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Hooniverse Truck Thursday: Bulldozing In Vegas

You’ve visited every casino, buffet, and car museum in Las Vegas. What else can you do for fun? Why not play with a real excavator or bulldozer?

Over Thanksgiving weekend, I visited the ‘rents, who retired and moved to Vegas. I asked our sagely triumvirate (Jeff, Kamil, and Tim) for suggestions on activities and Jeff suggested I “check out that place that lets you use heavy equipment”. Did he mean Dig This?

Yes, he did.

With the construction industry in Las Vegas completely obliterated, Dig This may have the only remaining heavy construction equipment in town. It has two Caterpillar D5G bulldozers and three 315C excavators on a large dirt lot off of I-15, across from the golden Trump hotel.

The experience starts with a safety briefing in a conference room, replete with videos, schematic drawings, and diecast toys in a sandbox. After grabbing a reflector vest, we went out to the machinery. Our instructor/coach, Shawn, stood between me in one bulldozer and a young lady in the other. We communicated with each other via headset. Shawn was a great teacher. He was very patient.

The first thing I noticed about the D5G I operated was that it had air conditioning. I was a bit overwhelmed by the number of controls I needed to use. To my left were the throttle lever, a parking brake switch, and a joystick that steered and acted as a transmission lever (reverse, neutral, forward 1-2-3). On the floor were the brake pedal to the left, which I was told to never use, and a smaller decelerator pedal to the right, which acted as the clutch. When I was in gear, I accelerated by easing off the decelerator pedal. It was a bit counterintuitive, as I kept mistaking it for the gas pedal. To my right, there was a lever to raise and lower the rear ripper and a joystick to operate the shovel. I did not realize that the shovel could be raised and lowered and rotated and tilted.

With practice, everything got easier. The hardest part about bulldozing is not being able to see the dirt you are pushing. During our hour-plus session in the cab, we went through a slalom course, slowly built a large mound using dirt we dug, and pushed two one-ton tires stacked on top of each other through the same slalom. I had a grin from ear-to-ear throughout the entire experience.

Surprisingly, the ride was relatively smooth. I’ve been in airport shuttle vans and tuk-tuks that rode much rougher.

Full disclosure: Dig This waived payment for my session.

Images source: Copyright 2012 Hooniverse/Jim Yu

Currently there are "23 comments" on this Article:

  1. SSurfer321 says:

    I've got a similar program here in Lexington, KY.

    I've got Bobcats, a D5 dozer, 305 Backhoe and larger Link-Belt Excavator. For the low-low price of $1500, I'll let you come down and give one a run on a REAL JOBSITE! Orange safety vest and hardhat free with paid admission!

    We also offer an entry level package for $250 that allows you to operate a shovel and wheelbarrow ON A REAL JOBSITE!

    ACT NOW! As spaces are limited and filling quickly.

    • MVEilenstein says:

      To think, some people actually get PAID to do that!

    • alewifecove says:

      I have wanted to do this with lobstering.
      You pull the trap,.
      You empty the trap.
      You bait (Did you know lobsters like well rotted fish?) the trap.
      You launch the trap.
      We keep the lobsters

      All for $250.00 per person.

  2. longrooffan says:

    Cool Man…..Did ya make it to the Bellagio Flower Room?

  3. LTDScott says:

    I'd love to give this a shot, but from what I've seen it ain't cheap.

    • danleym says:

      Yeah, it looks like fun, but I can think of things I'd rather drop 250 bones on.

      • Maxichamp says:

        Just bet $250 on red, win, and then go to Dig This!

        • SSurfer321 says:

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">
          ALWAYS BET ON BLACK!

  4. wisc47 says:

    I would've killed for that opportunity as a kid. Still might, actually.

  5. Slow_Joe_Crow says:

    This could be a reason to go to Vegas. Compared to the Case track loaders I used to work with the Cat is actually pretty low on levers. The Case 455C loader uses 3 gearshift levers in front of you; a master transmission selector, plus separate forward, reverse and neutral for the right and left tracks. You also get 3 brake pedals, a master brake for stopping and right and left for steering, plus a hand throttle and a joystick for the loader. The 450C bulldozer is the same basic setup, but I never ran one.

  6. Maxichamp says:

    Yeah, it's purdy.

  7. Tanshanomi says:

    <img src="http://i00.i.aliimg.com/wsphoto/v0/655142236/Uh8021-komatsu-pc210-w-font-b-hammer-b-font-drill-small-font-b-drilling-b-font.jpg&quot; height="320">
    Back while I was teaching, I spent one whole free period staring out the window of the faculty lounge watching a guy use a jackhammer-equipped Komatsu excavator. They were building an addition onto the school library right next to the building I taught in. He completely removed a concrete ledge from the facade of the building, two stories up. I was amazed at how deftly he could snake that boom around to put that chisel point right where he wanted it. It moved almost like a human arm and hand. And how confidently he could make it do exactly what he wanted, with hardly a pause! When he was done, he'd chipped the whole thing off almost perfectly flush with the front of the building. He could use that monster like I use a pencil eraser. It was sheer poetry in motion.

  8. Van_Sarockin says:

    Bulldozer not truck. Bulldozer earthmoving equipment. I sure did enjoy operating that front end loader/backhoe for a living, yup.

  9. jjd241 says:

    This is what happened last time I got to drive some heavy equipment…

    [youtube XPjBW9-h-Fs http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XPjBW9-h-Fs youtube]

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