Test Drive: Cat CT-660 at Work

A view of the truck from people who use it every day

February 2013, - Test Drives

by Tom Berg, Senior Contributing Editor - Also by this author

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On the road

At Cat's demonstration of the then-new CT-660 about a year and a half ago, we press guys were restricted to an off-road course, but this time I could go where I wanted. Brad Zingre, Cat's regional representative, accompanied me as I ran the truck onto nearby streets and highways for further assessment.

Steering was steady and the ride was typical of a multi-axle dump truck. There was a buoyant feeling as the aux axles help support the poundage of the truck and its load, in this case about 20 tons of sand in the tarp-covered bed, along with significant vertical jounce as the big leaf springs over the 20,000-pound front axle flexed in response to pavement irregularities. There were a lot of those in concrete roadways, which showed years of freezing and thawing, and some, too, in usually smoother asphalt.

My air-suspended seat got a workout and Zingre hung on as his solid-mounted perch bounced with the floor. The ride for me was actually pretty good for a short, heavy truck.

The Navistar-made 12.4-liter diesel is painted Cat yellow. It does not have urea injection, but future engine will have selective catalytic reduction systems.
The Navistar-made 12.4-liter diesel is painted Cat yellow. It does not have urea injection, but future engine will have selective catalytic reduction systems.
Under the big hood — which by the way was surprisingly easy to raise and lower — was a 12.4-liter Navistar diesel painted Cat yellow and called CT instead of MaxxForce. This one's rated at 430 horsepower and 1,550 pounds-feet, plenty for this kind of duty and probably the one that most dumper users would pick, even if a bigger engine were available.

The CT-13 may be the largest engine in Cat's custom-made trucks, because Navistar is dropping the 15-liter MaxxForce diesel that was supposed to come soon. There's a question as to whether Cat will use the Cummins ISX15 that Navistar has begun offering instead. An announcement on the 15-liter question is supposed to come soon.

The engine in this truck was a pre-selective catalytic reduction model, with no urea injection equipment, which will add about 400 pounds to each one that will soon get it.

The transmission was an Eaton Fuller 8LL, a three-range 10-speed that's highly popular in dumpers and mixers.

Only about 1,300 miles showed on the odometer, so the linkage was a bit stiff, but I was still able to change gears with little or no crunching.

I never needed Low gear and certainly neither of the low-low ratios, but used the eight upper ratios in moving away from stoplights and getting to road speed. Sixty and 65 mph were good cruising speeds, with the tach showing 1,600 to 1,700 rpm.

Cat offers its own CX-31 fully automatic transmission, but Jones said he couldn't bring himself to spend the nearly $20,000 premium for it. He said he doesn't know enough about Eaton's less costly automated mechanical transmissions to consider one.

Time was short for me this day and so was the run, at about 50 miles. But it was enough to appreciate the CT-660's premium features and to respect Jones and Fink for their choice.

If the initial truck's pleasing performance and reliabil ity prove out in the long run, and Ohio Cat backs them as promised, then the Jones fleet might someday be mostly Caterpillar, just as it has with other nameplates in the Jones Fuel Co.'s long history.

From Coal to Topsoil in 86 Years

Jones Fuel Co., the owner of this Cat Truck, was begun in 1924 by Dick Jones's grandfather, who sold coal to industrial and residential customers.

“We started by using hard rubber-tire trucks back then,” Dick said while pointing to a photo of early vehicles on the wall behind his desk.

A photo from the ‘60s shows a fleet of about 20 trucks all lined up for the camera. Most are Diamond Reos, a make that was the victim of a recession in 1975. Sterlings now make up most of the 50-unit fleet, but after Daimler dropped the Sterling brand, good experience with Cat wheel loaders and backing by the local dealer caused Jones to turn to Caterpillar for its latest trucks.

Today, the company calls itself JonesTopsoil in local TV commercials because that's now a principal part of the operation. It also sells sand, gravel and mulch to small and large accounts, and does a lot of for-hire hauling. And it operates Jones Spring, which performs truck suspension and axle repairs, and installs and services French Canadian-made Bibeau dump bodies, with which all its dump trucks are equipped.

Dave Jones, Dick's son and corporate secretary, is the fourth generation of the family now involved in the business.


Truck: Caterpillar CT-660, conventional daycab vocational dump, BBC 116 inches, GVW 69,000 pounds

Engine: Navistar/Cat CT-13, 430 hp at 2,100 rpm, 1,550 lb-ft @ 1,000 rpm

Clutch: 15.5-in. Eaton Fuller Easy-Pedal Advantage

Transmission: Eaton Fuller RTO-16908LL 10-speed manual, double Low with overdrive

Front axle & suspension: 20,000-lb Meritor MFS-20-133A, on taper leafs

Lift axles: three 13,500-lb Hendrickson SCT Ultra steerable

Rear axles & suspension: 46,000-lb Meritor RT-46-160P, w/locking axle diffs and 4.10 ratio, on Hendrickson HMX-460-54 walking beam mechanical

Wheelbase: 274 inches

Front tires & wheels: Goodyear 425/65R22.5 on aluminum discs

Rear tires & wheels: Goodyear 11R22.5 on steel discs Dump bed- 21-ft, 12-14-yard Bibeau steel

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