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View Full Version : Best machine to use for leveling, pavers, stone


greatlawns
06-26-2007, 05:45 PM
Hey guys, I'm fairly new to hardscaping, so I just wanted to get some opinions on the best equipment to use for clearing/leveling areas. I only want to get one machine and wanted to get input so I don't make a mistake. There's been times that I've bought equipment only to find that I could/should have gotten something different, had I had the experience to know better.

For this general purpose (plus the occasional big mulch job, re-grading a lawn, moving stone around, etc) would you recommend a skid steer or something like a compact Kubota front end loader to get the job done best? I am looking to get the most versatile all-around machine that has the most uses. Both have their pros and cons so I'm asking the experts.

What do you all think?

mrusk
06-26-2007, 06:47 PM
Get a skid steer and never look back. If you ever need to do alot of excavating for a wall or something, just sub it out.

kreft
06-26-2007, 07:31 PM
Skidsteer!!!!!!!!!tons Of Attachments To Get The Job Done!

waltero
06-26-2007, 09:13 PM
The problem with hardscaping is that all of the pallets are very heavy. If you get a machine it should be the largest one that you can afford. You will have to be able to excavate the area be it a patio, walkway, wall, or anything else. bring all the materials in and move the pallets around.

Now I come from a different background then most in that I started with a tractor with a loader and backhoe. Tractors don't have enough power for hardscaping but I just picked up this year a Ingersoll-rand BL-570 Backhoe/Loader and I have to say that it does all I need for hardscaping. I haven't used a skid very much so again, I look at this from a different point of view. The BL-570 is just like a bobcat in that they made almost an identical model for bobcat, quick attach bucket, x-change system, hydraulics both front and rear and I have loads of power. I have some other post about it with a pdf of the specs if you want to look at it.

I find that with a machine like this I can do almost everything a skid could do and a mini-ex. I paid $28,000 for mine with 67 hrs on the meter. The only two negative things that I can say about the machine is that it can be a little top heavy but I can swing the backhoe around to counter that, and it is heavy at almost 10,000 lbs. But for the price I can deal with those and any machine that you will get will have some good points and bad points. Let me know if you want more info, I actually know where there is another one that is a good price.

forestfireguy
06-26-2007, 09:50 PM
Go with a skidsteer and keep going, buy a track machine if you can swing the extra coin. I would strongly advise not taking the route of "I can always buy the over the tire tracks if I need them". Those machines, though better than tires have nothing on a true track unit. We run a t300 and are in the process of buying a t190, we will keep an 873 with tires for running on pavement when needed. The only other thing I can say, and I have no fact to back this is that machines with tires have better ground speed, but for traction which you'll need to dig,grade, push boulders, etc, you can't beat tracks, same as far as lift, another thing my boss swears to and I have not investigated is that a t190 is essentially the same machine as an old 773, except that equipped with tracks it lifts and additional 1,000 pounds.

forestfireguy
06-26-2007, 09:50 PM
Matt,

Who are you using for any excavating you need????

Dirty Water
06-26-2007, 09:59 PM
If you buy a CTL, do the math and figure out the Cost Per Hour. The additional undercarriage costs make it a much higher figure, while you may only need a tracked machine for 1 out of every 10 hours you run it.

Tracks are sexy, but not always a financially practical solution.

waltero
06-26-2007, 10:36 PM
If you buy a CTL, do the math and figure out the Cost Per Hour. The additional undercarriage costs make it a much higher figure, while you may only need a tracked machine for 1 out of every 10 hours you run it.

Tracks are sexy, but not always a financially practical solution.

I agree, this is his first machine and I doubt he needs a tracked machine.

The biggest problem with getting into this kind of work is the cost of tools, machines, trucks, insurance, etc.... Not everyone needs a tracked machine. I was interested in getting a skid and a mini-ex, but good luck brought me a loader backhoe for only $28,000. The biggest factor in my purchase was how much machine I got for the dollars that I spent. To buy a new skid/mini-ex with the same powers would have put me closer to $100,000.00 and I admit they would have been better, but at what cost and more importantly, what return would I see on my investment. Everyone is different, I am for the most part run a very small crew, but if you run larger crews and get many more jobs per year and can keep those machines busy, it may pan out for you.

It sounds like you want a good all around machine, skid steer is probably your best option, Kubota/John Deere tractors are nice but are not very useful for hardscaping. If you want to be able to dig also, maybe a machine like mine will work for you. Look at the specs and compare them up against any other machine and see how it stacks up. I am not saying it is for everyone but it is a good solid machine that is capable of doing 95% of the work out there that is involved in hardscapes. The other times when a tracked machine is needed it is best just to rent it for that small period of time. Again, everyone is different so you have to look at your needs.

greatlawns
06-27-2007, 09:50 AM
Thanks guys for all the info. Do any of you use any backhoe, auger attachments for planting trees or digging to any depth? If so, how do the attachments for a skid compare to using a traditional backhoe?

Any skid steer brands you can recommend? Engine size to look for? Diesel or gas engine? Things to look for or watch out for?

I'm looking for something fairly cheap. I certainly can't afford a nice $25,000 machine, so I'm going to have to pick something used. So, my choices of brands is limited to what's available used, but do you have any suggestions for brands/models/options to look for. There are so many out there, what's the best route to go?

Thanks!

STL Ponds and Waterfalls
06-27-2007, 10:07 PM
I would try to stay with the company that you get your mowers from, asumming they sell excavating equipment. That way you are getting better service since you have a relationship already built.

I sub all my excavating out and rent a MT55/Dingo when needed. You just have to weigh your situations pros and cons.

etwman
06-28-2007, 05:09 PM
You really want the cat's meow. Here's what you do. Buy a decent size skid loader. We just ran a new CAT 262C with a Loegering VTS track system. Let me tell you, this is hands down the way to go with hardscaping. I don't care who says what. May not necessarily need the CAT, another decent size skid loader will work. Loegering has it figured out. We jacked it and gunned the tracks off at our shop, regunned the tires back on in less than 1 hour. Use the track system in the spring and fall when its wet, back to the tires in the summer/winter. This system is far better than a permanent track system, you can lift more because it distrubutes its weight further back. You don't burn tracks up when its dry, and further more if you have a track go down you're not SOL. Jack it up, gun it off, tires back on, go get your tracks fixed. With hardscaping you never put a ton of hours on a machine. Go get a used skidloader with 1000 hours or so on it and get this system. Shoot get two skidders that are identical and have a track system that'll fit either one. I'd bet you'd have no more than $25k - $30k in both. Does it last? Darn right it does. I've talked to guys that have run them hard for three years and they are more reliable than stock systems. Once you go tracks you'll never want to go back when the conditions are right for them.

This is the route were headed in.

http://www.loegering.com/

D Felix
06-28-2007, 06:35 PM
We are currently set up with a JD 4300 tractor w/ front end loader and a Ditch Witch SK500 mini-skid. As much as I'd like to have a mini-ex, I think we will be looking very hard at a wheel loader (articulated) or a smaller tele-boom-type of machinery as our next purchase.

Everyone thinks skidsteers are the way to go. They definately have their place, but for what we do, with a fair amount of work on and around established turf, a skidsteer would tear up the grass quite a bit. A wheel loader will eliminate a lot of that issue, and have essentially the same capacity and attachments. Most of our digging is done with the SK, and it just got faster today after I finished putting teeth on the 44" bucket. :)

We'd still like to have a mini-ex, but something big enough to move 4000 pound skids is what needs to be bought next.

kreft
06-28-2007, 07:26 PM
You really want the cat's meow. Here's what you do. Buy a decent size skid loader. We just ran a new CAT 262C with a Loegering VTS track system. Let me tell you, this is hands down the way to go with hardscaping. I don't care who says what. May not necessarily need the CAT, another decent size skid loader will work. Loegering has it figured out. We jacked it and gunned the tracks off at our shop, regunned the tires back on in less than 1 hour. Use the track system in the spring and fall when its wet, back to the tires in the summer/winter. This system is far better than a permanent track system, you can lift more because it distrubutes its weight further back. You don't burn tracks up when its dry, and further more if you have a track go down you're not SOL. Jack it up, gun it off, tires back on, go get your tracks fixed. With hardscaping you never put a ton of hours on a machine. Go get a used skidloader with 1000 hours or so on it and get this system. Shoot get two skidders that are identical and have a track system that'll fit either one. I'd bet you'd have no more than $25k - $30k in both. Does it last? Darn right it does. I've talked to guys that have run them hard for three years and they are more reliable than stock systems. Once you go tracks you'll never want to go back when the conditions are right for them.

This is the route were headed in.

http://www.loegering.com/


Got any pics of the 262c with the Loegering VTS track system?

kreft
06-28-2007, 07:31 PM
Thanks guys for all the info. Do any of you use any backhoe, auger attachments for planting trees or digging to any depth? If so, how do the attachments for a skid compare to using a traditional backhoe?

Any skid steer brands you can recommend? Engine size to look for? Diesel or gas engine? Things to look for or watch out for?

I'm looking for something fairly cheap. I certainly can't afford a nice $25,000 machine, so I'm going to have to pick something used. So, my choices of brands is limited to what's available used, but do you have any suggestions for brands/models/options to look for. There are so many out there, what's the best route to go?

Thanks!


We have a bradco backhoe for our L185 I think it digs to a depth of 10'

waltero
06-28-2007, 10:55 PM
We are currently set up with a JD 4300 tractor w/ front end loader and a Ditch Witch SK500 mini-skid. As much as I'd like to have a mini-ex, I think we will be looking very hard at a wheel loader (articulated) or a smaller tele-boom-type of machinery as our next purchase.

Everyone thinks skidsteers are the way to go. They definately have their place, but for what we do, with a fair amount of work on and around established turf, a skidsteer would tear up the grass quite a bit. A wheel loader will eliminate a lot of that issue, and have essentially the same capacity and attachments. Most of our digging is done with the SK, and it just got faster today after I finished putting teeth on the 44" bucket. :)

We'd still like to have a mini-ex, but something big enough to move 4000 pound skids is what needs to be bought next.


D Felix,

Check out the pdf file on this machine. It has the four wheel steering, all wheel drive and unless the ground is wet it doesn't do very much damage. I think it is a very good machine for doing hardscapes, the specs on the front end are better then most if not all skids and the breakout force is up there also. The backhoe specs are also impressive with only 3 of the largest bobcat excavators more powerful. The other plus is that it will accept bobcat attachments both front and rear so I can run a soil conditioner, rotary broom, etc on the front and I can use a hammer, auger, etc on the hoe. I can load a tri-axle with the front end loader and the backhoe has a 12' dig depth and has 15' of reach. It is a big improvement over the kubota's reach even thought it is only an extra 3'.

Many people like the skid and mini-ex, and I'm not putting them down, but you have to keep these machines busy to make them pay for themselves. I am not a large of a company as many others on this site, but I was looking for something that gave me the ability to take on all kinds of work and be able to get the job done with minimal renting. I have the Kubota and it is a good machine but when it comes to lifting it is like a 80lb kid to a 250lb man when compared to the new machine. I was thinking of keeping the Kubota but I may just have to let it go.

I know many people like the tracked machines and it is great if you can afford them. There are other cost with them that I think many people don't look at. I think what ETWMAN is working on is a good setup, but I don't think that I need a tracked machine for the work I do in my area. I generally don't run into problems, but I also don't have a skid. It is just an example that everyone is different and so are their needs.

My biggest point is that everyone has to look at their needs and figure out the best solution. For myself I found that I liked to have the backhoe on the machine and I didn't want to give that up with a skid. Now I found a machine that will work like a skid and have great digging power also. I didn't have to give anything up.


ETWMAN - Do you still have your JCB? You can probably understand the whole backhoe thing being that you had/have one on the JCB. It is a nice thing to be able to do the digging for a retaining wall and such.
Walter

waltero
06-28-2007, 11:01 PM
here is the post with the pdf file. I forgot to add it.


http://www.lawnsite.com/showthread.php?t=183316

D Felix
06-28-2007, 11:47 PM
I'll have to look into it. Thanks for the info.

The main problem I have with a backhoe for doing retaining walls is the inability to turn 180 degrees (or more) to selectively dump the bucket where you want. For pavers it would probably be OK, but for walls and close-in detail digging (such as against a house for drain lines), you can't beat a mini-ex...

ChampionLS
06-29-2007, 12:38 AM
Show me one machine... any machine whether or not it's a skid steer or wheel loader, you will tear up turf period. It has nothing to do with how you drive, or how good the machine is. Weight is weight and if you drive on turf, you can only do it a few times without severely compacting the ground and killing the grass. Always figure on re-seeding jobs where you must drive on turf. We have a slice seeder dedicated to lawn repair after every drive on turf application.

Also, Skid Steers can handle more weight than a wheel loader. Lets see a wheel loader unload a 4,500lbs of retaining wall block. Almost all the skid steers on the market have a universal mounting plate, so Bobcat, New Holland, Gehl, Mustang, JCB, etc etc can all share attachments. That alone has me sold forever.

waltero
06-29-2007, 01:10 AM
The machine I have will handle that 4500lb pallet just like a skid can! I also have the universal mounting plate so I can swap buckets, forks, or even rent attachments. Bobcat made the loader/backhoe for a few years, I just happen to have an Ingersoll-Rand one that is slightly larger. I-R kept the larger ones for themselves and bobcat got the smaller ones, thus I can use the bobcat attachments on my machine.

Look at the specs - My machine is rated for 3400lbs on the loader and tipping is twice that. Compared to a S300 which is rated for 3000lbs and tipping is twice that. I have a few pounds on it. Granted a tracked loader may have better handling on heavier loads, but I will keep up with a skid on most jobs.

I am not looking to turn this into a skid steer - backhoe debate, I am just trying to let everyone know that there is a machine out there that may work for them. They don't make these anymore because there wasn't much demand for them and bobcat really tried to push the whole skid/mini-ex concept so it didn't work too well for them. Because it is no longer made it was a bargain for me, I paid $28,000 for an almost new machine with 67 hrs on the meter.

D Felix - No argument on the mini-ex. Can't beat them, but the way I look at it I can always rent for a day when I absolutly have to have one. All other times it is there if I need it. Overall it is a very strong machine and I know that it has its limitations, such as not being able to put the spoils exactly where I would like but, alot of times I can find a spot for them nearby and even if I have to move the pile it still saves on the rentals. When I get larger jobs I rent some excavators, but I can also limit the amount of time that I need the excavator on the jobsite because I still have the ability to dig. right now the only things that I may need to rent is a larger mini-ex for the jobs that call for lots of digging and a Tracked loader. I have everything a skid could offer and more in a package that I could afford, and that my friend is the most important part.

ChampionLS
06-29-2007, 01:28 AM
While we're on the subject of machines, I finally took a few shots of my Wet saw showing the water solenoid and wash down sprayer...and laser cutting guide. It's pretty tricked out.

It has a dual voltage motor- 110/220. If the client's breaker keeps tripping, I usually tap into the A/C junction box on the side of the house (220V) and simply flip the 110/220 switch over. Lots of power this way. For experienced contractors only!!

etwman
06-29-2007, 08:29 AM
Champion -

Decent saw. We have one, however it sits in our loft in our shop and has for three years. Ours is gas, I'd have a tough time buying electric. It's for sale if anyone wants it, great condition. Once we went to chop saws we've never used it again. Like they said at MAHTS "don't ever take the paver to the saw, always take the saw to the paver/block" It really does increase efficiency and we can hold the quality. This could turn out to be another pissing contest but if your happy with your table saw more power to you.

Back to the machine issue. Bottom line is this. There's no perfect machine. In a perfect world there would be one, but then no other manufacturer would be in business. You'd have a monopoly. Walter, yeah we still have the 208. It'll sit and collect some dust, we'll debate selling it, then we'll need it again for a footer, so we hold onto it. This cycle repeats itself about 5 times a year. The biggest issue in today's hardscaping world is lift capacity and versitility. Some of our cubes push 5000 lbs. It's tough to find a non-skidloader that'll move that and be compact. Then you debate on whether you want something that'll grade and lift perfect (and a track skidloader will) or something with a hoe to use when needed. Of course all of this you want in a machine that'll weigh 8000 lbs so you can move it on a 10,000 lbs trailer. Yeah, well, good luck. The 208 is good but max's out at 3800 lbs lift and is not a hill machine. A good track machine you can run on hills to the point at which you have the door cracked for fear the darn think is going to roll, but for some God unforseen reason sticks like glue. The guy that rolls a track machine needs to have his head examined. A track skidloader typically won't tear up the grass if you run it right. The ASV puts less pressure per sq in down then your foot when walking on it. So the compaction thing is out the window. You'll compact more with your foot than you will a machine, don't believe me look at their websites, its there in black and white.

As long as everyone is happy with what they have that's all that matters. For us, the track was is the direction we are headed in. We just finished a huge project, that if we didn't have two on site there's no way we would have even attempted it.

ChampionLS
06-29-2007, 11:44 PM
Taking the paver to the saw doesn't seem to take that much time. I think measuring to cut pieces between the field and say.. a retaining wall with a rock face takes time. I really can't stand cutting dry (hand held) on a hot 90 degree day. I feel like I worked in a bakery all day all dusty. Blech!.
Then again... cutting wet in November is pretty crappy too.