277/302.5 substitute

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by Qualey, Feb 21, 2004.

  1. Qualey

    Qualey LawnSite Member
    Messages: 144

    Let me preface this by saying that what I am looking for may not exist:)

    We use a 2003 Cat 277 MTL in our business. It unloads 18 wheelers, moves slabs into our building, plows the drive, is on all construction sites etc. I don't have to tell you that these things aren't inexpensive.
    Last fall I also purchased a 1999 Cat 302.5 mini excavator. I hated paying for it (and still do), but I had been paying rent on one all summer and it didn't make sense to continue doing so when I could own this for less that half. This machine is very handy when we need it, but ALL IT DOES is dig foundations for the wall/steps/patios we build and grave/momument bases.

    Does a machine exist that will do the work of these 2 for less than their combined total? I was looking at the JCB 212. It seems handy, and I can get a used 2001 with 800 hrs for 25k, but after running track systems for so long I really wasn't too cool on going back to wheels. The other option is keeping the 277, dumping the 302.5, and buying a backhoe attachment for the 277. Its a real pain trying to get these 2 pieces to a jobsite due to their combined weight requiring a 10 ton trailer and a Class 1 CDL. As our business focus becomes more delivery and in-house oriented (no landscape maintenance, selective construction only) I've been looking at telehandlers for around the shop and used 9 series Bobcats (we need at least 3k lift) for any field work and renting the minis again. I don't mind paying for the stuff as long as it gets worked and returns my investment, but with the shift in business I could really use that money on updating some of our sawing equipment.

    What would you do?


    Qualey Granite & Stone Fabrication, LLC
  2. D Felix

    D Felix LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,898

    Personally, I would keep the mini-ex as an option (either as rental or purchase). The backhoe attachment for the 277 will not do anywhere close to what the mini-ex will do.

    As far as excavation equipment is concerned, all I have run in the last 3+ years is mini-ex's. Before that all I had run was a Terra-mite. The TM was OK for what it was used for, but the mini-ex will out-dig it any day of the week. The versatility of the mini-ex far and above outwieghs the extra cost, IMHO.

    While I don't know what the 302.5 runs $-wise, I know you can find a used Bobcat 331/334 occasionally for $30-35k. I have been quite happy with the 331's that I have ran.

    Think of it this way. What you currently have is around a total of, what, say $100k worth of equipment? A good backhoe will run you close to that amount. And it's not as versatile as the two pieces you have. And you are still looking at a 14,000+ pound piece of equipment. You are still getting up into CDL range with that.

    I know you have Cat equipment, but the Bobcat T300/old 864 will easily pick up 3k+.... And they may be cheaper?


    DUSTYCEDAR LawnSite Fanatic
    from PA
    Messages: 5,132

    why not get a roll back to put the two machines on and not use the trailer
    or even a hooklift system load the stuff the night before and drop off the material in i load then the equipment many uses out of 1 truck u can also get dumpsters nice system
  4. ksss

    ksss LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 7,168

    Seeing what the 302.5 have done on resale, I would say keep it. I have watched these sell cheap on Iron Planet and it probably would be of more use to you than it would be to sell it. To get a higher utilization rate you can offer to rent it out by the day. I would keep the set up you have. I transport a skid steer and a mini in one shot. It requires heavier pickup and trailer but it works well for me. One option is pull the skid steer and mini-ex seperate if that is practical. If your currently lifting 3000 pounds plus you are over the operating capacity of a 277. The 900 series Bobcats are no longer made and are oversized for the capacity they offer IMHO. Your current choices in the over 3K class are Gehl/Mustang 7800 3,600 pounds, Case 95XT 3600 pounds, and Deere 280 3200 pounds. These are wheeled machines. Case has a rubber track system but it is not a dedicated track like the 277. I doubt it would pay to reinvest in a different direction given you already have the equipment.
  5. D Felix

    D Felix LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,898

    One thing to keep in mind when comparing wheeled machines versus tracked machines (dedicated tracks, that is) is that the operating capacities are rated differently.

    Wheeled machines are rated at 50% of tip capacity, while tracked machines are rated at 35% of tip capacity. This is an SAE standard.

    I have personally used a tracked Bobcat 864 to pick up and set a ledge stone that came across the scales at over 3900 pounds. I know that was getting close to tip capacity, 'cause it was tipping depending on where I was at.:D

    Personally, I don't think the rated capacities are there for much else other than for the manufacturers to cover their a$$es. I gaurantee you that 95% of all skidsteers owned/used by landscape companies (or any other company, for that matter) are regularly subjected to loads well over the rated capacity.

    If the machines aren't supposed to pick heavy stuff up, why do the manufacturers sell counterwieght kits?

  6. ksss

    ksss LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 7,168

    There is a difference between Rated Operating Capacity and Tipping capacity. Tipping capacity is the absolute STATIC lift capacity of the machine in controlled environment. Operating capacity is (on rubber tired machines) is half of Tipping capacity. Rated Operating Capacity is the max the machine is rated to WORK with. Can you lift more than the ROC yes you can. Once you exceed the it however, the machine becomes more difficult to contol and becomes more dangerous. Is there a manufactured safety margin I am sure there is. It is for the manufactures benifit as well as yours. Routinely working a machine beyond its ROC is dangerous from a safety standpoint but also causes excessive wear. Tracked machines are rated at 35% of tipping capacity. Routinely over load a tracked machine and you'll increase your already higher maintaince costs. Tracked machines are designed to spread load the weight over the length of its tracks. Overloading a tracked machine causes POINT loading on the front rollers and sprockets vastly increasing the wear rate. Weight kits are designed to add to the ROC of a machine so that it can be safety operated with higher payloads. However if you have noticed the Tippping capacity with or without weight kits is unchanged. Most weight kits only add several hundred pounds to a machines ROC. Case's weight kit for a 95xt adds 500 pounds. However the weight kit itself weighs 900 pounds. Everyone at one time or another exceeds the capacity of a machine. If you buy a machine with 2000 pounds of ROC and expect to ROUTINELY carry 4000 pounds than don't cry when your machine is worn out before its time. Not to mention the safety of your employees being compromised.

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