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Mini-Backhoe ***Market Testing***  RSS feed

 
Daniel Griffin
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We are starting a small startup company and we looking to get some feedback and interest from the community. We are currently designing a small mini-backhoe that will be capable of 7' reach, 5' digging depth, approx 250lbs, 360 degrees swing, 2000lbs ripping force, 12" bucket, small enough to fit through any doorway, capable of being towed behind any car or truck, or capable of being strapped down in a standard size truck bed.

optional attachments could include
-thumb for grapple feature
-tilt-bucket feature (or angular bucket)
-ability to utilize hydraulics to split wood

Total price would be around $2-3000 range with optional attachment possibly being an additional fee.

We would very much like to hear from you. What are your overall thoughts? Would you be likely to purchase such a product? Does this product fill a niche for you? Suggestions to improve our design that you would like to see incorporated? And anything else you can think of!

We greatly appreciate your help on this! We fully expect to have our first model up and digging in less at 2 months time!
 
Tyler Ludens
pollinator
Posts: 9742
Location: Central Texas USA Latitude 30 Zone 8
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We borrowed our neighbor's tractor with a mini-backhoe attachment and it was barely capable of doing any work. All we needed to do was dig out a few rocks, not very deep, from heavy clay soil. The machine was very slow, taking such tiny bites, and didn't get much work done.

So I'm not super excited about mini-earthmoving equipment. I kind of think earthmoving equipment needs to be pretty big to get much work done.

 
Daniel Griffin
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Tyler, that you very much for your feedback! I completely understand your point of small earth moving equipment not being able to move much.

Our main reasoning and motivation for this endeavor is to be able own our own backhoe and be able to move it around tight spaces between existing trees in our woodland that we do not want to cut down but still get earthworks established within. This machine is not intended to be equivalent to a large machine, but rather a ten fold increase over a pick and shovel. For us personally we did not have the funds to afford a larger tractor, be able to haul it, or have anyone nearby to borrow or rent one from.

We are hoping there are others in our situation that would see some benefit from something more affordable, compact and a vast improvement over a shovel.

We will have our first prototype up and running soon and plan to put it through its paces in varied terrain and work to resolve any issues we find to make a efficent machine for its size.

P.S. Our proving grounds will include 1 site with heavy clay and steep slopes and the 2nd site will feature extremely rocky terrain. After our prototype is up and digging I will start another thread to post progress and videos. This one is just intended to ascertain is there is a market for this idea as we move forward.

Thanks again to all who take the time to read!
 
Mike Jay
Posts: 721
Location: Northern WI (zone 4)
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books food preservation hunting solar trees woodworking
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Here are some thoughts/questions...

I can't picture how a 250 lb machine could do all of that. Maybe that's part of the innovative element of your invention. Is it self propelled? On wheels or tracks? How does it keep from dragging itself around? 2000 lbs of ripping force but the unit only weighs 250 lbs. It seems like the rock/root/dirt would hold firm and the machine would drag itself towards it. Do you sit on it when operating? How is it powered (gas/diesel/electric)?

Harbor freight sells a tow behind trencher. It requires some maneuvering room but it sounds stronger than your proposed machine for a similar price point. Towable Ride-on Trencher

If it really is a mini-mini excavator, one feature I think helps to have is a little pushing blade. Then you can level the ground with the same machine. Wood splitter attachment could be a good seller. Post hole auger may also be a good attachment. Basically if this machine did what I'm imagining you hope it can do, any hydraulic tractor attachment would be worth considering for it.

Please keep in mind I'm imagining something like this (which is well over 250 lbs) Komatsu

So having more info on your device may help us provide even better feedback.

 
Daniel Griffin
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Great Points Mike!

As far as explaining how a 250lbs machine can do this is a bit difficult and will be shown more clearly once its built and we have our videos up. There are numerous small diy backhoes that handle quite a bit of work for being so small. It has to do with leverage and the power of the hydraulics. The 2000lbs of ripping force comes from the hydraulics and the main force is in the bucket curl. Stabilizers keep the machine from dragging around but there are limits, however if your in that hard of dirt or large enough rock stuck you may have to get a little creative with this machine, but again this is to superceed a pick and shovel, not take on the role of a serious backhoe. It will be manually moved around the site however once digging you can move around to your next location by swinging and using the arm itself to drag to backward or to the side (once the stabilizers are up as it does as wheels on the opposite end to assist in this). Yes you sit on the machine while operating and use your body to swing it around a full 360 reducing the need for a swing cylinder and allow faster travel. It will be a gas engine.

Harbor Freight does have a Trencher which is based off the old 80's ground hawg. A very stable and capable machine for its size. The machine we intend to produce is around the same cost due to the cost of hydraulics but the main feature being easier to store and transport, capable of getting through backyard gates and being stored in a shed. The Harbor Freight model is for those that have room to store a larger machine and manuever is 1250lbs around on site, which on slopes and through trees maybe difficult as it is roughly 12' x 5' and ours will be around 2.5' x 5-6' when not extended.

Your suggestion of a little pushing blade and post hole auger is well received!!!
 
Mike Jay
Posts: 721
Location: Northern WI (zone 4)
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books food preservation hunting solar trees woodworking
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Thanks Daniel, I'm looking forward to the videos. I was wondering how you get 360 degrees of swing but now it makes more sense. Good luck with your testing!
 
John Weiland
Posts: 950
Location: RRV of da Nort
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Dan, I own the following unit and for my purposes have been pleased with it:

http://www.bleu-kwmfg.com/dirt_master.htm

I recall looking into the "DR" and Harbor Freight equivalents, but for cost, build, and location of the manufacturer, decided to go with the Kwik Way with a 12 " bucket. (The ~5 hp Subaru engine has been super reliable to date, going on about 6 years now.) It's used in rock-free clay loam soil with good to high moisture content....Red River Valley flood plain/lake bed in northern Minnesota. It's exclusively used hitched to the ball-hitch of a ~1800 lb small tractor. To anchor the unit during use, the parking brakes on the tractor are engaged, the tractor loader bucket is on the ground, and the two outriggers under the operators seat of the digger are in their locked position.....I rarely used the rear-most outriggers. Even in this configuration, the system can "move" somewhat, but not unacceptably, under the influence of good pull from the backhoe arm. This can actually come in handy at times when operating because you can lift the whole operator station, including outriggers, with the boom and 'shunt' a bit sideways if you need minor re-positioning without getting off the unit.....it's probably not advised by the manufacturer for the obvious reasons. Next job for the little guy will be digging out the cinder-block basement wall that is caving in from water/clay pressure in order to install reinforcement beams.

For our soil, we don't need anything but the toothed bucket. But I could see where in rocky terrain a person might like some sort of 'claw' to loosen rock, then use a larger bucket to clear skree and rock. Additionally, although it would probably have to be just a higher-end offering, I drool over those large backhoes that have hydraulic outriggers that can be minutely positioned and engaged from the operator's station. Finally, I could see a time when I may want to by-pass the small engine and just power the hydraulics of the backhoe from a PTO pump on the tractor...or maybe even the tractor's own hydraulic system, since the tractors is stationary anyway during use of the unit.....might be a nice option. These may be things to consider in such an offering, some clearly as options.

Small backhoe.....definitely on my list of 'appropriate technologies'.
 
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