisk me into the snow-covered mountains straddling the Nevada and California State line.

Cabs are optional for the new Bobcat utility vehicles but are a
must-have for operators working in tough weather such as during a
snowstorm or out of the wind and dust during a tough job in August.

Cabs are optional for the new Bobcat utility vehicles but are a must-have for operators working in tough weather such as during a snowstorm or out of the wind and dust during a tough job in August.
IMAGES COURTESY THE BOBCAT COMPANY.

As it turned out, the weather gods smiled on our small group of Bobcat Company managers, marketers and editors. The brutal cold that had descended on the region the previous couple of days had moved to the East and we shared two days together in near-perfect conditions. We examined and operated the new 3600 and 3650 utility vehicles in a mild breeze, temperatures just cold enough to keep the snow on the nearby slopes crisp and under a brilliant blue sky. Our group gathered on a flat, snow-covered lot about the size of a football field just below our hotel. Conditions were perfect for skiing and also for testing out utility vehicles equipped with snow blades, snowblowers and rotary brushes.

Lots of new features

But let's get to the equipment because you're going to see it at your local Bobcat Company dealers this spring, and you'll want to demo it, too.

Bobcat Company's new 3600 and 3650 hydrostatic drive utility vehicles are the first utility vehicles in the Bobcat lineup to offer cabs with heat and air conditioning. Because we were operating these units on the side of snow-covered mountain we didn't need the air conditioning obviously, but we did enjoy the comfort of the enclosed heated cabs. Just think how much more an operator will appreciate those features moving snow during a sub-zero pre-dawn blizzard.

QuickLook: Bobcat 3650 Utility Vehicle

Transmission: Hydrostatic, PTO engagement

Drive system: 4X4 and AWD

Horsepower: 24.8 hp diesel

Front-mounted attachments: Bobcat snow blade, bucket, pallet fork and push broom, mower, angle broom and snowblower

Front-mounted PTO attachments: Snowblower, mower and angle broom

Accessories: Spreader, sprayer

Lift height: 2 feet

Lift capacity: 500 pounds

Vehicle towing capacity: 2,000 pounds

Cargo Box load capacity: 1,250 pounds

Maximum travel speed: 30 mph

Operating weight: 2,215 pounds (without cab)

The new 3600 and 3650 utility vehicles are powered with 24.8 hp diesel engines and Bobcat Company's stable of utility vehicles, joining the 3200, 3400 and 3400XL models along with the multi-functional Toolcat 5600 and 5610 utility work machines.

The 3650 is the industry's first utility vehicle with the capacity to operate front-mounted, PTO-Driven attachments. PTO technology is an efficient way to transfer engine horsepower to an attachment for optimum performance. Bobcat Company is positioning the 3650 to fill the user-need gap between its standard utility vehicles and the larger Toolcat utility work machines.

One of the main drivers behind the 3600 and 3650 was the development of a hydrostatic drive system with a two-speed motor that improves durability without compromising speed compared to a vehicle with constant velocity transmission (CVT). Another feature of the machines is a diesel engine that will automatically shut itself down if it experiences high engine coolant temperature, low engine oil pressure, or high hydraulic oil temperature. This gives the operator added peace of mind when operating Bobcat utility vehicles in demanding conditions.

The composite cargo box on the new models resists dents, unlike steel and aluminum, and won't corrode like steel. Standard features on the Bobcat utility vehicles, such as the skid plate and suspension guards, and the 3600's brush guard, help protect components from damage when traveling over rough terrain, logs, rocks and other debris.

The 3650 can operate front-mounted PTO-driven attachments such as a snowblower,
mower and angle broom. It can also accept non-PTO attachments
such as a blade, bucket or pallet fork.

The 3650 can operate front-mounted PTO-driven attachments such as a snowblower, mower and angle broom. It can also accept non-PTO attachments such as a blade, bucket or pallet fork.
The combination of independent front dual A-arm suspension, with rear De Dion suspension that ties the two rear wheels together, improves the vehicle's ride comfort and provides improved stability to haul and tow heavy loads. These features allow the 3600 and 3650 utility vehicles to achieve an industry-leading payload capacity for towing and hauling. Cargo box capacity alone is 1,250 pounds.

Easy to operate

Another characteristic of the hydrostatic system is dynamic braking, which occurs when the operator releases pressure on the travel pedal. As the operator lets up on the travel pedal, a valve in the drive motor closes - blocking the flow of oil - that in turn slows the machine down at a similar rate. This dynamic braking feature also makes the utility vehicle easier to control when under load. For greater stopping force, the utility vehicles' four-wheel disc brakes can be applied, a feature that the editors greatly appreciated in driving up and down the steep slopes of the roads at Lake Tahoe. We also appreciated the smooth drivability of these units' hydrostatic transmission.

The ability to change directions without shifting also made driving these utility vehicles almost akin to driving the family car, we discovered. We could perform direction changes from forward to reverse in the new utility vehicles by using a travel control pedal rather than the typical F-N-R lever. Just rock your toe to go forward and press back on your heel to go in reverse. It's that easy.

Bobcat has incorporated an LCD screen within the speedometer that displays service codes. This allows customers to quickly identify issues with their machine and get them back up and running quickly. Also the fuel tank on the 3600 and 3650 utility vehicles is conveniently located and daily checks of items such as fluids, filters and the battery can be made through easy access to the engine compartment. Liquid-cooled engines in Bobcat utility vehicles protect a critical engine component from overheating, which also results in more power and performance from the machine, because components are kept cooler at higher RPMs.

Comfort features on the 3600 and 3650 include tilt steering and ample legroom and foot space. Two-passenger front
seats are standard on the 3650, while a bench seat capable of seating three people is available on the 3600. Both vehicles
offer two 12-volt accessory plug-ins.

Comfort features on the 3600 and 3650 include tilt steering and ample legroom and foot space. Two-passenger front seats are standard on the 3650, while a bench seat capable of seating three people is available on the 3600. Both vehicles offer two 12-volt accessory plug-ins.

Like driving a car

Comfort features on the 3600 and 3650 include tilt steering, ample legroom and foot space and two-passenger bucket front seat standard on the 3650. A dealer-installed bench front seat capable of seating up to three occupants is also available on the 3600 utility vehicle. Two 12-volt accessory plug-ins allow an operator to charge a cell phone, iPod or other electrical devices.

To meet jobsite needs for snow and ice removal, the 3600 has an optional integrated snow blade and a sprayer that can be mounted in the vehicle's cargo box, while the 3650 utility vehicle's exclusive (Multi-Attachment X-Change) system, in addition to the sprayer, can power front-mounted PTO-driven attachments including a snowblower, mower and angle broom, as well as non-PTO attachments consisting of the snow blade, pallet fork and bucket. These six attachments, combined with a maximum lift height of 2 feet and rated lift capacity of 500 pounds, allow the 3650 to accomplish tasks from clearing sidewalks of snow and debris to moving dirt or palleted materials.

Operators of the 3650 utility vehicle can operate the throttle independent of the travel control pedal. This allows the operator to set the engine speed with a throttle rather than having to use the accelerator pedal to increase engine rpm. Separating the two functions gives the operator the freedom to run powered attachments more efficiently with the RPM they require, yet at low travel speeds.

Ron Hall has been researching, writing and an editor serving the green industry since 1984. You can contact him at rhall@mooserivermedia.com.