View Full Version : mini excavators

02-25-2004, 09:52 AM
Just looking for some feedback on mini excavators. I really like the kubota kx-413v and the gehl 153. Does anyone have some experience in particular with gehl products. The variable track width is standard on both machines. Gehl seems to have the upper hand in hp and hydraulic pump pressure, but they have only been in the excavator business for 4 years. Price is almost identical.

I will probably sample both products first before I make any buying decisions.

Gravel Rat
02-25-2004, 09:44 PM
If you are going togo with a mini go with a Kubota or look at the new John Deere mini. I have ran a 330 Bobcat machine and I didn't like its tippyness I darn near rolled the machine a few times.

I don't think I would buy a Bobcat mini I have worked with a Kubota 161 Mini I'am pretty impressed with it.

You want the joysticks on the arm rests like the big machines you get less operator fatigue as your only working your wrists and your arms are supported.

The other thing I don't like is the rubber tracks I find them slippery you start working on slopes they don't hold to the ground. The bobcat machine I was running wouldn't climb the slope I was working on the tracks just spun like rubber tires.

I had to push myself up the hill with the bucket then pull back on the travel sticks with my knees because there are no foot pedals on them. You definatly didn't want to let up on the blade too fast because it rolled forward and almost stood on its end. Had to reach out with the bucket and take the weight of the machine lift the blade then lower the machine down.

I probably was pushing the gradability of the machine it might be a better machine if it had wide steel tracks.

02-26-2004, 12:08 AM
I tested the gehl 222 model today, basically just sat in it went thru the motions of the arm and bucket etc. Not to noisy which is a good thing. It has the controls where you just use your wrists. Felt good all in all. It is a demo unit with only 7 hrs on it and the guy wants 33 for it. A new one is 40 after discounts. One feature that is real nice is the variable track width and it has whats called house levelling. For ex. if you were excavating on sloped ground you could tilt the machine up to 15 degrees, still allowing you to dig straight.
I will be trying the kubota kx41-3v next week. Unforturnately this is the only size kubota that has the variable track width. This is a necessity since most of my work is in small spaces. I don't like the bobcat excavators, their skid steers are very nice though.

Gravel Rat
02-26-2004, 12:37 AM
The Bobcat machine I was running is about 2000lbs heavier than the Gehl you were looking at and I found the machine is a tad too small. I think a 8000lb machine would do better the machine I was running was around 6200lbs it didn't have quite enough power.

What are you using the excavator for ?

02-26-2004, 01:07 AM
I do hardscaping for a living. Most of the time is spent in peoples side and back yards. Usually have to squeeze between one house and another. This is where the variable track widths come in handy. Basically just trying to find the largest machine with variable tracks. I don't know of anything larger than the 2 and a quarter ton gehl. We do alot of interlock around pools and side walks, lots of front entrances with celtik wall and tumbled pavers etc. I have a couple of skid steers for the heavier work. I just want to be more accurate on my digging and not have the mess to deal with.

02-26-2004, 02:14 PM
Gehl does not build that excavator. It is built in Austria I believe (don't quote me). I have owned several mini excavators. I have owned an IHI and currently own a Takeuchi. IHI is great excavator with great service and they make an expandable tracked excavator (as do most). Bobcat has had some trouble recently with its excavtors. Two of the machines in this area were bought back (1 was a 337 and the other a 341). Word I heard is that the bigger rental companies are dumping their Bobcat excavtors due to problems (thats a rumor I can't confirm). They now have a new machine out but probably is bigger than your wanting. I have ran several different Gehls and both were the bigger machines and rather liked them. I don't know anyone that has put any serious time on one. I would check out both IHI and Takeuchi as they both are sweet running excavators.

02-26-2004, 03:54 PM
Gehl is a good company with great customer support. We put our money and trust in Caterpillar products. When you want to get a job done, without dealing with all the issues the Jap stuff will give you when it comes time to fix it, stay with Cat, or if you have a good Gehl dealer near you, go that route.

Gravel Rat
02-26-2004, 04:31 PM
In this area Hitachi is a common machine they range from EX-60s to EX-400s they are used everywhere from construction to forestry. If a machine needs repair a mechanic that deals with Hitachi comes up the next day can't say that for Cat they don't want to even bother.

It is the same with Kubota, a guy I know has a 161 Machine if it needs repair he can get parts the next day or a service rep comes up todo the work. With Caterpillar they don't have field mechanics anymore if you want you machine repaired you have to lowbed it to a dealer.

If I was in the market for a mini excavator it will be a Hitachi/John Deere or a Kubota it would be a tough call if between the two.

The Bobcat machine I was running had the boom snapped off twice by other operators I don't know how many times its been welded up.

02-26-2004, 05:29 PM
UNISCAPER: you may want to research where your CAT stuff is being made. You'll find that is "JAP" stuff. A majority of CAT equipment is made by Mitsibishi. Dozers and excavators I know are. "JAP" excavators have ruled the market for years. Why do you suppose CAT, DEERE, and CASE don't build their own? I'll answer it for you. Because they can't build them any better.

02-26-2004, 05:54 PM
Well thanks for the input. I test ran the 223 gehl model today. I find it rather large for my needs, even though it has the variable tracks it is still to big of a machine. My buddy has a kx41-2v and loves it. What he really likes is that he can remove the canopy and not worry about hitting tree branches everytime he moves with it. I talked with someone who bought a 193 gehl and the one thing he did not like was the fact he couldn't remove the canopy. I have 4 kubota machines now so maybe this is the route I will eventually take. Next week will tell. More input would be appreciated on the kubota.

thanks again

02-26-2004, 06:44 PM

Yes I am well aware of that. Caterpillar owns 61% of Mitsubishi heavy industries. And the CAT mahines are made by thier design specs, not some japanese bean counter giving price criteria to build the machine. Caterpillar designs thie requipment based off what it will take to be the best made, then they decide what prices to place on the piece, not the other way around like the Japs do. With Jap machines, price dicatates the purcahse, and when you look at all the down time you will have with the Jap stuff vs keeping the Cats digging, Cat is the far better value. Cat equipment will keep a documented higher resale value, so when you need to bond a job, your fleet is worth more money, meaning it will be easier to obtain the bond, and if you ever have to sell off, you will get more to help assist your exit strategy.
As far as Jap excavators ruling the market, I don't know where you have worked in your life, but where I hav e been it has been Koering, Bucyrus Eire, Insley long before Cat or the Japs made thier entry.

The only time a Jap excavator would ever rule the market is when Caterpillar dropped out.

Try selling that rice burning garbage somewhere else, it won't ever have a spot in my company.

02-26-2004, 07:15 PM
A few of the rental places around here that I'm trying to get a job with (united rentals, sunbelt rentals, and a locally owned one) have Takeuchi for their mini's and john deere or hitatchi for their larger trackhoes. Tackeuchi seems to be a nice running machine, I haven't run a kubota yet though. If I get this one job with a rental company near me, they have kubota's for their mini's. It's funny because you used to see a lot of JD CUT's but now only a few places have them, and they only have a few of them at most. Most of them are kubota CUT's, L35's and B21's. Same with mini's, you don't see anything else really but Tackeuchi, maybe a few larger mini hitatchi trackhoes (those weird ones that have the offset booms) and that's all. Either JD, hitatchi, case (backhoes), kubota and Tackeuchi. A few odd balls thrown in like kobelco but that's about it.

02-27-2004, 05:42 PM
Your talking like you actually believe the BS CAT is selling you. CAT has great resale in some segments just like DEERE and CASE depending on the piece of equipment in question. I have never heard the bond justification before that is a good one (keep in mind that bonding ability is also based on NET worth). Bucyrus Eire, Koering, and Insley were pioneers in the early development of excavators. They are not anymore and haven't been since the 50's. Sell you JAP garbage, I wouldn't think of it. Your apparently already buying it. Like it or not they own the current market. O&K and Liebherr are the only nonJAP players I can think of and neither have any serious worldwide market share (except maybe in the Mass mining market). Just curious what makes you think Hitachi, Komatsu, Sumitomo, and Kobelco (the other JAPs) are somehow inferior to Mitsubishi (your JAPs) ? I think sometimes people's self justification to buy CAT gets in the way of common sense. CAT makes some great products and some not so great. No different than any other mainstream manufacturer. As with all the US manufacturers the "overseas" influence is present in their entire line in one form or another.

Gravel Rat
02-27-2004, 06:25 PM
The logging companies in this area have been using Hitachi excavators for years these machines see way more abuse than a regular excavator sees in construction. The EX-300 and EX-400s are digging in blast rock 10hrs a day 5 days a week building logging road.

The buckets on these machines last anywhere from 6 months to a year then need rebuilt the undercarriages on these machines a beefed up substancially to take the abuse and working on 40 degree slopes.

The excavation contractors in this area run smaller machines like EX-150s and EX-200s but they are also forestry spec'ed road building machines. One of the contractors is trying 180 Kobelcos they are about equal to the Hitachi machines.

The only Cat machines that are used here are wheel loaders and bulldozers the only things Cat builds good.

For a excavator I would take a Hitachi over a Cat any day of the week because Hitachi is a proven performer they stand up very well digging in the rock. When you are digging in areas where you encounter rocks the size of VW bugs you need a tough machine. The contractors usually have to dig fractured rock so you work a tooth into a crack and start to pull either the rock moves or the machine does. You snap and wear teeth off of buckets quickly.

I like Cat but some people are brainwashed that Cat is the best and nothing can beat them its no so Hitachi has a good chunk of the market especially in Forestry spec'ed excavators.

02-28-2004, 11:12 AM
This is all very interseting...However, our company used to maintain the grounds at Caterpillar tractor in Montgomery Illinois....That is the plant where they weld, machine, and assemble rubber tired wheel loaders, and excavators.

J and M building are filled with them. There is nothing really to sell, I have seen it. I have seen the field behind the assmbly plants where they test the hydraulics, and load them off on the trains and semi trucks for delivery. I'm not at all sure about where this jap business was entered in to play, last I checked, Montgomery Illinois was in America.

02-28-2004, 08:29 PM
Hey time out man. All I wanted to know was if anyone had some personal experience with the kubota kx41. Who the -ell cares where they are made.

06-03-2004, 08:49 PM
Many of you are forgetting about Yanmar minis. They are very efficient. The new Vio series offer off-set rubber tracks so that you can get through tighter spaces. Komatsu's are very popular as well too. Might want to look into them also.

06-05-2004, 12:17 PM
I would also suggest looking at Case mini-excavators. I think that all of them are zero-tail swing. Takeuchi makes a lot of good stuff to so I wouldn't just look at two name brands. I was on IHI's website and it seems that they make excellent excavators, will have to check them out. I also noticed that Gehl and Takeuchi have the same tracked loader design.

Good Luck

P.S. look at all brands !

06-08-2004, 08:02 PM
I work for a rental company now, and we have kx 41's and 121-3's. The 121's have hyd. thumbs. I personally don't like anything smaller than the 121's. But, the kx41's do run well...we have no problems with them what-so-ever. They are though, extremely small! :eek:


06-10-2004, 12:32 PM
The Gehl Track loaders are made by Takeuchi. I have run the Case mini excavators the CX36 and CX47. I really did not care for the 36. My IHI with 2000 hours and 7 years older had much higher breakout force and seemed to be much heavier built. The 47 was much more impressive. I will say that the Case machines (which are built by Kobelco) are comfortable to run. I am rather loyal to Case skid steers but I am happier with the Takeuchi excavator than the Case machines.

IHI's hydrualic system is extremely smooth. More smooth I believe than the Takeuchi. Had IHI been more competetive on finiancing options I would have bought one over the Takeuchi. Now that I have spent time with the TB53 it is very powerful and the new boom design that shifts side to side is awesome. My only real complaint is it is heavy (about 13K). Once you get on site the weight is nice, transporting it is not nice.

06-13-2004, 07:21 PM
Case mini-exs are Kobelcos.

07-01-2004, 01:14 AM
Well this has been very funny to here you guys battle over these manchines... Amazing you guys have the time to go back and forth.. but i will say when it gets down to it its what you can afford. Cat, case, ihi ,all make good machines...I like all american stuff.. nothing like them union boys busting ass to get you the best stuff.............but this is a world ecomny know... So lets all just get along

07-01-2004, 12:05 PM
Amen to that! (Are you accusing me of being battalatory? You want something? HUH?)

(I'm kidding... *whimpers*)

07-06-2004, 09:30 PM
Takuechi is a great machine the best I've used with Scat Trak being a close second. Bobcat's are great but I've never really liked Deere or Cat mini excavators just my opion.

07-07-2004, 03:09 AM
I really enjoyed operating a Deere 27C ZTS, great machine. Although, that's all I have run extensively and can't quite make a comparison to anything else. We will be looking at a used Kubota KX-91-2 this fall as a rental store will be selling it with around 1,000 hours with 2 buckets, Q/C, and hyd. thumb. Asking between 21K and 24K depending on hours. How does Kubota compare?

07-07-2004, 09:25 PM
Look at the dealers parts network. And don 't be fooled by we can ups the parts next day. The dealership doesn't pay for UPS red, you do. Look at how strong the dealers in house transfer network is, then how fast they can get parts from the manufacture. Take a dealer with like 4 or 5 stores over a few states, this dealer may stock 1.5 million in each store, with a shuttle between the stores running everday. So maybe the part isn't in your store, but one of the others, they can have the part on the shuttle next day with no freight charge.

The trouble I see with Kubota is that the excavator is one of the biggest things they make, but probably the lowest volume in sales. Parts stock is probably limited, and waiting for a part to clear customs from Japan takes time.

In terms of parts distribution cat has one of the strongest networks in most parts of the country.


07-07-2004, 10:34 PM
I second that. If you're isolated (not exactly "close" to a dealer), then you'd want to doubly make sure any parts delays are minimal.

07-10-2004, 12:07 AM
Geoff, you are right. We do have problems every once in a while with having to wait for Kubota parts. Luckily, we rarely need parts because we have almost zero problems with them!


07-10-2004, 12:49 AM
Correct me if your wrong but your in the rental biz. That means you keep equipment 1 or 2 years and sell it as used. You do this because you want to your equipment in top shape so it doesn't break down when rented. The easyest way to do this is to keep it a short period of time. Not everyone has the income to buy a machine and keep it for one or two years and get another one. I think most people keep heavy equipment 5 to 10 years before they think about trading.

So while you may rarely need parts for your kubota because they are so new. What about the guy with a 10 or 15 year old machine? I am sure he buys more parts then you and the less time he has to wait the better off he is.


07-10-2004, 01:11 AM
True, but we still do have the older models (not super old but they are older, and anything in a rental fleet gets A LOT of abuse so you can age them a little faster than those owned by a private party) and we have little problems with kubota. It all depends on the machine and the maker. For example, Scissor lifts suck in general, they always have something wrong with them, but skyjack is from what I've see the worst out there, genie being better made. I personally think though that Takeuchi, John Deere, and Kubota are very well made mini-trackhoes. But, I've delt with Kubota more than any of the others. I've heard good stuff about all three makers, but personally if you can count on a well made machine, then the wait would be worth it. It's like JD CUT's, they always are having problems, I've talked to a lot of people who refuse to deal with JD's smaller end of the machine totem pole, CUT's, because they have too many problems. So is it better to have tons of problems and have almost instant access to parts or is it better to have VERY few problems and have to wait a little while to get the part? That's how I look at it, just my "personal" opinion.


07-13-2004, 04:27 AM
I think now days living next to the dealer is of less value than it used to be. I was concerned when I bought an IHI that dealer support would be an issue. I set up an account with the company out of KY and I have to say I had better support than I have with some dealers in my own town. The fact is dealers are only carrying on hand the high turn over parts. The more demand for a certain part the greater the chance it will be on hand. Case in point an excavator friend of mine has a CAT 315C. The throttle cable broke. The part had to be made in JAPAN then shipped over. I am not kidding. IHI carried every part for everything they sold in KY. It was only a day or two out. That is no different than some not frequently ordered parts from CASE which is only 10 miles away from me.

07-14-2004, 08:57 PM
Here is a photo of our Yanmar Vio20 at work.

07-14-2004, 09:36 PM
Did you forget to attach a photo?

07-15-2004, 05:17 PM
Originally posted by ksss
IHI carried every part for everything they sold in KY. It was only a day or two out. That is no different than some not frequently ordered parts from CASE which is only 10 miles away from me.

Is that in Elizabethtown KY? If so that's the main office of IHI Compact Excavator Sales for the US. If they don't have the part it's coming from overseas too I believe.

07-27-2004, 10:14 PM
Forget the mini, get one of these :)

J/K, this is 1 of 2 that were the first east of the Mississippi.

07-29-2004, 12:14 AM
Ahhh booo... I love Cat! I love Cat!

07-29-2004, 09:45 AM
Cat wishes they made one that big. Komatsu PC5500

07-30-2004, 04:57 PM
:) Oh well. I like my kitties small.

09-13-2004, 12:11 AM
i have a kubota kx-41 and today i popped 2 metal gears off of my rubber tracks. i was wondering if anyone knows if this is a common occurrence or why this happened. the crawlers are properly adjusted and i was not working hard, anyway, i need to get another rubber crawler.

does anyone have links to aftermarket parts for this kubota? the rubber crawler track is a bridgestone (#RB201-2231-3) so i would think that i could get one cheaper from a source other than the kubota dealer but i am running into dead ends.

i have also been looking for a 2 foot wide bucket, used, aftermarket or new if i could get one thru someone other than a kubota dealer. any ideas, sources or links?

how about any equipment junkyards for parts?

any links or advice to used, aftermarket or genuine parts thru a discount distributor would be very much appreciated.


01-28-2005, 11:49 AM
I have a PC-30-5 Mini excavator. Have'nt had any problems with it breaking or getting and parts needed. I had a small hydraulic leak and the local dealer had the needed parts in stock. My buddy has a Takeuchi T35 and another a Kobelco "30" sized machine. We all like the Komatsu best. If I were to have anything differant it would be a "Zero Turn" machine for manuvering in tight spots. #1 thing to have is a thumb. Mine is fixed without hydraulics that I fabbed for less then $200. For the $1100 I was quoted to plumb it, I can jump off and move the pin as required. Also we all prefer a metal tracked machine as 99% of the work we do is in the dirt.

03-04-2005, 06:07 AM
The Japanese produce a high qaulity product. From the 70's on they have led the way with electronics in heavy excavators (only Liebherr can claim to compete). I think that all the major US construction companies have a deal with a japanese company to import excavotors. The Europeans developed the hydraulic (as opposed to cable operated) excavator in the 50's - 70's, but fell to the less expensive Japanese after the 80's (because of exchange rates). The Japanese also were instrumental in developing the mini-excavator, it was popular there and in Europe (Poclain anyone?) long before it became common here. I just finished reading "Yello Steel A History of the Construction Equipment Industry", fascinating, I might not have the title exactly correct.

Caribbean Breeze
03-04-2005, 08:21 AM

You have hit the nail on its head.

Give credit where credit is due. The jap stuff exceeds in quality and performance.

All The Best,

03-04-2005, 02:26 PM
The Japanese produce a high qaulity product. From the 70's on they have led the way with electronics in heavy excavators (only Liebherr can claim to compete). I think that all the major US construction companies have a deal with a japanese company to import excavotors. The Europeans developed the hydraulic (as opposed to cable operated) excavator in the 50's - 70's, but fell to the less expensive Japanese after the 80's (because of exchange rates). The Japanese also were instrumental in developing the mini-excavator, it was popular there and in Europe (Poclain anyone?) long before it became common here. I just finished reading "Yello Steel A History of the Construction Equipment Industry", fascinating, I might not have the title exactly correct.

Hate to nitpick -- Bobcat doesn't use an outside manufacturer (but for its 442); Gehl/Mustang uses a European company. Other than that, I believe all manufacturers have an agreement as you mentioned.