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Thread: steep hill digging

  1. #1
    Senior Member reddot556's Avatar
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    steep hill digging

    the company i work for is bidding on a 7 mile 12" cross country type waterline in the hills of northern calif. my super asked me whats the steepest hill i've dug down. i told him they have all been engineered cut or fill slopes. usually the steepest has been 2:1's. i don't think iv'e ever tried to work on something steeper. he tells me this waterline job is all original ground, kinda rocky and has hills of 1:1 and 1&1/2:1 slopes. i said in my experience a komatsu 300 or 400 sized machine will probably slide right on down..he says it can be done...maybe if you are tied off to a d9 but not all by yourself..he says ******** he thinks it will work. i told him if he wants to break off the hill,swing back up hill and take a bucket out and dump it and he's still there i would then dig the trench. i think he'll probably be at the bottom with the excavator....dead..whats the steepest you guys have worked on?

  2. #2
    Senior Member Big Iron's Avatar
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    you can work some pretty steep ground. it helps if you spent a good deal of time in the logging business. benchs are an excavators best friend. this is a mine site we will be doing next year
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    Senior Member Dirtman2007's Avatar
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    I've worked on some pretty steep hills, enough where you had to put your feet up on the winsheild to stay in the seat. The machine had tripple grouser pads too. Often I'm working on steep slopes, but their only 40'-50' long before it levels out again.
    I've never done anywork in the mountians so I'm cluess about that. I do know one thing, I would perfer to have singler grouser pads on the machine.


    A normal slope to be working on, not very long to the bottom though.
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    Senior Member Vantage_TeS's Avatar
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    I could run my 385 in my sleep so we can assume I'm very comfortable with it and know it's limitations.

    When I'm on slopes it's not so much the tipping its the sliding you have to watch. Soil conditions will be key. Nice smooth motions and keeping your weight in close to the machine and you won't have to worry about the tipping much. I've been on a 2:1 with my tracks sideways digging and then dumping full buckets down hill. Stay close to the ground and get your bucket in tight to the machine before you start swinging and you just slide the bucket down the slope so you aren't picking up a track (or learning how to dump and catch yourself lightly and lower back down so you aren't abusing your U/C).

    Another thing is your bucket weight. Anything past say a 3:1 (just throwing that number out) and you're not gonna be able to swing a full bucket uphill unless its tucked in tight against your machine. I've been on slopes that the only way I could swing uphill was to start to swing one way, then use the momentum/gravity to swing back around the other way.

    Sliding is your enemy. If you don't have good footing (wet/power/loose rock) you'll be dragging yourself around trying to dig. And tipping becomes a hazard during the slide. Lets say you're mid swing (can't catch yourself), full bucket and the machine takes off on you. The slide isn't so much the problem its when your track catches again quickly and transfers all that weight. Over you go!

    I'll take my 385 anywhere, but everyone thinks I'm insane so take that into account. My advice: if you aren't comfortable don't do it. You have the right to refuse work you feel is unsafe. Your foreman also has to realize that on slopes like that you better be billing hourly cause you wont get much production picking around with half buckets and repositioning all the time.

    Here's a video of me on a fairly gentle slope loading out a ramp. Once I started sticking out I had to hold full right swing just to stay in place. That should give you a pretty good idea of how you have to account for all that extra weight when you're trying to work. Also the return swing was slow because I wasn't actually swinging, I was just letting gravity pull it back down and then trying to stop it before it overswung my target.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8yLGqxqzJPM

  5. #5
    Senior Member EZ TRBO's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vantage_TeS View Post
    I could run my 385 in my sleep so we can assume I'm very comfortable with it and know it's limitations.

    I'll take my 385 anywhere, but everyone thinks I'm insane so take that into account. My advice: if you aren't comfortable don't do it. You have the right to refuse work you feel is unsafe. Your foreman also has to realize that on slopes like that you better be billing hourly cause you wont get much production picking around with half buckets and repositioning all the time.



    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8yLGqxqzJPM
    I've had my super tell guys the same thing about myself on my 220 or more so my old 312. Once you get a feel for a machine and what you CAN do you know just how far is too far and when to say NO WAY. Benches are your best friend in this type of situation. Its one of them things it takes a long day to go a little distance but when you look into what you had to do just to even work in a place like that makes it all worth it. Number one thing just be safe and if you don't feel safe, get out of there.

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  6. #6
    Senior Member reddot556's Avatar
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    i agree with you guys about the comfort factor..thats very important.from looking at your pics and the one vid..well nothing there looks any steeper than a 2:1, and i'm very comfortable on one of those. my situation will call for going straight down 1 to 1's amd 1&1/2 to 1's..no benches. my arugument is the machine will not stick to a slope that steep regardless of the soil...gravity takes over..now it is possible to throw my spoil behind me and change the angle of the slope ,i've done that once before but this ditch will only be 4 foot deep, i don't think theres enough spoil..no matter i won't go on the job even if we get it..its 2 hours away,to much in time and gas for me

  7. #7
    Senior Member bigcatpip's Avatar
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    I have dug pipe on some crazy slopes before, and the thing you got to think about is how are going to put the pipe in? does the pipe get stone under it and over it . do you have to pick up the pipe to put it in. are you following grade with a lazer.
    a 1:2 is doable now when you get into 1&half to 1to1 that when you need some help.. the 1 & half you got to put dirt in front of you tracks to ( try ) to keep youself from sliding down. 1 to 1 will you best bet is to yo-yo with a cable and a machine that is dug in.. or how about this any way you can start at the top and work your way down?
    Cut me open and I bleed cat yellow!!

  8. #8
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    Anything over 40 percent slope your gonna want to be tied off, or your gonna have a good ride.

  9. #9
    Senior Member CascadeScaper's Avatar
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    I walked a PC400 out of a hole about a month ago, I know the slope was a 1:1 because I cut it and checked the grade myself the day before. It took me a couple tries, the machine kept sliding back down the hill. Of course, I was trying to climb out, so I was pulling myself and I was fine until I pulled the bucket out of the ground to reset, then the machine would break loose. Triple grousers and wide pads, 32" I believe, she barely, and I mean barely stuck to the slope long enough for me to get the bucket back in the ground. I slid down and hit the flat bottom, you won't have that luxury if you cut loose out where you're headed it sounds like. Might need an 8 or 9 to be anchored to and single grousers would be a must, without a doubt.
    Pin it to win it

  10. #10
    Senior Member Reuben's Avatar
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    I am the same way with our machines. I know when it is going to tip and/or slide before it actually does. Sometimes I sit in the machine just blown away about how well the machine is hanging on to a hill side. I have also found that the short tail swing machines tend to have more stability on the hills. the down fall is they dont have the tail to help them swing up hill. I would bet that 50% of my operating is on a side hill. I was working along a highway one day on an extremely steep slope and there was probably not one time through out the day that there was not at least two cars pulled over watching us dig. Some times they were even taking pictures. a gentleman noticed my company truck down the road at a store and connected it with the job and asked me what kind of drugs we were on. He thought we were completely crazy to be working on a hill that steep.

    Best advise I can give is stay with in your limits. If you are not comfortable with a situation dont do it. A excavator is probably one of the most forgiving machines to operate but when is does "bite" it "bites" hard. Stay low,move smooth.And think physics. I know a guy that was operating a 345 on a gas line job. He was facing up hill and he crowded the bucket back to far and the machine sat back on the counter weight. It didnt roll but he fell out of the cab.Think about how high the cab would be on a 345 if it was sitting on its tail .So with that said WEAR YOU SEAT BELT!!!!!!!!!!!.
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  11. #11
    Senior Member BrianHay's Avatar
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    reddot is right. 1:1 slope with a track hoe is next to suisidal, I don't care how good you are. That is Spyder Hoe territory and even with one of those you better know what your doing or you are going to go for a ride that you will be lucky to survive if its any signifigant distance to the bottom. Have a look at the pics on my website or search for Spyder hoe on this site (can someone post a link to those threads please? I'm on my cell phone right now or I would) None of those pics are as steep as a 1:1 and I challenge anyone who says they could sit beside me with a track hoe without being tied off to bring it on and prove it head to head.
    Keep in mind when you post guys there are hundreds of inexperienced operators out there that read these forums and put a lot into the advice we give, don't steer them wrong someone could get hurt real bad.
    If you are going that steep bench it in or get the right machine for the job.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Buckethead's Avatar
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    If it's too steep it's too steep

    Reddot, based on your pics in the other threads, you seem like a pretty experienced hoe hand, if you think the slopes are too steep they are too steep for you to dig on, without benching or tying off to a winch cat. You did the right thing by telling your superintendent, so now the company knows they need to consider the terrain when they prepare their estimate.

  13. #13
    Senior Member hoeman600's Avatar
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    like this not a good pict took with my phone . was grading a slope in mew mexico last winter. its a 345C
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    BEEN THEIR , DUN DAT AND I'LL DO IT AGAIN IF I HAVE TO!!!

  14. #14
    Senior Member KSSS's Avatar
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    If you can utilize a machine with a dozer blade up front that can help. It will help prevent you from sliding and you can also use it to level up the machine and prevent the engine from picking up air instead of oil. I just got done with a similiar waterline job. I have pictures of it, I just need to download them.
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  15. #15
    Senior Member dirt digger's Avatar
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    heres how the pipeline boys hold their trackhoes down on a hill...everyone of them had reinforced tie down points on the blades
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