Urban resurfacing on tracks with Caterpillar Paving

A UK contractor is making good use of its latest Caterpillar’s Cat Mobil-Trac paver for urban resurfacing works – Mike Woof reports
Asphalt milling, paving & compaction / July 9, 2024 1 minute 1 second Read
By MJ Woof
The AP555 was being used to pave 30mm layers using an SMA mix supplied by Eurovia - image © courtesy of Mike Woof

UK paving contractor Taydal Surfacing is making extensive use of its new Caterpillar Cat AP555 asphalt paver for works in Essex, to the east of London. The machine is the first of the new generation AP555 models supplied in the UK and is equipped with the latest Caterpillar Cat SE50 VT screed as well as the Mobil-Trac undercarriage.

Taydal Surfacing has been using its new Caterpillar Cat machine paver to carry out paving work as a sub-contractor for Ringway Jacobs on work for Essex Highways. The Ipswich-based firm mostly carries out paving work in the counties of Essex, Suffolk, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire.

The paver has been used for repaving local roads that connect housing areas in the commuter town of Basildon. The residents had to contend with road closures to allow the construction crew to work during a seven hour stretch in the daytime, with paving starting after the morning commute and ending before people returned in the evening. But with the severely potholed roads being repaired, the residents no doubt appreciate that a short term inconvenience is being totally outweighed by the benefit of having freshly surfaced asphalt instead.

A specialist sub-contractor brought in a milling machine to plane off the degraded road surface initially, with Taydal Surfacing then using its paving and compaction equipment. The jobsite was small, just 3,500m2 in all and was carried out in three stages. The SMA mix with 55% of 10mm aggregate as well as fines used for the paving work has been supplied by Eurovia from its nearby plant and carried in tipper trucks to the site. Taydal paved the new binder and wearing courses, both with thicknesses of 30mm for a total of 60mm. Compaction has been carried out to the required density using two machines from Taydal Surfacing’s fleet of BOMAG asphalt rollers.

Although the job is in an urban area, it has provided its challenges. Michael Kirby of Ringway Jacobs commented, “We’ve had tree stumps in here and had to pull them out.” Kirby explained that the roads through the housing development had also suffered some subsidence over the decades since it was built, adding to the challenges for the repaving work and explained, “This was built on marshland.”

This job in Basildon has been carried out without the use of machine control technology, but Taydal does have experience of these systems. The firm has used grade control systems for paving job on major roads and was planning to use the AP555 on resurfacing work for a section on the A13 dual carriageway.

Taydal Surfacing is no stranger to Caterpillar Cat pavers, now running four of the yellow machines in the fleet and having had six of the F-Series machines in all. And in addition to its new AP555, the company also has a new AP355F. Owner Wayne Dale explained that the firm originally used the Italian-made Bitelli pavers and when the business (located in Minerbio, close to Bologna) was bought by Caterpillar around 20 years ago, continued using the rebranded models because the designs were well-proven. It is worth noting that the Bitelli brand did establish a strong foothold in the UK road construction sector through the success of its then dealer, Finnpave. Dale bought the first tracked Caterpillar Cat paver for the firm’s machine fleet in 2014 and he added that one of the old Bitelli BB660 models is still in the yard, though only rarely used these days.

Dale was very complimentary about the Mobil-Trac undercarriage on the new AP555, saying that this was a key benefit for the model. He commented, “The UK is mostly a wheeled paver market,” adding that the machines are versatile and suit local works as they can be driven from site to site at speeds of up to 16km11km/h, without needing to be transported on the back of a truck. He explained that the trade-off is that wheeled pavers do not offer the same level of stability as a tracked paver and cannot match the same paving widths, while also offering less traction if the surface conditions are uneven or slippery. Steel tracked pavers, though stable and much better able to work on poor ground, are limited to speeds of just 6km/h when being moved between sites and while able to offer good stability for wider paving, are less versatile than wheeled machines. He continued, “But Cat’s Mobil-Trac system can drive at 11km/h. It’s a good compromise between the steel tracks and the wheeled paver.”

The Caterpillar pavers with their rubber tracks can match the stability and paving widths of conventional steel tracked machines. He added that because of the bogie system used on the Mobil-Trac undercarriage, this even offers benefits in comparison to conventional steel tracks and said, “It absorbs the irregularities of the ground.”
Having run F-Series pavers with the Mobil-Trac system for some years Dale was quick to point out that the rubber tracks last well in use, with good working life. Another advantage is that the rubber tracks allow the machine to be driven over recently paved surfaces, without the risk of damaging the asphalt or leaving marks. And the rubber tracks also allow tight turning in cramped working areas through the ability to counter-rotate if necessary. Although this machine offers a high throughput for its size class, it is also comparatively compact in design and can be operated in more restricted spaces than many competing machines according to Dale.

Taydal’s paver operator, Tom Beckett, was also complimentary about the new AP555 and said, “Up top, not a lot’s changed but the control pads for the screeds are better.” He said that the new SE50 VT screed design is also stiffer and commented that it holds levels better.

The improved tamper bar type screed allows fast heating times and paving widths from 2.55-5m, although this can be increased to 7.6m with the use of bolt-on extensions. Another benefit of the new AP555 is the improved fumes removal system. This extracts fumes from the conveyor, hopper and screed and then vents them through the exhaust stackout over the hopper, away from the operator and crew.

The pre-delivery inspection was completed by Caterpillar Cat dealer Finning UK and Ireland before the machine was supplied. Finning also provided training for Taydal’s operators and the firm’s service technicians who will maintain the machine.


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