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Scag48
07-31-2008, 01:16 AM
Well thought I'd post a little update for those who know/care what I'm up to. Sitting out of work on the union side of things right now, we're so shot for work in the state right now it's not even funny. After I finished my 2 months of training in June, everyone figured it would be about a month and all 50 of us in my class would be out to work. Wrong. I'm hearing there's about 25 of us left, why I still haven't gone out, I don't know. My best guess is that there may have been guys calling the training office and dispatchers about every other day saying they're going to lose their house if they don't go to work. I'm nervous, but not that nervous. A "squeeky wheel gets the grease" kind of thing is what I'm concluding. I've been calling about once a week, called the office on Tuesday and wasn't pleased with what I was told. When I asked if 2-4 more weeks of no job was what I was looking at from this point, I was told that no predictions could be made whatsoever. I called one of my coordinators today who essentially hustles the contractors for our jobs, she said 2-4 weeks would be a reasonable estimate, I can live with that. I was told to keep hanging on and wait for a job. This is about the only part of this gig that irritates me so far. We're under a probationary period for 1,200 working hours. Until I surpass that amount, I cannot hustle my own job, I must be dispatched by the training center coordinators. Essentially, I'm putting my well being in their hands. I'm not complaining, they've invested a lot of money in myself and everyone else who attended 2 months of free training, room and board, and the opportunity to make a run at this profession the best way possible in this state, IMO. This is a pretty good deal for someone who really wants to do this for a living, this was just an absolutely terrible year to jump in, I suppose. Last year, all 50 incoming apprentices were out to work in 2-3 weeks. Can't blame the program, only the economy. It's just a little tough in years like this to make ends meet when you're going without a regular or consistent paycheck through 2 months of training, then have to hold on for a job for an undetermined amount of time. Still not going to bash the program, I'll endorse the hell out of it even though I'm flat out of real job right now. Still think it's a great deal, still think people should do it, and I don't regret the decision whatsoever. Our training coordinators and everyone involved with the apprenticesehip are top rung people bar none, nobody works harder to make sure we do well. But, as luck would have it, I got rounded up on a slow work year. Shake it off, keep going, I'll look back on this some day and laugh until I cry.

Spring is supposed to be busy. Hearing winter might be looking busy, not sure if that means busier than summer, or a busier winter when compared to years past. Either way, it's good news.

Currently I'm driving truck for my dad and hand labor as needed. He has enough work until mid to late September, I can probably make ends meet until then if need be. Just a bummer is all, I'm determined to stick it out because I know this is an opportunity I cannot let pass me by. If there's no risk, what's the point, right? Just a little frustrating given the circumstances, but it is what it is. Sorry for the novel, just thought some might like to know what's going on. Just waiting for that killer dispatch running a D8 or a blade. I'm going to admit right now my chances are probably shot for that this season, hopefully next year depending on where I end up.

Gravel Rat
07-31-2008, 02:04 AM
I guess keep holding out for the work or look for another job that is non union.

Scag48
07-31-2008, 02:52 AM
I can't run equipment non-union, nor do I want to. Sounds like I'll have something within the next month, hopefully. If not, I'll definately be heading back to the Seattle area and do the restaurant gig again I suppose. Been hanging out at my parent's place working for my old man, living at home is zero fun. My roommate is pissed that I'm not in Seattle, she called me a week ago asking when I was going to be back.

Worst case scenario is that I have to go back into food service, really don't want to do it. Hate the work so much, but there really isn't anywhere else where you can make $15-20/hr. Construction laborers make a lot less than that and work a lot harder, even if there is work available. Things could be a lot worse, at least I have my health and I'm still making all my monthly payments on time. I just get a little nervous when it comes to money, I've been broke before and I refuse to go down that road again.

Gravel Rat
07-31-2008, 03:48 AM
I think things are slowing down everywhere right now because of the price of fuel and the high cost of doing things.

What about putting your name in the mines or try get in the union that deals with mining.

Scag48
07-31-2008, 04:06 AM
Long term, I'm not worried about the economy or finding work. Mining in WA doesn't exist, at least big time mining doesn't. Working in a pit would be rad, there are a few that run union operators. I would like to stay in civil construction though, there will always be a need for infrastructure work. Residential is a gamble, this year is proving that. There is plenty of state work going on, just not enough to make up for a lack of residential work. Like I said, long term, I'm not worried nor do I have any thoughts of bailing on this avenue. However, getting from August 1, 2008 to April or May '09 will be an interesting ride, we'll see what happens.

You're right though, with a housing slowdown, mortgage crash, and fuel price increases in excess of 50% in the last 6 months is definately putting a huge hurt on the season. However, it will come back, there is no other option. The world will continue to revolve, we'll all be just fine come next year.

Construct'O
07-31-2008, 07:32 AM
Here there is work,but the weather has been terrible to get anything done.Still fighting the weather,plus last week got over 8 inches just 20 miles from me.

River down below that got less rain then this spring,but water got out in the field worse then this spring and it didn't rain or not as much here.To wet to repair the levees so they are still not helping.

I can remember working 200 miles from home on the road and setting all week waiting for it to dry up so we could work.To far to come home and to wet to work.That wasn't any fun ,setting around in your room watching it rain and to broke to come home and bearly enough money to make it through next week and no check to take home.

Then start it all over again the next week,hoping for a break!!!!!!!

So around here i'm sure the operators that have a job still can't work because of the weather and wet soil conditons(mud).Just a bad year all around for everyone.

That why i headed for higher gound:)Good luck:usflag:

Gravel Rat
07-31-2008, 04:22 PM
I think if you want to be a union operator the suit case and hotel rooms is part of your life. The reason why I mentioned mines is most of them are union operations and mining really hasn't slowed down because the metal market is still up there.

Residential construction well that is dying off or is dead in most areas. Commercial construction like roads,bridges etc I don't think that will pick up anytime soon.

The geezers are not retiring they are holding on as much as they can taking the jobs that the younger gen is supposed to have.


At the Richie Bros auction last week trucks and equipment sold for 10 grand or more less than what the value should be. A 2008 Ford F-450 service truck had low kms on it sold for 20 grand less than what it was bought originally.

It is at the point now if you have a job don't quit it because there isn't much out there. Myself I can't quit my job even thou I don't like the job no work for a dump truck driver. A equipment operator should thank his lucky stars that he has a job.

Scag48
07-31-2008, 05:47 PM
Well, as luck would have it, I got called out today. This morning when I was initially called I was told I would start Friday AM. Dispatch just called me back and says they're starting Tuesday, something is hung up for this week. I'm willing to bet that this is a fairly big job and they're just getting started, it would be nice if we could plow through the winter on this one. There's another dirt contractor on site but I'll be working for a smaller utilities company doing underground. Job is 5 miles from home, couldn't be any closer to my place. Bummed I gotta wait until Tuesday, but I was headed over that way for the weekend anyway, no loss. Hopefully everything goes through and we'll fire up Tuesday and give it hell.

Gravel Rat
07-31-2008, 05:57 PM
Well you lucked out and now its time to show them what you got so when the next job comes around they will ask for you first instead of getting the next guy in line in the union hall.

Scag48
07-31-2008, 05:59 PM
I sure hope so. Sounds like the company I'm working for does utilities and site prep, no road building but whatever. They may get hammered on next spring if the housing market picks up, they sound like a pretty good outfit. Kick ass, take names, been my philosophy for a while now.

Junior M
07-31-2008, 06:06 PM
well while your updating on whats goin on with you scag i am goin to say i am an official high schooler now... it kinda sucks but it is kinda good cuz i get so aggravated with my job but hey only four years left and less than a year until i get my license...and in four years i can really pursue what i want to do!! and i will hopefully by then be balls to the wall with work!! haha i hope!

mrusk
07-31-2008, 06:06 PM
Thats great you got picked up scag. Things are just really slow/ I ran a ad last week looking for a operator. I had 45 people call me looking for work. Alot of guys were laid off from big companies.


I decided not to hire anyone since I am getting half decent on the 150. I am bidding another job that should cover another big chunk of the machine cost. At this rate I will be making money with it by the end of the year.

Scag48
07-31-2008, 06:11 PM
well while your updating on whats goin on with you scag i am goin to say i am an official high schooler now... it kinda sucks but it is kinda good cuz i get so aggravated with my job but hey only four years left and less than a year until i get my license...and in four years i can really pursue what i want to do!! and i will hopefully by then be balls to the wall with work!! haha i hope!

Right on. Just remember, high school is mostly BS, a lot of mindgames, and full of people you may or may not ever want to see again. But pay attention and keep your grades decent. There may come a day when this kind of work escapes you, you might need some sort of education.

mrusk, glad to hear you're keeping that 150 busy. Making the payments in times like this is what it's all about.

Gravel Rat
07-31-2008, 06:14 PM
There will be lots of rubber tire hoe operation then if its utility installations.

I guess they will start you off as a trench b**** till they get to know your skills then put you in a backhoe etc.

Junior M
07-31-2008, 06:21 PM
There will be lots of rubber tire hoe operation then if its utility installations.

I guess they will start you off as a trench b**** till they get to know your skills then put you in a backhoe etc.
ehhhhh i dont know if it will be alot of backhoe work... alot of utility companies have switched over to using a mini... atleast my dad did when he was doin it and everyone in my area uses mini's

Junior M
07-31-2008, 06:23 PM
Right on. Just remember, high school is mostly BS, a lot of mindgames, and full of people you may or may not ever want to see again. But pay attention and keep your grades decent. There may come a day when this kind of work escapes you, you might need some sort of education.

mrusk, glad to hear you're keeping that 150 busy. Making the payments in times like this is what it's all about.
i dont know if my want to do this work will ever escape me i have wanted to own my own equipment and business for as long as i can remember and i am majoring in diesel technology in high school cuz there isnt anything that has to do with construction other than building houses and i dont want to learn to pound nails.. but thanks for the advise!!

mrusk
07-31-2008, 06:28 PM
mrusk, glad to hear you're keeping that 150 busy. Making the payments in times like this is what it's all about.


No payments on this thing. I am just anxious to get out of the red and into the black with it. I was either going to buy a house or the machine with the money. I figured i'd make more money playing in the dirt then with appreication on a house.

Gravel Rat
07-31-2008, 06:29 PM
Minis are used allot here for utility work but in subdivisions you still need a rubber tired hoe for moving material around and trenching.

Junior M
07-31-2008, 06:32 PM
Minis are used allot here for utility work but in subdivisions you still need a rubber tired hoe for moving material around and trenching.
not trying to argue with you but what material needs to be moved when running utilities?

well there is gravel for setting transformers but that wasnt very much... that is all i really know of... i actually forgot about all that..

Gravel Rat
07-31-2008, 06:41 PM
Around here tons of sand the material dug out of the trenches isn't good enough to bed pipe in. A backhoe is also handy to move well liners and pipe around etc.

Junior M
07-31-2008, 06:43 PM
ooooooooooooooooooo i didnt know... all work is done different everywhere!

Dirt Digger2
07-31-2008, 09:49 PM
not trying to argue with you but what material needs to be moved when running utilities?

well there is gravel for setting transformers but that wasnt very much... that is all i really know of... i actually forgot about all that..

besides for the 3" of bottom screening and 8" of top screening, and thats only on a secondary trench...the primary trenches have a primary wire, 6" on top of that goes the telephone and another 6" on top of that goes the tape....

JLM theres a lot of Sh*t that goes into utilitys...i hate having to dig and screen them because moving down the ditch 8 feet at a time is a pain in the as$...especially when i have no labor with me and have to get out and smooth down the ditch by myself...it teaches you to dump in level real quick

Junior M
07-31-2008, 11:21 PM
besides for the 3" of bottom screening and 8" of top screening, and thats only on a secondary trench...the primary trenches have a primary wire, 6" on top of that goes the telephone and another 6" on top of that goes the tape....

JLM theres a lot of Sh*t that goes into utilitys...i hate having to dig and screen them because moving down the ditch 8 feet at a time is a pain in the as$...especially when i have no labor with me and have to get out and smooth down the ditch by myself...it teaches you to dump in level real quick
what? what is there to screen? please explain this to me i have no freakn clue what your talkn about

Gravel Rat
07-31-2008, 11:53 PM
It is different from area to area. For my area allot of trenches requires blasting or rock hammering. To get down deep enough can take a few days of blasting and digging. When you have trenches blasted in rock you need sand and lots of it to bed the pipe or wire etc.

In my area you can't run wire and water in the same trench same with running phone and electrical in the same trench isn't really recommended.

Usually in the bottom of the trench goes the sand then pipe is laid then 24 inches of sand then on top of that 3/8s minus then road base.

It also depends on is this a high traveled road or a residential driveway or a trench buried where nothing will drive over it.

Junior M
08-01-2008, 12:07 AM
It is different from area to area. For my area allot of trenches requires blasting or rock hammering. To get down deep enough can take a few days of blasting and digging. When you have trenches blasted in rock you need sand and lots of it to bed the pipe or wire etc.

In my area you can't run wire and water in the same trench same with running phone and electrical in the same trench isn't really recommended.

Usually in the bottom of the trench goes the sand then pipe is laid then 24 inches of sand then on top of that 3/8s minus then road base.

It also depends on is this a high traveled road or a residential driveway or a trench buried where nothing will drive over it.
yeah i understand what you are saying... but what dirt is saying makes it seem like everything is laid in one big trench.. which i know shouldnt be done

hosejockey2002
08-01-2008, 12:13 AM
When I worked utility construction 10 years ago every time we laid water main in the ground it went on pea gravel in the ditch. Sometimes we used a steel hopper for the pea gravel that was moved along by an excavator but a lot of the time we'd use the backhoe or a 3 yard loader to run the pea gravel around. The 200 excavator did most of the digging but the backhoe got used all the time. It was sort of a "jack of all trades, master of none."

Junior M
08-01-2008, 12:47 AM
When I worked utility construction 10 years ago every time we laid water main in the ground it went on pea gravel in the ditch. Sometimes we used a steel hopper for the pea gravel that was moved along by an excavator but a lot of the time we'd use the backhoe or a 3 yard loader to run the pea gravel around. The 200 excavator did most of the digging but the backhoe got used all the time. It was sort of a "jack of all trades, master of none."
my dad did underground for 13 years and he never did anything as complicated as some of you guys are saying.. maybe i am just misunderstanding but from what i can remember of what my dad did and what he has told me there was nothing that complicated.. ooo yeah and my dad was doing this in ohio so it was in some hard dirt and it is rocky in most places there...

coopers
08-01-2008, 01:50 AM
Scag, good to hear the news. When you say winter is supposed to be "busy", is that for the big contractors or for construction in general? I don't see small guys becoming busy. Also, is that a union thing to not allow you to operate equipment outside the union? I'm not familiar with unions so....Good to hear things might pick up for ya next week!

Scag48
08-01-2008, 01:53 AM
I can't speak for the outfit I'll be working for, but it seems to me they're using all Deere hoes. Went to their website, most of their project pictures have a hoe installing utilities. Depends on the job and what you're installing, but a bedding box might be applicable. Usually a 2-3 yard loader is required to keep up with an 200-300 size excavator dipping out of the box. All power conduit around here is bedded with sand, same with high pressure gas. I would assume sewer, storm, and water is installed the same way, bedded with sand or pea gravel. I've only installed smaller water and sewer utilities, we never used sand back home, there wasn't much of a need with the sandy soil we were in most of the time.

Coopers, you're right, I can't run equipment for anyone but a union contractor. Kinda sucks, but whatever, they've invested a wad of $$$ in me. The least I could do is comply with their rules. As far as busy winter, I think I recall hearing about state work possibly picking up. We're definately coming out of this slump, I think spring will be busy for everyone, or at least busier than this summer.

coopers
08-01-2008, 01:55 AM
We used pea gravel over here for sewer, storm, water....

crab
08-01-2008, 09:45 PM
those Deere hoes are nice you might be surprised!;)

ksss
08-01-2008, 10:12 PM
I can't speak for the outfit I'll be working for, but it seems to me they're using all Deere hoes. Went to their website, most of their project pictures have a hoe installing utilities. Depends on the job and what you're installing, but a bedding box might be applicable. Usually a 2-3 yard loader is required to keep up with an 200-300 size excavator dipping out of the box. All power conduit around here is bedded with sand, same with high pressure gas. I would assume sewer, storm, and water is installed the same way, bedded with sand or pea gravel. I've only installed smaller water and sewer utilities, we never used sand back home, there wasn't much of a need with the sandy soil we were in most of the time.

Coopers, you're right, I can't run equipment for anyone but a union contractor. Kinda sucks, but whatever, they've invested a wad of $$$ in me. The least I could do is comply with their rules. As far as busy winter, I think I recall hearing about state work possibly picking up. We're definately coming out of this slump, I think spring will be busy for everyone, or at least busier than this summer.

I don't need to say this but you kinda like my little CAT brother, becareful with the utilities. Every time you take one more bucket than you thought you should, you get bit. A little time behind a shovel more than pays for the consequences of using the hoe, especially with a a "cant feel concrete" Deere hoe. Nothing you don't know, just a reminder.

Scag48
08-01-2008, 11:20 PM
I feel that Kaiser, been down that road a time or two in the past, not fun times. There isn't a worse feeling than hitting a line, I don't care what anyone says.

RockSet N' Grade
08-01-2008, 11:44 PM
The utility locaters here are getting a bad name, albeit well deserved. It seems as there has been a rash of mismarkings or no markings at all. In the case of underground gas, fibreoptics and high voltage underground this is quite disturbing. Use your intellectual skills when doing your job, but trust your hands and gut feel about things. Usually if it feels wrong or dangerous, it simply is just that. We have been having a rash of machine accidents with very serious injuries because money is tight and equipment is not being properly taken care of or parts replaced as they should be. Be safe amigo.......

Junior M
08-01-2008, 11:49 PM
The utility locaters here are getting a bad name, albeit well deserved. It seems as there has been a rash of mismarkings or no markings at all. In the case of underground gas, fibreoptics and high voltage underground this is quite disturbing. Use your intellectual skills when doing your job, but trust your hands and gut feel about things. Usually if it feels wrong or dangerous, it simply is just that. We have been having a rash of machine accidents with very serious injuries because money is tight and equipment is not being properly taken care of or parts replaced as they should be. Be safe amigo.......
if he does 75% utility work the contractor will probably have a locator of his own so he can dig and get rushed work done instead of waiting on the locates...

Gravel Rat
08-01-2008, 11:56 PM
For us here if you see lots of process gravel aka sand and you know there supposidy is a utility you dig carefully.

Junior M
08-01-2008, 11:59 PM
For us here if you see lots of process gravel aka sand and you know there supposidy is a utility you dig carefully.
i do hope you dont get a job with utilities all stacked together then you will have to hand dig it!! hahaha

Gravel Rat
08-02-2008, 12:21 AM
The ground is way too hard so the only untility buried is water, electrical and telephone is overhead and sewage is septic fields.

Depending on the area it could take all day to dig a 100 foot trench for a waterline. You either have to have a breaker or a blasting contractor to blast through the solid granite you encounter.

One of the subivisions in the area took 1 month of blasting using two drill rigs drilling 4 inch holes and using Amex to blast the rock for the trenches. They hauled 100 loads of sand to bed the pipes. I guess they had 2 miles of trench upto 10-12 feet deep and depending on what was being installed a 8 foot wide trench dug.

Junior M
08-02-2008, 09:07 AM
The ground is way too hard so the only untility buried is water, electrical and telephone is overhead and sewage is septic fields.

Depending on the area it could take all day to dig a 100 foot trench for a waterline. You either have to have a breaker or a blasting contractor to blast through the solid granite you encounter.

One of the subivisions in the area took 1 month of blasting using two drill rigs drilling 4 inch holes and using Amex to blast the rock for the trenches. They hauled 100 loads of sand to bed the pipes. I guess they had 2 miles of trench upto 10-12 feet deep and depending on what was being installed a 8 foot wide trench dug.
how do they do anything up there? from what you have said it makes me not want to live there!!

Gravel Rat
08-02-2008, 08:03 PM
Overhead utilities is cheap but the new subdivisions are all underground which means big money. To install a 3/4 inch water service to a house can be a big pain if you are in a area where there is only 12 inches of dirt ontop of solid B.C. .

Junior M
08-02-2008, 08:57 PM
Overhead utilities is cheap but the new subdivisions are all underground which means big money. To install a 3/4 inch water service to a house can be a big pain if you are in a area where there is only 12 inches of dirt ontop of solid B.C. .
how do they get anything to grow?

bobcat_ron
08-02-2008, 09:01 PM
how do they get anything to grow?

Grow "it" indoors!! :laugh:

Gravel Rat
08-02-2008, 09:39 PM
If you want a garden on the West Coast of B.C. you haul in tons of topsoil. If you are a herb farmer thats another story :laugh:

murray83
08-03-2008, 02:59 PM
Now now herb farming? no no "hobby farmer" can you say tax breaks and farmer plates/insurance? :dancing:

Junior M
08-04-2008, 12:01 AM
Now now herb farming? no no "hobby farmer" can you say tax breaks and farmer plates/insurance? :dancing:
yeah "herb farmer" on the weekends and a "pharmisist" during the week

Scag48
08-04-2008, 02:19 PM
Well I just drove out to the site to figure out where it's at. Big site, probably 4-6 acres. Another contractor is onsite doing the dirt. Saw 2-3 Deere 200's or 230's, a Deere 135C, maybe another 120, Cat articulated truck, couple loaders and dozers. The company I'm working for has a 450CLC slinging pipe right out by the road, I"ll see if I can't get some pictures of that beast without getting in trouble in the next week. She's running a 24" bucket and I think a JRB pin grabber coupler. I'm not sure if they're going to float in a couple more pieces maybe today or tomorrow, could have some elsewhere on site, but the 450 was all I could absolutely verify was with my crew as the company name was on the side. Just drove by, didn't stop and bother anyone.

coopers
08-04-2008, 08:28 PM
Scag, if you can w/o getting in trouble, get some pics of the 135 and 120's....Thought you started today? Or is tomorrow?

Scag48
08-04-2008, 11:35 PM
I was told Tuesday by my dispatcher, didn't get a call from anyone today so everything should be good to go for tomorrow.

Junior M
08-05-2008, 08:12 AM
I was told Tuesday by my dispatcher, didn't get a call from anyone today so everything should be good to go for tomorrow.
thats good! lets see some pics if you can snap some off with out getting in trouble.

Scag48
08-05-2008, 06:51 PM
See if I can't get some pics later this week. First day was good, my boss is cool and there's 6 of us all together on this crew. Couple laborers, and 4 of us operators including my boss. We have Deere 450CLC, 225CLC, 135CLC, 200LC excavators, 410E backhoe, 544H loader, and 700J dozer on site. All the excavators have hydraulic pin grabber couplers and CWS buckets, none of them have thumbs (utility crew), all have hoepacks except for the 450, the 544H has a set of forks and bucket with a hydraulic coupler, and the backhoe has a hoepack for it as well. We're working on the storm system right now, set 1 manhole today. Pretty gnarly stuff, wasn't sure why we needed a 450 but now I know why, big structures. We're bouncing back and forth quite a bit, we set a structure, ran around to another part of the site and threw some ductile together, then ran back and did some other stuff the rest of the day. The site is 25 acres, it's for an electronics company that supplies parts to Boeing, so I heard. So far, so good.

Gravel Rat
08-05-2008, 08:20 PM
I don't know why they would have a 450 even the loggers don't use 450 Deere/Hitachi excavators.

It sounds like your first day has gone well :drinkup:

It will be a little different getting used to a thumbless excavator. Utility guys don't like thumbs for various reasons. If you work in a area where you have rocks you need a thumb.

Dirt Digger2
08-05-2008, 08:49 PM
why does everyone think thumbs are the magical invention created by god himself...if you learn how to operate then you don't need a thumb for 90% of the things you think you do

bobcat_ron
08-05-2008, 08:53 PM
why does everyone think thumbs are the magical invention created by god himself...if you learn how to operate then you don't need a thumb for 90% of the things you think you do

I know what you mean, but man, cleaning up wood demo that has to be crushed down fine enough is really hard to scrape up the last bit with out resorting to a rake and shovel at the end of the day, and there has been a lot of accidents involving objects rolling off or out of the bucket and hurting the operator due to not having a thumb.

Maybe it's just me, but there are a lot of really "smart" hoe operators here, the joystick generation, they are the worst.

Dirt Digger2
08-05-2008, 09:01 PM
no i agree that a thumb is the way to go to clean wood scraps...we have one on our trackhoe and that is the only time it ever gets used is on demo jobs...

to me thumbs just add a lot more weight to the front so you get tippy with a full bucket of dirt, and is just one more thing to bang and clang all day

Junior M
08-05-2008, 10:05 PM
I don't know why they would have a 450 even the loggers don't use 450 Deere/Hitachi excavators.

It sounds like your first day has gone well :drinkup:

It will be a little different getting used to a thumbless excavator. Utility guys don't like thumbs for various reasons. If you work in a area where you have rocks you need a thumb.
what is there to get used to? you dont need a thumb when digging utilities unless your hitting rock and have to pull it out the hole but you can do that with out a thumb takes more skill but it can be done.

Junior M
08-05-2008, 10:08 PM
no i agree that a thumb is the way to go to clean wood scraps...we have one on our trackhoe and that is the only time it ever gets used is on demo jobs...

to me thumbs just add a lot more weight to the front so you get tippy with a full bucket of dirt, and is just one more thing to bang and clang all day
i agree with you and ron... we plan on getting a thumb just becuz we do a lot of lot clean up and it helps. but we never use the thumb on our rental on backfills.. no i take that back we have used it one time and that was becuz we found a huge piece of concrete from a pool that had to be ripped up cuz it was in the wrong place and that was it.. the thumb isnt even useful to us when we dig stumps just an aggravation.

Scag48
08-05-2008, 10:43 PM
Thumbs are absolutely necessary equipment on excavators that aren't on a utility install crew. You have to remember, the hoes we're running don't do anything else. All they do is trench and sling pipe, they don't need thumbs. Thumbs get in the way if you're running narrow buckets and they add weight to the stick, a PITA for a run and gun pipe crew. Neither of these are a big deal if you're a small company looking for a versatile machine, you'd have to be stupid to think that a $10K thumb on a 120 is a waste of money, you'd return the investment so many times it's silly. For a contractor with only an excavator or two and likely only another couple machines, having a thumb is critical out here. There's 3 other excavators on the site I'm on, they belong to another contractor who's doing the bulk dirt. They're running a dash 6 PC300 and dash 7 PC200 and PC300. All of them have PSM link thumbs. Those machines coule be loading trucks one day, loading busted up concrete another, and maybe clearing and grubbing for the next job the following week. Not having a thumb on a machine like that can cripple an excavator. Before long, you have a $300K excavator sitting because it can't clear and grub for the next job. I haven't seen the rest of our fleet, don't know what all we have, but I can almost guarantee that all the excavators on the site development crews have thumbs.

GR, we need the 450 for the reach and lift capabilities. Probably don't come close to maxing out the lift capacity, but it's nice to have a buffer and be able to reach a long way out with a massive manhole structure.

Gravel Rat
08-05-2008, 11:36 PM
So the 450 is more of a crane than for the digging conditions.

When I was running hoe I used the thumb all the time your chucking rock aside or when loading trucks and you have to gently lower a load of coarse material into the truck you can do it. Or your digging and your picking out the organic material like tree roots etc.

I guess its what ever you get used to but a excavator without a thumb is very limited. Try to do land clearing in a area like where I live without a thumb you can't. How are you suppose to bail 20 tons worth of brush or build fire piles.

Scag48
08-05-2008, 11:48 PM
[QUOTE=Gravel Rat;2453102]So the 450 is more of a crane than for the digging conditions.

QUOTE]

Exactly. This job we're on isn't too harsh, soil is fairly loose all around. Very few rocks which surprised me. I'm sure there are probably a few soil conditions where that 450 really comes in handy, it has a 48" bucket and a 24" bucket with tiger teeth, it could really rip through some material if need be. A 200 could easily dig the trench and base for the structures on the job we're on now, but a 450 just makes things so much easier and faster. Especially when you can sit a ways back and still be able to reach. The 450 is equipped with a long stick, it really has some craning abilities. It's also nice to have the bedding box sitting a way from the machine so the guy running the loader doesn't have to sneek right in behind him every time he brings more bedding material. And dragging a trench box is always easier with a big machine.

RockSet N' Grade
08-06-2008, 12:49 AM
thumbs = increased versatility = more billable hours.

Junior M
08-06-2008, 09:22 AM
So the 450 is more of a crane than for the digging conditions.

When I was running hoe I used the thumb all the time your chucking rock aside or when loading trucks and you have to gently lower a load of coarse material into the truck you can do it. Or your digging and your picking out the organic material like tree roots etc.

I guess its what ever you get used to but a excavator without a thumb is very limited. Try to do land clearing in a area like where I live without a thumb you can't. How are you suppose to bail 20 tons worth of brush or build fire piles.
you cant clear land anywhere without a thumb!!!

and they are a utility crew that is all they do! there is no reason to have a thumb it is just something to get in there way... not everybody does what you and people you know do.

Gravel Rat
08-06-2008, 12:51 PM
Pretty much every excavation machine has a thumb on it like rubber tired backhoes and the smallest mini excavator.

You need the capability to grab things with the bucket you can't move rocks easy with a excavator and no thumb. How are you supposed to pick up a rock the size of a Smart car with a excavator that is thumbless. When your land clearing you moving trees and logs around. The branches that came off the trees get piled and burned or loaded into dump trucks.

If the largest rock you move is no larger than a basketball it might be fine but you never know whats under the ground.

When your used to having a thumb and there is someting in the trench or hole your digging and your trying to pick it up without a thumb can be frustrating. Balancing a large rock in a bucket is dangerous if you have people working around you it is also hard loading into a dump truck.

murray83
08-06-2008, 08:37 PM
They do?,I've never ran a thumb on any excavator even if it has one it stays pinned.

Wish I got pics from last year of large shot rock being loaded into double tandems with rock boxes loaded by a thumbless 450 Hitachi for use as shoreline protection along the bay,some of them rocks were larger than the D5

coopers
08-06-2008, 10:07 PM
They do?,I've never ran a thumb on any excavator even if it has one it stays pinned.

It really depends on what you're doing with it. Yeah at times you can get away with not using a thumb for tasks that most would use a thumb, but there are some things that a thumb is just necessary. Grading with a steel grade beam is a tad difficult without a thumb. :drinkup:

Scag48
08-06-2008, 11:29 PM
Well I got laid off today. Sweet, I know. Something got hung up somewhere along the line, don't really know what the deal is, I'll probably never know. I had a hunch something may have been screwed up with the existing storm system we were tying into yesterday. We ended up moving the structure 20 feet back into the existing system today. An inspector showed up today at about 1:30 from the local water district, I'll bet that they're having issues trying to get the storm system tied into existing infrastructure. I got a call from one of my coordinators about 10 mintues after I left the site. She said a guy from the office needed to get ahold of me, I guess my paperwork with all my info hadn't made it there yet. Told me that the whole crew isn't going back on site until next week and when they go back they're going to run a skeleton crew, probably until they get everything all square. We have 7 pieces on site and at least 4 are sitting all the time, so eventually they'll be going full bore I'd like to think.

What irritates me is that this guy in the office told me he talked to my foreman and that my foreman told him I wasn't needed. Funny thing was, he had to have talked to my foreman before I left the site and my foreman didn't say a damn thing to me about not working tomorrow. Sweet, out of work again. Irritated as all hell, dispatch knows I'm pissed off so I'm hoping they find me something. Good news is that dispatch sent 6 guys out within an hour when I talked to them at 3:45 this afternoon, so it sounds like things are finally picking up. Plus, I got what's called a "shortcall", so I still hold my spot in the dispatch line and don't go to the bottom of the list. My coordinator said she'd try to find me something a little more fun, she knows I've been chasing a shovel the last couple days doing whatever I'm told to do. I'm not above running a shovel and jumping in the trench, but we are operators and we're only worth the most to a company if we're running equipment. If all they wanted was a laborer, they should've called the laborer's hall. Did jump in the 450 a little this morning, what a blast that was. Nothing like running a 100,000 pound excavator.

coopers
08-06-2008, 11:40 PM
Wow Scag that sucks, sorry to hear that. Hopefully things get squared a way soon.

Scag48
08-07-2008, 12:05 AM
Yeah, I hope so. I really hope it was nothing I did, there was a lot of "hurry up and wait" stuff going on. I was hustling when I had stuff to do, but when there are 3 guys in the trench already, I was stuck just standing around which I hate and it looks bad. Kept asking if they needed a hand, but they always had things under control. Plus, I'm not going to bump a veteran laborer out of the way just to make myself look better, that's just not right, don't want to step on his toes. Don't think this is the case, but it does make me wonder a little. Showed up half hour early both days, checked fluids in all the equipment this morning even though I'm not running anything just to give a little extra. I'm still thinking there are issues tying into the existing system, when I saw the 450 coming back over to the spot where all the iron is parked at 2PM when we still had about 60 feet to go, I figured something might have been up. We mudded storm pipe vaults for the last hour of the day.

Junior M
08-07-2008, 07:59 AM
wow that really does suck. but did you get any pic of that massive 450? i dont think i have ever seen one.

Scag48
08-07-2008, 01:03 PM
Didn't get a pic of the 450, forgot the camera yesterday. It's a nice machine though.

Gravel Rat
08-07-2008, 01:13 PM
Hang in there your union office might find you a different site to work on.

ianh
08-07-2008, 05:11 PM
Here's a piccy of our 470 for ya, jlm355... they're almost identical to the 450. Ya get a bonus AH300 dump truck too :)

http://www.handr.com.au/civil/photos/Twins1.jpg

Junior M
08-07-2008, 05:16 PM
Here's a piccy of our 470 for ya, jlm355... they're almost identical to the 450. Ya get a bonus AH300 dump truck too :)

http://www.handr.com.au/civil/photos/Twins1.jpg
hehehe i love big iron hehe

Junior M
08-07-2008, 05:17 PM
CRAP!!!!!!!!!! the pic wasnt suppose to show up! sorry bout that.