Chris Crow has a family background in construction and has worked as a heavy equipment operator at the Kennewick Irrigation District (KID) for 24 years. At KID, he operates some of the biggest heavy equipment on the market, including Caterpillar’s top-of-the-line D11 bulldozer. In this interview, Mr. Crow tells us about his work.
Irrigation Leader: Please tell us about your background and how you came to be in your current position.
Chris Crow: I’ve been in construction for the last 35 years, and I’ve worked at KID for the last 24 years. My family owned construction outfits, which is how I got into this line of work. My main duty at KID is running heavy equipment. I run the excavator, the loader, and the bulldozers.
Irrigation Leader: What sorts of dozers does KID have, and how do they differ from each other?
Chris Crow: The D11, which we recently bought from Evans Equipment, is the biggest of them all—it’s the biggest dozer Caterpillar makes. I’ve been on numerous dozers, and that one will out-push them all. It’s got a four-way blade. The rest of our dozers have six-way blades. In addition to the D11, KID has a Caterpillar D6, a Caterpillar D8, a John Deere 450, a John Deere 650, and a John Deere 850.
Irrigation Leader: How do four-way and six-way blades differ?
Chris Crow: It refers to the way you can adjust the angle of the blade. A four-way blade moves on two axes: it can go up and down, and it can tilt. The six-way blade can also turn its right end or left end forward.
Irrigation Leader: How large is the D11?
Chris Crow: It’s about 36 feet long and weighs 248,500 pounds. It can push 40 cubic yards.
Irrigation Leader: How much diesel does it use?
Chris Crow: I use 80–130 gallons a day when I’m running it.
Irrigation Leader: How did you first learn to drive a bulldozer? Is it something you learned by doing, or did you do some sort of course?
Chris Crow: I learned through family. Our family owned a construction company years ago. The new D11 is pretty similar to the other dozers we’ve been using. I used a D10 for a couple of years, which is similar, just the next size down.
Irrigation Leader: What is visibility like when you’re driving the D11?
Chris Crow: You can’t even really see all around yourself. You just look at the corners and see what’s coming up. You can’t see over the blade, so you’ve got to look ahead to see what’s coming at you.
Irrigation Leader: What advice do you have for people who are just getting into operating heavy equipment and dozers?
Chris Crow: All it takes is a lot of seat time.