June 12, 2015
Along a stretch of railroad near Athens, Alabama, trains aren't the only thing hauling a lot of freight. A John Deere 333D Compact Track Loader (CTL) is hard at work hauling buckets of gravel and moving railroad ties with forks, as it helps maintain the track and roadbed. The multitasking mini then hooks up to a brush cutter to remove brush before switching to a scrap grapple to haul it away. After grading the roadbed with a six-way blade, it uses a broom to clean up around the parking lot.
Is there anything this "little engine that could" can't do? Shelton Railroad Construction's owner, Bobby Shelton, can't think of any. "With all of the attachments available, the 333D is just so versatile. And I love the Quick-Tach™. You can change attachments with a push of the button without getting out of the seat. It saves a lot of time and effort."
Getting their footing in the door
Shelton Railroad Construction serves industrial sites, steel mills, paper mills, and lumberyards, and a short-line railroad within a 75-mile radius of Athens. The company constructs and maintains railroad spurs, rail line that extends from a regularly serviced line to, for example, a manufacturing plant for loading and unloading cargo. They also maintain the railroad right-of-way, the strip of land upon which railroad companies construct their roadbed.
The 333D is perfectly suited for this type of work. No other CTL is a stable and sure-footed on slopes, and high-flotation tracks enable the 333D to work where rubber-tire machines can't. "Right-of-ways are difficult for rubber-tire machines," explains Shelton. "But the 333D CTL can easily maneuver over tracks and navigate steep grades."
For even more productivity, Shelton opted for fatigue-beating joysticks and the accompanying Electrohydraulic (EH) Performance Package. "Precision mode is my favorite," he explains. "You can limit top speed for precise metering when you are using attachments such as a trencher or a dozer blade for fine grading. Even inexperienced operators do a great job."
You'd expect the six-foot-four Shelton to feel cramped inside the 333D, but on the contrary. With a noticeably larger entryway, it's easy to get into and out of the machine. "I'm comfortable getting in the cab, and once inside there's plenty of head and legroom. It's a real quiet, comfortable workplace, even over long shifts.
"And even though it's comfortable, it's a really tough machine. We put our machines through a lot of abuse—we're always dealing with trees, brush, and rock. But we've always been extremely happy with John Deere's performance and durability."