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Digging with a skid steer or track loader

Discussion in 'Heavy Equipment & Pavement' started by Fieldman12, Feb 21, 2007.

  1. Fieldman12

    Fieldman12 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,504

    I know you can dig with both machines but what is the best method that most people use? I know it depends on the type of soil, rocks, and moisture but for moving lots of dirt for lets say at least a couple feet deep is it best to rip the area and then go in and remove the dirt? Or do most of you just go in and dig it out with the tooth bucket? I used a 931C Cat a few years ago and I have heard of people digging basements with them. It did not seem to me like the best way to dig especially compared to a track hoe. I noticed the more I would dig with the machine especially in the same area the more the ground became compacted and harder to dig up. I know that when I get into the hard pan it will be harder. I'm use to tilling the dirt instead of digging. I'm trying to learn all I can.
  2. Chriscob

    Chriscob LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,491

    A simple way to loosen hard soil is use the forks to "till." Jam them in and pop them up. Remember to work your way backwards so as not to run over where you just loosened. Drop the forks, and then work your way forward.
  3. AWJ Services

    AWJ Services LawnSite Platinum Member
    from Ga
    Messages: 4,281

    In my opinion if you cannot dig the soil and fill the bucket in the same motion then you need a bigger peice of equipment.
    That is the only way you can do it effeciently.

    In a pinch you can break the soil loose then remove but that will be very time consuming.

    In hard soil you need a big SSL or CTL for this.
  4. Scag48

    Scag48 LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,067

    I never really understood why guys used track loaders (Cat 953's, 963's, etc.) to dig basements. I can understand maybe 20 years ago, but there's no way I'd even touch a basement dig with that kind of machine these days. Sure you can get a huge bite in one pass, but an excavator is going to be a lot faster in the long run. Plus, once you get to grade on the basement floor, you can maintain that grade a lot easier as you're not driving over the grade, turning, etc.
  5. ksss

    ksss LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 7,151

    I agree but when I went back east to Ky to look at IHI excavators they gave me a tour of the area. There were those tracked loaders everywhere. I was told the same thing. That is how they did basements there. Apparently they are pretty good at it from what I was told.
  6. gammon landscaping

    gammon landscaping LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 551

    i have dug hundreds of basements, you start by getting an area a little longer than you machine on grade, then you just drive towards the back of the basement moving left to right and keeping it all on grade as you go so that when it gets packed it is where you want it. the big advantage of digging with a loader is that you only handle the material once and you have a base that is compacted to 110-125% in most cases it will be so tight that the concreat that you pour in there will never crack. with a trackhoe you have a base that is just cut and fairly rough, with a track loader you can get it so smoth and compact that i can spread 1-2 inches of gravel on it and it will be ready for concrete. we dug a few basements with out 312 after we got it but it was a lot slower that the 943 and didn't leave as nice a product when we where done unless we took a skid and cleaned it up. now the track hoe only does sewer, clearing work, and extreme grading (so steep that you can't get tracked equipment on it). the thing that we found with the trackhoe is that you have such a small bucket and you have to handle the material so many times it just doesn't make any sence. here when you dig a basment you always take the top soil off first and place it in the back corner of the lot so that is out of the way untill finish grading, then you take you spoils to a place that they either need to be (as in filling in parts of the yard) or stock pile them away from the basement. we always leave it so that concreate trucks, lumber deliveres, brick and things like that can have close access to the house so that people don't have to hump this stuff across our piles. also when i make a stoke pile with a front end loader i just make a large ramp and as i carry dirt to the top i am compacting the pile so that it will shed water and be nice and dry inside so that when it comes to grading the yard it doesn't matter how wet it is our pile is always dry(i also put a crown on the stoke pile too) with a trackhoe it just doesn't have the reach to get the stuff far enough away. i know some here will disagree, i know that before we got the 312 i thought we where stupid for not having an trackhoe to dig basments , but after trying it on several projects i know that a track loader is the smart way to dig a basement and leave the job site in a condition that will work for everyone down the road ( and it makes our life a lot easier)
  7. ksss

    ksss LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 7,151

    I used to dig manufactured home foundations with a 95XT. Same concept. It would take me about 4-5 hours for a typical 1600 square foot foundation (3-4' feet in the ground) in decent ground conditions. It was not a bad way to dig those types of foundations. I can see some advantages of that method. The downside is the cost of those loaders and the upkeep would seem high (although I have never been around one). It would seem to me like the hourly expenses would be less with an excavator. However, if you can turn out a better quality job with a tracked loader than it probably pays for itself in additional work. I bring a skid steer on all the holes I dig. I can make things nice and neaton the job site, and tighten up the floor grade.
  8. wanabe

    wanabe LawnSite Senior Member
    from So. IL
    Messages: 943

    Arround here we call them highlifts and nobody uses them to dig basements any more, just backfilling. Everyone has a 200 size hoe, 5-6' bucket, and it works so much better. The basement floors are not cut flat anymore. The operator digs 6-8" deeper arround the edge of the hole, the width of the bucket. This allows the footing to be placed in the trench, and will allow the builder to save 6" of rock across the entire floor. Also, the ground water is very high. Most holes have water in them before they are finished digging. The overdig is also smaller with a hoe, thus less backfilling, and settling. It may work in your part of the world, but it is a thing of the past in my area.
  9. Birdhunter1

    Birdhunter1 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 312

    Wanabe, where are you in Southern Illinois?
  10. dozerman21

    dozerman21 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,171

    Wanabe- It's funny to hear you refer to track loaders as "high lifts".:) That's what we call ours too, I just don't hear many guys on here call them that.

    It's pretty much the same here. Track loaders are basically only used for loading dirt or demo work. Excavators dominate here too. Cat 320's are by far the most common machines in my area. I see the points that Gammon makes, but with the mostly flat terrain we have, I can't see how a track loader would be faster in most cases. Around here, most builders have one guy for every phase. Some of us do more than one phase, but we don't have a whole lot of "start to finish" contractors. A high lift would probably be better used in that application.

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