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Mini Excavator - I've got the bug

Discussion in 'Heavy Equipment & Pavement' started by Stonehenge, Jun 30, 2001.

  1. Stonehenge

    Stonehenge LawnSite Bronze Member
    from Midwest
    Messages: 1,276

    This week I was working at a residence within view of a residence where a competitor was working - he had a tiny little mini excavator. When the operator sat in it, he looked like he was just about busting out of it. The only markings I saw on it was an "IHI", it was light blue in color. And it made me green with envy....

    I ran a search and surprisingly found very little about mini-x's. I like the idea of one of those really small ones (3-4000#'s), and am thinking about all kinds of uses for it, including excavating for retaining walls, excavating for paver walkways, placing stones in a retaining wall.... :blob3: :blob1: :blob4:

    What I'm wondering, and looking for guidance in, is this: the ones I've investigated in size and HP (10-25hp), are they large enough/powerful enough for these applications? (something like a Kubota K008, or KX41-2SV) Also, are there brands I should avoid? I've seen many models from japanese mfgs that seem inexpensive, but I don't want to spend time fixing my toys. What kind of $$ should I expect to shell out for something like this?
  2. paul

    paul Lawnsite Addict
    Messages: 1,625

    Undersizing, be carefull!
    With Mini-X's you need to know what you want to do with it, too small and you'll be renting larger ones, too big and you can't get them where you want. We settled on 7,000 lb machines not too big where you can get them in places and not too small where they won't lift or load a truck. I like Kubota for lifting and placing stone, it's slower controls help in swinging large stones out in rivers. Takeuchi is better at digging, hogging out fast, it's cycle times are great and the controls smooth.

    This is one time I would look at buying used, we have 2 machines but we might only put on 500 hrs a year. Used machines in this size run about $19-26K
  3. SCL

    SCL LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 543

    I rented a #5000 Japanese something or other about two years ago. Man can you dig with these things. Beats the heck out of my three pt. JD backhoe but beats the heck out of my bank account too. I've kinda had the same burg here but I was looking at Bobcats. Really like their #7000 er's I think its a 331. Lotsa bucks though. One thing I saw with the smaller ones is there's some with retractable tracks too get them through a 36" gate. I just don't think they'd be very versatile and like Paul says, you need to get all the use out of them that yo u can.
  4. Alanky

    Alanky LawnSite Member
    Messages: 67

    i used to run a little IHI nana 7J and another one (cant remember the model) Like paul said be careful not to undersize. We mostly used the 7J to get into backyards and other limited access spots. A skid steer goes along with these things good to, loading the skid steer bucket with the mini saves alot of travel time.

    Anybody used the new new-holland minis? wonder how good they are.
  5. cat320

    cat320 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 823

    I rented a german one called a scahaff don't know spelling of it.It was a 3,000lb machine And like Stone I had the bug to go buy one.I think that every one has hit the nail on the head with the 7Klb machine not to big and not to small.But then again it depends on the use and locations it will be used.If you do a search on altavista you might have some luck.
  6. bubenberg

    bubenberg LawnSite Member
    Messages: 76


    power trac is american build .... they have been in the mining and landscaping business for many years. the 425 fits throu a 45 inch door, lifts 800 pounds. Cant't beat their price and the many very sturdy attachements.
    we mow residential and clean pasture with it, stump grind and move pallets around in the warehouse and since their is no inexpensive solution like the mulch mule, we install about 50 - 100 cubic yards a week using the 425. with the grappler bucket i cleanup behind the crew when we trim bushes and trees (afterwards we blow the residual with a back pack into a small pile and off we are) .
    their rotating brush can remove up to 6" of wet snow and beats with a larger model the swiss machine AEBI by 5 degrees in hill mowing ...that is hard to swallow, my father worked for that same company in the last century and evidently they could not do anything wrong.hahahahahahahah!
  7. paul

    paul Lawnsite Addict
    Messages: 1,625

    Power Trac comparied to a Mini-X? Here we have a dedicated machine meant for digging footings, lifting heavy stone, with a 360 house rotation. Power Track is a multi use machine that doesn't have the lift or the 360 house, it does have it's usages yes but like any machine, a single use machine will out work it and the cost of attachments will out do the machine cost! One thing I would like to see is the Power trac working in some of the rivers we work in, lifting stone that weighs over a ton and setting them in place.

    I understand that you are very happy with your machine, I hope it keeps performing for you, in it's many tasks but I have talked to Stonehendge about this type of equipment before and he is looking for a machine that doesn't need to be hooked up all the time or he would have gotten a backhoe for his skid steer.
  8. Rex Mann

    Rex Mann LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 621


    Last fall be purchased a TB125 manufactured by Takeuchi. It is in the 6000# class. It has 26 horsepower and a digging depth of 10 1/2 feet. We looked at other brands, Bobcat, Deere and others, but the 125 was the machine for us. It has more craining ablity than the 331. It is approximately 57 inches wide with the blade. We use it to dig walks, patios, walls and set Siena Stone wall. We even use it to grade. The blade is very effective. It is allmost like a mini dozer.

    It has the "flip lever" to change from cat to deere controls. It is also very quiet.

    It is one of the pieces of machinery or tool that makes you wonder how you ever survived without it.

  9. steveair

    steveair LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,073


    I believe we rented the same IHI machine for a job we did last year. Yes, it sure is small........you sit on it and your elbows overhang the sides.

    We ran it for a for weeks for a specialized job. We had to dig in big game fencing that we had installed around the airport. It worked perfectly for digging a 12 inch deep trench along the already installed fence, and then the blade did a nice job back filling the fence into the trench.

    However, after seeing machines like the bobcat 320 and some of the small kubotas in action, I will say there is not a whole lot of jobs they can't do that the 'mini-mini excavator' can.

    I think for those rare instances where access is very limited, it is nice, but they really aren't that common. I would say rent one when needed instead of buying one. If your going to spend the money, get something larger.

    The one we rented had a 8 inch bucket.......try digging in wet soil and boy is it useless.....the bucked (which is equivalent to 2 shovel fulls I'd say) just gets clogged right up and you are banging it out after every scoop.

    I've thought too though about it being a neat toy. I could put my dingo and the mini-mini on a dump trailer and become the 'small job' guy. I suppose if you could find a niche market for that kind of work, say helping electricians out/plumbers out with trenching, and doing small jobs for other contractors, you could probably do quite well.

    The other way I would look at is in the same way you would look at machines like dingos and mini-skidsteers. If you set your crews up with a mini machine like that, the days of digging any kind of hole by hand would be over. You could probably load it on you existing equipment trailers and treat it as just 'another hand' tool. Worker's attitude may greatly improve knowing that they don't have to use that nasty old pick axe any more. Its an interesting idea. I believe machine technology is going to replace ALL manual labor someday, and this is the type of thing that starts it. Think of all those jobs where you had to dig in one tree by hand and it ended up being solid rock. Now, you would just pull it off the trailer, dig it quick, and be on your way.

    With the right business set-up, I think it could be a great asset, but a expensive one at that. For now, most guys will just send 3 mexicans to a job at $6 dollars and hour to dig the holes.....maybe, as labor gets harder to find, we will all be turning to machines like this to save our backs.

  10. dan deutekom

    dan deutekom LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 424

    I too have used a mini hoe that was rented. It was a great machine for the use it was put to. A very confined area for digging a french drain. I sometimes wonder if these small machines save a lot of time or labour on a small job. By the time you hook up the trailer, load the machine, unload the machine and get it working the hole could be dug and the dirt wheelbarrowed away by one guy and a shovell. BUT the machines sure are a lot more fun!

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