Thoughts on a Wacker Neuson 38Z3 mini ex.

Discussion in 'Heavy Equipment & Pavement' started by ksss, Jul 4, 2013.

  1. ksss

    ksss LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 7,157

    I had an opportunity in April to run a WN excavator and I liked it, so this year I had some work that required a smaller mini ex than my Taki so I have a 38Z3 on rent. Its equipped with their Vertical Dig System and a Werk Brau coupler, thumb and a 2" bucket. Its a 8000 pound machine, zero tail.

    The project I have the mini on is in some real steep terrain at about 7000 feet, digging in a nasty septic system and setting rock walls along with my Takeuchi TB153FR.

    What I like about the machine: The big draw for me on this was the Vertical Dig System or VDS. It allows the superstructure to compensate for uneven terrain up to 27 degrees (superstructure tilts 15 degrees). It only tilts one way so you need to orientate the machine (either blade forward or behind you) to allow the machine to compensate for the direction of the slope. Its an incredibly helpful feature when digging in septic drain fields. You don't have to built a flat spot for the machine to keep the trench flat. It also came in handy when digging in places that you could not dig yourself flat like concrete and asphalt. Laborers like it because there is less hand labor due to the machine being able to dig flat in situations like that.

    The stick on this machine has good reach, not sure if it is a long stick model or if they are all like this but excellent reach, especially when working the slopes like we have been. The machine is able to handle large rocks very well, it surprises me on what it will lift, especially over the front and back of the machine. The digging forces are good, it digs in hard material well for a machine in this weight class. The stick crowd force is very good, especially for having as long of a stick as it does.

    The stick swings based on the activation of a button on the left joy stick. Its the same switch that you use to use the thumb, so you toggle between the two functions off the same control. This is the way some of the Kobelco units also manipulate the swing. At first, I was not a fan but the more I used it, the more familiar I have become with it. I had an IHI that had the swing on the floor of the machine which seemed more intuitive but I have grown to like this set up.

    The cab is roomy and getting through the door is easy (6'0-230) unlike some of the others I have run. The step into the machine is higher than normal, I guess due to the VDS system.

    Excellent access to the engine and hydraulics.

    The control system is precise and very controllable, stick cycle times are good, swing is ok but a little faster would not hurt my feelings. Everyone that has run the machine likes spending time in it.

    The blade has a lot of range of motion, so you can sit at extreme angles with the blade behind you and still flatten out the machine.

    I continue to like the Werk Brau equipment, this is the same coupler I have had on my TK equipment (only smaller) The thumb was good with excellent range of motion, especially for a direct link thumb.

    Some things that I wasn't excited about, track power is ok, but at my altitude and working the extreme slopes pushing with the blade up hill, the machine struggled at times. On flat ground it will push until it looses tractive effort. It has 28 hp (my 13k TK only has 10 hp more) naturally aspirated its working at this altitude as does my TK. Vision is slightly impaired to the right side of the machine due to the cowling on the right side of the machine. If they would slope that more it would be helpful. The ergonomics, are different than what I am used to. The throttle is on the left side as your sitting in the seat. Its on the arm rest that rotates up and down as you get in the machine. While this is purely subjective, I would like to see it on the right side of the operators station. If not auto idle at least I would like to have a manual idle button. Seat is nice but I like the Grammer in my TK better.

    Overall its a good performing mini excavator. Not as well known in North America, they are built in Europe and the number one excavator brand in Germany, I was told. Wacker Neuson builds the smaller mini excavators for CAT, so CAT apparently feels very comfortable with the product and WN as a company. This machine has some unique capabilities that set it apart from some other machines, the VDS and the range of motion of the blade, make it an especially good rough terrain excavator, but it gives up nothing on the flat ground other than a higher cab height. The European market (and CAT) may be on to something with this machine.
  2. AEL

    AEL LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,724

    I have been pondering around the idea of a 6-8 tonne articulating 4wd dumper for the past year, I have looked at all of the brands and by far the Wacker neuson looks the best. Extremely well built, nice fit to finish, yanmar motor etc. Needless to say I am very impressed with there product and am going to be adding one in the next month or too. I wouldn't hesitate to buy one of there minis if you are happy with it
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  3. excav8ter

    excav8ter LawnSite Member
    Messages: 213

    Thanks for the input on the WN mini-X. I have been wanting one of the articulating mini dumpers too. But i don't have enough work to justify one. They look very handy for some of my sites. I think it's one of those machines, that once you have one the work will follow.
    I like the vertical dig system on that WN mini......Mustang used to have that too.....perhaps they still do. It was very handy to have. Is the vertical dig available on more than one size of Wacker mini? I have may be in need of another mini in the 11,000lb range soon.
  4. 20/20

    20/20 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 164

    Thanks for the write up, always interesting to get input from actual owners about equipment.
  5. ksss

    ksss LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 7,157

    I also think those dumpers would be handy. I bid one in earlier this Spring on a project to build an access road at a mine in Central Idaho. The specs were to build a berm on the outward side of the road to keep traffic on the road and not the 1500 foot drop off. I planned on using the dumper (which can articulate the dump body 90 degrees) to build that berm on a narrow road. I narrowly lost the bid, sucked, I wanted that one bad.

    I believe that most of WN zero tail mini ex's have VDS. I think Neuson built Gehl's and Mustang's minis a while back, not sure if they still do, but I don't think so.

    Speaking about fit and finish, the finish on these excavators is powder coated, not painted. A nice touch and an indication of going the extra mile as the finish will certainly hold up better over time than spray paint, which will help hold up resale.
  6. AWJ Services

    AWJ Services LawnSite Platinum Member
    from Ga
    Messages: 4,281

    Case had cab leveler on some of there excavators years ago. I will admit it would be handy for septic. I get so tired of digging dirt too level my machine an dthen finish the trench. Had an inspector ask me why the top of the trench was so wide? LOL
  7. AWJ Services

    AWJ Services LawnSite Platinum Member
    from Ga
    Messages: 4,281

  8. whiffyspark

    whiffyspark LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,393

    I think you'd have to be very careful with stabilizing the machine. I can just picture myself doing stuff I shouldn't be lol
    Posted via Mobile Device
  9. ksss

    ksss LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 7,157

    I am about to turn my 38Z3 back, and I ran across this. A five year/5000 hour hyd. and powertrain warranty. It says a lot that they are willing to back their machine for 5 years, which is 3-4 years beyond any other OEM that I know of. WN apparently wants to put the North American compact excavator market on notice that they believe in their excavators. This 5 year warranty program provides the buyer with almost no repair expenses (beyond wear and tear and your own %uck ups), that keeps money in your pocket as well as making a strong statement.

    I am going to miss the little 38Z3. Especially the VDS component. I was surprised at how quick I came to utilize the VDS. No dicking with building a pad just hit the button, move the joy stick and your flat again. This rental was an eye opener. WN will be on my shortlist when I add an excavator, I wish I was in a position to take advantage of the this warranty program.
  10. Cornell

    Cornell LawnSite Senior Member
    from MN
    Messages: 544

    Wow that warranty is insane! We are looking to get a smaller excavator to replace our Schaeff. That VDS would be amazing for leveling the machine up when building boulder/rock walls in some of the places I go. Rocks set a lot nicer when you're level.... at least it makes it easier on me.

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