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mini excavators/loaders

Discussion in 'Landscape Architecture and Design' started by swing blade, Nov 1, 2004.

  1. swing blade

    swing blade LawnSite Member
    Messages: 123

    those of you who own, lease, or rent mini excavators and/or loaders, would you please rate each brand and state why you prefer that specific machine over another.

    Also, how often do you use these machines in a month?
  2. impactlandscaping

    impactlandscaping LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,332

    We recently used the Ditch Witch SK 500 for a few lawn installs. Perfect for smaller areas and tighter spaces. we usually use the Bobcat MT 50, but as usual it broke down, again...I prefer the controls of the DW over the BC, seems to have better hyd. flow, and better vertical lift to reach into the truck. We have been thinking about getting a mini loader / ex like this, and using the DW made the decision a littler more well founded. Awesome set up with a 4' Harley rake and smooth bucket. I will be renting it again this week for a 3K lawn renovation and retaining wall.At $ 115.00 per 8 hour day, you can't go wrong with smaller machines like these.
  3. GreenMonster

    GreenMonster LawnSite Silver Member
    from NH
    Messages: 2,702

    I have a bobcat set-up.

    753 skid steer and 331 mini x.

    Both are used machines, (93 and 99) that so far, knock on wood, have been fairly reliable. Good support from Bobcat of NH. They seem to be good size for most of the landscape install work (walls, walks, patios) I do. I would like a larger skid steer that could pick up a full pallet of block/pavers, but then you are sacrificing manueverabilty in tight areas. Job I'm on right now, I couldn't do with much bigger machines.

    I have no experience with other brands, and therefore can't compare.

    How often in a month???? I don't know. I'm still part time, but I've run them hard all summer. They've spent very few days off job sites. A lot of jobs require both of them, too.
  4. D Felix

    D Felix LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,898

    Mini-ex's- the only brand I've had any major experience on is Bobcat. They do the job and do it well, plain and simple. I've also run smaller IHI's and a VERY small Takuechi (sp?) mini-ex... Unless you are getting a REALLY small one like that Takuechi (I think it was a TB007 w/ an 8 hp diesel....), you want excavator controls. One of the IHI's that I've run had backhoe-type controls and it wasn't very comfortable.

    Another thing that you will probably want is a control selector. That will allow you to switch between normal controls or backwards.:) When I say normal, I mean John Deere controls, and backwards is everything else that doesn't run that way! This will allow multiple operators to use the machine with little to no adjustment period needed. Very important if you get employees that are used to running a different type of machine.

    I don't have any seat time in the zero-tail-swing (ZTS) excavators like Deere, Case, etc, but from sitting in them at shows they could be tight on leg room for me (I'm 6'2"). The Bobcat 435 ZHS that I ran for a few minutes at a field day didn't have that problem, though I'm not yet convinced that it is all it's cracked up to be. It was a brand new machine, but it died on me a couple of times when I tried to do anything with it at idle. It's possible that with only 3 hours on it that the engine wasn't broken in enough yet, but those things should be able to get out and run off the line..... I'm not completely sold on the "fastrack" system yet either; it didn't want to push much dirt to backfill the hole I'd just dug..... Something I know either a 331 or a 337 would have had NO trouble doing......

    I've run a few more brands here.:) Bobcat, NH, JD, even a Case (once). If you are used to foot controls, don't get a Case! The one time I ran the Case, it drove me nuts. I think it had something to do with having to move my arms in and out, 'cause I've gotten used to hand controls on a T300 recently. Those just require wrist movements.

    Again, I'm 6'2". Bobcat foot pedals don't fit me as well as the pedals on the Series II JD or the NH. I haven't ran any of the new JD's, so can't say there. The older JD's (original series) were made by NH, but had a JD engine in them. So they are basically the same. It was very easy to tell this, as the only real difference from the outside was slightly different paint.:)

    If you are taller, like I am, I'd either look into a NH or JD, or look into a Bobcat with hand controls. One beef I've got with Bobcat is that the bucket doesn't roll up as far as the NH's or JD's, but it rolls out further. Also, I have yet to figure out how to make a Bobcat bucket "shake" to get material to flip out that might be stuck, be it with either foot or hand controls. IIRC, I could do that with the NH or JD.

    For more info, you might want to try searching around in the heavy equipment forum.

    If you are doing mainly light excavation (or mostly trenches), and just need an occasional material bucket, etc, check into the Ditch Witch TX850. It's tracked, has a tool carrier (i.e. forks, bucket, auger, etc) for the front, but it also has a backhoe attachment that gives around 270 degrees of digging range. We demoed one the other day, I'll see if I can start a thread on it sometime soon.

    HTH. Demo, demo, demo, and demo some more before you make any decision to buy a piece of equipment!

  5. allen yard

    allen yard LawnSite Member
    from Ct
    Messages: 1

    i have a 02 john deere 35zts and a 03 john deere 4210 with loader backhoe,and 5'harley rake
    i have never ran anyhting else for mini excavators ,but i like my JD alot..Its super Quiet..
    on my excavator i have the twist a rist and grading bucket for slops and ditches i like that alot. i could not get that with the ihi or the bobcat when i was shopping..
    I bought that 4210 insted of the skid steer for many reasons such as running on lawns and in muddy conditions,turning on newly paved driveways.
    As others said the zts (zero tail swing) makes the leg room alot smaller,so if your a big guy it might be cramped..
    we use the excavator everyday and the 4210 about the same.. im trying to sell the backhoe for the 4210 cause i dont use it scince we bought the 35 zts..we are not a maint. shop (no cutting or pruning) just new installs and stuf like that ..so we do use this stuff everyday..

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