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Bulldozer Basics

written by: •edited by: Lamar Stonecypher•updated: 8/15/2009

A bulldozer is a machine that is used to push soil or rubble during heavy construction work.

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    Components of a Bulldozer Described

    A bulldozer has a metal plate at the front that is called a blade. The blade is controlled by hydraulic cylinders. A bulldozer has a cab that is mounted on tracks or on wheels.

    The majority of bulldozers are on tracks. The tracks help to distribute the machine’s weight so that it does not sink in sand or mud. The tracks allow the vehicle to have good mobility even on very rough terrain. Bulldozers can be fitted with extra wide tracks that are known as “swamp" tracks.

    The word bulldozer is often used as a generic term to refer to excavators and other construction equipment. However, technically, the term should only be used with a machine that has a blade.

    Bulldozers were first developed by adapting farm tractors. The first bulldozer was designed by a farmer named James Cummings and a draftsman named J. Earl McLeod. Modern military tanks were actually first designed with these modified tractor bulldozers in mind.

    Today, bulldozers come in all shapes and sizes. However, as discussed above, all of them have a blade. The blade peels layers of soil and pushes it forward as the bulldozer moves. Three main types of blades are used today. These are universal blades, straight blades, and brush rakes. A universal blade or a U-Blade is tall and curved. It also has side wings on it to capture and carry more material. U-Blades are used to push dirt over long distances. A straight blade or an S-Blade is short and as the name suggests has no lateral curve. It is used for spreading piles of dirt for fine grading. Finally, a bush rake is used for removing debris such as brush and roots.

    A combination S-U blade also exists. This blade is shorter like an S-Blade and has less curvature and smaller wings than a U-Blade. It is typically used for pushing piles of large rocks. Some blades have a reinforced center section. These blades are known as bull blades and are often used when a bulldozer is used to push another piece of earthmoving equipment, such as a scraper.

    Bulldozers have been modified over the years. For example, small versions, sometimes call calfdozers, are often used in mining because movement is limited. Also, lightweight bulldozers are used in snow removal and in winter sports areas.

    Many firms make bulldozers. The best known ones are Caterpillar, Komatsu, and John Deere.

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    Examples of Bulldozers

    Courtesy of Flickr, maquinariaelpregoneroCourtesy of Flickr, IFSEQUIPMENTFINANCINGCalfdozer, Courtesy of Flickr, bparo2003