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

 
Posts: 14
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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!
 
pollinator
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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!
 
garden master
Posts: 1985
Location: Northern WI (zone 4)
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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
garden master
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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!
 
pollinator
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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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Any update on this project? In the market...
 
pollinator
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I try to be positive on here, but this would be very difficult to pull off only because so many people are already doing what you propose. Many are selling the plans for these machines, and while not everyone can weld and fabricate, most permiculturists know people who are.

Just do a search on YouTube regarding Homemade Towable Backhoes and the list is endless. I am not saying these are Hitachi 1200's, but they are better than a shovel and cost as much as what you are proposing.

...
For Permies People: Just start with a cheap woodsplitter and that would net you the engine, hydraulics and one of the cylinders you would need. Add in a few more cylinders, hoses, and a seat and you have a very capable machine for less than $3000.

 
Travis Johnson
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I disagree regarding small equipment not getting a lot of work done.

I don't have a need to build a mini-backhoe only because when I bought my log loader, it has the capability of having a backhoe put on it. What I have found is, it is not that it can dig super fast, but it can fill the bucket everytime. That is because it does not matter if the machine is a Hitachi 1200 or a homemade backhoe, 2000 PSI to the cylinders is 2000 PSI to the cylinders. Mine has no problem filling the bucket, and that is a lot of shovel fulls of dirt.

Just having it is that is great. It fills that void between a job that is too big to do with pick and shovel, and so big that you would spend all your time doing it. In the latter case, renting bigger machines just makes sense. Things like waterlines, small ponds, irrigation lines, fencing, digging in rocky ground, etc are perfect for a small owned machine. For instance putting in a 100 foot water line to one of my sheep sheds. It is such a small job that I could not get a contractor to come in and dig that for me, renting a machine for a few hours does not make sense either, and yet it was too big of a job to dig by hand. (Keep in mind I live in Maine, so a waterline has to be 4 feet deep)

I say owned machine, because renting or borrowing one does not make a lot of sense because there is a need to get the machine back to a person or rental agency as soon as possible, but if you own it, it comes into use a lot. I have also found that once I obtain a piece of equipment, I use it for addional things that I would have never thought of otherwise. For instance my log loader was designed to haul wood out of the woods, but it works really great at hoisting rafters too. I dd not buy it to lift rafters, but that sure comes in handy!!!
 
John Weiland
pollinator
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Travis Johnson wrote: I have also found that once I obtain a piece of equipment, I use it for addional things that I would have never thought of otherwise. For instance my log loader was designed to haul wood out of the woods, but it works really great at hoisting rafters too. I dd not buy it to lift rafters, but that sure comes in handy!!!



Completely agree, Travis.  And although I have not used my towable backhoe for any "novel" uses, the sheer *number* of projects it's been involved in has more than paid for the unit in personal use (septic system repair, basement wall repair, moving small trees and shrubs, etc) and in helping out friends.  We are fortunate that we are not digging in rocks, but mostly heavy clay soil.  But even here, when needing to dig deep, it sure beats a shovel when the body is approaching 60 years of age.
 
Travis Johnson
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John, I never bought my log loader for the backhoe, it just came with it as a side piece if you will. I was actually shocked how easily that thing filled the bucket. IT HAS POWER! Because I have what I have, I would no build anything, but as people on here know, I build my own equipment all the time. My bought backhoe is VERY limited. Because it was made to lift logs UP, it does not dig DOWN very good. I have to twist my trailer to get down to 5 feet of depth. That is why people who have nothing might consider building one. It could easily be better than what I got, and I like what I got.

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pollinator
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Having an affordable tool that can do several things well enough would be ideal down the road. I plan to need something for the following expected tasks in several years:

1. Excavate about 4 feet down for building an earth-bermed house and greenhouse, plus putting all that earth back up for covering the roof and the waterproof covering (wofati/oehler style). If deeper digging is needed I thinking making a ramp down would work, but if a deep trench was needed then the deeper the digging depth the better.

2. Snow removal from my car parking out to the shared road, probably 1000 feet where there's 3-4 feet of snow each year.

3. Hauling of logs that I cut which are too heavy to move by hand (or I have many stacked to haul all at once), either attaching them by chains to skid, or carrying in the loader.

4. The ability to lift heavy objects by attaching by rope/chain to the excavator arm, either lifting a log to stand on end into a hole (wofati/oehler construction), or pulling up a well pump to service it (well will likely be at most 100' deep). It would be possible to also create a block and tackle setup with a tripod for lifting as well, either by hand or using a winch.
 
Travis Johnson
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Mark, that is the reason why I bought my Log Trailer. Granted I build my own equipment, but I could see when I bought it that it was something I could build off from. Everything you want to do it can do. (The ones with HM are homemade implements). It was expensive, but in the end really helps me do a lot of work.

Move Logs
Dig like a backhoe
Move snow (grader blade) (HM)
Personal crane
Auger post holes
1 Cubic Yard dumpbed
Move rocks (rock retaining walls)
Lift rafters
Sow seed (HM)
Upside down woodsplitter (HM)
Feller-Buncher (HM)










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Mark Tudor
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Yeah that rig has some great versatility, and when you compare the cost to an excavator it seems like a very good deal. Getting something that can do it all and can be maneuvered around the site for anywhere near $5000 would be ideal, it seems a lot of used machines I've seen are at $10k or far above it.

Maybe renting out Big Z would be cheaper for moving around my cut trees: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aN1tboiHmBQ ; but then if I had to feed him it might be cheaper to just buy a new excavator...
 
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Travis, What brand is your log loader/trailer?  Wallenstein?  That would be a very handy piece of equipment.  I'm sure you get a lot of use from it with all the additional capabilities.
 
Travis Johnson
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Walt Chase wrote:Travis, What brand is your log loader/trailer?  Wallenstein?  That would be a very handy piece of equipment.  I'm sure you get a lot of use from it with all the additional capabilities.



Yes it is a Wallenstein, what they call a Timber Talon Log Trailer. Mine has the "Powerpack" to it, which is its own engine and hydraulic pump so that it can be self-sufficient. That makes it nice because anything that can pull it can be used to move it around. BUT it costs a lot more than $5000. I was saying a person could build one of those towable backhoes for that price, or less probably. What  is a purchased unit and cost $18,000, more money then the $14,2000 farm tractor that tows it, the $14,000 Ford Explorer, or even the $10,000 bulldozer...but it also does all the work, those other machines just tow it around.

When I bought it, I told the salesman I intended to move big round bales with it as well, and he said he had never thought of using it for that. With a big round bale on the front end loader of my tractor, and two on the trailer, I can move 3 bales at a time. Or with my explorer, I can move only 2, but really fast.

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Are you okay? You look a little big. Maybe this tiny ad will help:
five days of natural building (wofati and cob) and rocket cooktop oct 8-12, 2018
https://permies.com/t/92034/permaculture-projects/days-natural-building-wofati-cob
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