People in the construction industry or big vehicle fans may think that the awesome Caterpillar 994 D is the worlds biggest mining loader.

They would be wrong! It is in fact the L-2350 made by Le Tourneau of Longview, Texas, U.S.A.  The Cat 994 D did have the worlds largest tires though, So don't be too upset, Caterpillar fans out there!

When it comes to these big loaders, whether it's made by Le Tourneau, Caterpillar or Hitachi, just to name a few, if you see them out on the field chances are that they are doing the biggest jobs on earth.

Most commonly used for hauling and dumping natural resources, they are also used for other industries and can be seen all over the world. From mines in Cancun Mexico to various job sites in Europe and the Middle East, all the way to mines in Dominican Republic, indeed these loaders are used all over the world.


Designed to center load haul trucks with capacities of up to 400 tons, the L-2350 provide a safe normal operating payload of 72 tons, a 24 foot lift height, and an 11.5 foot reach.  These dimensions are quite huge, and no other front wheel loader can match up to it.

The loader has a massive and powerful 2,300 horsepower Detroit Diesel or Cummins engine, and this power is needed when you consider the amount of aggregate that the loader will shovel and lift to deposit into a mining lorry.

We must also remember that the operational weight of this loader is 258 tons. It is one big heavy duty earth mover.

The L-2350 has a 65 liter engine! That's about 30 times larger than a standard car engine! Each cylinder, of which there are 16, are over four liters in size.  The engine compartment alone is as big as a family car.  The shovel bucket has a very large capacity of  53 cubic yards.

The bucket can shovel up 80 tons of material in a single scoop! One cubic yard of earth weighs 1 ton, so the bucket holds 53 tons, but the over burden in the scoop is not flush with it so this amount is correct at 80 tons.

The loader is controlled and monitored by the Le Tourneau Integrated Network Control System (LINCS).  This provides useful operational information such as maintenance, diagnostics, shovel weights and measure capacity, cycle times and other management information which includes the control of hydraulics, traction control, engine revolutions and limiters through the interactions of the master control module (MCM)

These multiple remote control modules (RCMs) use a 32-bit processor and connect directly to sensors, drive outputs, and operator controls. The MCM uses a Pentium-class microprocessor to control the entire system from the cab of the loader. The RCMs are distributed around the loader, providing the MCM with the information needed to effortlessly control and monitor the entire loader.

We continue to talk big when we mention the fluid capacities that the L-2350 Wheel Loader utilizes. The fuel alone tank holds 1,050 gallons of diesel, while there is 325 gallons of hydraulic fluid in the hydratank and 130 gallons of coolant keeps the engine from overheating.

The gearbox has a mere 7 gallons of oil in its sump and the engine crankcase and filtration units bathe in 66 gallons of oil.

The L-2350 also uses the worlds biggest tires, this was once a record that Caterpillar owned but the L-2350 has excelled itself there too! In the image below we can see that the tires or no mean things in themselves.

Care has to be taken whilst working around these big machines, as a person could be run over without the driver even knowing about it.  The man below should be wearing a Hi-Viz vest as part of standard operating procedures.

In 1934 Mr. R.G. Le Tourneau and Harvey Firestone introduced the first pneumatic tire, designed specifically for earthmoving vehicles. Firestone recently developed the 70/70-57 SRG DT  tire for the L-2350.

Le Tourneau and Firestone claim it is the largest tire in the world situated on the world's largest loader. The tire, fitted on a Titan rim, has an overall diameter of 13 feet, a width of 5.8 inches and a total mass of nearly 8 tons including the rims.

At nearly 7 tons each not including the weight of the rim, the Cat 994 D uses smaller  size  58/85-57 tires, the Le Tourneau uses the 70/70-57 size tires.

Again these vehicles are beautiful statements of engineering skill and prowess, huge strong robust and as reliable if not more than a family saloon.

Each wheel on the loader is independently and electronically driven, this gives positive traction and increases the stability with shift free operation. This feature has been utilised for over 40 years by Le Tourneau.

The electric drive system that manages the wheels gives a longer life span to the tires and gives more room for the driver to concentrate on operating the shovel as opposed to getting the right gear for each movement.

Le Tourneau also states that the constant speed engine gives better fuel efficiency and increases the life of the engines working hours. 

The electric-drive system consists of an engine/generator set, a solid-state Silicon Controlled Rectifier (SCR), and dc traction motors coupled with planetary drivers. There are no drive shafts or transmissions to wear out.

These loaders generally work in open cast mines where they shovel tens of thousands of tons of over burden every working day. The image below show the Le Tourneau L-2350 earning her keep as she shovels aggregate into a large truck at a rate of about 80 tons per scoop!

The L-2350 can actually load a 400 ton truck in just 5 passes or a 320 ton truck in only 4 passes and at this rate mining productivity is very fast, an 80 ton truck of course is filled in just one pass. The remarkably efficient L-2350 has advanced the speed of mining to an excellent degree.

It is appreciated that these loaders work in very dusty environments and a technology that Le Tourneau utilizes is a self-purging KLENZ air filtration system that will work for 5,000 hours before the need to change the filter element.

Moisture is removed form the air through a mist eliminator panel that automatically removes dust particles. The life span of the filter is increased with a system that actually sends air back through the filter in a self cleaning mode and blows it back outside.

These wheel loaders earn their keep working in mines around the world, they have to be maintained to a very high degree as a redundant vehicle would lose money for the mining company every hour the wheel loader is not used.

The pictures below depict some images of these tires, that are fitted with "snow" chains. It was discovered that with the use of these snow chains that more traction was possible on muddy as well as just snowy ground.

Also these heavy duty chains, weighing up to 5 tons each, protect the tires from damage.  Replacing a damaged tire is very costly, both in man hours and direct expense, as the cost of each tire is around 65,000 dollars plus a couple of grand to have them fitted.  That's a lot of money to replace a flat tire!

In 1995, Michelin made what was then the largest radial tire in the world, the 55/80 57 X Mine D2 for the Caterpillar 994 wheeled loader at over 5 tons each not including the weight of the rim.

Fitting these chains to  the tires is a mammoth task in itself, but it's worth the hassle because the tires are so expensive and productivity of the loader is seriously thwarted by a puncture or any damage to them.



Make no mistake, the Caterpillar 994D is also a seriously big loader, alas, it's not the worlds biggest as already stated but at the time, it did employ the use of the worlds largest tires, until the Le Tourneau L-2350 came along and spoilt it!

The Caterpillar 994D has a V16 diesel engine that delivers 1,500 horse power, which is more than adequate for the work that it undertakes.

It is equipped with a four stack exhaust system and each tailpipe is dedicated to the removal of exhaust from four cylinders, and this causes the engine to behave more like four engines operating in tandem.

Every single part of the engine apart from a few solenoids, is painted in thick heavy duty industrial paint for added protection from the elements of the environment that these loaders work in.


A Cat 994 series below, fitted with tire chains.  These chains add a fair few extra ton of weight to the loader, but with the amount of protection that they supply to the tires, its worth all the extra fuel that is used to drive it.

Those chain covered wheels have a serious business look about them! The Cat 994F may not be the world largest loader but it is still a giant amongst giants.  Ladders and a flight of stairs are needed for the driver to get to his cab on the second floor  of his vehicle.

Click Here to see my webpage on the Komatsu Mountain Moving WA1200-3 Wheel Loader. This loader is very nearly the worlds largest but has to take second place, it is still worth reading about though.


Page created November 22nd 2002.    Updated June 1st 2014