Cat 304.5 Review...This is for you, Pawnshop

Discussion in 'Heavy Equipment & Pavement' started by Scag48, Apr 25, 2005.

  1. Scag48

    Scag48 LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,067

    Here's the rave review you've been looking for Pawnshop. I spent all day gettin pissed off at rocks and hauling machines around I'm dizzy.

    Okay so I spent 8 hours setting rock for a retaining wall job that we've been hired to do. Didn't get done, but I've spent enough time in the seat of the 304.5 that I can give an honest opinion. The machine, being at least 3 years old, is quite a performer. It is fairly quick, not smokin' fast, but fast enough. It will lift A TON. If you're looking for alot of lift capacity, this machine has it, no problem at all lifting 900 pound rocks over the side, 3 feet up and 8-9 feet out, facing downhill even and then swinging uphill. But while I was out setting this wall, I'm only about halfway done with it, I realized all the trouble it was to get the 4 loads of rock that was needed to build this thing. The quarry is about 10 miles away from town, we have to haul the excavator out there with our gooseneck trailer, go get the dump trailer, drive back to the quarry, and then make as many loads necessary to get all the rock to the site, then go pick up the machine and haul it to the site. :dizzy: In theory, this works pretty well, but we can't haul mre than about 9K pounds in the trailer so it takes quite a few loads and the place is pretty far from town. Also, I realized today that setting a wall is frustrating. Sometimes it seems that you just can't ever get the rock you want to fit just right and I tend to have a short fuse. So, the whole idea of us buying a machine that is larger than a 303CR was to enable us to do these rocks walls, which in fact take so long and are quite aggrevating I don't know if I want to do very many of them. I think I've decided that with the $10K we save by buying a 303CR instead of something larger, we'll use that cash to pay for rentals on a larger machine if and when we need to build a wall, which won't even come close to 10K. So, in all, I think the 304.5 is an awesome machine. It digs well, lifts well, and all around performs awesome. If it wasn't for my lack of patience on building walls, we'd probably be doing more of them in which case we'd absolutely need a large machine, but I think we'll end up with a brand spanking new 303CR about the middle of next month.
     
  2. thepawnshop

    thepawnshop LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 387

    What kind of price are you being quoted for the 303CR?
     
  3. Scag48

    Scag48 LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,067

    I think it's around $35K, not sure if that's with a thumb or not.
     
  4. thepawnshop

    thepawnshop LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 387

    The quote I just got from the Cat guy for the 304CR with a 24" & 12" bucket was $39,500. The machine is a demo (33 hours) and it is a BEAST! My biggest concern is that "biggest is not always better". The hydraulics on the Deere (which is simply a rebranded Hitachi) is much more responsive and smooth. The Cat seems a bit "stiff". It (the 304CR) DEFINATELY has awesome digging power, but the Deere is a very able machine as well, smaller (which means it can get inot tighter spaces) AND it is 4k less. Once again I find myself REALLY wanting to like the Cat, but after a couple of hours in the seat, I am still leaning towards the Deere.

    Anyone wanting to share an opinion? I'm all ears!
     
  5. TerraFirma Excavating

    TerraFirma Excavating LawnSite Member
    Posts: 163

    Wow, I think that's a great price on the 304CR. I demo'd one two years ago and really liked it. The price the dealer quoted me then was $40,200 with only 24" bucket. An comparable sized Deere machine was quoted to me at $50,000+!!! We must pay quite a bit more up here in Alaska.

    The Cat 304CR, when I looked at it 2 years ago, needed a weld-on eye to mount a thumb. All in all, the thumb was going to add ~$4,500 to the price. I was also looking at Bobcat machines at that time. The Bobcat's come with an eye already mounted on the dipper arm straight from the factory. It was only going to be $1,200 to add a thumb to the Bobcat machine.
     
  6. Scag48

    Scag48 LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,067

    Not a bad deal on 304CR Pawnshop, we were quoted $46,000 for a hyd. thumb, quick coupler, 24" digging bucket and a 53" cleanup bucket. Dad decided that we're going to get a 303CR so we can trailer the machine behind both trucks, otherwise we'd have to use our gooseneck for weight. I remember you asking why we use the bigger trailer for a 304 and it's because we can't put 10K pounds on our tiltbed. Also, we've had the 303 on about 5 sites since we recieved the machine about a week ago, sites that the 304.5 would be tough to get on, let alone a 304CR. I don't think I"ll get the chance to operate a 304CR anytime soon, dad pulled the trigger this morning and ordered a 303CR. Ordered a brand new 303 w/ quick coupler, hyd. thumb with thumb control repositioned to the right joystick (about $2k! :eek: ) 12" and 24" digging buckets and a 36" cleanup bucket. Out the door was about $39,000, tax included and the cost of repositioning the thumb control, which is rediculiously expensive but is definately worth it in my opinion. Should have the machine here in a couple weeks, they have to ship it from Seattle and get it to the shop to install the thumb and controller, gonna be sweet.

    Now, I think I might understand how you're comparing the 304CR to the 35D as far as smoothness. The 304.5 is kind of the same way, not really "smooth" just kind of there as far as power goes. I'll agree those Deere machines probably have the larger Cat (304CR, 304.5, 305CR) machines beat in smoothness, but the 303CR CANNOT be beaten. It is one smooth puppy. This machine makes my dad look pretty decent with an excavator and he's never run one in his life until last Wednesday. Also, one feature I really like with Cat is the blade float feature. Makes grading on slopes so much easier than using our skid steer, i'm going take the excavator to all the sloped sites to do grading instead of the 216. Anyway, glad you at least tried the 304CR, I wish I could say that same, but I'm sure I'll have to put in a retaining wall sometime later this year and we'll rent to do it. Dad decided we're not going to push the market to do retaining walls. At first, he wanted to get into that market and maybe do 10-15 walls a year. He's changed his mind and said we will do them if it's convenient for us and just rent a machine when needed and get a piece (303CR) that makes more sense for the work we do rather than try to do alot of walls and buy a 304CR that would be overkill for about 80% of our jobs and would only serve us on about 20% of jobs that we need an excavator for, which includes retaining walls. Only 20% of use just doesn't make sense, we can use the 303 on every job, not just a few. Remember, renting is your friend and I believe what you're saying about "biggest isn't always better", I can relate to that. Anyway, order that 35D already and get to work!
     
  7. Gravel Rat

    Gravel Rat LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 9,544

    Like I meantioned before seriously look at Kubota you really can't go wrong with a Kubota Mini excavator the one contractor I work for has been 161 in his operation for quite a few years. He is on the second new machine he bought one it worked out well used it for 5-6 years then traded it in on a new one and it works everyday.

    For what you guys are looking at the 121-3 will do all your needs and more its a 9000lb machine.

    I bet if you look at the Cat machine its prolly a Mitsubushi rebaged and repainted I know Cat Forklifts are that way.
     
  8. Scag48

    Scag48 LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,067

    KX 121-3 is $47,000 here, completely not worth it. We looked into one, but they just didn't have what we wanted. The thumb control couldn't be moved up to the joystick, the travel pedals are crap, the dozer lever seemed to always be in my way, the joysticks require more effort than the 303CR, just a few things that wouldn't bother most people turned me away from a Kubota. If the pricing on a Kubota was a little more competitive, we would have looked into it and I would have just dealt with these little ergonomic problems, but they're almost more expensive than a Cat up here and the dealer support isn't nearly as good. Yes the Cat mini's have Mitsubishi engines in them, but all the componentry is Cat, that makes the difference.
     
  9. Gravel Rat

    Gravel Rat LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 9,544

    You must have a Cat dealer that gives machines away because Cat is the most expensive machine to buy here and the most expensive to repair.

    I looked up some used Cat prices I found a 302.5 its a 2002 model with 1500 hours on it selling for 32,000 dollars CND (25,600 US). I found another 302.5 2000 model its advertised for 64000 dollars CND

    A Kubota 161 2004 model with 700 hours is 49,000Cnd 39,000 US another 2004 Kubota 161 200 hours 78,000 CND 62,000 US.

    I couldn't find any 304 or 303 prices it seems like they are non existant in Canada even the largest Cat dealer in Canada doesn't have any in the used Inventory.

    Anyhow to sum it up I still can't believe Cat is cheaper in the US but then again your gov't doesn't like Foriegn made equipment so its prolly one of the reasons. Cat must be getting expensive when some of the largest gravel mines are getting rid of Cat and going with other brands. Most of the excavation companies haven't owned a Cat excavator since the early 80s.
     
  10. Scag48

    Scag48 LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 6,067

    I think Cat is more of an "American based" company. A company that is shown on the Dow Jones Industrial Average, one of 30, is viewed as a large company by the NYSE, let alone the rest of the US. I think you're right, the US is kind of against foreign trade, but Deere is pretty much a US company, why aren't they expensive as well? Hitachi and Komatsu are not in the US, and that's probably why they are so much cheaper for you in Canada. I believe our sales guy is also giving is a pretty good deal on our machine as we've done quite a bit of business with them and that's why we chose Cat, for their service and the great relationship we have with them. BTW, a 2002 302.5 with 1500 hrs for $25,000 US is a decent buy. The Kubota KX 161 is about like a Cat 305CR, and at $62,000 US, that's WAY too expensive. I can buy a brand new 305CR with thumb for about $52,000. Doesn't sound like Cat is the only brand up there that is expensive, sounds like you guys are paying alot for iron in general, regardless of brand.
     

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