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Half-dozer, half compact track loader?

From a simple description standpoint, that does a pretty good job telling you about the Case Minotaur DL550 compact dozer loader. But the truth, the design, the engineering, the years of development, and the nearly 12,000 hours of in-the-field testing behind this thing goes much much deeper than six words.

Take, for instance, the machine’s namesake. In Greek Mythology, the Minotaur is described as having the head and tail of a bull and the body of a man. And just like the Minotaur of Greek Mythology, the Minotaur DL550 is a beast with all the components you need for a true CTL and all those that you’d need in a small dozer.

In other words, this isn’t just a CTL with a dozer blade attachment. It’s an entirely new category of machine: the compact dozer loader. In the end, it’s not really fair to say its half dozer and half CTL. So in this overview, we’re going to cover all the core aspects that make this machine fully dozer and fully CTL:

  • the intent behind creating such a machine
  • the blade, C-frame, undercarriage specs that make it a great dozer
  • the specs that make it a very powerful CTL
  • and the unique control scheme that lets you quickly switch between both uses.

Origins

One thing we need to establish right away, something I think will help as you digest the philosophy and intent behind this machine is that the concept behind it didn’t come from a willingness to make a dozer out of a CTL. In fact, it was the other way around.

Case looked at its dozer lineup and saw the demand for a smaller model than their current smallest model: the 650M, a 68-hp machine with a 90-inch blade that weighs around 16,000 pounds. But in exploring the idea of a smaller dozer, another idea crept in: a smaller dozer is nice, but it would be even better if a customer’s investment in this new machine wasn’t limited to dozing.

At the same time as they were exploring this new small dozer offering, the CTL had officially risen to power as the top selling construction machine, dethroning its sibling the skid steer. Over the years CTLs had grown larger and more powerful and Case felt its platform had matured to the point where they could take a CTL and make a hell of a small dozer out of it—while still retaining its loader capability—a feature that would up the ROI time on a machine like this considerably.

So, a small dozer with all the versatility, transportability, and maneuverability of a large CTL. Here’s how they did it.

Dozing Capability

Let’s start with the basic specs of the Minotaur DL550 compact dozer loader which naturally segues into a discussion around its dozing capability.

At the heart of this beast is a 114 hp engine. Worth noting, that’s more horsepower than Case’s mid-lineup 850M dozer.

The Minotaur DL550 weighs in at 18,000 pounds, which makes it heavier than the 16,000 pound Case 650M and one ton lighter than the 750M dozer.

6-way Dozer Blade with Integrated C-frame

You can equip the Minotaur with 96-inch six-way blade. This is where things get interesting.

The 650M dozer comes standard with a 90-inch blade, while the 750M comes standard with the same 96-inch blade.

When you combine the 96-inch blade of the Minotaur with its weight, and horsepower, you’ve got a dozer capable of competing production wise with the middle to upper end of any brand’s small dozer lineup—in the footprint of a CTL. That’s pretty cool.

Part B to this blade discussion is likely more important than how big that six-way blade is. And that’s this machine’s integrated C-frame.

This is the biggest X-factor in this machine providing true dozer performance because it attaches directly into the chassis and the primary coupler of the Minotaur DL550 in a matter of seconds.

Beyond convenience of easy attachment, the C-frame also ensures that the pushing power of the machine is channeled through the chassis structure rather than the lift arms.

That’s obviously great for long-term durability, but it’s also key in that the dozing power of this machine is coming from its center of gravity and not introducing weak points of this force through the lift arms.

That means you’re getting the stability and the feel of a dozer’s operating plane from this machine.

Dozer-style Undercarriage

The other key dozing component is the undercarriage.

Case is offering both steel and rubber tracks on the Minotaur. One rubber track configuration is available, a 17.7-inch, while the steel tracks can be specced in 14-inch single-grouser, or 18-inch triple grouser configurations. For 2024, CASE is now offering an optional suspension track on the rubber track configuration.Now, beyond the tracks, Case didn’t simply take a CTL undercarriage and call it a day on this machine. The Minotaur’s undercarriage design was heavily informed by elements of Case’s 650M, 1650M and 2050M dozers.

Recently, CASE Construction Equipment unveiled its TrackCare Undercarriage Monitoring Program, which collects undercarriage measurements and observations in the field and then correlates that data into manageable/actionable information to plan maintenance activities, monitor performance and make decisions to help manage the performance and costs of the undercarriage. TrackCare is compatible with all makes, models and types of steel-tracked equipment, with compatibility with rubber-tracked machines in the works. Monitoring uses both ultrasonic and traditional undercarriage measuring tools to centralize, analyze and report on undercarriage health and performance.

It’s built like a dozer undercarriage and provides 25,000 pounds of drawbar pull—which is really the only dozing spec that separates it from the 650M dozer, which has 39,086 pounds of drawbar pull.

Plus, the Minotaur has the unique claim among all Case dozers as the only dozer with a high-drive undercarriage.

Fully-integrated Ripper

We’ve focused a lot on the blade end of the machine, but the Minotaur DL550 compact dozer loader is also available with an optional fully-integrated rear ripper. The standard ripper includes three shanks, but can be expanded up to five.

One note on the ripper: because Case handles the Minotaur chassis on a build-to-order basis, if you want a ripper, you have to select the option when ordering the machine as it can’t be added later. Essentially, Case builds the chassis to either support the ripper or not.

Does the Minotaur DL550 Have Grade Control?

With all the talk about dozing with this machine, you might be wondering, “What about grade control?” Case is shipping the Minotaur DL550 compact dozer loader with standard universal grade control harnesses and brackets, allowing you to equip the machine with 2D and 3D solutions with the help of certified CASE dealers.

Case Minotaur CTL Capabilities

So, the Minotaur has clear dozer qualifications. But what about its CTL capabilities? Once you detach the C-frame and dozer blade, the Minotaur becomes an extremely powerful CTL.

First of all, the Minotaur DL550 is a vertical lift style machine providing a huge 140 inches of hinge pin height—that’s nearly 12 feet of lift height for all you mathematicians out here.

The machine is also rated at a hefty 5,500 pounds of operating capacity at 50 percent of tipping load with 12,907 pounds of breakout force.

The machine comes standard with a heavy-duty 1.25 cubic yard bucket.

Then there’s hydraulic flow. The Minotaur DL550 compact dozer loader boasts up to 41.6 gallons per minute at 4,100 psi via 3/4-inch hydraulic quick couplers.

That hydraulic flow can be tailored to hundreds of attachments through Case’s Hydraulics on Demand feature, which allows the operator to select the percentage of hydraulic flow to the attachment through the Minotaur’s in-cab, 8-inch, split-screen display.

Controls that Adapt to the Job

The final core component of what makes the Minotaur DL550 fully dozer and fully CTL are its integrated dozer controls.

Inside the cab are a pair of electro-hydraulic joysticks that allow operators to easily switch between ISO control mode when operating the machine as a loader, and dozer control mode for dozing.

In CTL mode, the left-hand joystick controls steering and forward and reverse travel, while the right controls boom and bucket. In dozing mode, the left-hand still handles steering, forward and reverse, while the right controls the lift, angle and tilt functions of the six-way blade.

But the dozing control enhancements don’t stop at control scheme. Case has made sure that the dozing mode has the feel of a dozer. So when you switch into dozing mode, the machine is actually going to automatically remap the hydraulic flow, the aggressiveness of the front end through the blade and C-frame, and the transmission.

In fact, the machine has 16 virtual gears to let you run it just like a dozer.

Another cool bonus feature on the dozing controls is that Case has incorporated its blade shake and manual pitch adjustment dozing features.

Ultimately, the Minotaur DL550 compact dozer loader packs a ton of benefits in one machine. First of all, you have the versatility of two machine types in one – an added bonus given today’s labor shortage issues. You also benefit from easier transport with a smaller truck and trailer vs. a full-size semi. Finally, you can maximize the use of your CTL attachments by using them on the Minotaur DL550.

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