Backhoe attachment; good or bad?

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864wood

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In the great liberal state of MD the official policy is that all runoff water needs to go into a water management system instead of on the ground as God intended. IE: Gutters and downspounts into french drains etc...... hence the small homebuilder I sub to asked me when I plan on buying a backhoe attachment. Sounds good for extra work but how well do they work and then the subsequent upgrade to trailer etc. etc. etc. Team Fountain suggested a compact excavator but then you are talking a mondo trailer. I ideally need to trench to 8' max, install all HDW backfill then finish grade. It sounds like it is a match made in heaven; rubber track loader with backhoe attachment and a bucket. Advice??
 

864wood

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Mar 27, 2004
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I just got finished looking at the Bobtach Backhoe attachment online. Looks intresting, small, compact, less set up time, no need to skid steer to dump bucket because it has 45deg swivel on arm and probably thousands less in money. I think I'll rent one on a job and possibly buy from there. Has anyone used this apparatus before?
 

500K_773

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I just got finished looking at the Bobtach Backhoe attachment online. Looks intresting, small, compact, less set up time, no need to skid steer to dump bucket because it has 45deg swivel on arm and probably thousands less in money. I think I'll rent one on a job and possibly buy from there. Has anyone used this apparatus before?
I have looked at renting a backhoe attachment for my skidsteer, but the dealer requires that I purchase the mounting hooks for my specific machine. The mounting hooks are $250. Well he didn't have them in stock and ordered them for me. By the time the hooks showed up, they sold the backhoe attachment. The dealer had to order another attachment and winter showed up before it arrived, so I didn't get to try it. My dealer said he is having a difficult time keeping the 709 model in stock because people keep buying them. I think people rent them, then like them so much that they just purchase the rental model. At $9,000, I can see why the dealer might be hesitant to carry more in stock.
A new 337 or 435 compact excavator is going to run about $54,000 and a 331 about $43,000. Any of these are quite a bit more money than the backhoe attachment, but you'd be getting much more machine. A used 331 will run about $25,000 and used 337 about $30,000. The downside to owning a skidsteer and a compact excavator if you are a owner/operator business is: since you can only operate one machine at a time, only one machine at a time is making money.
There are a few items discouraging me from buying a backhoe attachment for my skidsteer. First of all, you have to operate the backhoe from outside of the loader cab. This means you are not protected by a ROPS structure and may not be allowed on some jobsites. Although, this is not a problem if you only do small residential work. Also, it looks like a pain to change from backhoe to loader bucket to move piles of material. I heard you could active the traction control over-ride and move the loader from the backhoe operator's seat by reaching back to the control levers, is this correct?
The Bobtach backhoe looks like it may be too much of a workout to operate. I guess you use the lift arms of the loader and probably your thumbs for swinging the boom & curling the bucket. I would not want to run that too long. May be alright for the occasional small, quick job. How much does one of these cost?
I think I am going to wait until I can afford the compact excavator solution. On the other hand, if I rent a backhoe attachment this summer and it performs well, I may not bring it back :)
 

500K_773

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Messages
342
I have looked at renting a backhoe attachment for my skidsteer, but the dealer requires that I purchase the mounting hooks for my specific machine. The mounting hooks are $250. Well he didn't have them in stock and ordered them for me. By the time the hooks showed up, they sold the backhoe attachment. The dealer had to order another attachment and winter showed up before it arrived, so I didn't get to try it. My dealer said he is having a difficult time keeping the 709 model in stock because people keep buying them. I think people rent them, then like them so much that they just purchase the rental model. At $9,000, I can see why the dealer might be hesitant to carry more in stock.
A new 337 or 435 compact excavator is going to run about $54,000 and a 331 about $43,000. Any of these are quite a bit more money than the backhoe attachment, but you'd be getting much more machine. A used 331 will run about $25,000 and used 337 about $30,000. The downside to owning a skidsteer and a compact excavator if you are a owner/operator business is: since you can only operate one machine at a time, only one machine at a time is making money.
There are a few items discouraging me from buying a backhoe attachment for my skidsteer. First of all, you have to operate the backhoe from outside of the loader cab. This means you are not protected by a ROPS structure and may not be allowed on some jobsites. Although, this is not a problem if you only do small residential work. Also, it looks like a pain to change from backhoe to loader bucket to move piles of material. I heard you could active the traction control over-ride and move the loader from the backhoe operator's seat by reaching back to the control levers, is this correct?
The Bobtach backhoe looks like it may be too much of a workout to operate. I guess you use the lift arms of the loader and probably your thumbs for swinging the boom & curling the bucket. I would not want to run that too long. May be alright for the occasional small, quick job. How much does one of these cost?
I think I am going to wait until I can afford the compact excavator solution. On the other hand, if I rent a backhoe attachment this summer and it performs well, I may not bring it back :)
BTW, I have hauled a 337 (11,500#) and a Cat 304CR (10,500#) (not at the same time of course) on my 10,400# trailer without problems. Not exactly legal, but the trailer and tires were fine. The trailer frame is the same as the 12,000# model, but just has 5,200# axles under it. This is a 20' bumper pull equipment trailer (18' flat deck, with 2' beavertail) and I am slightly crowded when I haul my 773, 2 buckets, and forks to a job. I don't know where I'd fit a backhoe attachment. I though of buying a flat bed truck to pull my trailer, so I could load my bucket and forks on the flat bed. I plan om on welding retangular tubes underneath my trailer that I can stick my forks into from the side, this will free up some deck space on the trailer.
 

500K_773

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342
BTW, I have hauled a 337 (11,500#) and a Cat 304CR (10,500#) (not at the same time of course) on my 10,400# trailer without problems. Not exactly legal, but the trailer and tires were fine. The trailer frame is the same as the 12,000# model, but just has 5,200# axles under it. This is a 20' bumper pull equipment trailer (18' flat deck, with 2' beavertail) and I am slightly crowded when I haul my 773, 2 buckets, and forks to a job. I don't know where I'd fit a backhoe attachment. I though of buying a flat bed truck to pull my trailer, so I could load my bucket and forks on the flat bed. I plan om on welding retangular tubes underneath my trailer that I can stick my forks into from the side, this will free up some deck space on the trailer.
864wood, To be completely honest, I haven't seen nearly as many backhoe attachments nowadays as I did in the past. Compact excavators seem to be taking over in my area. However, when I do see backhoe attachments, they're always working hard and quickly. Ground conditions in the Chicago area are usually pretty good -- very little seriously packed clay and no rocks down in the dirt. I'm sure a Bobtach backhoe will be fine as long as you're not dedicating yourself to opening trench. Otherwise, get a serious trencher -- a mini-ex.
 

864wood

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Mar 27, 2004
Messages
87
864wood, To be completely honest, I haven't seen nearly as many backhoe attachments nowadays as I did in the past. Compact excavators seem to be taking over in my area. However, when I do see backhoe attachments, they're always working hard and quickly. Ground conditions in the Chicago area are usually pretty good -- very little seriously packed clay and no rocks down in the dirt. I'm sure a Bobtach backhoe will be fine as long as you're not dedicating yourself to opening trench. Otherwise, get a serious trencher -- a mini-ex.
Excellent post to all! The full backhoe attachement is a pain but does work well enough from the other contractors I have seen using them. I belive the weight of the backhoe, plus bucket and machine would even stress out the trailer I am attempting to convince Team Fountain to sell to me. If all the equip plus machine gets too big then I have to upgrade the tow vehicle also. With just buying a new house, 2 children under 6 and having to move my entire cabinet shop about 6 months earlier than anticipated. Just not possible. I think I could side load the bobcat backhoe and load machine as usual and be ok, just not legal for wieght. Lets hope the cops are in a good mood the day I get pulled over. As far as the excavator, man are they nice but out of my price range. I have to stay small for now. To 500K; you put some thought into that post and you ar right on track as far as the money trail goes for the skid steer work. I also punchout homes for Pulte, a national homebulider and I can supplant all down days for income at $40/hr. Not bad and I plan on this being one of my best years yet.
 

864wood

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Mar 27, 2004
Messages
87
Excellent post to all! The full backhoe attachement is a pain but does work well enough from the other contractors I have seen using them. I belive the weight of the backhoe, plus bucket and machine would even stress out the trailer I am attempting to convince Team Fountain to sell to me. If all the equip plus machine gets too big then I have to upgrade the tow vehicle also. With just buying a new house, 2 children under 6 and having to move my entire cabinet shop about 6 months earlier than anticipated. Just not possible. I think I could side load the bobcat backhoe and load machine as usual and be ok, just not legal for wieght. Lets hope the cops are in a good mood the day I get pulled over. As far as the excavator, man are they nice but out of my price range. I have to stay small for now. To 500K; you put some thought into that post and you ar right on track as far as the money trail goes for the skid steer work. I also punchout homes for Pulte, a national homebulider and I can supplant all down days for income at $40/hr. Not bad and I plan on this being one of my best years yet.
Forgot to add that I did demo the bobcat backhoe attachement. I have a small advantage for multiple tasking for motor coordinated excersices due to the fact I used to fly helicopters for the Army. Must be why I like operating bobcats, feels just like home. Overall the action wasn't much more difficult than what I do with the combo bucket. As far as cost I will call my dealer on Monday but I think they were under $4000.
 

Team Fountain

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Mar 16, 2004
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Forgot to add that I did demo the bobcat backhoe attachement. I have a small advantage for multiple tasking for motor coordinated excersices due to the fact I used to fly helicopters for the Army. Must be why I like operating bobcats, feels just like home. Overall the action wasn't much more difficult than what I do with the combo bucket. As far as cost I will call my dealer on Monday but I think they were under $4000.
I feel the obligation to mention something totally off topic. Insurance. Liability for a company doing 'grading operations' is significantly less than the same company doing 'trenching operations.' This is just the price of doing business, but it adds up quick. If you are an occasional renter of trenching apparatus, you are covered by your liability. If you purchase the same piece of equipment, you just became engaged in trenching operations. Something to think about.
Another consideration is OSHA. Nobody mentioned room on the truck or trailer for the trench box. It depends on the operation being performed, but plan on a lightweight trench box. OSHA around here catches you off guard. Usually, they are inspecting something else entirely, or just driving by, when they nail you. I have a buddy who was doing a sewer connection at a hardware store when they happened by (inspector stopped to buy light bulbs). $175k in fines in less than 10 minutes. I looked at the job and thought everything was fine with the dig. Obviously, I need to review the rules and regs also. He settled for 10% of the fine before going to court. The OSHA inspector said two things I'll never forget: “Think of trenching as surgery. Every operation consists of 50 smaller operations. - and - Think of dirt as sh*t. Never put yourself in a situation to get it on anything above your corn hole.“
 

500K_773

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I feel the obligation to mention something totally off topic. Insurance. Liability for a company doing 'grading operations' is significantly less than the same company doing 'trenching operations.' This is just the price of doing business, but it adds up quick. If you are an occasional renter of trenching apparatus, you are covered by your liability. If you purchase the same piece of equipment, you just became engaged in trenching operations. Something to think about.
Another consideration is OSHA. Nobody mentioned room on the truck or trailer for the trench box. It depends on the operation being performed, but plan on a lightweight trench box. OSHA around here catches you off guard. Usually, they are inspecting something else entirely, or just driving by, when they nail you. I have a buddy who was doing a sewer connection at a hardware store when they happened by (inspector stopped to buy light bulbs). $175k in fines in less than 10 minutes. I looked at the job and thought everything was fine with the dig. Obviously, I need to review the rules and regs also. He settled for 10% of the fine before going to court. The OSHA inspector said two things I'll never forget: “Think of trenching as surgery. Every operation consists of 50 smaller operations. - and - Think of dirt as sh*t. Never put yourself in a situation to get it on anything above your corn hole.“
Point well-made -- hadn't though of OSHA.
 

864wood

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Point well-made -- hadn't though of OSHA.
Yes I have to admit that OSHA is the badest dog on the block. However I never came in contact with them on dirt jobs. Tower climbing yes and deffinately commercial tennet work. Would you belive that they fine you $1200.00 for bad extension cords? Anyway, I have personaly dug and been on/in /at jobs with trenches and never once did we have problems. Most of what we dug was footer depth and the occasional deeper dig for the water management. I just dont see the practicality of a trenching box for stuff like that , but it is technically needed for sewer hook ups where a man is in the hole and where depth and safety is an issue. Maybe somebody has been burned on something or could add to this thread.
 

500K_773

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Yes I have to admit that OSHA is the badest dog on the block. However I never came in contact with them on dirt jobs. Tower climbing yes and deffinately commercial tennet work. Would you belive that they fine you $1200.00 for bad extension cords? Anyway, I have personaly dug and been on/in /at jobs with trenches and never once did we have problems. Most of what we dug was footer depth and the occasional deeper dig for the water management. I just dont see the practicality of a trenching box for stuff like that , but it is technically needed for sewer hook ups where a man is in the hole and where depth and safety is an issue. Maybe somebody has been burned on something or could add to this thread.
It's been awhile since I have performed earthwork on a job where OSHA or U.S. Army Corps of Engineer had safety inspections. About 12 years ago, I used to excavate on jobsites without trench guards as long as there were sloped or benched sides of the trench. This prevented the sides from from possibly caving-in on someone working in the trench, but also required a lot of extra excavating. Obviously this would not work if space was tight.
I know the safety shoring is very expensive, has to be transported somehow, and needs a large enough machine to set it. Cost could quickly escalate, but the price you bid the job at will reflect this increase.
Here's a link to OSHA's site with trenching information and regulations- http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/trenchingexcavation/
 

Team Fountain

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It's been awhile since I have performed earthwork on a job where OSHA or U.S. Army Corps of Engineer had safety inspections. About 12 years ago, I used to excavate on jobsites without trench guards as long as there were sloped or benched sides of the trench. This prevented the sides from from possibly caving-in on someone working in the trench, but also required a lot of extra excavating. Obviously this would not work if space was tight.
I know the safety shoring is very expensive, has to be transported somehow, and needs a large enough machine to set it. Cost could quickly escalate, but the price you bid the job at will reflect this increase.
Here's a link to OSHA's site with trenching information and regulations- http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/trenchingexcavation/
So what's the verdict 864? What was the final cost? Does it perform as advertised? Is the extra weight an issue with your tow rig? Is it difficult to cut a level trench? Will your wife be able to use it to dig your grave when she finds out? Does it require a lot of extra concentration to use? A day of just basic Bobcatting can be very mentally taxing. I would imagine using a complicated attachment would be almost painful. How far will it allow you to place the dirt from the trench with its side swing?
 

Tigerotor77W

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So what's the verdict 864? What was the final cost? Does it perform as advertised? Is the extra weight an issue with your tow rig? Is it difficult to cut a level trench? Will your wife be able to use it to dig your grave when she finds out? Does it require a lot of extra concentration to use? A day of just basic Bobcatting can be very mentally taxing. I would imagine using a complicated attachment would be almost painful. How far will it allow you to place the dirt from the trench with its side swing?
Yeah... after three months, how did it turn out?
 

kensandiford

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Aug 18, 2004
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Yeah... after three months, how did it turn out?
Another thing to consider in the backhoe attachment vs compact excavator is that you can run skidsteer attachment on the excavator. I actually prefer using my breaker and auger on my 331. I can cover a lot more area without moving the machine, I can also get at areas that the skidsteer would not. ie. I can auger over a fence with the excavator and I would have to remove the fence with the skidsteer. I think I would end up banging my head on the wall if I had to keep changing from the bucket to the backhoe attachment, and not being able to swing 360 deg. would really be a pain. There are a lot of situations when I am trenching that I walk the excavator over the trench. One plus is the fact that if my skidsteer is at the mechanics, I still have my excavator out making money. I will agree that insurance is more expensive and a lot hard to find. It is a lot more stressful in the excavator than in the skidsteer loader, and it seems hard to find operators for the excavators. My excavators are not working year round but that means they will last that many more seasons(hopefully) My way of thinking is that the compact excavator and the skidsteer go together like bread and butter
 

A.G.

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First we built a cheap trenching hoe, that had no hyd and you had to skid the loader to dump. Or, you could just trench it "dirty" by engaging the bucket and just backing up the length of the trench a few times. Pretty neat, beats a shovel, and it fits in the back of a pickup. That tool had little reach, and was difficult to use in wet conditions, because the loader would get stuck while trying to skid to dump spoil. It also wasn't bullet proof, and a good root might just ruin the whole tool. Care had to used operating it. I checked out the Bobcat econo Hoe, Quicktach Hoe, (cheap hoe) and wasn't that impressed. For a 763 with the weight kit, and foam filled, it still seemed tippy to me. The unit looked really tough, but it is run by electric controls which gave my loader some troubles. Here and there, there were wiring problems with my machine. And then I looked at the back hoe's switches and wiring harness destined to sit out and the weather, and cause more glitches down the road. It also did not reach too far for cleaning a ditch for example. At around 4500.00 I decided it wasn't what I needed. I wanted a 709 with fold down stabilizers, so digging in wet ground, or from the edge of a ditch would be more safe. The hyd controls would probably be more reliable over time, and withstand long periods of non use better than electric controls. The 709 would also give maximum reach for my machine. Only problem was cost. Dealer wanted some 10 to 12 to get started, and used ones were unheard of. I finally found one out of state, and the dealer there suggested the rear stabs as well as my machine was equipted to accept them. That was a great suggestion, a guy can't dig as well without them. And they change your vantage and reach when deployed (they increase your reach). The unit is very powerful and smooth, its really fun to operate. Repositioning takes a little bit of time due to picking up the stabs, but you can move the loader from the backhoe operating seat which is far better than changing seats and dealing with the seatbar. For serious digging, but not all the time, it is not a bad choice. Excavators are for the guys that are digging all the time, thats how my 709 came up for sale. A guy traded it in on an excavator to his dealer. Transporting it on one trailer would be great, but I don't have the room. I just load it on my tool trailer and make two trips. Very happy with the 709. A.G.
 

864wood

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Mar 27, 2004
Messages
87
First we built a cheap trenching hoe, that had no hyd and you had to skid the loader to dump. Or, you could just trench it "dirty" by engaging the bucket and just backing up the length of the trench a few times. Pretty neat, beats a shovel, and it fits in the back of a pickup. That tool had little reach, and was difficult to use in wet conditions, because the loader would get stuck while trying to skid to dump spoil. It also wasn't bullet proof, and a good root might just ruin the whole tool. Care had to used operating it. I checked out the Bobcat econo Hoe, Quicktach Hoe, (cheap hoe) and wasn't that impressed. For a 763 with the weight kit, and foam filled, it still seemed tippy to me. The unit looked really tough, but it is run by electric controls which gave my loader some troubles. Here and there, there were wiring problems with my machine. And then I looked at the back hoe's switches and wiring harness destined to sit out and the weather, and cause more glitches down the road. It also did not reach too far for cleaning a ditch for example. At around 4500.00 I decided it wasn't what I needed. I wanted a 709 with fold down stabilizers, so digging in wet ground, or from the edge of a ditch would be more safe. The hyd controls would probably be more reliable over time, and withstand long periods of non use better than electric controls. The 709 would also give maximum reach for my machine. Only problem was cost. Dealer wanted some 10 to 12 to get started, and used ones were unheard of. I finally found one out of state, and the dealer there suggested the rear stabs as well as my machine was equipted to accept them. That was a great suggestion, a guy can't dig as well without them. And they change your vantage and reach when deployed (they increase your reach). The unit is very powerful and smooth, its really fun to operate. Repositioning takes a little bit of time due to picking up the stabs, but you can move the loader from the backhoe operating seat which is far better than changing seats and dealing with the seatbar. For serious digging, but not all the time, it is not a bad choice. Excavators are for the guys that are digging all the time, thats how my 709 came up for sale. A guy traded it in on an excavator to his dealer. Transporting it on one trailer would be great, but I don't have the room. I just load it on my tool trailer and make two trips. Very happy with the 709. A.G.
To the waiting masses about my backhoe attachment. The verdict is in! I like it and I like it even more that I can take backhoe, machine and combo bucket on one trailer. You never know when doing a foundation dig that there is a burried stump. Its alot easier digging it out with the backhoe as opposed to the combo bucket. Finally, after doing two major footer jobs it might be a little more cumbersome to operate but well within the comfort range. This is even after runiing the backhoe for 6 hrs on Sunday.
 
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