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John Deere Skid Steer & Mini Excavators

Discussion in 'Heavy Equipment & Pavement' started by Land Design, May 21, 2005.

  1. Land Design

    Land Design LawnSite Member
    Messages: 16


    I was just wondering if I could get some input from all of you about John Deere skid steers and mini excavators. I have been looking at their website about these machines and am now looking for some "real world" input. Just wondered if some people could share their views of these machines (any models) good and bad. Feedback can be with the machines used for any line of work, landscape, construction, demo, etc........

  2. Caribbean Breeze

    Caribbean Breeze LawnSite Member
    Messages: 60

    Land Design,

    In my experience, I will tell you that John Deere makes a good skid loader. Hitachi makes most of the excavators large and small which is also good.

    In skid loaders, I would rate them in the 5th or 6th position in terms of being the best overall unit.
    Bobcat, Case, Gehl and Cat have better machines.

    If I wanted a durable, rugged machine, I would buy something like Bobcat or Case or even Gehl. John Deere skid steers have had many issues, even the newest series, I know that the loader arm cannot take the punishment from some applications that other brand can take. The arms start to swing when elevated...

    In Mini Exc's, Kubota, Bobcat & Takeuchi are in my opinion, the better quality units. The Hitachi / John Deere units are not bad, but I would spend my money with a brand that is making there own, in order to ensure that my machine wil have value down the road and parts will be available always..
    My good friend has a 317 and just bought a Bobcat S175. I realize that he does not like the way his 317 is working with his Hyd. hammer.

    I operated a Bobcat 430 for a week and was very happy with its power and serviceability,

    If you need anything else, let me know,

    Caribbean Breeze
    Proud Supporter & User of Komatsu Heavy Equipment
  3. jd270

    jd270 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 102

    so far i have had the jd 270 has been the best trouble free skidloader i have ever owned way better than the 873 bobcat i had before it even has the same motor as our 555g crawler loader the arms are way heaver than the bobcat and they dont wobble even with my 84inch tooth bucket loaded with dirt all the way up.....the machine is built way heaver than a bobcat and for me the jd dealer is way better than the bobcat one so guess to each his own buy what you like
  4. thepawnshop

    thepawnshop LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 387

    Land Design,

    I own both a JD 320 Skidsteer & a 35D Mini-excavator. I demoed both the Cat and the Bobcat skidsteers before I bought the 320. I love teh machine. It has a weight distribtion that puts 60% of the weight in the rear and 40% up front whereas everyone else goes with a "70/30" split, which to me seemed more "tippy". We ahve used it to load fill dirt onto dump trucks and haven't had any problems, she digs great and is a good all around size. As for the hammer issue that Carribbean spoke of, well, the 317 and 320 are both small machines and may not hammer well. Personally, I would rather not run a hammer on my own machine. I think I will rent one (machine) when and if the need arises (it beats the hell out of your machine!)

    As far as the mini's go, I only tried out the Cat 304CR and the JD 35D. YEs, teh JD is a rebranded Hitachi, but I think Hitachi makes some of the best excavators in the business. I LOVE the 35D. I prefer it over my skid in most situations, but the skid can move more material faster. I know you would not be going wrong with either machine...BUT you need to get them out and demo them. Try them out, see how comfortable you are in the cockpit. THat way you will know for sure you have made the right decision. And if the dealer doesn't want you to try their machine for a couple of weeks, then they don't want to sell you a machine.

    One other thing to consider as far as skid steers go...CTL's (Compact Track Loaders) can do the same work as a skid in more types of terrain than a skid. I would like to get one of those myself, but since I have only had my skid 6 months I am too upside down to consider changing (though the JD version isn't coming out until September!).

    Good Luck making a decision...the demoing is part of the fun. It's great to have two or three machines on your site at the same time so you can try something on one machine and then instantly jump on a competitors and try it again!
  5. Caribbean Breeze

    Caribbean Breeze LawnSite Member
    Messages: 60

    Land Design,

    John Deere skid steers have a unique loader arm design. Yes the arms are heavier, their design with has numerous pivot points, vertical lift units have numerous pivot areas as well, now the fact is as follows-

    In Puerto Rico, the John Deere dealer which is Casco Equipment, has a rental fleet of about 20 machines. These machines are not John Deere but Bobcat.
    They do not want to buy JD. and of course John Deere was not happy about that! In PR the people beat the crap out of everything that is in rental. The Bobcat machines have a sure advantage for running attachments such as Hammers & Planers. The Bobcat, Case, Cat, Gehl, Mustang all have stronger arms. Case has a very strong vertical lift arm, probably the best...

    Weight of the arm does not matter - it is its rigidity that matters, on the arm of a John Deere, the pivot areas - pins wear and contribute to BOOM SWAY.

    If you elevate a machine loader arm that has 3000 hrs or more, push on the side of the bucket, this sway - all machines will eventually have - JD normally has more than others.

    I think John Deere has great Backhoes, Ag Equipment etc. but many users are yet to be convinced of their ability of the SSL to stand up to attachments.
    But come on guys - the partnership with Hitachi is not going to be for much longer - then what happens to you parts availaibility and support in the long run...... when these short term, marketing ventures come to an end?
    If tomorrow it ends and today you bought a JD mini, I do not want to even think about resale value........


    is weight a advantage to someone whom does landscaping, drive on jobsites that often has mud ? I think you may be right about the weight but this point may not really be to the advantage of LAND DESIGN.

    All the best!,
  6. Land Design

    Land Design LawnSite Member
    Messages: 16


    Thank you to all that have replied! Your insite is very helpful and much appreciated. Any other opionions/observations by those that have posted or anyone else would be great!

    Thank you,
    Phase 3
  7. Scag48

    Scag48 LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,067

    Well I guess I'll put in my 2 cents worth. We have a Cat 216 skid steer and just recently purchased a Cat 303CR mini excavator. The 216 in almost 2 years old with about 350 hrs on it and it performs flawlessly for the last 12 months. We had some small hydraulic system problems when we first bought the machine, but our dealer took care of that. The 303CR has only 12 hours on it, but we had a rental unit until our machine showed up and I have about 50-60 hours on a 303CR and I like the machine ALOT. Smooth, quick, very strong for a machine it's size, and overall a great performer.

    Personally, I think equipment is just like trucks, everyone is brand loyal and for some (myself included) are very leary of switching brands, especially when you've had good luck with one brand. But in our case, dealer support and a company comitted to quality products is worth everything to us. There might be a better machine than our 303CR or our 216, but in my eyes, there isn't one. My advice is to demo what you can and take into account dealer support, serviceability, ease of operation, etc. when making a choice. You'll know what machine to buy when you find it, it'll just hit you and there will be no doubt in your mind.
  8. ksss

    ksss LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 7,151

    The size of skid steer really shouldn't matter when it comes to using a hammer. Properly sizing the hammer to the machine is whats important. If I bought a skid steer and felt I needed to rent a skid steer to do hammer work, than I bought the wrong skid steer. Our machines get heavy hammer usage especially the 70XT. The hammers are hard on the hydrualic fittings, but other than that I have not seen any impact on the machines. I was speaking to the store manager for the Deere dealership here on Friday (they sell Deere and Bobcat). He said that he would wait a couple of years before buying a Deere skid steer. While at ConExpo I spoke with a Deere rep for sometime about their new machines and their older machines. He was very knowledgable on what went wrong with the first series. He feels that the 300 series has righted the wrongs of the first series. They may turn out to be good machines, but they would not be my choice right now. If the 300 series is another dog you will not be able to give them away, much like the 200 series is now.

    I think it pretty hard to find a lot of fault with the Hitachi mini excavator. I think the issue is more what your application is and how the strengths of the Hitachi match that. They are smooth and comfortable. I don't see them as being very heavy duty or having a great deal of break out. But if your not doing jobs that are dependent on these things, they would be a great choice. Choosing skid steers is much the same. Each brand seems to excel in different areas. Thats why demoing them is so important.
  9. Gravel Rat

    Gravel Rat LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 9,544

    As for skidsteers all I have ran is Bobcat the old style with the foot pedals which definatly gives you a full body work out. If I was going to go with a skidsteer it probably would be a Bobcat machine they have been building skidsteers the longest. I would really like to try one of the tracked machines the rubber tired skid steers are really limited to the terrain you can go on. I also wonder if the track machines ride smoother ?

    As for mini excavators I would say Kubota would be my number 1 choice I wasn't too impressed with Bobcat mini's.
  10. Land Design

    Land Design LawnSite Member
    Messages: 16

    Anyone else have any comments? Anyone have additional comments they would like to add? What would you say John Deere machines rank overall out of the other manufacturers (best, worst, etc....).

    Land Design

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