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New Cat Center-Lock coupler from Finning

FINNING customers are set to benefit from the introduction of a new quick coupler solution from Caterpillar – the Center-Lock coupler. Incorporating over-center locking technology for ease of operation, the new coupler will be offered to all new Finning excavator customers, providing a safe quick coupler option that can also be retrofitted to the UK’s existing Cat excavator fleet.

Commenting on the introduction of the new coupler, which comes in five different sizes to cater for all Cat excavator models from the 311 to the 385, Finning product manager for excavators, Mike Sproston, said: ‘Having recognized the need and demand in the market for a new coupler solution, Caterpillar have, with this new design, succeeded in bringing a revolutionary new system to market in a timely fashion.

‘Using a patented over-center locking mechanism and two hydraulic locking features to assure positive work-tool attachment, the new coupler locking technology promotes jobsite safety very effectively. In real terms, it allows operators to quickly, simply and confidently engage and disengage work tools regardless of boom and stick position.

‘Most importantly for Finning customers, the new Center-Lock coupler accommodates the same range of Cat work tools as previous pin-grabber couplers, as well as a broad range of other brands of buckets and tools.’

In operation, when the operator uses an in-cab switch to engage the Center-Lock coupler with a work tool, the coupler’s robust cylinder extends to close the primary hook around the tool’s rear pin.

As the cylinder rod continues to close around the rear pin, the cylinder housing adjusts its position and forces a combination of three attached parts—Center-Lock rocker, connector link and secondary lock—to snap into an over-center position (similar to closing the handles of locking pliers). This action forces the secondary lock to grip the forward pin.

Once the coupler locks, the mechanical principles involved in its over-center locking technology assure that any working forces applied to the pins will serve only to increase the coupler’s grip. Constant hydraulic force exerted by the cylinder and the action of a counterbalance valve provide additional locking forces, supplementing that of the mechanical lock.

The Center-Lock coupler remains positively closed until the operator takes the deliberate actions of activating the in-cab switch and extending the bucket cylinder. For the operator’s convenience and for jobsite safety, the secondary lock is distinctly visible from the cab and provides an unmistakable indicator of the coupler’s status—whether locked or unlocked.

Because the new Center-Lock coupler eliminates the blocking bar and spring pack required with conventional pin-grabber designs, the operator no longer needs to completely curl the boom and stick (thus inverting the coupler) when engaging a work tool. The Center-Lock design requires only that the bucket cylinder be extended to activate locking and unlocking functions, and this action is independent of boom and stick position.

As a result, the operator can engage and disengage tools with the boom and stick at full extension, which can be useful when changing tools in low-overhead situations, eg near power lines.

Maintaining the new Center-Lock coupler requires only daily greasing, while to promote trouble-free operation, a new jumper-line routing helps avoid pinching or snagging on jobsite hazards.

Finning (UK) Ltd, Watling Street, Cannock WS11 8LL; tel: (01543) 461461.


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