View Full Version : Question for Bobcat Brand Skidsteer Owner/Operators

10-24-2004, 11:15 AM
When I demoed a rental S175 on the Bobcat dealers lot I was very dissapointed in the reaction of the machine while making turns. It seemed to "jerk" whereas the other machines I have demoed were all very smooth while turning. When I asked the salesman about it, he said it does the same thing for him, but that the owner of the dealership can turn it smooth as silk.

What I want to know, is this common, or is it just a product of inexperience? I am still undecided which way I want to go with my skid steer purchase, though I plan to make a decision this week. I am almost sold on the JD 320, but the bucket controls are incredibly stiff (they are all mechanical) which has given me a bit of apprehension, due to the fact that I have some VERY precise work that needs to be done. The Bobcat has excellent hand controls and are electrical/mechanical so they are much smoother...reminiscent of the Cat controls without being hydraulic. For the record, the Bobcat that I am interested in is the S185 but they didn't have one on the lot that had hand controls. Any other pro's or con's that you Bobcat owner/operators want to share would definately be very helpful! Thanks!

TerraFirma Excavating
10-24-2004, 03:38 PM

I have found that my 773T sometimes makes "jerky" turns. I think this is because I run the engine at nearly 100% power and may give one side more thrust than the other. I find that I have to feather the control arm a little more when I am looking for smooth operation on delicate ground. I have the hand and foot controls in my loader, but always use the hand controls. Short controls with less throw would be easier to control and offer less operator fatigue. The new Selectable Joystick Controls offer the ability to choose between standard hand controls and ISO pattern contols similar to Cat's controls. You may want to try this style of controls in a Bobcat machine.

Looks like you are a building contractor (from your signature), so I am guessing your needs may be a little more than the average landscape user. If you do not have a forklift already, you will want to utilize your skidsteer with forks to offload and transports material at the jobsite. Some of the building materials I am familiar with are definately heavier than the 2000# ROC of the machines you are looking at. If I was going to handle bunks of plywood material and sheetrock, I would look more at a 2500-3000# rated machine. At the very least, I would look at the larger, more powerful machines in the middle of each manufactures lineup.

Here's an overview of some machine you have mentioned in other threads:

Just off of specs:
From Deere I would choose the 325, but I would really have to see how much a price difference there was between the 320 & the 325. Never have ran a Deere, so the test drive would greatly influence me also.
From Cat I would choose the 236B, does not look like you'd gain much from going to the 246B. Test drive also needed.
From Bobcat I personally would go with a T300, but from these machines I would choose the S220 hands down over the S185. Don't know what the price difference is, but would be at least worth at least $3000-$4000 to me to have a longer wheelbase and more power. I also added the Versa-handler V518 to the list. If you don't have a forklift, this would be awesome around your jobsite. I'd love to see a price on one of them. I have never seen one in person, but have seen other machines like a ZoomBoom. Sorry to get off topic with the materials handler.

10-24-2004, 08:54 PM
Doug, the S175 may turn harshly because of its weight distribution. I do not know how it is balanced, but I do know that a wide stance but a short wheelbase -- as found on the S175, for example -- equates to a pretty rough ride or turning. Just a correction to the above chart, the weight of the S220 is 7370 pounds. The Bobcat literature was incorrect in that for a while... I don't know whether they've updated yet. Also, the Deere HP ratings are gross power; the other ratings listed are net HP. The Deeres have 62 and 70 HP, respectively.

[And yes, many owners did find the S175/185/205/T190/180) to be pretty harsh turning.]

10-24-2004, 09:10 PM
Xing, I am sure you knew/know that Bobcat is coming out with a S205 very shortly. I do hope to hear from other owners but it does sound like the general consensus is that the Bobcat is pretty harsh in the turns. Thanks for your input. I could have sworn that the sales guy claimed a 60/40 weight distribution as well for the Bobcat...

I have to ask Xing...what do you do? You are incredibly knowledgable when it comes to skid steers. I have learned more in the last two weeks about them than I ever care to know...weight distributions, ROC's, steering mechanisms, Vertical Lifts vs. Radial arm...all the numbers and stats can be a bit overwhelming/confusing!

To respond to Terra, I need to keep my machine small enough to get into unfinished basements and under decks, etc. I am buying the forks regardless of who I get my machine from but your point is well taken regarding ROC's. I do have two very good friends in the excavating business with larger machines to handle any hardcore digging so I think I am best suited with a smaller machine. I also own a couple of Pawnshops here in Roanoke, VA and I plan to use the skid steer to keep my lots clear of snow in the winter as well.

Thanks to all who have taken the time to respond and I hope anyone and everyone else with an opinion chimes in...personal observations are the best way to help prospective buyers to make the most informed choice and I can only say the kindest things about all of you who have shared your thoughts..This site is incredible. I will keep you all posted on my final decision and hope to continue to contribute my personal observations from the eyes of an excavating/skid steer amatuer!

10-24-2004, 11:41 PM
If you do plan to do a lot of moving stuff around, it could well be that the Deere 320 is the best fit for you. Either that or a New Holland Ls160 or 170. I tend to agree that a vertical lift machine is a better idea than a radial lift machine. At the same time, I'm sure a Cat 246B will handle your needs perfectly well. An extra 250 lbs of ROC will help quite a bit. 1750 ROC-size radial lifts with 72" buckets are... well, they're pretty tippy. The Bobcat 853, Case 1845, and even, to an extent, the current Case 60XT. Again, though, seeing as how you'll need a machine with those specifications, better to be safe than sorry... and I believe Deere has learned its lesson. I don't think you'll go wrong there.

(I'm highly loyal to Bobcat and Cat... I'd try to get a 246B, but that'll be much more expensive than even the 236B.)

And Doug -- I'm a student. I'm a mechanical engineering major (freshman) at the University of Illinois. I've loved skid steers and construction equipment all my life; I try to stay ahead of the game. (And yes, about the S205 -- I heard about it on September 3. Very unfortunate that Bobcat hasn't mentioned it on its site yet... :()

As far as weight distributions go, I have no idea... Bobcat doesn't really focus on any of that information. I'm pretty sure that the T175/185 are balanced around the 60/40 principle, but maybe a little closer to a 65/35. Just my thoughts. No idea and no proof of that.

I'll let others reply now... as an idea, however, www.plowsite.com has a person who owns a S250 who loves it (got rid of his Deere for it). I think his name is Randy or something with Randy in it?

10-25-2004, 12:15 AM
Apparently Randy (Randy Scott is his name) had posted a VERY critical review of his JD 250 a while back. I have looked for it but could nit find it. I was incredibly intrigued because he had mentioned how rough it was in a couple of other posts but I could not find the original and he does not accept emails directly from members. I also think that there is more than one disgruntled consumer for every brand of equipment out there. As I have said in a previous post elsewhere...if I could marry the frame and weight distribution of the JD with the cabin and controls of the Cat it would be the perfect skid steer.

Congratulations on the edu-macation! I do hope that you are taking advantage of your passion and working part time either excavating or working for a heavy equipment company because there is so much to learn in the "real world" that you can never get from a book. You seem very intelligent and quite considerate and once again I must say that you are quite an asset to this and all the forums that you participate in.

Spend some time on the JD site...it is very nice, particularly with their "comparison" feature so you can compare specs with any other potential purchase!

By the way, I know you are a Bobcat fan, but the new "unannounced" S205 will have teh same exact fram as the S175/185, which means jerky turns:confused: . The S250 does seem like a VERY nice skid, but I think that it is in another class, size-wise. It would match up well with the JD 325, though.

10-25-2004, 12:19 PM
Yeah, the S205 will be a S185 on steriods, which is already an S175 on steroids. :sigh: To be honest with you... from what I have noticed in the past with Bobcat, the S205 may be indicative of a new line of skid steer loaders. The 883 gave way to the S300; a similar scenario may follow the S205. I have no idea of the validity of this, so don't be surprised if Bobcat does indeed KEEP the S205 for a long time.

Yeah, Deere's site is excellent. Of the major construction equipment companies, I feel it to be the second best. (Volvo's tops it.)

Any other Bobcat operators out there at all?

10-25-2004, 02:42 PM
By the way...Randy called me directly. He was incredibly helpful, honest and sincere. If you read this Randy, thanks for taking the time to give me a call...I really appreciate it!

10-26-2004, 08:21 PM
I've owned and operated a Bobcat 773T (predecessor to the S185) for the past 3 years. It makes smooth turns without the jerky motion. I have foot controls which I prefer and find that they are sensitive enough to quickly and precisely position the bucket for very delicate work. Several things that may help dampen my machine are the foam filled tires, Grouser tracks, and the fact that I operate mostly in the dirt. Perhaps any or all of these contribute.
The reason I chose the 773T was because it offered the best compromise for my tasks. Like thePawnshop, I wanted a small profile machine that had mid range lift capacity, excellent operator comfort and protection, reliability and economy. Overall, it has performed well and satisfied my initial requirements.
Even though I'm more or less satisfied, I'm still considering replacing it this fall. The reason is that I would like to have a higher tip load and more tractive force (push). I do general grading and backfilling, drainage, lift and carry, and so on. I live in rural Georgia and deal with red clay (hard as concrete when it's dry, sink to your axles when it's wet). Most of my worksites are rolling to hilly with limited work room. A higher capacity machine would simply provide a larger operating window.
I think TerraFirma offered some very good advice, many construction/excavation sites require more lift and push capacity than a mid range skid steer can provide. Even though thePawnshop said he had larger equipment at his disposal, I would also recommend he consider larger machines up through 5000 lb tip. This would provide a much more versatile machine capable of more tasks with a far greater comfort level. Lifting pallets of zoysia sod or landscape rocks really takes my 773T to the limit, even with the foam and track weight. Add uneven terrain and things can get uncomfortable fast.
But you don't have to go to a larger machine to get more lift. I'd like to offer an alternative for consideration, the Bobcat T190. It has the same profile as the S185 yet has a tip load between the S250 and S300. It is a track machine which brings with it another set of pros and cons but for me it also offers the things I'm looking for, improved traction, flotation, push and similar economy as my 773T. Please understand that I'm not particularly a Bobcat fan or any other vendor for that matter. In fact, I prefer the Takeuchi TL140 for many reasons. Unfortunately it is considerably more expensive than the T190 without providing significant advantage that I can determine. Hence the T190 is at the top of my benefit/cost comparison.
There is no doubt the T190 is expensive. But if you equip a S250 with foam and tracks, the price differnce narrows quite a bit. Also, don't forget this may be the last year (I think) for the large first year depreciation deduction. This really helps make expensive equipment affordable if you have the taxable liability to begin with.
Best Regards to All,
PS: Xing - I have been an ME for almost 30 years, thermal sciences with computational fluid dynamics early in my career, senior management for the last 15. Good luck with your studies. I've enjoyed your posts also, informative, well thought out, and accurate. Keep it up!
I've been very impressed with the quality of the posts at this site, hence the reason for my first post tonight.

Randy Scott
10-26-2004, 11:22 PM
By the way...Randy called me directly. He was incredibly helpful, honest and sincere. If you read this Randy, thanks for taking the time to give me a call...I really appreciate it!

Doug, I see in your other thread you are getting the new Deere. Good luck with it and I'm sure it will be fine. I really feel shorted by Deere and my dealer. It's too bad, I would have spent a lot more money with them in the future. Not any more now. Apparently they are content loosing a customer. Whatcha gonna do, Bobcat took my money with no complaints. Hopefully I'll have better luck.

No problem trying to help you out, that's what we're here for. What did you all get for options on the machine and how much does it run for pricing? Curious as to any price increases or major changes.

10-26-2004, 11:26 PM
EngDave, looking forward to four years of miser... err, great, fun, and productive classes! No, seriously, it's a great curriculum and I'm sure I'll love. Also, take a look at the JCB track loaders. There's one about the same size as the Bobcat T190. The CAt 257B is also an alternative (though it will be expensive as well). I have heard the Takeuchi is a beast to maintain (or get to components).

Randy, I'd be interested in hearing how the Bobcat is holding up. :D

10-27-2004, 11:04 PM
Xing - Thanks, I've looked at the JCB loader but unfortunately it does not offer a/c so that rules it out. I did like the design though and it appeared that JCB uses a very similar undercarriage as Bobcat. I also demo'd both the Cat 257B and 277B. The T190 is between the two in performance. I liked operating these machines (comfortable cab, pilot controls, etc) but I thought the undercarriage (ASV I think) was very complicated. I just didn't feel comfortable with it's design and my intended use.
An enclosed cab w/heat and a/c is a requirement for me. I'm in the woods a lot and need the protection from yellow jackets and hornets. A couple of weeks ago I hit another yellow jacket nest. I couldn't believe the size of the swarm. I was really glad to have my cab between me and them!
Don't forget to look into your universities co-op or intern program. It might take a little longer to graduate (depends on situation) but it helps break the stress. I'm sure many of the heavy equipment manufacturers have engineering co-op/intern positions that you'd fit perfectly.

10-28-2004, 12:31 AM
Okay, I see. If you're in no rush, give Case and Deere a little time... I'm sure they'll be popping out tracked machines sometime. They won't leave the market alone to Cat and Bobcat (and smaller companies) for too long...

Co-op and intern -- the more I hear "co-op," the more I wish I had gone through and applied to the Cat op-op. I didn't because I wanted to keep the edumacation moving. But I'm probably going to graduate in three years anyhow -- the extra year wouldn't kill me and would free up my summers (so I wouldn't have to do internships during the summer). (By freeing up the summers I could take classes then.) Oh well.

11-18-2004, 12:33 AM
I am moving from Cape Cod to atlanta and I will primarly be focusing on Bobcat work and landscaping. Cape Cod is a giant sandbox, so I am pretty used to getting stuck in lots of sand when I grade lots. I have never worked in clay before and since all of GA is red clay, I was wondering what you thought about getting tracks over tires set up?

I have a 751 bobcat which I love even though it is on the small side, and I was wondering how those over the tires tracks work in Red clay?

What are the downside of the tracks and I would assume that they would destroy lawns? I have gotten away with going over lawns with my tires and had little problems

11-18-2004, 10:10 PM
Southern Yankee - Welcome a little bit early to Georgia! Great place to live and make a living. As far as tracks are concerned, it really depends on your type of work. For me, I live in rural Georgia and spend much of my time in planted pine stands, clear cuts, and unimproved land. I also deal with rolling terrain that can hold water and be very slow to dry. All of that said, that's why I run tracks. I have Grouser hard shoes that have been very durable but can be a pain to take on and off. The pros are better traction than tires, more durable than a rubber track, add weight to the bottom of the machine for more tip load, and a cheaper solution than a track machine. The cons are less push than a track machine, require maintenance and cost, and difficult to take on and off.
If you plan to do mostly finish grading and landscaping I doubt tracks would be necessary unless you're dealing with steep lots. I don't take mine over a customer's finished yards or improved surfaces without boards.
The soil conditions can vary quite a bit in the Atlanta area. You're right that it is mostly clay but it can have significant granite rock. If you've seen Stone Mountain you'll understand. The clay is very hard when dry and sticky, slippery, and mushy when wet. Other than tracks I would definitely recommend a toothed bucket and a cheap hoe (I use a simple stiff arm hoe, has only bucket curl, no articulation). The rental stores will generally have most everything else if you need. Your 751 should work fine and you'll find good support for Bobcat in the area. If you do decide to buy tracks make sure to frequently inspect your drive chains and sprockets for wear. The extra weight can be tough on the chain case internals. Good luck.

11-22-2004, 03:09 AM
Hey thanks for the info!!

Are there any sites on the internet that show that attachement. the hoe? thanks for your help. SY

11-22-2004, 06:40 PM
i used to have a 873 bobcat but the dealer was a pain to deal with it was ok but it had foot controls and the buckets and tires where just too small i have an dj 270 now it is great my dealer is only 2 miles away and serivice is excelent got a heck of a deal on a demo and i love the hand controls plus the engine is wet sleaved just like my tractors i have had no issues with it so far and just got done moving 6000 yrds or dirt on a job with it it is built way heavier than the bobcat and digs like a crawler loader i can out work our 555 deere crawler loader doing certain things we also farm and deere has by far the best parts network by far

11-22-2004, 09:12 PM
Southern Yankee - I bought the EZ-Backhoe with a 16" bucket from www.skidsteersolutions.com. It cost $2,130 including shipping, a bucket tooth cover, hoses and connectors. I have been very satisfied with it and consider it a required attachment. I bought this one because I liked the gussetting on the boom, very rigid. About the only thing I didn't care for at first was the use of crimp on teeth on the bucket, I prefer pin or bolt on. I've replaced them once, heated them up and peened them on. Much less hassle than I first thought. Check out their site for other details.
This is the fastest way I've found to pull stumps and do shallow excavation. It really takes the wear and tear off my SSL. Bobcat sells a similar hoe that has articulation for about $4,200. It's on the Bobcat website. For me, I didn't want to spend the extra $2k. Also, Bradco and Northern sell their versions.

11-28-2004, 11:23 PM
I really apprciate your help!

My question is how do you build a lawn in atlanta? What I mean is do you spread a topsoil over the red clay or does the grass just grow in that soil?

Up North I would subgrade the lot which would be sand and then spread loam over the subgrade and grade it out. How do yall do it in the south? thanks for the help. SY

11-30-2004, 09:40 PM
Southern Yankee - I'm probably not the best resource on lawn development but I'm glad to share what I know. Let me say at the outset that the best sources of information are the University of Georgia agricultural research centers (I think that's the name, one's in Griffin, GA the other in Tifton, GA) and the county agricultural extension office. Either of these can provide specific information for the lawn type and location.
The only time I've used top soil is when I've had it on site. I've never brought it in to establish a lawn (I have purchased top soil for gardens however). If I have a drainage/erosion control job that has significant topsoil then I stockpile, complete the cut and fill, then backfill with the topsoil. However, if minimal topsoil exists, then I take soil samples to the county extension office for recommended amendments. As I'm sure you're aware, I'm trying to find the best value solution for my client without sending the budget overboard.
The greater Atlanta area (gets bigger every year, hard to tell when/where the city will stop growing!) seems to include the piedmont, mountain, and coastal plain regions. As such, there are a variety of turf grass species that seem to do well with the correct soil preparation. I've used bermudas, zoysias, and centipede to good success making sure each was used to it's benefits. The local sod farms have cut sheets on each specie they sell, make sure you get them and follow their recommendation as well.
The Atlanta clay based soil tends to be acidic with high iron content (this is a generality, but my experience, use your soil sample to be sure). It can be very slow to percolate. Also the weather can swing from drought to deluge and 100+ degrees in the summer and below zero in the winter. To me, with this variation, it's all the more reason to follow the recommendations provided by the ag extension office.
Hope this helps. I'd be curious what others are doing.

04-17-2006, 02:06 AM
hello doug sorry youre experance was,nt a good one , to answer youre question the s205 as the also the one you tested has a smooth turn at least for me, if youre looking to buy one let me say this i tested alot of differant brand for united rentals , they where changeing brands due to a fall out from corperate there and bobcat , i operated the john deer , good machine as all the other one,s , BUT, as a expert operator the choice came to me as #1 bob cat or the case uniloader for 2 reasons , bobcat because any unted rentals has parts for them , all rental companies have attachments for this machine and most machanices are at least fimiliar with this machine, thats why i went with bobcat, breifly , i did,nt like the lifting arms of the john deer and parts avalability and the visabiltiy factor, it reminds me of a new holland , the uniloader is a excellent choice , good visabilty good power compact to work on the motor i think its better then a bobcat , but parts a spendy and parts avalibility where you have to go if the thing breaks down all factors involvled bobcat s205 has them all beat i my opinion I dig and demo swiming pools and this is very hard on a machine so I hope this helps you thanks Leo

04-17-2006, 02:23 AM
Sounds like an interesting experience. So United Rentals asked you to demo different machines they were considering purchasing? Did they have a group of guys doing this or was it one operator at a time?

10-12-2006, 10:39 PM
I have a T-190 in Augusta Ga and find it handles everything that comes my way.
Wide tracks and enclosed cab, money well spent in Georgia. Atlanta from Cape Cod will be quite a change southern yankee.

10-13-2006, 10:40 PM
I think that is something you over come as experience operater. Also little factors concrete, blacktop how much tread on tires and rpm's. I have a 185 descent machine but for grading i liked my old 763. The 175 has about 4" less loading height makes a difference in loading trucks, we can load most steel body beds on tri-axles. The new 205 i think is over priced my dealer told me i could not run my tracks on it. I look at little things like that when looking at new machine due to tracks are over 2k. Im guying to buy new machine in spring and keep my 185 as a second machine and probably still go with a 185.

10-15-2006, 01:14 PM
I almost bought a Deere 320 due to my disappointment in the S175, S185 but I then tried an s205 and decided that for its size compared to the Deere, Gehl, and Cat it was the best choice for me. I have 600 hrs on my S205 now, the machine is wonderful, A/C blows cold everyday, NO mechanical failures at all. I highly recommend taking a look at the S205 with ISO controls before making a decision.