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Crawlers, Dozers, Loaders & Backhoes Discussion Forum

Mini Excavator Question

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12-20-2003 13:02:41

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We are a general contractor in a coastal community and build spec houses. We currently sub out most of our dirt work, though we do some finish grading and landscaping with a Massey with a loader. We are wondering if we should invest in some additional used equipment and do more of our own dirt work. The lots that we own and purchase normally have small brush (3" or less) with very few trees. Being at the beach the soil is all sand, no clay or rocks at all. Even the undisturbed ground is easy digging. We excavate foundation holes that are 18"-24" deep, and backfill around the foundations. We would like something that we could use to clear brush, dig foundation holes, and trench for utilities with. We bury power lines 24" and the deepest our sewer hook ups are is 42". We would prefer something that we could pull we a 3/4 ton truck so would prefer to stay under 7,000 pound machine weight. I've been told that wheeled skid steers get stuck in our sand if used for digging, and the skid steer backhoes are expensive. What about a mini excavator though? Would one be sufficient for what we want to do? We only build about 6 houses a year. I know they would be somewhat slow compared to the huge excavator our dirt guy uses, but if we could save enough money the extra time would be okay. Any and all advice appreciated.

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12-22-2003 03:26:02

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 Re: Mini Excavator Question in reply to justJeff, 12-20-2003 13:02:41  
Gee got a headache from reading the posts...hahah Anyway if you ever used the mini you would wounder how you lived without it We had a PC-38 offset-swivel boom with 0 tail swing 4 ton machine with a 18 inch&24 inch buckets It is so fast you can put the dirt out of the way and with the blade you can almost finish grade Ours was on rubber so if you did have to do work on paved or lawn damage was keep down. I would think it would be cats meow. Paid $7200. for it 92 machine needed tracks that i sell but still all said and done with new tracks had under $11000. in it So if you look at one that needs tracks email me i sell them and ship all over the world

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Taylor Lambert

12-21-2003 16:33:04

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 Re: Mini Excavator Question in reply to justJeff, 12-20-2003 13:02:41  
I have a 3550 Ford hoe and a 4500 Ford hoe I use for a side income when my normal operators job is slow. Im about to sell the 4500, But im replacing it with a PC50uu Grey market Komatsu. It has a 16 or 17 foot digginn depth a 2 foot bucket about like on on a 555 Ford hoe. Its got a side shift and a blade for 8000. I need it more that the 4500 putting in septic tanks and retaining walls. Ill keep the 3550 for a back up and on some clean up jobs the Excavator wont be good on. One thing with the 50 is its smaller tail swing radius and the 12000 pound weight. I rented it form my frind that has it to put in a wall on the lake and where a 27 Deee mini excavator couldnt reach. It will also out dig and load my 4500 with a similar sized bucket.

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12-21-2003 01:40:48

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 Re: Mini Excavator Question in reply to justJeff, 12-20-2003 13:02:41  
How about a small Mits/Komatsu dozer with small backhoe.Excellent units in soft/limited areas.I know early Mitsubishis were able to take a hoe. Just an option....

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12-20-2003 19:59:18

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 Re: Mini Excavator Question in reply to justJeff, 12-20-2003 13:02:41  
Thanks for the advice everyone. I've seen the Yanmar and other mini excavators listed in Northern's catalog. A local cat dealer always has quite a few of the smaller excavators, but they're mostly priced in the low 20's, which is quite a bit higher than what I've seen elsewhere. The fellow that we sub our dirt work to now has a big 120hp Komatsu and uses a 450 crawler for backfill along with a 580k loader/hoe. Of course he's going for production and speed. We're a little less concerned with doing it as quickly. I've thought about getting a 3pt backhoe for our Massey and using that just to do our utility trenching, and leaving the clearing and foundation holes to the sub. We'd save some, but not as much as if we invest in another piece of machinery.

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12-20-2003 18:56:26

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 Re: Mini Excavator Question in reply to justJeff, 12-20-2003 13:02:41  
Jeff: I think you'd be very pleased with a mini-excavator for what you want to do. I've ran several, and they're the cat's meow for small jobs, particularly ones that require digging and then backfilling, like trench work. I noticed that Northern Tool is starting to sell them (used) in their catalogs, starting around $10K. One of the local small contractors recently switched from a skid-steer mounted backhoe to a mini-hoe, and he says there's no comparison in the amount of work he can do in a day.

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12-20-2003 18:52:33

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 Re: Mini Excavator Question in reply to justJeff, 12-20-2003 13:02:41  
I have a 1995 Kubota KX-151 with long stick, four buckets and hyd thumb. Very happy with it. Weights 6 tons, but I have a single axle dump truck to pull it with on a 9 ton trailer. Purchased it used, there are some very good buys out there with low hours. Note don't get a mini excavator without a hydraulic thumb, it makes a nigth and day difference with what you can do with the machine. Diffently run away from gray market machines, some manufactures will not service the gray market machines, ask the manufactures dealer if they will service the machine you are looking at purchasing. My two cents.

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12-20-2003 13:43:54

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 Re: Mini Excavator Question in reply to justJeff, 12-20-2003 13:02:41  
Don't know how "mini" you're thinking but the ones I've used wouldn't outdig the small hoe I put on my compact tractor. As you already have the Massey with loader, I don't see that you'd be very far ahead with a separate, questionable use machine, over adding a hoe to what you already have. Mine has a 14" bucket and you won't find me digging foundation holes with it. Trenching's OK and what I bought mine for. If you really want to move some sand, I'd think about a rubber-tired industrial loader. Finding one that light might be a challenge. My solution was a small add-on hoe and a large loader, total cost under $10k.

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Alvin n Ms.

12-20-2003 15:14:43

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 Re: Re: Mini Excavator Question in reply to VaTom, 12-20-2003 13:43:54  
I own a Ford 4500 backhoe, and it is too awkward for digging footings. I have seen the mini-excavators doing a great job, and the owners love them. They are also for installing pipe ect. Here is one that was listed on Ebay. It was a little high priced at 11K. Hanix H27 Mini Excavator. Weighing in at appx. 6,000 lbs. alvinnms

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12-21-2003 05:35:13

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 Re: Re: Re: Mini Excavator Question in reply to Alvin n Ms., 12-20-2003 15:14:43  
Too bad you couldn't dig footings with your Ford hoe. I have no problem at all with mine and have no idea why you would have. Maybe it's the operator.... I originally bought mine for a 1/2 mile trench down my mountain for my utilities, where an excavator would have more than a little trouble. The only times an excavator has been better for me was when access was a problem. Certainly not with a sandy open lot.

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12-21-2003 06:25:22

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 Re: Re: Re: Re: Mini Excavator Question in reply to VaTom, 12-21-2003 05:35:13  
VAtom, we can't get by just digging footings to meet code here. We need to excavate the entire foundation area to leave a crawl space that meets code. If we could get by just digging footings I would use a hoe on the tractor for sure.

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12-21-2003 09:39:46

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 Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Mini Excavator Question in reply to justJeff, 12-21-2003 06:25:22  
Hi Jeff, yes, I understood that from your first post. That's why I was thinking you don't want, solely, any type of small bucket, either excavator or normal hoe. A small bucket really will take forever to excavate a sizeable quantity of dirt, I know. With Deas Plant's help I bought an industrial loader with a 2 yd, 8' wide 4-in-1 bucket. Now that's something that'll move some dirt (and trees and anything else you get it close to). Too big for trenching or footings, but great for volume. Also too big for you to trailer at 23k lbs, but with rubber tires you could drive it to the next site. One machine to do everything is a nice idea, hard to figure out. Probably the closest would be a full-sized backhoe, something I don't expect to ever own. And heavier than you wanted to transport.

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01-03-2004 15:55:27

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 Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Mini Excavator Question in reply to VaTom, 12-21-2003 09:39:46  
I bet i could out run and out dig any rubber tired backhoes whene it comes to trenching . The bobcat 331 i am getting i had one rented for a mnth and am going into the excavating buisness but ill never go back to a backhoe on wheels. The several size buckets thats avalible and the backfill/dozer blade makes these mini excavaters the best machine built . Rubber tire hoe is ok but ya dig up to your machine , flop seat around rasie front bucket pick up the stabilisers . Either move machine by crabing with the hoe or drive train. Set front loader back down set stabilers down again. The 331 dig up to ur self bumb backfill blade up move backward and keep on digging. I have used em to grade roads . Dig stumps shove rocks out of pasture feilds , Best damn thing their is whene it comes to fence rows thats over grwon by rose bushes . Man their great for land clearing like a dozer and hoe wraped into one machine. The have up to a 54 inch grading bucket now then you could move some serious dirt imho

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