An early August sun climbs over the rooftops of the downtown square in Knoxville and glances off the spire of the ornate 19th century stone courthouse. It filters through the Iowa flag waving in a light breeze and brightens the route for the city street department’s Toolcat 5600 utility work machine as it pulls to a stop to water planters.
By January, a winter morning cold front drops a blanket of fresh snow on the county seat. The Toolcat 5600’s angle broom sweeps a path for pedestrians around City Hall and the Knoxville Recreation Center before most of the community wakes up.
No matter the season, the crew relies on the Toolcat 5600 and its five Bobcat attachments to provide key services for its 7,000 residents. With a strategically selected set of attachments, the Toolcat 5600 performs a wide range of tasks, including street and cemetery maintenance, playground installations, and snow and ice removal, that help stretch the town’s publicly funded budget.
“When you’re a municipality running on the taxpayers’ dollars, you try to give them the best possible service you can for the least amount of money,” says Kevin DeLong, Knoxville’s cemetery and streets supervisor. “We feel that the Toolcat 5600 does a lot for them all year long and takes the place of three or four other machines.”
With the help of the department’s S570 skid-steer loader, the two machines work together to add efficiency to daily tasks.
Versatile compact equipment for every season
On an average day, the Toolcat machine’s high-flow auxiliary hydraulics power multiple attachments, making it one of the most popular machines at the street shop.
“It’s very versatile, and I think the possibilities are endless for what we can use the machine to do,” Kevin says. “In summer, we use the sweeper to clean walkways, and with a water tank, we can take care of the flowers on the square and sod on gravesites at the cemetery. Our buckets load concrete, wood chips, dirt and gravel, and the pallet fork moves supplies around the shop. When we clear brush and trim trees, we can haul branches away in the cargo box.”
On a recent project, the Toolcat machine’s bucket transferred loads of wet concrete to a crew working to secure footings on the installation of playground equipment at the recreation center.
“We can’t get a concrete truck close to the footings, but the Toolcat 5600 is small enough to move the concrete into the playground area where we can shovel it out and fill the holes around the posts,” Kevin says. “We’ll clean out the bucket, and when the concrete dries, we’ll use it again to spread our wood chips.”
Productivity remains consistent after the construction and growing season with other grounds maintenance projects and snow and ice removal on sidewalks around city parks and municipal buildings.
“In winter, we’ll use the angle broom to brush snow off gravesites for funerals and to clear sidewalks,” Kevin says. “We’ve got a spreader that mounts in the cargo box that we fill with ice melt, so we can clear and put material down in a one-pass operation.”
Built for simplicity, comfort and capacity
For Kevin, who started his 35-year career with the city in the street department and then transitioned into cemetery stewardship, returning to manage the street maintenance crew is even more fulfilling with equipment that is easy to operate for all experience levels.
“Our main operator is 22 years old, but we also have other college-aged men who work here as part-time summer help who can jump in it and go,” he says. “If you can drive, you can operate it because it steers just like a car.”
He also likes the fact that the Toolcat 5600 can turn on a dime. All-wheel steer mode, with four steerable axles, delivers a tighter turning radius than most compact tractors, utility vehicles and ATVs, so operators can maneuver in tight spaces without having to back up and reposition.
“The all-wheel steer [mode] is a very nice feature of the machine,” Kevin says. “Not only is it a tight turning radius, but the offset tires don’t dig into the same path and make bad ruts.”
There’s a direct correlation between comfort, capacity and productivity. Standard comfort features include large door openings for entry and exit, tilt and power steering, and an adjustable driver’s seat for the department’s multiple operators.
“Everybody loves the heat and air conditioning,” he adds. “It can get the cab as hot or as cold as you need.”
Kevin says the Toolcat machine’s capacity to transport two passengers adds a measure of increased safety and productivity to municipal projects.
“In a lot of situations, we would just as soon have two people be on the jobsite to do work faster and in case something would happen, so having room for a passenger is very valuable,” Kevin says. “And instead of one person going to the jobsite and then having someone else use a vehicle to follow him, both guys can go together.”
Knoxville municipality knows being a good steward of taxpayers’ dollars means making smart fleet selections that benefit the entire community.
Looking to get more out of one machine? See how this entrepreneur’s business took off with the help of his versatile Toolcat 5600.