John Deere and Caterpiller are now manufacturing their own skid steers.

Two major farm equipment companies just added skid steers to their manufacturing lines. Caterpillar enters the skid-steer market for the first time with six new models. And John Deere, which has marketed skid steers, is manufacturing its own vehicles for the first time. It opened a $38 million manufacturing plant near Knoxville, TN, to design and build its skid-steer equipment.

Cat's new line. Caterpillar plans to offer six models of skid steers sometime this year. The first to come off the line this spring will be the 216 model with an operating capacity of 1,350 lbs. and the 226 with an operating capacity of 1,500 lbs.

Caterpillar's larger models are expected to be available later in the year: the 236 with an operating capacity of 1,750 lbs., the 246 with a 2,000-lb. capacity, and the 228 and 248 High Flow vehicles, which provide high-capacity hydraulic pump flow in situations where constant pressure is required.

The company conducted extensive research to make sure its skid steers are different from others in an already competitive market. It focused on ease of operation with an eye to superior ergonomics, engine performance and serviceability for its line.

Caterpillar's 3034 direct injection, 4-cyl. diesel engine with 52 and 58 hp will power the skid steers. A complete line of Cat work tools from rototillers to stump grinders will be available to handle numerous farm chores. For more information, contact Caterpillar Inc., Box 10097, Peoria, IL 61612, 815/754-8455.

Deere's investment. John Deere has considerable experience with skid steers. It just never built its own. "We felt it was time for us to design and build the product ourselves," reports Chuck Mogged, general manager of the new skid-steer facility.

Its skid-steer line includes four new models - 240, 250, 260 and 270 - that range from 46 to 77 hp. The models feature a patent-pending vertical lift system to give them a higher reach than conventional skid steers. A 45 degree dump angle and 35 degree bucket rollback allow for more efficient load carrying and quicker cycle times.

According to the company, its signature design of the skid steers improves visibility for the operator, leading to safer operation. Plus, a quick-lift cab, removable side panels and an easy-access rear door make the equipment easy to service.

The 240 model is equipped with a fuel-efficient, 46-hp John Deere 3029D engine. It is rated with an operating load of 1,500 lbs., a dump height of more than 7 ft. and an almost 21/2-ft. reach.

The 250 model comes with a turbocharged, 61-hp John Deere 3029T engine. It is rated with a 1,750-lb. load capacity and dump height of more than 71/2 ft.

Also equipped with the John Deere 3029T engine, the 260 skid steer comes with 69 hp and an operating load capacity of 2,200 lbs. It has a dump height of 81/2 ft. and a reach of 21/2 ft.

The largest skid steer, model 270, comes equipped with a 77-hp 4045D John Deere engine with maximum torque of more than 6,200 lbs. ft. Operating load capacity is 2,600 lbs. This model also has a dump height of 81/2 ft. and a 21/2-ft. reach.

Ground clearance for the 240 model is more than 8 in. and rises to 11 in. on the 270 model. Hydraulic pressure on all models is 3,000 psi.

Buckets offered. Deere also is building seven new buckets for the new line, including a 60-in. manure/slurry bucket, an 84-in. bucket for light material and various construction buckets. The manure/slurry and construction buckets come with predrilled holes for bolt-on cutting edges. Replacement and reversible bolt-on cutting edges are optional.

A 45 dump angle and sloped 8-in. radius provide good bucket fill and dump capabilities.

For more information on the new line of skid steers, contact John Deere Customer Communications Center, 800/537-8233.