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Self-propelled scrapers, or scraper machines, are connected to a power unit that pulls the scraper behind it. Depending on the size of the scraper, it can be powered by one or two diesel engines, each driving a different axle on the machine. Two-engine scrapers are often called tandem scrapers. Other scrapers are towed and do not have their own power source.
The scraper’s main part is the hopper or bowl, into which earth is transferred for moving to another part of the construction site. Scrapers do just that, using a cutting edge at the front of the bowl that scrapes off the dirt, where it flows into the bowl. When the bowl is full, the front edge is hydraulically raised to seal it off.
When the scraper machine reaches the area of the construction site for depositing the earth, a spoil pile or fill, the bowl is opened and a movable portion of the hopper pushes out the material, also hydraulically. As the scraper travels, the material is pushed out and deposited. The bowl’s width is less than the distance between the tires, so the earth does not interfere with travel.
These pieces of heavy equipment are rated by their capacity, measured in cubic yards. Scrapers have extensive lifespans, some reaching as old as 30 years. Because of the relatively simple design, components such as engines can be replaced, and the blades or ground engaging tools, can be sharpened, reconditioned, or replaced.