Justifying buying a small excavator

Mitty87

LawnSite Silver Member
So I have made this post about the mini skid steer, which I have not bought, but did demo a few times. Most of the jobs I have been on this year have required excavation, more so than a skid steer. I have a friend with 3 sized machines who does our excavation jobs and recently were doing one on a difficult yard with only 5' wide access and a lawn that was built up 12" over the top of a rock wall and spilling over. Anyway he couldn't fit his 35 in and brought a 17 Deere he just bought and ended up taking about 60 yards of hard rocky ground 12" deep in about 10 hours. After working on this job with him I decided I should buy one.

A 35 would be valuable, but most jobs we deal with are really only 500-1500 square foot front yards and maybe similar size in back, small allan block walls or patios, irrigation trenching. I have been talking with a sales man and looks like 40k Canadian for this little machine, I am also considering the 26 they have which may be more practical.

Anybody have experience with the 17 sized mini excavators and any regrets? I am on Vancouver island, west cost Canada and where I am its mostly bad access and small yards. I have found even the 35 Deere my friend uses can cause too much damage and too much mess for the small jobs we have had it on. We maybe have one job out of 7 where any one part of the yard is over 2000 square feet

I can finally justify buying something like this and anyone who has followed any posts know we've done a lot of back breaking labour.
 

knox gsl

LawnSite Fanatic
Location
knoxville, tn
I've used both sizes and for what you want to do I'd go with the 17. Get it with a thumb if you buy new. 12", 18" tooth buckets and a 30ish grading bucket.
 
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Mitty87

LawnSite Silver Member
Thanks. Yes I don’t think I would buy anything but new for this size and relative cost. I don’t know anything about mechanics and not worth it to get burned trying to buy a used one for 25 or so compared to 40. Plus used I would be not be able to get a loan most likely and would need to save for a few months to save over 20k. Looks like I can do something like 10k down and do 3 years financing for 0%, plus they are giving me same cost as my friend who bought the 17g as his third machine from this dealer so I assume it’s a fair deal.
 

ksss

LawnSite Fanatic
Location
Rigby, Idaho
I have rented the CASE CX17 and the Wacker Neuson ET17. The WN was especially strong. Nice running little excavator. I would agree, get a thumb and quick coupler and include a clean out bucket in bucket selection. I would probably not go new unless you have no other choice. It is common to see these machines with less than 1000 hours for half the price of new on the used market. The warranty is nice but paying twice as much for it is a steep price. WN warranties their machines for 5 years. You could buy one used and still have as much or more warranty remaining as buying a new machine which typically only have a one or two year warranty.
 
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Mitty87

LawnSite Silver Member
I have rented the CASE CX17 and the Wacker Neuson ET17. The WN was especially strong. Nice running little excavator. I would agree, get a thumb and quick coupler and include a clean out bucket in bucket selection. I would probably not go new unless you have no other choice. It is common to see these machines with less than 1000 hours for half the price of new on the used market. The warranty is nice but paying twice as much for it is a steep price. WN warranties their machines for 5 years. You could buy one used and still have as much or more warranty remaining as buying a new machine which typically only have a one or two year warranty.
I will look into it, just looking online I can see some around 25k with 1-2000 hours, compared to 40k. I am spending 20k on our deck this fall instead of anything for the business so I have some time to think about it until nextt spring.
 

KUMA01

LawnSite Bronze Member
I've used both sizes and for what you want to do I'd go with the 17. Get it with a thumb if you buy new. 12", 18" tooth buckets and a 30ish grading bucket.
I run a u35 kubota with a 30 inch grading bucket and it’s pushing it I have the blade down and when the boom is extended and it’s in the air it’s wobbles the entire machine. Counterweights on the cab itself. It still wobbles. Very heavy bucket. Get a thumb it’s a must have and get the coupler where you can tilt the bucket at various angles I.e. a 45 degree. Basically so you can dig ditches and slopes with out being on the slope itself.
 

Hollowellreid

LawnSite Senior Member
I have had a 17g for a few years, it has been a good machine.

Cons: not super strong in the hydraulic area- I have a 50d too and used to have some Takeuchi excavators and all had more grunt. That being said it digs just fine and does well enough. I might try to turn up the hydraulic relief pressures.

The coupler it comes with is slow to use but works well enough. It has a thumb, 12,18, 30” ditch buckets. I have an auger for it as well.

Has been very reliable. I think when I bought it the dealer had an off rental 17D Model with 2000 hours for approx 18k USD or I could get a brand new 17g with zero hours for 28k- it was a no brainer there, and I usually buy most things used

Decent little machine and pretty capable
 

brichter14

LawnSite Bronze Member
So when you have this machine to excavate a patio or retaining wall in a tight space how are you gonna get the dirt out? Can you load a truck or trailer in someones back yard with a 42” gate?
 

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