View Full Version : Deciding which mini tracked skidloader to buy

12-10-2005, 05:49 PM
This is my first post on this site. I have read alot of great info already. With the end of the year coming i'm looking to spend some money and want to do so with as much info as possible. I think i'm going to buy a mini tracked loader. My questions are which one and will it really be useful to me. I already have a bobcat S185 cat 257b and a case cx-31 mini excavator? I like the fact that these smaller machines (mini's) are very easy to transport, easy to use and should fill the need of moving materials on smaller jobs without have to transport a 7000lb machine. I have tried the dingo tx413 tx420 don't think they will fit my needs. I just tried the boxer 224 viable tracks with honda engine, I was sure I would love it but as an experianced operator of various equipment it was not easy to operate at all. I didn't think I would want the mt52 but it is looking better everyday (haven't tried it yet) Let me know what you guys think. thanks Jim

Dirty Water
12-10-2005, 05:58 PM
How much does the ASV RC-30 weigh? I know its more in the lines of the bobcat s185, but its still a small machine.

On a side note, I rent a case cx-36 all the time and love it.

12-10-2005, 06:10 PM
I'm not sure the weight of the asv but i want something that will fit threw a 36 gate for the jobs other machines can't do.

12-10-2005, 11:34 PM
I'm not sure the weight of the asv but i want something that will fit threw a 36 gate for the jobs other machines can't do.

Well have a look at the T85 then


12-10-2005, 11:54 PM
Thanks that looks like a nice machine but i want a rubber tracked mini walk behind or ride on unit. anyone have a boxer? did you get used to the controls?

12-10-2005, 11:58 PM
I assume you have had a look at these??


12-11-2005, 02:15 AM
Toro Dingo 425 widetrack. LUV it. The 420 is too small.

Have put a harley rake on the front and it works awesome.
And any idiot can use it.

12-11-2005, 10:06 AM
I'm just not that into the dingos i like the track system they have but that is about it. I want a good hinge pin height to load trucks, Boxer loaded our freightliner fl-60 we had to fold the sides down on our UD 1800 for the dingo 413 and 420 to load it. Bobcat seems to heavy and to has to much ground pressure. I really don't think a need a diesel. I have 7 diesels and I love them! Dad is a diesel mechanic even, but i just don't see us putting the hours on it like a diesel will do (last forever if you mantain it) diesel weight more, higher psi, and I could replace entire gas engine for 1500 bucks if i had to. the ditch witch sk500 looks very nice thanks Yardman you look like a big fan of that unit. My goal is to send this machine out with my guys for mostly landscape installs. tree planting, soil placment, river gravel, basically saving time and money and keeping guys fresh not pushing a wheel barrow all day. I need the tracks to be as smooth as possible for existing turf. I'm still not sure how much or what i'll use the machine for i can see a clear purpose to these machines but my 257b can do about 10 times and amount of material handling and soil placement in the same time, not sure if i'm even intersted in jobs that i have to take a great deal of materials though a 36" gate all day long. if i had to plant 3 trees and go thought a gate that would be a good application but i could put then on a tree cart and not make a mark anywhere, that needs to be clean-up. are there guys on here with skid steers tracked skidloader and mini excavator that use these minis alot??? please let me know. I'm not sure I want to be that guy that hauls mulch around someones property all day long with a dingo dumping little piles here and there, don't see that much more efficent unless you have a huge bucket and all the material is going up hill. You need an operator and these machine cost as much as a labor does to operate when you consider fuel cost, track component wear, depreciation, cost of machine, loading unloading, I think i have become very effiecent at doing things with what we have i just need to picture how it is we will use a mini tracked loader to determine which to buy and if it is worth the investment. thanks Jim

12-11-2005, 10:48 AM
I would advise anyone who is considering buying a miniskidsteer/Dingo to consider the ASV 30. I demoed many of the minis listed here and others but they were simply too unstable and limited. I demoed the ASV and the deal was done. If you're moving soil/materials around or loading a truck with spoilage I guarantee the ASV will do the work in at least 1/2 the time. And you'll feel much safer. I have 2 of the largest Bobcat available but we often leave them back at the shop now because the ASV is so agile and versatile it actually performs many tasks more efficently and it only weighs #3000 instead of #9000. And not only is it light-footed on lawns (just don't spin in circles) but it's virtually impossible to get stuck. I suggest you demo the minis first and then the ASV.
And if you really want to "kick it up a knotch" with efficency buy something like a BriMar dump trailer to haul it with. I have the 14'/6 ton capacity model. I can put 2-3 yards of soil/ crusher run etc. in the front of the dump trailer and load the ASV behind it. I'll bring it to the jobsite, unload the machine and work directly out of the trailer to spread the material or, if I need to remove spoilage from the site, I can dump the material on the road or drive first, then load the spoilage and then move the material. Think of the versatility this brings if you must bring multiple materials to a jobsite. It'll save you from buying that other truck (with the added insurance/gas/repairs..) and hiring that other employee (ie.headaches).

And as far as the width, it's 48." But you have ask yourself how often do you need to go through a 36" gate. On the rare occasions we have to do that I merely take down a section of fence or remove a post. And on those jobs I bet you would still do the job faster with an ASV.

12-11-2005, 11:07 AM
chris thank you very much.........that was very good insite. I do already have a 12' EZ dumper low pro so hauling it would be easy as you just mentioned. hauling the full sized bobcat doesn't work well in the dump trailer. You are right i don't have to go though gates that often and i'm not sure you could really even saftly get though a 36" i would not like letting my guys drive it though one. I'm going on asv web site to find a dealer thanks! Jim

12-11-2005, 12:03 PM
Jim ...first I want to comment on the bobcat s185..I love that machine out of all our skidsteers. It has great ground speed and enough power to do most anything we do ... the S220 we have is great for our tree spade but find it a bit large for some of the yards we are in. We also have an 863 and 853 that I find are in-between them both.
We are die hard bobcat fans but it is mainly because of the great service we get from the dealership.
we have an mt50 as well as the MT55 ..I really haven't looked at the 52.

As the business has grown these little machines have become invaluable and are out on a site almost every single day. The controls on the mt50 are a little hard on the hands but I believe that has changed now. I can't say enough about the 55 ,good controls and it is a little power house..... excellent for tight access jobs . No problem lifting caliper trees. We are fabricating a little tree scoop for it this winter.
For us, once we used these small machines we wondered how we ever got along with out them.

12-11-2005, 02:34 PM
Kris thanks for the insite! I really like my bobcat dealer as well and would like to give them the business, I'm going to try to arrange a demo this week on the mt52. I think poeple thought skid loaders were a joke 20 years ago, and may i'm a little ignorant about these mini track loaders. my goal is as you should to have a machine on every job site and the bobcat would be very easy to transport. Do you find the mt50 easy on turf? if operated correctly? thanks for your knowledge i'll let you know how I make out. thnaks Jim

12-11-2005, 02:46 PM
If i am not mistaken the 52 is replacing the MT50 ...I repeat if it is the old style controls they are hard on employees hands and also the cooling fan is in the bottom of the machine...causing it to fail and then the engine overheats... this has been a major pain for us and late last fall it overheated and the head cracked...just bought a new head last week at a cost of 1k ...sent a letter off to bobcat and Ill see what happens over that... defiantly something worth asking about... it's a stupid spot for the fan.

It is really good on turf if you make long slow turns or a series of 3 points if you, know what I mean ... if we are really concerned about the turf or numerous trips are needed we put plywood down.

6'7 330
12-11-2005, 03:13 PM
Toro Dingo 425 widetrack. LUV it. The 420 is too small.

Have put a harley rake on the front and it works awesome.
And any idiot can use it.

We have two of that same modal ,love them. Very good on jobs in tight areas. On the tight jobs, we do in the city of Chicago, they are much more portable to haul around the city, then the new Holland’s and other skid steers we have.

We love the dingo, and we make very good use of them.

12-11-2005, 07:19 PM
i have the tx 420 and love it to death..

the biggest drawback is the lift height.....HOWEVER... having tipped the thing forward... i now understand why dingo refuses to make the machine lift any higher...

the higher the weight is.. the more unstable the machine is... both side to side and front to back.

we have tipped the unit forward and had a heck of a time getting it back down.. when the unit tipps the low oil sensor kicks in and the motor cits off..
now we had a machine DOA and leaning very much forward.... we had to get 4 guts pulling to get it heading back to level BUT THEN ANOTHER PROBLEM...

since these units are butt heavy.. that heavy butt coming down from that far in the air has a lot of momentum..... the thing almost flipped over backwards......had me very worried...

if the bucket had beed much higher when it tipped we would have had to have used a machine to upright it....

but when working with it i do wish it had a higher lift...but saftey is a concern.

that being said... i feel that for minimal turf dammage that the tx425 ( not the 413 or 420) is by far the best machine.. merely due to the track design and compactness of the unit.

also if you have only used the 413.... it is terrible... the 425 has a much higher lift than the 413....and 3x the capacity..

we have made a small wooden platform that we use when loading trucks... less convenient that a higher lift.. but there is only a 12 inch difference in machines.

all of the brands are awesome machines... but each has it's niche..

12-11-2005, 07:45 PM
In our operaton, the Dingo and most other mini's proved worthless because they can't load a dump truck without building a ramp. 3 machines can do this, and also fit pretty tight spaces. The 463 Bobcat, the LX125 New Holland, and the ASV-30. The ASV is a bit wider, but will out work the others.
I like the concept of the mini's, they are just not for our company. So, you need to list your functions, and prioritize those that you need most, then buy the machine whatever it may be from those.

12-11-2005, 09:34 PM
Yardman i did operate the toro 420 i really liked the controls. I think toro builds a very nice unit but as you have said i just don't like the low dump height. I think boxer the machine i was sure i was going to buy until I operated it has a great hinge pin height but i was concerned about the stability and they don't rate the operating capacity at 35% of tip load but at 50% which is incorrect for tracked machines. I just don't know if i should buy the boxer and just get used to the controls? they operate just like the wheeled dingos and I know guys that can run them very fast. I didn't really negociate price on any of them feeling that i would pick the one a want first then try to get the best price, not base decision on cost all throw 16,900 did sound abit high for a gas boxer. I will be demoing alot this week, we are just about to end our season so i should have time to decide, thanks for great info again guys! Jim

Gilla Gorilla
12-11-2005, 11:39 PM
I have a TX420 Dingo and love it. I never did demo the TX425 because I knew that I would need to get through a fair amount of 36" wide gates. I did demo the Bobcat MT52 and you really can tell that it is a heavier machine than the TX420 plus I did not like the fact that the salesman never came out with the machine to go over it and see if I had any questions about the machine or attachments.

If you have a LOT of time start reading through this old thread about the mini skids, there is a lot of great reading from alot of guys there.


12-12-2005, 02:10 AM
I did not like the fact that the salesman never came out with the machine to go over it and see if I had any questions about the machine or attachments.

Interesting...I went to the NJ Landscapers Convention this past year here in Jersey and I went to the bobcat booth. I informed them our company was looking at purchasing a mini-skid. I explained I was looking at the Dingo TX425 and I would like to get a demo of there MT55 for comparison purposes. He said fine took down my information and grabbed a biz card from me. Never heard boo from him. Honestly, it left a bad taste in my mouth.

Toro on the other hand was like when, where, what attachments would you like me to bring. I dunno, if service is anything like sales...

12-12-2005, 02:44 AM
Ive had bought 2 mt 52 ANd let me tell ya... I dont see how people in this bussiness dont own some kind of skidsteer let along a mini... Its a tank... I know for a fact i push it pass its limits and it just keeps going .. I have about 10 attachments... The one i use the most 4 in 1 ,braker ,trencher.. I also have auger,rototiller and landplane.... Its worth the money I use it everyday this year... This is it first time back @ home yesterday... I havent tried the boxer. The dingo was cool but the support team couple hours away...

12-12-2005, 08:23 AM
In our operaton, the Dingo and most other mini's proved worthless because they can't load a dump truck without building a ramp. 3 machines can do this, and also fit pretty tight spaces. The 463 Bobcat, the LX125 New Holland, and the ASV-30. The ASV is a bit wider, but will out work the others.
I like the concept of the mini's, they are just not for our company. So, you need to list your functions, and prioritize those that you need most, then buy the machine whatever it may be from those.

the boxter will lift higher than the asv rc30

12-12-2005, 08:27 AM
Yardman i did operate the toro 420 i really liked the controls. I think toro builds a very nice unit but as you have said i just don't like the low dump height. I think boxer the machine i was sure i was going to buy until I operated it has a great hinge pin height but i was concerned about the stability and they don't rate the operating capacity at 35% of tip load but at 50% which is incorrect for tracked machines. I just don't know if i should buy the boxer and just get used to the controls? they operate just like the wheeled dingos and I know guys that can run them very fast. I didn't really negociate price on any of them feeling that i would pick the one a want first then try to get the best price, not base decision on cost all throw 16,900 did sound abit high for a gas boxer. I will be demoing alot this week, we are just about to end our season so i should have time to decide, thanks for great info again guys! Jim

you can get the gas var track for around $14K.
they came down to $16500.00 for the diesel

the ditch witch had the two joystick control for the drive but the single 4 way joystick for the boom control... and has the same lift height as the boxer.. also the tracks can be manually widened and narrowed..(a bit of work though)..

12-12-2005, 09:25 AM
Yard man i just got off the phone with ditch witch. That machine is starting to look like the best for me. You can adjust the tracks from 36-42" it does require some manual work jacking it up and removing 4 bolts but at least you have that option. They also offer and turf track, highest hinge pin height, good honda engine (honda always the best imo) Better controls then boxer (they couldn't be worse) and he said they sell between 13-14K I hope he doesn't say I quoted you and 300 or 350 model than say 20k. That is alot of machine for 14k you know what i mean. I called about the asv rc-30 but i doubt i would buy that. Let me know what you think. Jim

12-12-2005, 09:49 PM
the dw is a great machine...
they were $22k list when we looked at them.. but they came down to $14,500 but were really high on the attachments.. the same package was almost $5k more with the DW than the dingo (the main reason we boought the dingo).

keep in mind that to use the more narrow adjustments you also have to buy and switch tracks from the 9" to the 7" tracks.. you cannot use the same track......
not something you will want to do often.. but still a very nice option..

the main problem with the asv rc30 was the size of it.. it is MUCH longer of a machine, and a lot heavier....
and when using ANY skid type machine climbing in and out of the unit is a pain..

I work by myself alot on installs and i can just step off the back if i need to grab or move something or hook something up... the asv is a pain to crawl out of.. and if the boom is up halfway you cannot get out safely.

I would just buy the rc50 instead..

12-12-2005, 10:07 PM
Yeah After talking to the asv dealers......they talked me out of the machine. This reminds me of shopping for a cell phone company, they all have great features but also have major downfalls. I think i'm going to find the mt52 to heavy. The ditch witch to loud and if i don't go with the 7" tracks to keep it at 36" when I need it I should just get the mt55! Yard man do you or anybody else really drive these machine though 36" gates??? seems all condition would have to be perfect and I would only want to do it a few times. I would never drive my 257b through a 69" opening! (68" machine) Thanks bud. Jim

12-12-2005, 11:44 PM
I demoed the boxer, both tracked dingo's and Ditch Witch SK 500 and bought the SK 500 3 weeks ago. I love it! It dumps high enough to dump debris in a roll away dumpster while fitting through 3' gates. I move a lot of decorative gravels and bought the "Light materials bucket" rated for bark and mulch. It moves between 2-3 wheelbarrows at a time! If anyone has questions, call me @ 435-619-1977 or PM me @ scottjuls@yahoo.com.

12-13-2005, 07:14 PM
the dw is surely a sweet machine
i had a hard time deciding on the dingo and the sk500

the $5K price difference, the exposed hudro lines to the wheel motors, and the type of turf tread on the tracks are what swayed me....

if i had to buy again i would still have a hard time deciding... the dw is really nice.......

12-14-2005, 04:11 PM
when the DW dealer brought a sk500 out today. What a gem :eek: It was a 2 year old model, very well used full of mud, things broken on it, air filter hanging off couldn't answer half my questions! But to the machine......hmm now the choice is getting even harder, I'm not sure I really like the turf tracks they offer and the drive motors :nono: what where they thinking? If i'm operating it the motors really don't bother me, but how long to you think it will take to get the phone call......yumm yumm Jim ahh the hydraulic stuff is running out from some where? real bad design. I can honestly say I don't think anyone make what I would call the best all around machine, each machine is very different with a few simalarities. I'll let you know what i decide

12-14-2005, 05:41 PM
There is one other machine you should try. Contact Chestnut Oaks for his opinion.

12-14-2005, 07:46 PM
I know you say you talked to an ASV dealer but did you actually demo one. That's where you'll see and feel the difference. Really get into a pile of dirt or do some serious excavating (not just putting around with a scoop of mulch). You'll see it's a built to be used as a "construction" not a "groundskeeping" piece of equipment. There's a reason Cat bought the ASV track system.
Now, you may be using it for "light" installation work but remember most people end up getting into more serious work as they grow (remember that first 1/2 ton we all started with). The ASV is a machine you can grow into. We are constantly finding new work for it to do. It blew me away how quickly and accurately I could excavate a 3-4' wide walk and lay in the base. Much quicker than with my Bobcat A300. And we used the forks to rip out some rather large bushes and trees because the traction is terrific. And I can work up and down some steep inclines. Would you really want to do that with a stand-on machine?
Again, I've tried Dingos and Bobcat walkbehinds. Production- and safety- wise there's no comparison. But maybe they shouldn't be compared. They are actually in different classes. The ASV is actually in a class between the walk behind/ride ons and actual full-sized skidsteers. It's like comparing a Ford Ranger to an F350. Yes, the Ranger can occasionally fit into spots where the F350 can't and it costs less but... eventually I bet you wish you had bought the F350 instead.

12-14-2005, 07:59 PM
PS- Here's a site I found that has a comparison chart of all skidsteers. http://www.igin.com/Landscaping/lanscapingsub/pageMiniSkidSteerChart.html
Might help. But, again, demo..demo..demo...demo... You could compare the specs on a Hyundai and a Lexus and not think there's much difference but a demo would say otherwise.

12-14-2005, 11:13 PM
you are totally right chris, dem is the only way to know what something is like. I just want to say on a slightly didn't topic...For any of you going alot of hardscaping as we do the mini excavator is the best machine ever invented. I do so much more with that machine then i could have even dreamed of. I have a 36" smooth bucket to dig out sidewalks and patios so i'm not go to use a mini skid for that purpose as long is the mini ex fits. I have a hydraulic thumb that I have demoed a mobile home with and can pick-up glass bottles it can be that nimble. I have the ASV system on my cat 257b, I agree that there is nothing that comes close to it in several areas. I think there i a huge differnce between a ride on asv and a walkbehind ditch witch. I think tomorrow i'll go look at the asv.

east sooke man
12-15-2005, 01:09 AM
Has anyone tried the vemeer mini track,it seems to have the highest hinge pin at 80 ", gas or diesel, 7" or 9" tracks, and claims to have an ergonomically comfortable controls, I haven't seem one, but their write-up looks good.

12-15-2005, 07:12 AM
boxer and dw are 81"

12-15-2005, 09:08 AM
Jimbo046, I've seen a few guys excavating a walk with a mini-ex. as you described but, help me here if you can, I don't get it. I closely watched one guy do it and if I couldn't do it in 1/3 the time with the ASV I'd be shocked.
First off, the ASV bucket is 48" instead of 36" and the ground speed of the ASV is much greater. I excavate the spoilage, back up and dump it directly into the dump. And once the walk is excavated I load the materials either off the ground or from the back of the truck and install the base. One machine and operator does it all. If the excavator has a smaller bucket capacity and a MUCH slower ground speed how could it do it faster?
And the nice thing about the ASV is that I have a direct line of site to the cutting edge of the bucket(as opposed to my larger skidsteers) and it's only about 5 feet from my eyes. That makes for precision excavating.
And, in case you wondered, if the soil is shale or hardpan, just scarifiy it first with the forks and then excavate. But the machine, with it's tremendous traction, rarely has that problem.

12-15-2005, 08:49 PM
i agree that i think excavation with a MTL would be faster.

12-15-2005, 10:19 PM
well if fast as you can is the goal i'm sure it could be done faster than i do it. Not to sound cockey but you'll never good as good of a job. I can do it as fast as possible if you are constantly checking grade. We excavate very accuraltey, uniform base thickness is paramount. We mark out the job set bench marks as I strip topsoil and swing the excavtor around dumping right into a dump truck and returning to the work in seconds. As i'm dumping one guy checks grade pitch fall what ever you call it and if we have a third guy he cuts the edges and rakes anyloose soil missed. I can do all that about 10' at a time with out moving the machine, tracks never dig in or rut. I could be done faster but our system works for us....and you can't quick change the bucket then dig a footer for a retaining wall, then dig a 12" trench for a downspout? I can put the auger on the mini and dig post holes with enough down pressure to stall about any auger out there. I'll reach over and pull a shrub out with the thumb with anybucket on............and the best thing all this can be done without moving the machine. To me the mini excavator is the best all arond machine have hardscaping. We tear out alot of concrete slabs to replace with pavers i can pickup a 1,000 pound slab with the thumb and set it right in the back of one of our dumps. I did a $21,000 paver job and never brought one of our skidloaders to jobsite. Machine is great for fixing yards as well when it is very muddy I can dry out the soil very easily because i don't have to backdrag the mud I can sit in place and work the soil. I can see a use for every piece of equipment made I just have to find the one that work best for us. I strongly believe in electric over hydraulic dumps, that is what all my trucks have, they are slow they can't lift as much but for under $200.00 I can have a new pump motor installed or a whole power unit for 350.00 and it takes 5 bolts to mount and install. Have someone tear your trans out because they didn't care or know how to operate the PTO. We have wireless remotes that 1 guy can operate a machine and dump the truck from the seat of machine... trucks have coal chutes to load right into a skid loader bucket. what works for you may not work or be excepted buy others, i could type the rest of the night tell you things that a mini excavator can do, My advice to all when you buy equipment is what can you do with it??? it sounds like a dumb question but ask yourself. That question is why I don't invest in lawnmowers, wood chippers, or strawblowers to name a few. our plate compactors are the least versitile equipment we own. I'm amazed at the guys that cut grass around hear with a 40,000 truck 3,000 trailer and 20,000 in mowers add trimmers baggers dump unit etc. for $65,000 you can cut a lawn about 25 times a year max! I'm sure he puts a plow on the truck what do you do with that March through december? add 3,500 to that total and it doesn't even snow next year!!!!!!!!! Is that why every spring there are 10-20 new guys driving those new trucks around? I know that is why 15 companies disappear a year. I think i' getting off track here.........I just get fired up because eveyone wants to be or is a landscaper, and now I see guys that have been doing a great job doing maintenence starting to do Hardscaping and calling themselves landscape designers. Nothing fires me up more than good materals with poorworkmanship. I've seen jobs that I couldn't believe the contractor got paid for and the customer is happy! I cut grass for a guy when I was in highschool so I know alittle about that industry as well, and there are professionals and junkies in lawn care and hardscape/landscape industries, I just want to see all the green industries become more professional and contractors to realize they reflect me and I reflect on them. Forums like this are great and thanks to all of you that have responded to my thread. Jim

12-16-2005, 10:17 AM
If you have a well trained operator a mini X and ride on wheel barrows will blow the time of any tracked machine out of the water. The main reason is the same large earth movers are cutting times using excavators and off road trucks. The excavator stays put and does all the digging. The off road truck hauls 60-80 yards of materials to wherever it has to be reolocated. when you compare to a scraper, the scraper does the cutting and the hauling, and it can't cut while it hauls.

If you did that with a tracked loader and used the loader for the vehicle to move the soil, you can't dig with it. By loading ride on 21 cubic foot wheel barrows the mini x sits tight and just digs. The wheel barrows move. We have cut times in half doing like that. you could do the same thing using the loader to move while the mini x just dug, just not as fast.

12-16-2005, 11:41 AM
I agree bill it is much faster and you can do a better job.

12-16-2005, 08:48 PM

Are you talking about the powered wheel barrows

12-16-2005, 09:06 PM

Are you talking about the powered wheel barrows

yes. Ingersol-Rand brand

12-17-2005, 01:51 PM
Uni, How do you get the spoilage into the trucks? Do you dump it on the ground and then reload it into the truck? And then how do you install the crush stone for the base?
And I agree you could excavate a walk faster with one person on an excavator and a seperate person removing the spoilage. But that doesn't mean you can do it in less man hours. I leave one man at a job site with the ASV and a dump truck. He dumps the crusher run on the drive, excavates the walk, loads the spoilage into the dump and then installs the base.
In reply to some to some of the points Jimbo made. As I said earlier, excavating a walk with the ASV allows for much more precision than with a large skidsteer (I have the Bobcat A300). We do all excavating and base installations using a one-man laser level, we don't just wing it.
And as far as versatility, for digging the 12" trenches you mention I merely quick change to the forks and either put both forks next to each other or simply remove one and as I back up over the trench line push it into the ground and quickly "flick" a trench. And you can switch to a quick change auger (up to 30") for drilling trees or smaller for fence posts. And, remember in that instance, if you only had an excavator,you would also need a seperate piece of equipment (or 2 laborers) to move the trees, fence posts whatever. I would just quick change to the forks and, BY MYSELF, would pick up and layout the materials. And, yes I have ball carts but no one want to use them if the ASV is available so we rarely use them anymore. Lastly, for removing shrubs and 1000# slabs of concrete etc., I merely pop them out with the forks (the larger plants will require you to break loose the outside roots first) and then load them directly into the truck. Again, one man, no help or tying up required.
I could certainly see where an excavator would help when prepping for a large retaining wall, especially where the soil was bad. However, what we tend to do on these large retaining wall projects that require alot of excavation is to dig back to the required depth with the A300 and then "scuff out" for the base with either the bucket for the A300 or use the ASV and touch up the trench by hand. But, if you had alot of curves, the excavator would be nice.
I had fully planned on buying a mini-excavator a few years ago but so far I have not been able to justify the $30-35K price tag. Even my lead equipment operator, who over the past 30 years has operated some of the largest loaders and excavators made, agrees that there really no need. I have a quick attach backhoe for the A300 for when we really need a hoe. A nice feature of that is that you can reposition the machine while sitting on the backhoe seat by just reaching back and using the machine's hand control. No climbing in and out to move the machine. And it has some serious digging force. But even that seems to rarely get used. Perhaps our needs are unique. We do all design/build with 50% hardscape but don't install massive walls or elaborate drainage systems, which may be where the mini-ex. comes in handy.
And, Jimbo, if you decided to get the ASV30 what would be nice is that you could probably put both your mini-ex and the ASV on one trailer because it only weighs 3,000. And, if you do buy one and become proficent with it, don't be surprised if sometimes the mini and the "third guy (who) cuts the edges and rakes any loose soil missed", as you stated, stays back at the shop. You may even tell the "second guy that checks the levels" to go help plant or install the gutter lines instead. My operator can do all the excavating and base installation himself, while only briefly stopping to check and mark grades with the one man laser level.

12-17-2005, 08:08 PM
We run spoils two ways. First, we dump near the truck, then pick it back up with the 257 and into the truck. Our trailers carry 2 power buggies, a mini X and a 257. Or, we have made a ramp where the buggy drives right into the back of the truck to dump.

For hand excavations in the tight spaces (45" wide entry) we would use jack hammers and wheel barrows. For 2100 square feet in expansible clay, the task took 160 man hours.

With the mini X and power buggy, we use 32 man hours and 32 machine hours between the 257, buggies and mini x.

Time to run and fill base is 16 hours for transport and compaction.

So, combining the 3 pieces of equipment have shaved times tremendously. By figuring man hours vs machine time, we have been able to lay off people, which means no more paychecks, rather machine payments, which, don't require workmans comp, need vacations, or get sick. At this projected rate, we will pay for the mini x in 3 months.

12-17-2005, 10:27 PM
if u are really good with the mini x i can see the using it....
I am not that good with one.. i attach my rod and lazer level reciever to my bucket and start cutting away.

12-18-2005, 09:35 PM
Chris I see you are from NY, Will you be going to Atlantic city for the EPhenry Mahts show this february? If so I would love for you to share your pallet fork excavating method with some of the top retaining wall companies in the country. LOL i'm not trying to be mean......you made some good points on a few things and maybe you won't be as tired using your forks rather than a pick but come on you would have tons of hand work to complete a footer for a retaing wall. the minimun excavation for any retaining wall be it 12 high would be 11" for us could be 2-3' in some cases even deeper. Your backhoe on your bobcat300 can do almost anything a mini excavator can do....just like a ford ranger and do anything an f-550 can do it will just take you about 3 times as long. If you had a mini ex you would feel the same way trust me. I think the ASV is a great machine and I would love to have one....I just can't have everything, adding a asv would give me 3 skidloaders I just don't have the operators for all that equipment......I'm not sure I'll even buy a mini tracked skidloader this year, we did a quarter of a million in sales this year with what we have equipment wise with 1 full time guy, a summer guy, and 1 part timer, my evening secretary and myself I want to stay small and profitable. I really can see the advanages of having equipment and I love having toys! I'm going to write another business plan this winter to see where i'm at and decide where i'm headed. What I need now is a highly quaified foreman. I'm finding myself really having a tough time with employees laborers for the first time to this degree. I'm just amazed at how bad of decidions this employees can make in there lives. I have a guy that is new is 20 years old lives at home has a cell phone bill and 120.00 loan payment a month that is it. He doesn't drink doesn't do drugs brings home 320.00 a week minimum and doesn't have money for lunch by tuesday? not a dollar to his name! didn't go to college and has no skills? Now its the middle of december and he wants more money....is he asking me to fire him? His car broke down twice he ran out of gas once and just last week in a snow storm he decided after work i stead i driving home about 25mins away to drive to his girlfriends house 105mins away. and guess what???? he wrecked his car big suprise right. the car doesn't look that bad but its totaled only worth about 4k and guess what else he paid his car loan off about 3 months ago with apersonal loan that didn't need to be secured with the title. you all know what he did.......he dropped the comp/coll so now he owes 6000 on a loan has a car that won't pass inspection and he says....o well i didn't like the car that much. he just lost 4k!!!! that would make me sick even if a had 40k in the bank. I guess I should give him 15 an hour i'm sure he life would be fine then........right?

12-19-2005, 04:04 PM
Jimbo, I must not have made myself clear. The idea for the "pallet fork excavating method", as you describe it, was not related to excavating a trench for a large retaining wall. Instead, it was in response to how your mini could "dig a 12" trench for a downspout." I was trying to compare the verstility of the two machines.
Are there specific things the mini can do better. Of course. But the reason I pointed out how the ASV can do all the things you listed was in response to the statement you made that, "For any of you doing alot of hardscaping as we do the mini excavator is the best machine ever invented." I believe you're saying that if you could only choose one piece of equipment for hardscaping/landscaping it would be an mini. I disagree. On a day-in and day-out basis the ASV will increase your OVERALL productivity more.
There are certainly unique instances, like the one Uniscaper described that, because of the 45" opening and the ASV's 48" width, the mini would be indispensible. But in 20 years I've never run into that situation. If I did, I might rent one (and the power dumps) for a day. And if you notice, using that same comparison for a normal job, such as a front walk (which we do almost every week) his system would use a mini, one (or two) power wheel barrows and a 257 and at least 2 men all day. I would have just the ASV and one man. That's probably $75K of equipment vs. $25K and one man. Or your system, which had 3 men.
And on a larger job, say a back patio over 300sq. ft.(which is typical), I would first use the ASV300 (w/turf tires) to do the "rough" excavation and then bring in the ASV to fine tune it for the last few inches. I would also use the A300 to bring in the pallets and bulk of the base and the ASV spread the base material close enough so that very little hand raking is required. It's also used to fine tune the grade around the patio.
The last 2 jobs we did this year stress what I just said. First job was front walk 40 feet long and a total of 225 sq. ft. I drop off my man, a dump with the base material and sand and the ASV at the site at 9:00. I come back at noon (after doing a few estimates and picking up the pavers) he has the site excavated, the base installed, sand screeded and all surrounding grading done, as well as removed and replanted 6 shrubs, and all spoils are on the dump. (By the way he's 52 year's old.) By 4:00, with my help, the pavers and edging are installed, all 80 linear feet of cuts done and polymer sand swept in. Just him and I (and I spent the morning doing estimates).
On the second example we had to do a 700 sq. ft. rear patio near the foundation that would be framed up with 50 linear feet of retaining walls. This time at 9:00 I left my man alone with the ASV and the A300. I again left to go do estimates. I returned at 1:00 and using both machines and the method I described above for patios, about 25-30 yards of soil had been excavated and used to use to create a berm 100 feet away. He then began to shuttle in the base material (a tandem load of crusher run which had been dumped 150 feet away) to the patio area while I spread and graded it with the ASV. We were done with the base for both the patio and the wall and all rough and final grading by 4:00. And, again, with just one man and me (for 1/2 the day, since I got all my estimating done in the morning).
On a side note... It was interesting how this thread started out with a comparison between different miniskid steer (dingo, boxer...) and ended up with the ASV pitted against the combination of a mini/powered wheelbarrows & 257. It went from a one-on-one to a three-on-one. Where did the miniskid guys go?

12-19-2005, 04:50 PM
I'm sure where the mini guys went either?? I'm refering to to the mini as my case cx-31 a 7,000lb mini excavator that is 60" wide. Chris I can see you are very excited and very pleased with your machine choice. I would just have to say that you must really crack the whip on your 52 year old worker. the amount of time you are spending on your base doesn't seem to be very much, just remember the base is the most important part of the project by far!! don't go to fast.

12-19-2005, 07:28 PM
Actually no I don't crack the whip on him. He works no more than 5 days a week and averages about 35 hours a week. Besides, ninety percent of the time he's unsupervised. He's pretty much his own boss. But because he knows how to use the equipment (and I provide him with the proper equipment), he doesn't need to work hard AND the work is done efficently. What you misunderstand is that the MACHINE is doing the work not his back. The ASV is so nimble, precise and versatile there's little need for hand work.... But I'm sure he'll chuckle when I tell him you're concerned about him. Although I probably shouldn't tell him how some landscapers (wink) use 3 workers to do what he does by himself in one day. He might want a raise... LOL, I'm not trying to be mean (as you say).
And trust me, I know the importance of the base. It's not rocket science. Again, I've been doing this for 20 years and I'm almost all design/build with most work being word-of-mouth. You don't get to that point without stressing quality.

Dirty Water
12-19-2005, 11:03 PM
Chris: Have you ever operated a mini-excavator?

I think your opinion of their speed and versatility would change greatly if you did.

12-20-2005, 06:32 PM

i operate them all the time.. and they are really versatile.. but i agree whit chris.. if i could only buy one piece ( the situation i was in last year) i wouold not choose the mini x

12-20-2005, 06:49 PM
Jon, Yes I've used them quite a few times and my main operator, over the past 30 years, has operated minis up to large excavators used to dig foundations and ponds. He loves equipment as much I do. But he agrees that for us it would rarely get used. They were handy in a few unique situations. But for 95% of our work their not as efficent and versatile. Again, if you do alot of big walls or drainage work or digging near a foundation they might be justified.
So John, yes I have used minis. Have you used an ASV30?
The reason I entered this discussion was to show people there was another choice when you're considering to buy a miniskidsteer (not mini excavators). I can't imagine anyone using an ASV30 for a few days, then trying a Dingo and deciding they were comparing apples and apples.

12-20-2005, 08:48 PM
Toget back to the mini this thread was start about...........I demoed a new vermeer 600 tx that has been the fastest, most versatile machine i have used so far. Chris I think that the cut off line for me is 36" if you can drive something through a 3' gate the asv would be to bigger and not the best machine (without tearing a section down I KNOW!!!!!!!!! someone will say that), but the wide track dingo or bobcat mt55 you're right without even operating it i would agree they couldn't come close to the asv. I think i'm buying a Mitsubishi FG-140 and if i see the need for a mini skidloader someday i'll buy one but now I don't need one.