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Crawlers, Dozers, Loaders & Backhoes Discussion Forum

Track hoe vs. Gradall question...

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Brent in IA

03-25-2014 21:33:30

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Hi everyone. About every other year or so I find some "project" on the farm that I can"t do with my backhoe and I end up renting a 40,000# track hoe for a week or two...which runs about $4k for 2 weeks including trucking, fuel, damage waiver, etc.... I have priced used track hoes and just can"t justify the purchase expense as well as the maintenance costs when I already have a wheeled backhoe. However - I keep finding wheeled 4x4 Gradall G3WD units that look (and are advertised as) to be in good shape for under $10,000. I am mainly digging surface drainage ditches, an occasional footing/foundation for a building, and then cleaning out silt buildup in our farm ponds. I usually see these Gradall machines used by county road crews cleaning ditches, etc.. - but I was wondering if anyone had any experience actually digging a hole with one? I know it would be more cumbersome than a tracked machine but is it even a thought to dig a hole with one given the straight boom, etc? I can deal with the inconvenience of the wheels vs tracks but if it won"t dig that is a deal breaker. I found a machine 30 miles from me with a 36 inch toothed excavating bucket and a 60 inch ditching bucket, and the owner claims it will dig a hole fine, but before I spend time looking at it I wanted so of the great wisdom here on YTmag to weigh in. Thanks in advance! (The picture I posted is just a sample of the model I am looking at, the actual one I am considering has much more aggressive tires - these look like street tires to me...)

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Stick welding

03-26-2014 23:16:34

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 Re: Track hoe vs. Gradall question... in reply to Brent in IA, 03-25-2014 21:33:30  
There were some problems with the earlier G3WD's. Can't remember what though. I looked at a used one. For ditching you can't beat a Gradall with the rotating boom but being rubber tired, you better be on pretty firm ground. You can do a lot of the same work with a Gradall as you can with an excavator but there is a bigger learning curve because of a totally different boom design. Of course you can dig a hole. I was told a Gradall usually has better bucket breakout force compared to an excavator. A track hoe can dump anywhere in 360 deg's. The Gradall is limited because of the driving cab.

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03-26-2014 17:24:44

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 Re: Track hoe vs. Gradall question... in reply to Brent in IA, 03-25-2014 21:33:30  
Brent 550 + years experience here and bottom line is you just won,t be satisfied. Just what you see them being used for (cleaning the side ditches) it about what they are good for. I had a neighbor try and mount a cutter on one where he could go around his fields just did not work out. Around here if you are willing to get away from CAT you can get a nice running 28,000lb excavator for under 20 and I have had a couple of cat 312s in the last year that sold for 18 thousand each. Believe I would save my money.

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roy suomi

03-26-2014 06:27:39

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 Re: Track hoe vs. Gradall question... in reply to Brent in IA, 03-25-2014 21:33:30  
A customer of mine found a used Case track hoe that had been sitting for a couple of years.. This hoe had 1200 hours on it .. He picked it up for 10,000 dollars.. It is actually very nice.. It needed the stick [ crowd ] cylinder repacked.. I'd look for something like this as opposed to a Gradall.. Gradall's aren't very forgiving on uneven ground.. And they tend to be tippie when extended out.. Most newer Gradalls have only one engine and use a rotary manifold like an excavator to direct oil flow to the digging function.. They tend to be problematic due to electrical and hydraulic being routed thru rotary manifold.. Cab heat is usually a propane bottle on the back of the cab..

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03-26-2014 05:43:35

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 Re: Track hoe vs. Gradall question... in reply to Brent in IA, 03-25-2014 21:33:30  
For certain jobs, they are quite excellent, but are not a versatile as an excavator. Problem with a lot of 'em are they often get old, before they get used much. And with 6 tires to keep up, and most of the time 2 engines, 1 up and 1 downstairs, they can develop problems that can be challenging.

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03-26-2014 04:45:02

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 Re: Track hoe vs. Gradall question... in reply to Brent in IA, 03-25-2014 21:33:30  
It's not an excavator, simple as that. It's not even backhoe. For your ditches it may be fine if you have solid footing everywhere. Beyond that it's very limited.

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03-25-2014 22:41:47

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 Re: Track hoe vs. Gradall question... in reply to LOU from Wi., 03-25-2014 21:33:30  
It just won't dig like an excavator. you would probably have limited success cleaning the silt out of your pond but, digging a hole or footer whatever is gonna be a PAIN.As you said the straight boom is a problem not to mention you will get stuck a lot on soft ground and probably not a lot of hydraulic power either.i would think you should be able to find a older "farm" excavator for around 10k.

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Brent in IA

03-25-2014 21:40:30

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 Re: Track hoe vs. Gradall question... in reply to Brent in IA, 03-25-2014 21:33:30  

This is the model I have rented for the past few years - Case CX160E. 110 hp, 30 foot reach, 20 foot dig, 42 inch toothed bucket. My local Case dealer always has one for me with under 500 hours and if there is a breakdown the technician is there with parts within 2 hours - at least the 2 times I have had an issue they have been. Normally a flawless operation - no upkeep or maintenance costs, no downtime, no depreciation of a $150,000 asset.....

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