How to Pick the Right Cold Planer Attachment for a Skid Steer or Compact Track Loader

FAE cold planer

Cold planers are hard core attachments for skid steer and compact track loaders. These implements eat up concrete and asphalt, removing road stripes, mating uneven pavement surfaces, cutting drainage in parking lots, milling manhole edges, tapering road edges and cleaning up around larger milling machines. To learn more about these gnarly implements, we gathered insights from four leading manufacturers of cold planers — Bobcat, FAE, Land Pride and RoadHog. First…

What Does a Cold Planer Do?

Land Pride Kubota cold planer

Cold planers use picks to mill off a layer of material, typically asphalt or concrete but in some applications caprock or other material. Large, self-propelled cold planers do an entire lane width in a single pass as part of a resurfacing project. The smaller cold planers that go on skid steers and compact track loaders do a much narrower pass, sometimes as narrow as 12 up to 48 in. Narrower planers offer advantages. They can be used with host machines with lower hydraulic output. They can mill wider areas with multiple passes but can also do narrower areas as required, which saves on resurfacing material. Overall frame width is also important. Having a cold planer with an overall frame width greater than that of the host machine allows milling up to curbs and walls, often using the side shift feature of the cold planer.

Cold planers are used in two main applications, both involving removal of existing material. In one case, this is done in preparation for resurfacing or repair. In the second case, it’s done to improve drainage or mitigate other existing problems. In both cases a layer of new pavement is laid over the milled area, whether that’s a 4-in. mat or a thin lift of 1.5 in. or less. In the first instance, the cold planer must follow the original contour of the surface. In the second, the cold planer is cutting a new contour, as when cutting a swale to get rid of standing water. Features allowing this versatility include oscillation, tilt and depth of cut.

In lower cost units, adjustments may be made manually. These include oscillation of the cutter head and depth of cut, the latter controlled by positioning the skis that are on the sides of the cold planer. In midsize and larger units, these adjustments are done hydraulically by the operator from the comfort of the cab.

Most cold planers come configured with a universal skid steer attachment and asphalt picks. A Common Industry Interface (CII) mount and concrete picks can be specified by the customer; these changes may be implemented at the factory before the unit is shipped or by the dealer before the customer takes delivery. Cold planers include a tool for removal of worn picks and installation of new ones. Easy access to picks through a cover is essential, as pick replacement can be required every day or every other day according to Lee Smith, national product manager, FAE. Picks must be free to rotate in their mounting sockets to minimize wear.

Smith says there are four considerations in selecting a cold planer: host machine horsepower, hydraulic flow, cutting width and cutting depth.

Roadhog cold planner on a compact track loader on a road

Wheels or tracks? Either works. CTLs can be more stable and less bouncy than skid steer loaders, although a good cold planer can isolate those motions and maintain a consistent cut. Cold planing creates lots of grit, resulting in rapid tire and track wear and tires cost less than tracks. A skid steer dedicated for use with a cold planer may benefit from solid tires or solid tires with open areas for improved ride comfort.

These add weight and stability and provide longer wear. Foam-filled tires are another option; note that these require recapping on the rim as the tire cannot be unmounted once the foam sets up, says Mike Fitzgerald, marketing manager, Bobcat. He says Bobcat offers three tire choices on its skid steers: standard duty, heavy duty and extreme duty.

Maintaining the right speed is essential. Going faster increases productivity per hour, but too fast can stall the planer’s drum and increases fuel consumption. The right speed is tough to specify. A skilled operator will sense when the planer and host machine are functioning at peak efficiency. Once that speed is detected, the operator simply maintains it for the duration of the cut since the milled material has a consistent density. Creep control is helpful. OEMs are improving travel speed control to make it much easier to find and maintain proper travel speed independent of engine speed and auxiliary flow.

Some manufacturers use the term “low flow” with smaller cold planers to differentiate them from models requiring high-flow hydraulics, but equipment manufacturers don’t use “low flow.” Their machines are listed with “standard flow” or “high flow,” so “low flow” from a cold planer manufacturer correlates with “standard flow” from a skid steer or compact track loader manufacturer. Costs vary regionally and with planer sizes but range from $20,000 to $40,000 for purchase. Daily rental is $250 to $720, weekly from $800 to $1,400 and monthly from $2,400 to $3,600.

Compact track loaders are the most popular category of compact equipment in America. Learn why with loads of track loader features right here.

Bobcat: Six Models, Countless Features

Bobcat T86 compact track loader using a planer attachment

Bobcat offers six models of cold planers, a 14-in. model for standard-flow host machines, three models for high-flow use in 18-, 24- and 40-in. widths and two for use with Bobcat machines with Super Flow hydraulics — both 48 in. wide. Bobcat models have a long list of features. Here are three. Side cutting teeth reduce drum binding and create a vertical face to improve bonding between new and existing pavement. A large rear opening allows more milled material to exit the planer, reducing re-working of that material and the unnecessary load on the drum that it creates. A removable endplate allows planing up to the edge of walls and curbs with no further cleanup work required. Bobcat offers speed management with its Selectable Joystick Control machines. The operator sets the maximum speed to a percentage of the machine’s maximum speed from 1 to 99 percent in 1 percent increments. The operator then has use of the full range of the joystick without exceeding the preset limit, which would be extremely useful in cold planing.

They’re called “Picks”

Historically the cutting pieces in a cold planer have had various names, including “teeth” and “bits.” The industry is moving to standardize the term “picks.” Some OEMs have adopted this term while others have not yet done so. In casual conversation, speakers will likely default to the term they’ve used in the past. Just know that while “teeth,” “bits” and “picks” all refer to the same thing, the preferred term is now the latter.

FAE: Model Names Tell It All

The first step in choosing among FAE’s models of cold planer is to understand the model names. “RPL” is “road planer – light” with a cutting depth of up to 4.5 in. “RPM” is “road planer — medium” with a depth of cut up to about 10 in. “SSL” is a skid steer model, which can also be mounted on a compact track loader. The SSL designation is to specify the model for use on a skid steer or CTL instead of an excavator, which they also have. “DT” is “dual transmission” and has two drive motors, one on either end of the drum. The number in the model name, such as 45 or 65, designates the cutting width in centimeters. RPL models come in 45-, 65- and 75-cm cutting widths. The RPM is 60 cm only. DT models come in 100-, 125- and 150-cm cutting widths. All non-DT models have side shift. The 45 and 65 models are compatible with standard-flow hydraulics. The 75 and larger machines are recommended for use with high-flow hydraulics and high flow is required for the DT machines.

Land Pride: Kubota Quality Cold Planers

Land Pride Kubota PK18 cold planer on a compact track loader

Land Pride markets seven models of cold planers, all of them private labelled for Kubota. Although they can be paired with other manufacturers’ machines, the website shows compatibility with Kubota skid steers and compact track loaders, designated by SSV for the former and SVL for the latter. Specifically, they are meant for use with the SSV65 and SSV75 and SVL65, SVL75 and SVL97 Kubota machines. Sizes range from 12 to 48 in. of cutting width. The two smallest models, 12 and 16 in., are suitable for standard-flow machines with 15 to 25 gpm. These two models can cut up to 5 in. deep. The other five models require high flow of 24 to 32 gpm and will cut up to 6 in. deep. Maximum flow for all seven models is 42 gpm. “All our high-flow models have multifunction capability, including tilt, side shift and independent left/right depth control,” says Michael Butler, product manager, Land Pride.

RoadHog: Traditional Design + Innovative New Approach

Roadhog cold planer

RoadHog also makes seven models. The two standard-flow units are 12- and 16-in. cuts. The five high-flow models are 18-, 24-, 30-, 40- and 48-in. cuts. RoadHog also makes self-contained cold planers, powered by a Caterpillar C2.2 67-hp or Hatz 4H50TIC 70-hp engine and controlled by a wireless remote that can be used by the host machine operator or another person on the ground. These come in 24- and 40-in. cutting widths with depths up to 6 in.

Adam Thielbar, North American sales manager, RoadHog offers advice and insights. He says bigger isn’t necessarily better and that their 24- and 30-in. models are their best sellers. “A large head is slow at depths of more than a couple of inches and besides, a 24-in. unit can run circles around a 48-in. unit at any depth.” He says RoadHog cold planers can be configured for use with the hydraulic and electric circuits of virtually any skid steer or compact track loader on the market, allowing customers to get RoadHog planers to more easily match their existing equipment. He also points out that all RoadHog models are rated up to 6,000 psi, “so we are ready for the push for high pressure loaders that we see as the next wave of options offered by equipment OEMs.”

Richard Ries is a freelance writer for Compact Equipment.

FAE’s Expanding Construction Attachment Lineup

FAE cold planer
As FAE’s road planer line expands, it continues to organize training and demos with valued dealers across America and the world.

FAE has been in the road construction PTO attachment business for more than 30 years, producing rock crushers, soil stabilizers and multi-purpose machines (rock crushers/asphalt grinders/soil stabilizers all in one). In the last few years FAE has been expanding its construction attachment line, taking the industry knowledge and understanding gained through the success of its PTO units and transferring it over to the hydraulic line. This line includes such attachments as cold planers for skid steers, cold planers for excavators and a wheel saw for skid steers.

John Deluca of A. Deluca Paving explained that FAE road planers cut deeper, and, as a result, jobs require fewer passes, saving users time and money. “[With FAE road planers] you can even cut sometimes in one pass. They’re built stronger, and they’re heavier to begin with. Sometimes some of the other planers [on the market] are a little light, and then it’s hard to get weight onto them to be able to sink.”
With FAE’s reputation for quality and the obvious benefits that can be experienced at live demos, the confidence in FAE road planers, from dealers and from customers, continues to grow. Learn more at