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"Skid Steer" How long does it take to learn?

Discussion in 'Heavy Equipment & Pavement' started by 6DoubleDuece, Sep 12, 2006.

  1. 6DoubleDuece

    6DoubleDuece LawnSite Member
    Messages: 28

    Hey Guys, I would like to get into skid steer work. It will be on the side at first (you guys know how that goes) any way I would like to know how long it takes to learn how to do grading and to be good enough where you could actually expect some one to pay you :laugh:

    What would be the best way to learn? I aready have the controls down, I have been useing a Gehl CTL60 for demolition. I just don't know where to start on grading.

  2. Dirt Digger2

    Dirt Digger2 LawnSite Silver Member
    from PA
    Messages: 2,396

    how long to master?...months..years..depends on how much you use it and what type of situations you get yourself in to. Start out by digging shed pads...real simple and hard to mess up...then just like anything else, the more you work at it the better you get
  3. SouthernYankee

    SouthernYankee LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 789

    dirtdigger is 100% right, it varies depending on the person. My machine has foot pedals that everyone complains about, but I have had no problem with them.

    I grew up on Nintendo/ playstation, so my eye hand skills are pretty good, which I feel had a big impact on learning how to run a bobcat.
  4. bobbyg18

    bobbyg18 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 166

    definately not an expert...but i have just started a small part time skid steer business...just started the business two months ago and i never operated a skid steer before but have been in construction ...

    im taking it slow and have only done 4 jobs (i did about 5-6freebies)...ive refused a couple jobs i wasnt comfortable with

    i've rented a landscape rake, ive done a few driveways picked up asphalt and spread the gravel, graded some backyards, spread loam and fill, dug a foundation etc...

    i have around 200 hours on my skid steer and have found it to be relatively easy to learn how to operate...the first 20 or so hours were a little rough but after that it was pretty easy but still learn each time on it...
  5. 6DoubleDuece

    6DoubleDuece LawnSite Member
    Messages: 28

    thanks Guy's, That is what I was looking for. I want to learn to grade effectively. Any good way to practice in a open field? Any tip's on the mechanics of it are appreciated.

  6. Scag48

    Scag48 LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,067

    It's just like anything else, practice and lots of seat time is the only way you'll learn it. There's no book you can read, it's straight experience. Don't worry though, you'll get it soon enough. You'll figure out basic grading within a few hours, but it takes years to get it down perfectly.
  7. ksss

    ksss LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 7,162

    A skid steer is one of those pieces of equipment everybody thinks they can run because it is small and relatively easy to move around with. I have interviewed guys with "years" of experience running a skid steer. I now try them out for a day or two before offering anyone a job. It is unbelievable what passes for an operator. A few key points: Economy of motion (Always carry a full bucket when moving material) Think two steps ahead and position the machine for the next pass, never counter rotate if you don't have to (sometimes simply backing up and doing a quarter turn with the front wheels is enough. Counter rotating wears the tires and burns more fuel, tears up the ground, especially on concrete or asphalt. Sometimes when working on ashalt or concrete I dump clean topsoil on it to aid in turning without leaving marks or tearing the surface. It is also easier on tires. Sometimes it is much easier to remove more material than you need and put a little back than it is to remove just a little bit. That is especially true in tough digging conditions. If you have a foot throttle, set the hand throttle at 3/4 of full rpm and use the foot throttle like a turbo boost. When you need 100 percent of what you got use the foot throttle otherwise you will use less fuel running at slower rpms's. Note some machines like to be run wide open to function correctly if so this method does not work. However most late model mahcines run well at 3/4 throttle. Remember that smooth is fast. The best operators are very smooth with the machine and have economy of motion down to a science. Never should there be unnecessary movement of the machine that does not produce something. Remember this, every machine only has X number of functions available in its usable life ( this means you can only carry a finite amount of material, shift from forward to backward etc.). Make each movement count for something. Like Scag said it takes years to really be good at running a skid steer. However, it is not the shear number of years you have as an operator but the quality of the time spent in one. Like the old saying. You can have 20 years experience or 1 year experience 20 times. I see a lot more of the latter than the former. Your reputation as an operator will make or break you. I would find a vacant field and spend as much time practicing as possible. Considering how cheap a skid steer can be rented for, if you can't run it better than they can why should they hire you. This is esecially true with contractors. Know your machine IE what its capabilities are and esecially its limitations. Good luck
  8. janb

    janb LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 254

    agreed... especially when grading with wheeled skidsteer, it is not trivial to be efficient with these, as they are 'short coupled', and great at making 'Whoop-dee-doos' (unintentionally :nono: ) and not so ez to correct

    Time on machine in challenging conditions is only way to learn. preferrably an open field (a dozer is much ez'r to grade with - if you have the room, and a grader even better (Much more room required...))

    I really like my combo bucket for grading, as it works as a 'metered' scraper forward and reverse (even better) and efficiency is improved as you have the equivalent of 'back grading', either direction by orienting pitch of bucket. My '6-way' dozer blade is of limited grading value, but sometimes necessary for adding crown in a tight width area. Someone really inventive could make a combo bucket that could be 'offset' so in one pass you could grade a narrow channel for one set of wheels on next past make an angled cut., As Ksss mentioned, make every move count, while going forward and backward, and keep the turning to a minimum.


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