Compact Excavators

March 1, 2003
BOBCAT Bobcat Company introduces the Bobcat 442 excavator, the company's first model with zero tail swing (ZTS). With a digging depth of 13 feet, 11 inches,


Bobcat Company introduces the Bobcat 442 excavator, the company's first model with zero tail swing (ZTS). With a digging depth of 13 feet, 11 inches, the Bobcat 442 is the largest available model in the Bobcat excavator line. It increases the overall efficiency and cycle-time of excavating by decreasing the effort needed to maneuver the machine into tight places. Andy Schenkel of Schenkel and Cook Concrete Construction, Ft. Wayne, Ind., uses the machine on residential and commercial projects to excavate crawl spaces and basements.

“It digs right through hard clay without slowing down and it operates so precisely and smoothly,” Schenkel says. “I can swing the boom full speed with the bucket extended and the machine remains stable. Also, I can pull it on the trailer with my large pickup truck.”

In addition, the right-hand corner of the machine is designed so it can have a full 240-degree swing range, which allows the excavator to move alongside obstacles and still be able to load a truck positioned behind it. The ZTS feature on the 442 minimizes the possibility for damage to the machine and any obstacles on the job site.

Powered by a 72-hp liquid-cooled Deutz engine, the 442 has two speed ranges, with a maximum travel speed of 3.2 mph. The 442 has a bucket breakout force of 11,970 pounds. Weighing in at just over 16,500 pounds, the 442 fits into the 7 metric ton excavator class.

Schenkel tells of one job where he used the 442 to remove a tree stump between two closely spaced houses. “Smaller excavators wouldn't have had the power to dig it out and a bigger excavator wouldn't have been able to get into that space,” he says.
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John Deere's new C-Series compact excavators with a zero tail swing design deliver performance, maneuverability and flexibility. The zero tail swing design of the C-Series ZTS compacts allows the body of the machine to rotate 360 degrees within the width of its tracks. This design, combined with an independent-swing boom and rubber tracks, allows these machines to slip into close quarters easily so the operator can work close to walls, footings and other obstacles.

Joe Valentine, manager of Petersen Plumbing and Heating, Davenport, Iowa, says “The John Deere excavator will maneuver in very tight places for our crews when they are replacing sewer pipes and covers.” A lot of work is done in residential areas and the homes have fences and small backyards. “This is where the size of the unit and the rubber tracks play a big part in preventing damage to the sidewalk and lawn,” Valentine says.

Flexibility is the key for the ZTS because each compact comes standard with a quick coupler and auxiliary hydraulics, allowing them to use a wide variety of bucket sizes and attachments. C-Series ZTS compacts can be used for everything from flipping concrete tops of manholes to excavating telecommunication systems, elevator pits and underground water retention systems. These machines feature operator stations with an adjustable seat and armrest-mounted pilot controls. Controls are easily switched from backhoe to excavator-style. “Being able to switch the controls for our rental customers is very important because some are only familiar with the controls on a backhoe,” said Jason Bieber, sales manager for Fisher Rentals in Reading, Pa.

The C-Series ZTS machines provide improved serviceability, with large doors that open wide for easy access to daily service points, cooling system, fuel filters and battery. Maintenance costs also are reduced, because of longer oil change and greasing intervals. “With the long term rentals we do the ease of servicing the air filter, changing oil and basic preventive maintenance is very important in helping keep our service costs down,” says Bieber.
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The Gehl Company offers the 502, 602, 802 and 1202 excavators, the largest in their compact class. These models are ranging from 10,917 to 25,900 pounds. They have digging depths ranging from 12 feet, 2 inches to 14 feet, 9 inches and feature improved hydraulic performance with faster cycle times for enhanced production. Improvements to the these models include increased hydraulic oil and pressure for stronger digging performance; hydraulically dampened drive functions for more precise operator feel and control; and a larger operator station with a reconfigured control layout for more operator comfort and increased productivity.

Mike Frank, vice president of operations at David J. Frank Landscape and Contracting Inc., Germantown, Wis., is the owner of two Gehl 602 excavators. “I had originally looked at six other models of compact excavators before buying the Gehl units, and purchased the units because they had excellent reach and provided very good operator comfort,” Frank says.

The Gehl models also include auxiliary hydraulics, two-speed drive, ISO/SAE pattern selector, dozer blade, independent boom swing and a wide variety of attachments.

Frank estimates that his landscape business is about a 50-50 split between residential and commercial customers and in using the excavators for drainage work in residential yards he found that “my crews would not use the mini skid steers with the backhoe attachment as long as the 602 was available.” The company does a lot of landscaping with fieldstone mainly used for stone wall construction. “We find that the hydraulic thumb attachment on the excavator is excellent for grabbing on to field stone for loading as well as positioning the stone,” Frank says.
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The Kubota U35 zero tail swing compact excavator maintains the stability of conventional tail swing machines by means of a compact track width combined with a specially designed counterweight that makes for even weight distribution. The compact track width also allows for easy trailer transport from one jobsite to another and the U35's versatility accommodates an array of tasks including those requiring a large bucket, breaker, thumb or auger.

“People don't want to rent a machine or tractor that is going to be a hassle for them,” says Rick Wendland of Sunflower Rentals, Topeka, Kan. “They rent because it's easier and more cost efficient than owning the machine themselves. Compact excavators are easy to transport and work well in confined areas.” Sunflower's customers had a need for a machine that would fit in confined spaces and be operator friendly.

The U-35 can work in a space just wide enough for the machine, right up against a wall or fence, and dig a 9- or 10-foot trench. The combination of zero tail swing, independent boom swing and 360 degree house rotation opens up many work possibilities given its maximum digging height of 192 inches and a maximum digging depth of 124 inches.

Robert Koch, founder of Koch Excavating in Palmyra, Pa., has been using Kubota compact excavators for the past six years. “The excavator's rubber tracks are exceptionally kind to any surface area, including lawns and established landscaping,” he says. “With only 650 hours on the machine, it has excelled on every project, including digging out shale.”

A storage bin for tools and manuals is located under the wide-open hood that allows easy access to daily check items and filters. A “one-touch latch”, also located under the hood, opens the right side panel wide for access to the hydraulic control valve.

Low maintenance is a key contributing factor with any rental and Sunflower Rentals is no exception. “We want to keep all of our products running and renting,” says Wendland. “If something goes down that costs me money and defeats the whole purpose of why I bought it. You don't ever see any of my Kubota's in the shop and that includes my old Kubota tillers.”
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Takeuchi manufactures and sells a complete line of compact track equipment. The company offers seven models of compact excavators with operating weights from 2,000 to 17,500 pounds and dig depths to 15 feet. The TB series excavators have a horsepower range from 9.8 to 58hp, a reach at grade from 9.5 to 24 feet and a maximum dump height from 7 to 17 feet.

The operator's station, which is accessible from either side, is equipped with hand- and foot-operated travel controls, a readily visible instrument panel and unrestricted visibility in all directions. Operator productivity is further enhanced with the comfort of a six-way adjustable suspension seat, armrests and precision response, and low effort pilot operated joystick controls.

Richard Robinson, owner of Robinson's Plumbing, Buford, Ga., says, “I presently own four Takeuchi units and have owned them for the past six or seven years. What I like most about the units is they are very dependable in that they have very few breakdowns and are easy to service. Along with preventive maintenance we have replaced some zerk fittings, a rubber track, and a hand lever between the four units.”

The width of the excavator's track frame can be hydraulically expanded or retracted on the models TB007, TB016 and TB108. In the expanded position the excavator gains a stable working platform for heavy digging, attachment operation and stability on uneven terrain. In the retracted position, the excavator is able to travel through narrow openings. “My operators like the TB series excavators because of the fact they can make a full 360-degree turn, they are able to walk over open trenches and have a retractable track system that allows them to get into tight places,” Robinson says.

Robinson has been in business more than 30 years and when he was looking to replace his other mini excavators he “called around to 25 rental companies and their recommendations were to go look at the Takeuchi line of equipment, because of their serviceability and reliability.”
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Volvo Construction Equipment introduced the Volvo EC20B compact excavator, which features a unique load sensing hydraulic system. The new system of the Volvo B-series compact excavator produces constant oil pressure and variable oil flow. The heart of the system, the variable piston pump, directs the oil flow where it is needed the most and allows more engine power to be utilized by the drivetrain for increased swing torque, powerful digging forces, and fast digging and swing speeds. This, in turn, leads to faster cycle times, higher productivity and lower fuel consumption.

The horsepower of the machine's engine is precisely matched to hydraulic system requirements to maximize performance levels. The maximum digging depth is 8 feet, 5 inches to 9 feet, 3 inches. The EC20B has a breakout force of 4,159 pounds and a tearout force of 2,810 pounds.

Dale Barger, owner of Volvo Rents, Cincinnati, has been renting Volvo compact excavators for close to eight months. “The Volvo compact excavators have a much better digging force than other units I have used in the past,” Barger said.

The expandable undercarriage extends from 39.4 inches for working on narrow sites to 53.1 inches for greater stability. The Volvo EC20 turntable swing uses a hydraulic motor (without a reduction gear) and a ball internal crown wheel with remote lubrication. Greg Moore with Volvo Rents, Chattanooga, Tenn., rents compact excavators to homeowners, plumbers, cable companies and home contractors. The most popular units he rents to these customers are the EC 20, 25, and 35. He feels serviceability and simplicity are the key when renting these excavators.
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Caterpillar's 304CR compact radius mini hydraulic excavator is designed for work in space-restricted applications. It weighs 9,896 pounds with a cab and 9,786 pounds with a canopy. It delivers 36 net hp and accommodates two stick sizes. When equipped with the optional long stick, the excavator has a maximum digging depth of 12 feet, 4 inches. A naturally aspirated, water-cooled, four-stroke, four-cylinder diesel engine powers the excavator and meets Tier 2 and Stage II emissions requirements. The transmission permits travel speeds of 2.9 mph at high speed and 1.6 mph at low speed.
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The JK-007 mini excavator from Seoul, Korea-based Dongeun is designed for simple inspection and daily maintenance. Its compact design is simple and easy to control and operate for comfortable working conditions. Its operating weight is 3,285 pounds and its bucket digging force is 2,756 pounds. It features a 4-cycle, vertical, water-cooled Yanmar diesel engine.
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The Case CX75, CX135 and CX225 minimum-swing excavators feature engine power from 52 to 141 net horsepower, bucket digging forces up to 31,698 pounds and tight swing radiuses as little as 4 feet for performance in cramped quarters. The tail-swing radius for these units is 2 feet, 1 inch tighter than for the Case 9007B and the CX130. Tail-swing radius for the CX225 is 3 feet, 5 inches smaller than on the CX210. Dig depths range from 14 feet, 11 inches to 22 feet.
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