If talents from this life are transferrable to the next, I’ll have a lock on making whoop-de-doos for motocross courses around the globe. Just put me at the controls of a dozer and turn me loose…which is exactly what John Dice, senior training manager for Topcon Positioning Systems in Livermore, CA, did.
After pointing out the features of the John Deere 750J, and pointing me down a relatively smooth track, he gave me my final instructions for making a couple of manually controlled 2/10s slices with the transmission control set to at a comfortable mid-range speed. “Stay out of the lake,” was his final warning as I clanked off in search of fame and glory.
Things went well for the first 6 feet, which was when the tracks dropped into the leading edge of my cut, reorienting the blade to a greater angle. Thus began a series of gouges varying in depths up to 6 inches or so. By the time I reached the end of the southbound pass my humility quotient had risen to a point just below the “draw sword and write your haiku” line, but I was now ready to show my true metal to the group of witnesses who were eagerly awaiting my return run.
“I’ll show them,” I said as I plowed through a rapid 180-degree turn, took a deep breath, lowered the blade for action, and dialed in maximum speed. What followed was a sequence of pitch-and-dive maneuvers, augmented this time by rolls that left a trail of butchered earth worthy of the Baja 1000. Clearly I had gone well past the “open up your belly” point and was about to do so when Dice came up to congratulate me.
“Great job,” he said. “Perfect for showing what the 3D-MC2 system can do.”
All I wanted to do at that moment was to go lie down in one of my unintended swales and have someone bury me, but as he explained array of displays and how to engage the blade control system, I saw that my ordeal was far from over.
Lined up on the track once more with the original site plan set into the system’s memory, I flicked the little knob on the blade control handle to the “on” position, pushed the transmission lever forward, once again ran the speed control full up, and, my right hand in my lap, fully expecting to see the machine bury itself in one of my trenches.
On the outbound leg, the dozer bogged from time to time trimming off the more serious of my prior achievements, but by the time I returned to the starting point, the entire track was at the site plan specification.
There are a number of features that make the 3D-MC2 system different from its predecessors; chief among which are its employment of 3-axis gyros to stabilize the blade’s position in space, the set of dozer-specific algorithms allowing it to anticipate pitch moments, and it’s five-times increase in blade-control instructions. Any one of these would be an improvement, but it the combination that really does the trick. Face it, at 10 kph, you could ready the Baja 1000 course for your family sedan in less than three weeks…but please don’t.