View Full Version : Time for an excavator
04-05-2005, 12:02 PM
Well guys, my dad said last night that if we could possibly justify an excavator this year, he'd look into buying one. I think he's realized that we could use one on just about every job we do, but for us it's too much of a hassle to go rent, plus the expense. Sure I could go rent a machine for $200 a day and that sounds cheap, but it's like our skid steer. Some days you just don't have time to run them all day and if you rent the machine, it's costing you a ton! You might have a machine for 4 days that you might put maybe 10-12 hours on and you're paying for 32 hours. Basically, you need it when you need it and renting is a PITA. So, with that said, I'm looking for a machine, not "cheap" just a good, solid machine. I'd like to stay with Cat because our dealer is awesome, no complaints, but Deere is another player as well. I've looked at 304CR, 305CR, 303.5, and 304.5. Ideally a 304CR is exactly what we need with a canopy, long stick and a thumb, not many bells and whistles. I found a machine in the dealer network that is a 2004 304CR with 120 hours, canopy, aux. hyd, and long stick for $38,000. Good deal? Machine looks brand new, inspection report shows that it's in great condition, undercarriage is stated at 95% remaining. Also found a 2002 303.5 with long stick, hyd thumb, canopy with 675 hrs. for $30,000, but I think that it's out of state and could be expensive to get it here. Anyway, just shopping the market on Catused.com. I think a 305CR would be too big, they're about 11,000 lbs and we need something under 10K, which puts the 304 just about right. Any opinions would be appreciated. Thanks!
04-05-2005, 02:48 PM
Hi there, I'm still new here, but here's a couple more thoughts for you. Is there someone in your area with an excavator that might be able to work with you on some of these jobs for a while, to help you decide/justify buying your own? I have an excavator and do a lot of 'sub' work for the landscapers. I'm only a one man operation, and don't have the manpower to do a lot of the labor intensive jobs. For example, I often do the digging for retaining walls for another local contractor, he builds the wall, and I go back in after to do any grading/backfilling, etc that needs to be finished up. We also try to help each other out, if someone asks him about a 'digging' job, he passes my info along, and I do the same for him if it's a job better suited to him than myself.
Maybe with an arrangement like this, you can tally receipts (I charge him by the hour) for actual machine usage, and have a better handle on your machine needs.
04-05-2005, 03:25 PM
Just got a new Kubota u35, How did I live without it?????????????///// Go get one quick. Handy thing. :waving:
04-05-2005, 07:21 PM
There's one guy here in town that has a mini, but most of these guys are large contractors that are way too busy to stop what they're doing for us. I started looking at the Kubotas because most of the Cats I found were somewhat out of my price range with the exception of about 3. Will keep posted. BTW, Planet Landscaping, how much will that U35 lift? A pretty good sized rock? Also, if you don't mind my asking, what did you give for it?
04-05-2005, 09:19 PM
See Kubota specs for weights , Sorry. Its a digging fool. With the hyd. thumb it makes grabbing stuff easy. Go buy one. payup $34,000 0% 2 years. :waving: Keep it 5, Write it off, Then sell and bury the money :p
04-05-2005, 09:41 PM
I was just looking on machinerytrader.com and theres a 1998 Komatsu PC40 mini with a canopy and hydraulic thumb for sale , heres the link- http://www.machinerytrader.com/listings/forsale/detail.asp?OHID=4947895&dlr=1&guid=3D4CFC35C3D949B8BF8A1C6D9936B9BC
Not sure if thats near you in washington.
I demoed several CAT excavators when I was in the market. I found the swing very weak (305). When working on a slope, the machine could not swing a bucket full of dirt up hill. The break out was barely adequate for my use. There are in my opinion much better excavators on the market. IHI makes an outstanding excavator. Extremely reliable and a great company to work with. I have the reps name in WA. if your interested. I have been very pleased with my Takeuchi TB53. They are very powerful. The side to side swing is much better than a swing boom IMHO. These weigh about 12K. I do miss the IHI's hydrualic "feel". Be careful of the extended boom. The extra boom length is not without sacrifice. You loose boom crowd force. Dumping in trucks a little awkward due to the boom length. May get unbalanced with a zero tail machine, especially when using a thumb. Lifting rocks will become more difficult (study the lift charts on a machine comparing the long boom and the standard boom). My issues with the Deere 50ZTS (and I was close to buying one until I spent serious time in one) are the thumb is absolute junk, way to light duty. They spec. poorly compared to the other machines. The reach was poor as was the bucket breakout. The JD quick attach is anything but quick. I also had overheating problems when pushed hard. I ran the CASE (Kobelco) and although I liked the cab and the hydrualics suffered from the same problems as the JD as far as break out and reach. My experience with the Deere and CASE machines were prior to their latest models being released. The C series Deere and the new series CASE excavators have improved digging performance according to their ads. I would not go below 10K if you plan on taking on larger excavation jobs. You can acutually go up to 14K without gaining anymore width. You will spend money them no getting around it. Of course you want a thumb and quick attach and in addition to a your digging buckets a large clean out bucket 50" or so is awesome. The important thing is spend time demoing before you buy. I cannot over emphasize that. You will also want to move toward a being able to pull both machines at once. It gets old pulling both a skid steer and an excavator to a job. good luck
04-06-2005, 01:28 AM
Kubota mini excavators are prolly the leader in the pack I would stay away from the Bobcat mini's the 6000lb machines I have ran are tippier than you couldn't beleive.
As for Komatsu I'am kinda wondering how the quality is I know one machine in this area I think its a PC-40 and they want 14,000 for a final drive which the machine needs.
A friend of mine has a Kobelco mini its in the 10,000lb range I'am pretty sure he is pleased with his machine I haven't talked to him in awhile.
Cat machines are expensive not many people have Cat around here unless is a dozer or a wheel loader.
With Deere they are no combined with Hitachi so who knows how good their mini excavators are. I know anything from a EX-60 sized machine is still tried and true but anything smaller I don't know.
In this area the smaller mini's are no smaller than 10,000lbs anything smaller is potato patch diggers. If you still want to beable to clear small patches of land or dig house foundations you really need a 10,000lb machine or greater.
The 10,000 and 11,000lb mini excavators have pretty much replaced rubber tired backhoes for doing utility work on peoples property. A mini will go dig where a rubber tired backhoe like a 590 Case will no go.
04-06-2005, 01:47 AM
Thanks for the tips ksss. We don't want to go over 10K in weight, we have a gooseneck trailer but it's horrible to load and dad says he just doesn't want to load on and off of it. Dad has changed his mind today, I hate it when that happens. Say he wants to spend no more than $25,000. I know, I know, don't buy cheap, but if he can't afford one he won't buy one at all. My plan is to look at something for about $20K that is a decent machine that will get us through a couple years then trade up. Like I said, right now an excavator wouldn't get used nearly as much as our skid steer, so it doesn't have to be in completely immaculate condition, but I don't like buying junk. I'm looking at Komatsu, Hitachi, IHI, Yanmar, Takeuchi, maybe a few others. There's a large dealer on the other side of the state that sells TONS of mini ex's for under $20K and I really don't know how they do it. Actually, that link that Krois put up on Machinery Trader is that same dealer I'm talking about. That 98 Komatsu is what they specialize in, alot of machines like that. That machine is basically what we're looking for, a PC 40 or something that size for about $20K. I know a very good diesel mechanic who also has a larger excavation business and if I spot a machine that is worth a look I might take him along to check out the machine.
04-06-2005, 07:34 PM
I know 2 people with grey market Komatsu PC40's and they like them a lot. One has a PC40 with a cab, the other with rops. They are still able to get parts right from komatsu even though they're grey markets. Kitsaps there in WA deals a lot with the grey market machines, maybe try and get a list of people who have purchased PC40's from them and give them a call to see how the machines do, along with running one at the dealership.
I've seen a lot of your posts and i have no clue where you get any of your information from. Final drive for a mini excavator $14k? are you on drugs? My friend bought a brand new final drive for an E120 Cat for $5k from HO Penn in connecticut. Also, how is a machine less than 10k lbs "worthless" in your mind? and mini excavators replacing backhoes for utility work? I highly doubt that.
I think a lot of your information is second hand and deemed worthless IMO.
04-06-2005, 11:04 PM
I work for excavation contractors and have been for awhile now and have been around heavy equipment since I was 15 years old so close to 14 years of working around excavators from 6000lb Bobcat minis to EX-400 Hitachi's.
Mini excavators have pretty much replaced rubber tired hoes for doing septic fields because a mini excavator can crawl down steep slopes a backhoe has no chance of going down. Or you have to trench a water line bettween trees or in a area that is too narrow. Almost every excavation contractor owns a rubber tired hoe but all it gets used for is loading trucks and doing jobs that requires moving job to job.
Here in Canada parts are not cheap the most expensive machine to repair out there is Cat if it says genuine cat your looking at paying double the amount. Its why John Deere and Hitachi is the two most common excavator used in this area from landscaping to forestry that use 300 and 450 sized machines.
Komatsu is just starting to move into the market mainly in the mini machines and up to 158 sized (36,000lbs) which the common size for doing residential jobs like landclearing etc. The 690 John Deere size is also common size so any thing from EX-200 Hitachi. The EX-300 sized machines are too large for residential jobs no one wants a big machine like that tromping around a small property.
The price of the final drive for the Komatsu was told to me by a retired building contractor that owns excavators and dozers to clear property he owns.
Another thing to consider is if you really don't need rubber tracks go for steel tracks they are so much better. I and few other guys have had quite a few scares with mini excavators running rubber tracks on slopes. The machine I was running it would slide like a tobogan the tracks wouldn't grip the surface they spun like tires. Soon as you lifted the front blade the machine liked to take off so I really had to work the boom and blade and tracks to move around. The guys that stick with rubber tracks are the ones that have to deal with concrete or paved driveways and don't do much work on slopes.
The reason why I say a machine under 10,000lbs isn't that good because you need the lifting power to move logs and rocks. I don't mean ****** pole logs and bowling ball sized rocks either.
This is the size of machine the contractor I work for has for doing small jobs
The mini works daily doing septic work and landscaping or digging house foundations pretty much soon as he bought the machine it hasn't really sat in the yard waiting for work. The Kubota that my boss owns has the widest steel tracks that will fit plus has a hydraulic thumb and plumbing for the rock breaker.
04-07-2005, 01:05 AM
Alright guys, here's the update. Well my dad tends to change his mind alot. Today we got the call from our Cat dealer and I didn't even have time to call the dealer with those grey market Komatsu's, I spent 10 hours in our 216. Dad says the dealer will sell 304CR's with 600-800 hours in a price range of the upper 30K, probably around 38K I imagine, with a thumb, mechanical Q/C, canopy. Dealer said a new 304CR would be about 45K so dad is thinking now that 600 less hours and a 1 year warranty is probably worth 7K, plus a 600-800 hour machine is going to come right out of the rental fleet, I don't think anything good can come from that, everyone knows how people treat rental machines. So our sales guy is going to fax some package options up to us tomorrow and give us an idea of a cost. All these machines have hyd. thumbs and mechanical Q/C's, so $45,000 includes the thumb and everything, but I'd like them to setup the aux. hyd. control to the right joystick where it should be, I hate foot control for thumbs. I'd also like a suspension seat, that's good insurance right there, wouldn't have a machine without one. I'd like them to throw that stuff in free, we came in not wanting to spend more than 30K for a machine and if they talk us into a new one I want some haggle items. We don't need a breaker or hoepac or anything like that but maybe another bucket? I think the standard bucket is a 24", but should we get maybe a 36" cleanup bucket? Any opinions for attachments/accessories you guys can point out that I've forgotten please throw some ideas at me. I'm not getting a cab, we just wouldn't be out in the weather that much with it. Thanks for the help guys!
04-07-2005, 02:24 AM
You bet stay away from the rental equipment because 90% of the people that do rent machines feel well its not my machine so why be gentle with it. I would say if the machine belonged to a respectable owner operator then the risk may not be so bad.
Having a machine with a hydraulic thumb and quick connect buckets are worth every penny. A excavator without a thumb is very limited its good for ordinary digging but if you plan on doing rock wall building or demolition work etc a thumb is a must even if its a mechanical one. Quick connect buckets are also a must especially if you switch between a trench,dig and clean up buckets regulary. I know with the machines I work with its clean up and dig buckets all the quick connects we use are mechanical with the wedge bar and bolts alot easier than dealing with pins.
You also will want a machine with full cab so you have door and glass or lexan windows a machine just with a ROPs isn't that good for the winter or snotty weather season. The windows keep the dust off of you if your working in dusty conditions. The full cab also cuts back on the noise you have to deal with.
With the thumb controll have it wired into the right hand joystick the switch on the floor is a PITA especially if you are trying to crawl and do something else.
My IHI was used. I paid 15.5K for it with 900 hours on it (J35-7500 K machine, thumb and one bucket). If you find the right machine, buying used is a good way to go when buying a mini excavator for the first time. The benefit of that is you run it for a while then you know what you want in your next machine. I learned that I needed one size bigger, a quick coupler, and zero tail swing. Right now you don't really know what your needs are. So a low cost entry level machine makes sense. I was in your identical situation when I bought mine. You wont regret buying one. Buying new initially is bold, but depending on the your market it could work for you. I kept my IHI for 4 years and traded it for the TB53 to my CASE dealer and still got 12K in trade (real money).
04-07-2005, 12:00 PM
Some more two cents worth. I did a lot of shopping prior to buying a Bobcat 341, different brands and different sizes. Every time I demoed a smaller machine I was always looking for more digging depth, reach and speed. Now granted, the more you spend the more you get but my rational was I can still get into small areas but now can handle more demanding jobs and don't have to say no as much. I would never consider a smaller machine, just to slow and not enough capacity. As far as the Bobcat brand, its been an awsome machine and still continues to surprise me as to what it can do. One other thing to consider is make sure you are able to get rental attachments that will quick connect to your particular brand of excavator. Ordered mine with a mechanical thumb, 24" and 36" bucket and a grapple bucket.
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