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Excavator vs dozer.?.?.?

 
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One of these days we would like to get a piece of heavy machinery for some dams in a few large gulleys  on our property (27acres). In total were thinking like 7 separate ponds at about 100,000-200,000gallon size. Mostly for access to water for burning,irrigation, and possibly one for toiletries as we dont have access to water at our site. Most of our land is 10-20% slope, so that's pretty hilly. And plenty of drainage, erosion prone in alot of areas hence why were wanting to build some dams to catch the water and prevent deeper ditching in those certain areas.   But also could use it for some logging in a few areas were wanting to clear for a orchard. So stump removal and initial ground work for the site and the clean up/finishing work could be done with one or both of our tractors to smooth everything out to specs.

So my question is which machine would be better for this type of work. I see both pros and cons to both, but I'm leaning to an excavator since we have two decent tractors 50hp with box blade, 6 way rear blade, and one with a front end loader for dirt work. What do you people with excavator/dozer experience  think???
 
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Michael,

That sounds like a lot of challenging work ahead.  I have a bit of experience with smaller tractors, but not excavators or dozers.  May I ask what exactly you plan to do with them?  By that I mean do you see yourself digging holes with an excavator or do you see yourself pushing materials where a pond would easily fit with a swale constructed—possibly by moving earth, and thus deepening potential pond and moving that material to a dam.

I can’t see your land and I have only a vague idea of what you want to accomplish, but as you have a gradient already, my inclination is to go with a dozer.  A dozer will likely only make shallow ponds, but it can move earth a long ways while digging.

On the other hand, an excavator will dig a deeper pond more precisely and might well be more useful after all the ponds are completed.  They will only move earth as far as the arm reaches so that might be a limiting issue unless you have some other way of moving all that material (do you have s dump truck or trailer?).

Also, how big is the equipment likely to be?  You can probably only afford one.

Sorry if I say a lot but only muddy the waters.  I guess I would lean towards a dozer but then it might only be useful for that one project.  I don’t suppose you could buy one and rent another to get the best of both worlds could you?

These are all just a bunch of thoughts and I don’t know how much they help, but I am curious as to how this works out.

Please let us know your thoughts,

Eric
 
Eric Hanson
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Michael, I just had another thought.

I have a swimming pool that is 15’x30’x4’deep.  It holds about 15,000 gallons of water.  If your ponds are an average of 150,000 gallons, then you are digging about 10 of my swimming pools.  I excavated the first 2’ of earth with a subcompact tractor equipped with a box blade and a loader.  We were in a record drought and my ground was absolutely brick hard clay.

The box blade actually did a good job of taking off layer after layer of very hard, compacted ground and the bucket easily moved the piles out of the way.

I am not exactly suggesting that you go attempt this with a tractor with box blade and loader by itself, but maybe some of the harder digging could be done with an excavator and a smaller used tractor with box blade and loader could smooth out the pond bottom and move earth into place.  Alternatively, maybe a skid steer would be a better compliment to an excavator—and again, maybe it could be rented to save money.

Again, I am throwing out possibilities.  I know that both an excavator and a dozer is pricey pieces of equipment and I am personally very budget sensitive.  If you like these ideas, great.  If they don’t suit you, disregard whatever you see fit.

Good Luck and I do wish to know how this works out.

Eric
 
michael rowald
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Ok so let me just lay out all the toys we got to work with. We have 2 massey ferguson 3165 tractors(basically a industrial 165) one with front end loader, box blade, 6way rear blade, landscape rake, bottom plow, and Bush hog. 1972 chevy c50 dump truck, can hold 7 tons of material. Old asplundh whisper chipper 12inch drum. Chainsaws of coarse, and lots of hand tools. Also a bucket truck with 55' work height, but that's for making toy funds.

And thanks for your reply I love bouncing ideas off like minded people. So yeah I am leaning towards the excavator because of the versatility "I" believe it brings to the table. Obviously if I had a genie in a lamp giving me 3 wishes I'd ask for an excavator, dozer, and a skid steer all around 100hp preferred lol. But us unfortunate folks with big great ideas just never seem to have access to funds to make these awesome things happen over night like we'd like. So being an unfortunate poor boy I have to choose the best option of the three and I'm thinking the excavator cuz it can reach and do the inital ground breaking for my tractors to then smooth out the work area like a dozer pushed it there. Or if needed could load dump truck with material and move it as if it were a giant wheel Barrow and then use tractors to spread it out.
And back to what you said, once the main objective(ponds/water features) are complete what good uses would a dozer have besides leveling paths or doing earth works for other people? Seems to me at this point if I went with a dozer I'd either wanna go into the dozing business for people or plan to sell/trade it for an excavator so it's not just a really expensive yard ornament. But obviously with an excavator we wouldnt be able to move that with our dump truck so it would be suck at the farm or possibly do work for surrounding neighbors, and a dozer we could probably move a 15-20k lbs.machine, but not a 20-40k lbs machine. So the end goal is to just have a piece of equiptment to help do big jobs for ourselves. Once we get to the point of it slowly becoming a yard ornament hopefully we have surrounding neighbors asking for earthworks like we have done cuz we will surely have a nice parcel to look at from google maps in satelitte mode....
 
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Why buy at all? As you suggest, it's hard to justify the purchase of either piece of equipment unless you intend to start a business.

By hiring an owner/operator, you can get a big Cat or trackhoe that will move enormous amounts of earth in short order. And, you have the benefit of an operator who knows their stuff. Ask around for rates. Sometimes in the off season, a small company is willing to deal.

 
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I go with Douglas,

I have found that hiring the work to be done is the more easy and cheaper route for me.  Much less than the first payment got my walk-in basement excavated so I could attach a greenhouse.

So, if I decided to put in 7 ponds, that would only be the first 7 payments or so.  I would be ahead by month 8.
 
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Unless you buy a used one, use it for the year and sell it for close to what you paid.  No experience with this for heavy equipment but it might be an option...
 
John F Dean
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Hi Mike,

This same strategy could work for used.   A friend of mine bought a used motor home for a summer’s trip to Alaska. The following spring, he sold it more more than he originally paid.
 
michael rowald
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Hiring isnt an option. I dont have deep enough pockets for that and plus I like to learn new stuff. And to top it off I dont want a company coming out to pile all the trees in a mess to "burn" and get the ponds put in in a big @%$ hurry to get to the next job, so they can actually make a living doing that. We would like to strategically clear each pond site saving the available resources (millable logs, rocks, boulders, firewood grade logs, even wood chip up the tops for mulch material for our orchard) would a hired out company do this that way at a decent price? NO WAY JOSE!!! they are always in a hurry to get done to get to the next job and the next. I totally get it tho cuz when you own 3+ pieces of heavy equiptment and a truck to haul them, you got alot of bills to pay. So that's why I'd rather pass on hiring and get a big machine to own. Do all my projects at my own pace making good use of all my available resources. And 10,15,or 20 years down  the road each pond will need dredged(top soil farming YO!!!) from all the sediment build up, how much will that cost again to have someone dredge out 7 ponds? Then what if we have a earth structure malfunction on one of them due to a big storm and I dont have money laying around to hire someone out again. If your gonna own more the  1 pond you'd be better off owning the pond maintaining machine. That is just how I see it being the way I am, I'm just a DIYer and truly believe in "if you want it done right, you gotta do it yourself". Obviously if you dont do your homework on the subject you can easily fail, which is why I'm here, doing my homework for my master plan, and I still have more research and homework to do to get there!!!
 
michael rowald
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And we actually are planning to start a business just not a excavating business. But having a machine to clear our property and build the ponds for irrigation for our orchard is part of it really and then maintaining it all as it develops. Seems justifiable to me. I mean a machine under 40k would pay for itself quick enough in a orchard setting. And if not once we get it all done maybe sell it for something smaller.
 
Eric Hanson
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Michael,

From the sounds of things you already have a good deal of equipment, the drive to engage in the project and a goal in mind.  I could be mistaken, but it seems to me that the best option would be the excavator.  It will do a good job digging and will continue to serve you after the main project.  Any chance you can use one of your tractors to do most of the tractor earthmoving work that would otherwise be done with a dozer?  Seems to me this would be a cost-effective option to your dilemma.  

Please let us know how what you think.

Eric
 
Douglas Alpenstock
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It looks like you're operating on a much larger scale and with deeper pockets than others here who are starting out on a shoestring budget. Nothing wrong with that, of course, and I'll be interested to see your choice.

When I look around the countryside, I see many small dozers and very few small excavators. I think small dozers can move a heckuva lot more earth than small excavators. My 2c.
 
pollinator
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As a road builder, I would suggest the dozer is a much more practical machine.
Tracks, erosion control with rippers, pond creation etc, log movement are all possible and easy with a dozer

Roads dont get built with excavators and many dams are pushed out with dozers.

Excavators are great for digging and loading trucks though.

Reading your list with;
- track
- ponds,
- erosion repair
 
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Michael,
In my case, I chose an excavator. I've got 140 acres and starting from scratch other than a trail to the property. I picked up a mini ex. 8K pounds with a blade and a thumb for $20K. I have been very happy with my choice. I have done plenty of digging and logging, lifting.... The thumb has been a great help for logging. I did hire a dozer and operator for 1 day to do some clearing for a fire break around the cabin. Which did leave a big mess that I;ll have to pick through. One advantage of the excavator for logging is that you don't have drag your logs through the dirt. Which will save on blades and chains for your saws. It soumds you might be able to get a larger machine which is good. I would if I could.
 
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If that dumptruck is in decent order, it makes the excavator much more practical.

I have a 150 sized excavator, and figure I am stuck with pretty modest sized ponds, on my flat property, until I find a dumptruck to move the spoil. I've moved some by the bucketload with a 50hp tractor, and don't care for the wear on the tractor goven how slow the pile shrinks... I also have a dump trailer that will hold about 10k lbs, but again it is just too light duty for this work.

IMO, an excavator is more versatile. Deeper ponds take less space for a given volume, and lose less to evaporation...


But... do you have any idea what the ground is like 10, 15, 25ft down? If it turns to bedrock or gravel in 5ft, deeper ponds are not really plausible and the excacator's advantage starts to fade...



A big track loader with a backhoe is kind of a middle option. Pretty versatile, not as good as the other machines at most tasks, but can do damn near anything... May not be so easy to find, especially up in that 100hp range; I mostly see em with backhoes in the ~50hp ballpark, and rippers, winches, or nothing but a loader in the bigger sizes...
 
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I have no practical expierence in this, i can just repeat what i read on the internet:

The dozer is a much better tool for building ponds/dams.
Not only can it move larger amounts of earth faster,
but also the fashion in which it operates tends to somewhat seal a pond/dam
much better than an excavator.

Still i would say it depends on your context.... if you build only small ponds
and plan on using a sheepsfoot-roller for sealing, than the excavator may be the better choice,
but for any large scale activites i personally would go for the dozer even if its a smaller dozer.
 
michael rowald
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Eric Hanson wrote:Michael,

From the sounds of things you already have a good deal of equipment, the drive to engage in the project and a goal in mind.  I could be mistaken, but it seems to me that the best option would be the excavator.  It will do a good job digging and will continue to serve you after the main project.  Any chance you can use one of your tractors to do most of the tractor earthmoving work that would otherwise be done with a dozer?  Seems to me this would be a cost-effective option to your dilemma.  

Please let us know how what you think.

Eric

yeah we have a decent amount of property development tools for the tractor as we are continuing in on the property. So that's exactly what I was thinking cuz we have two tractors one with front loader and other to just push/pull dirt around with box blade or rear 6way blade. Kind of taking the "dozer" dirt spreading job. Obviously I get a actual dozer would be better but, $$$$$ is between us and multiple machines, not to mention I'm already in over my head with mechanicing the different machines we do have. So I think only one piece of big equiptment can be taken on. And I definatly see more versatility with an excavator, considering you can dig, load material into truck for moving distances, the hydraulic thumbs many uses(cuz we would have to have that), maybe even a grader/stability dozer blade attachment for back filling trenches and digging/log grabbing on our lovely terrain(20% on average slopes). If we got ONE machine we would have to go all out on versatility for it so it's worth it in the long run. And I just dont see this and yep of versatility with a dozer. I get they have alot of advantages/attachments for them too but, the excavator just has a hold of me. Just haven't been as amused with dozers working as I am with excavators, believe me I've watched probably every video on YouTube to see what all each machine has in it.
 
michael rowald
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Douglas Alpenstock wrote:It looks like you're operating on a much larger scale and with deeper pockets than others here who are starting out on a shoestring budget. Nothing wrong with that, of course, and I'll be interested to see your choice.

When I look around the countryside, I see many small dozers and very few small excavators. I think small dozers can move a heckuva lot more earth than small excavators. My 2c.

douglas,
definatly not working with deeper pockets. Did I mention both tractors we got are 1967ish models, dump truck is 1972, bucket truck is 1985, chipper 1984, so all old equiptment bought for under 3k each as they all needed work, so mostly working on limited shoestring budget as well and my mechanical abilities(which I'm still learning as I go). Everything has been collected in about 6-8years time, so I get the budgeting. But were at the point of needing to research equiptment on a serious level for our orchard venture. We just got the bucket truck running and operating safely so were gonna start some tree work for the machine funds and mulch for our orchard. But if we were gonna get an excavator I was thinking a medium size(20,000-40,000lbs) machine, and if we would get a dozer I said a smaller sized one so we could haul it around to make money with on the side cuz they dont have the same versatility for our farm setting(in my opinion anyway) but I think I'm pretty well set on the excavator idea.
 
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Definitely agree on the excavator before the dozer given the other equipment you have.  You will have the ability to lift and move dirt and stumps and trees and brush as needed without losing a bunch of topsoil. If necessary, after clearing a hunk if land you can bring in a dozer with a root rake to shape and clean up.  
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