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Buying earthworks machine - need advice

 
Posts: 16
Location: Somewhere in Serbia
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We're looking to buy our first earthworks machine for our 30 hectare property. We need to dig foundations for homes, swales and small-medium ponds, so the shovels are not going to cut it

Our budget is very limited, so we're going to take a look at a used model. We're taking an operator with us to have a look at it and tell us what he thinks, but if anyone has any advice to throw in, that would be more than welcome!
 
master pollinator
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Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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Have you compared the cost of purchasing a machine with the cost of hiring an experienced person to do the work for you? Personally I think that unless you plan to hire yourself out as an operator with your machine once you have completed your own place, it is likely to be more cost effective to hire someone who knows what they're doing than to purchase your own machine.
 
Aleksandar Jankovic
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Tyler Ludens wrote:Have you compared the cost of purchasing a machine with the cost of hiring an experienced person to do the work for you? Personally I think that unless you plan to hire yourself out as an operator with your machine once you have completed your own place, it is likely to be more cost effective to hire someone who knows what they're doing than to purchase your own machine.



Yep, that's what we've been doing so far - hiring a machine and operator. Our property is around 30 hectares and soon expanding into 40, so there will be plenty of work to keep the machine busy and justify the cost.
 
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Not sure if this is an option for you in your location, but around my geographical location we can rent just the machine with no operator. This for us would be way more cost effective. Often there is a delivery charge, so you want to have a plan on what you are going to accomplish. Get as much done that makes logical sense in the time you are able to devote.

The upside of rental is that when it breaks, and it will break at some point, you are not responsible for the repairs.
 
Tyler Ludens
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I think renting is a good way to "shop" for the type of machine you might buy, but because of the learning curve, might not be cost-effective if you have a lot of work to do. My husband borrowed the neighbor's small tractor backhoe and took a long time getting proficient with it, but it proved too small for most of work we need done, although it did ok for the small digging job we borrowed it for. Unless you're used to big equipment or are a quick study, I wouldn't count on getting enough done with a rental to justify an extended rental period. You might wind up paying as much as you would have paid to hire an operator and his rig. But as I say, rental might be a good way to try out different types of machine.

 
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Howdy Aleksandar, I once owned a JCB backhoe a little older than that one. I loved it. It was a beast and worked hard all day.
The pictures look like that tractor is in pretty good shape.

Be sure to look at all of the hydraulic hoses. Look for cracks and leaks . A hose that breaks while working will spray fluid all over and cause a mess.

When you go to look at the tractor, before you start or move it, look underneath it, on the ground, look for oil or fluid spots that will show you where any leaks have happened while the machine was parked.

Look at all of the "rams", look for fluid leaks where the rams come and go in and out of the cylinders. if they are leaking they will need to be repacked. Also look at the rams to be sure they are smooth and shiney. If they are scratched they will eventually leak.

Start the tractor and lift the front bucket off the ground, put down the outriggers and lift the backhoe up off the ground. Wait a few minutes and watch to be sure they stay up. Drive the tractor around, shifting through the gears. Just generally go through all of the controls etc.

Find out if you can get the operators manuals and the maintenance manuals. They may be expensive but they are worth having. You can find them online if they dont have them with the tractor.

There are several online tractor forums that I found very helpful when I was just getting to know my machine.

Find out where you can buy hoses, fluids, and parts in your area. If you own one of these it is best if you have some mechanical skills. Or have a friend who will teach you.

I have owned three backhoes in my life and used them all the time . I think if you are going to be doing a lot of dirt work they are well worth it. If you get really good at running one, you can hire yourself out to others too!

Always be safe! Don't let anyone get close to you while you are operating the tractor. Never get under any raised hydraulic arm. They can fail and crush you.
 
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No one has mentioned hours of operation. Just as the odometer on a car gives you insight into how hard the vehicle has been run, the hours logged on heavy machinery helps with predicting how much life a machine has left, and whether you are buying a workhorse or one you will be working on...

No personal experience, but I have read a few of these discussions, and operating hours is something that commonly comes up.
 
Aleksandar Jankovic
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Thanks everybody for the great input!
 
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