1. Thank you for visiting HeavyEquipmentForums.com! Our objective is to provide industry professionals a place to gather to exchange questions, answers and ideas. We welcome you to register using the "Register" icon at the top of the page. We'd appreciate any help you can offer in spreading the word of our new site. The more members that join, the bigger resource for all to enjoy. Thank you!

How long do you expect your machines to last?

Discussion in 'General Industry Questions' started by Pete F, Sep 12, 2017.

  1. Pete F

    Pete F Member

    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2017
    Messages:
    18
    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    I'm curious as to how many hours members here feel their different types of machines will give before they generally start to need money put back in to them to keep them reliable?

    I appreciate that's a very general question and will depend on their usage, how they're serviced and generally looked after, etc etc etc, and sometimes it's just bad luck. But I think there should be some general trends and guidelines that should emerge after a while.

    I'm assuming the machines have been used "reasonably" ie if it's a mini excavator, then just normal excavator duties for which it was designed, used in normal building site conditions, and serviced according to the recommended service intervals. In that situation it could be that after 1500 hrs of that type of use then undercarriage problems might start to be expected, after 3000 the motor is probably at the end of its expected life, and so on. I don't know if those figures are what others would agree on, just an example. A 40 T excavator might be double those figures?

    It seems down here many people seem to get rid of their skid steers around 1500 hrs or 2-3 years, which doesn't seem to me like much life.
     
  2. td25c

    td25c Senior Member

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2009
    Messages:
    3,697
    Location:
    indiana
    That's a good question Pete .

    Going to be different feelings & answers from members depending on the business model .

    Have a close contractor buddy that trades all the time . I mean he will buy something & run it two months & then put it up for sale & go buy another piece of equipment . He's up on what everything is worth & likes run something for little while then move on .

    He's happy doing it that way & that's cool .

    I'm the opposite ....... If I need a piece of equipment for our jobs going to buy it & more than likely keep it for the " Duration " .
    Work it & wrench on it .:)


    After awhile ya don't even have to look at the service manual on repairs .:D
    After I'm gone the wife will put it all up at the equipment auction . LOL !
     
    CM1995 likes this.
  3. Pete F

    Pete F Member

    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2017
    Messages:
    18
    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    Hopefully others will agree that it's a good question :)

    I think what's the appropriate approach will depend on the individual's situation. For many people any downtime costs a lot of money, and once a machine starts to need unscheduled work it's gone. They don't wrench on the machines themselves, and have no interest in that side of the equation. That's what I'm trying to determine. For other people, they may be using the machines privately or on farms etc where the downtime may well be inconvenient, but not a show stopper, and they may be able to re-schedule around their own machine's availability.

    Conversely, there could be bargains to be had, but they may come with the caveat that it's likely the machine they're buying will start to have final drive issues, or the main hydraulic pump will be at the end of its life, or whatever it could be for a machine of its hours. A "bargain" can quickly turn sour when you find out that an expensive repair is likely coming up.

    With vehicles I've got a reasonable idea, and I guess a ballpark figure for most modern, what you guys like to call "compacts" or similar sized cars is they should last around 5 years or 70-100,000 km before anything major is likely to give any real problem. Some cars less, some cars more, but that's likely a good place to start. In the short time I've had anything to do with heavy machinery however I've been surprised at how short the lifespan is on some of this kit, and given they don't give much of it away for free, that's come as a real shock to me, so I have no idea of where I stand when looking at different machines.
     
  4. td25c

    td25c Senior Member

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2009
    Messages:
    3,697
    Location:
    indiana
    It's the same way in my area Pete .
    If you keep a car to long you end up wrenching on it .:)
    http://www.heavytruckforums.com/showthread.php?534-1968-Ford-Galaxie-500&p=4114&viewfull=1#post4114
     
    Pete F likes this.
  5. DMiller

    DMiller Senior Member

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2010
    Messages:
    2,008
    Occupation:
    Retired
    Location:
    Hermann, Missouri
    When I started in the business as a wrench was nothing to see contractors buy machines to last five to seven years to allow adequate depreciation for write downs, usually just before major maintenance headaches began but that was over forty years ago. Today's business tend to lease long term with maintenance contracts as well skeleton crews of maintenance techs available to keep small repairs under control or relying on the supplying dealers to keep up with demand. Most machines today are electronics loaded, can be a crippling nightmare to keep up with changes [hardware and software or diagnostics] where a better option is NOT to challenge the longevity of the machine as noted above rotating machinery often to avoid delays on site or expensive extensive repair events. Specialized machine users tend to buy a machine to last seemingly forever as with long construct lead time cranes, drills, boring machines or other strictly limited design use machines unlike Excavators, Loaders, Dozers and other on the lot highly available mass produced machines.
     
    xr4ticlone likes this.
  6. f311fr1

    f311fr1 Senior Member

    Joined:
    May 12, 2016
    Messages:
    260
    Location:
    Middle TN
    A well maintained major brand CTL, MTL, or 10K LB or above excavator should last 8-10K hours with proper maintaince. You will have to replace tracks and undercarriage parts and repair cylinders ect along the way.
     
  7. John C.

    John C. Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2007
    Messages:
    3,875
    Occupation:
    Machinery & Equipment Appraiser
    Location:
    Northwest
    In general terms smaller equipment doesn't last as long as larger equipment. Also in general terms as the smaller stuff gets more expensive to purchase people are holding on to it longer.

    When the gray market was hot on the west coast of the US used mini excavators from overseas cost about the same as a new diesel pickup. You could buy one and pay it off in three to six months of work and sell or trade it in two years later on another probably a little bigger. I looked at lots of gray market minis with less than 5,000 hours on the meters. When the manufacturers realized there was a market in the US for that size of machine they quickly started building them for domestic sale. The technology wasn't all that good and they were hard to work on and had lots of problems so plenty of them were shipped off with less than seven thousand hours and they were pretty beat up and worn out. Most now are built with the idea of someone actually being able to work on them with out removing the counterweight or the cab. The design issues are worked out for the most part so they seem to last longer. I was starting to see machines with 6,000 to 9,000 hours in the last year or so.

    Skid steers had the same development issues. Manual controls with cables and linkages that wore out making operation difficult for even the best operators was normal ten years ago. Pilot controls, direct drive from the engine to the hydraulic pumps, extra cooling for the engine and hydraulic oils mean those units last a lot longer now than those ten year old machines. With all the improvements comes a higher initial price of course which also usually means a longer time to pay the machine off.

    The key to all of this is type of operation and the amount of money spent on maintenance.
     
    mikebramel and Pete F like this.
  8. xr4ticlone

    xr4ticlone Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2013
    Messages:
    62
    Occupation:
    Trusted Adviser to the Construction World
    Location:
    TEXAS
    I have a good customer that asked me one day...'who can afford to buy new equipment at these prices!'

    My reply...'poor people'. : ) Seriously, people that don't have spare machines or mechanics like he does. They can't afford repairs (warranty) and rental on a machine when theirs is down.

    Frankly we're in a dark ages for equipment IMHO. Everyone is in a race to the bottom on controlling costs, at the same time the Gov is mandating tons of emissions requirements that cost tons of money.

    I'm conservative and have a finance background. I've been around equipment for my entire life & I've learned a lot from customers about their needs, likes, and dislikes...so I'm coming from a pretty solid place. Here are my thoughts for what they're worth.

    A. Skids & CTL's Lease with warranty. A customer asked me who's machines I liked...none...they all suck. :) You're talking about $35-$75k machines now, which is insane. BUT worse, they've got $6-$10k fuel systems, $15-$20k motors, $15-$25k worth the pumps and drives. Not to mention all the electronic crap. How do you make out on used skid loaders when one major component failure makes a good used SL as much as a new one? Why would you want to own one? Until these crazy ass manufactures realize how boned they are with lease returns...keep doing it.

    B. Mini's and Excavators. You should be able to get 5-10k (bigger = longer) trouble free out of these. I'm a huge bigot when it comes to excavators. If it's not built in Japan...forget it. I'll consider used Korean machines at good pricing if you've got dealers in the market. But depreciation on them is too big to buy new.

    C. Loaders. You better get 10k plus out of them unless you're a small site work company. The newer stuff you can't afford to have sitting around unused with DEF, potential of electrical issues, and just the costs. If I was a contractor I'd give a hard look at finding older loaders and rebuilding them. Especially bigger ones.

    D. Backhoes...see above. I've often thought buying older 580M /580SM and rebuilding them was about the smartest thing you could do. Most of those components can be shopped outside of the dealer (Case seems to have lost their minds on some parts here lately). Right now I'm not sure anyone has a great new backhoe. Sadly.

    Right now the average contractor IMHO doesn't have a really good grasp on what they're buying and the issues with the newer equipment. Lots of electrical issues in several of the brands. Also the cost of diesel injection systems and motors has skyrocketed. If you think your new 'whatever' will be as good as your 10+ year old one was...I'd tell you that's probably going to be a mistake.

    Hoping it gets better and we're living through the US cars of the late 70's & early 80's in equipment right now. But the manufacture & dealer models is moving towards them making their money in repairs and parts. Most dealerships are well under 10% profit on new equipment...many under 7%.
     
  9. Birken Vogt

    Birken Vogt Charter Member

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2003
    Messages:
    1,336
    Location:
    Grass Valley, Ca
    How does renting figure into that? The place I rent from rents a pretty well maintained JD 310 or Cat 420 for ~1200/week. Seems like a small price to pay to make it "their baby" and not yours.

    I agree, once thought that the move from injection pumps to fancy electronic fuel systems was going to be another great technological advance. Now looking at it from this side of history we are trying to find everything we can that still has a good mechanical injection system that people can actually fix.
     
  10. Pete F

    Pete F Member

    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2017
    Messages:
    18
    Location:
    Sydney, Australia
    5-10,000 hrs trouble free out of a mini excavator! Wow, you're more of an optimist than I am. I measure my time in this malarkey in months and not decades like some of you guys, but most of the minis I've seen have been well and truly rooted by 3-4000 hrs.

    My own machine has under 700 hrs on it and is only a few years old. One track motor needs repair, I just replaced the seat, the fuel sender was shot and the powder coat has completely fallen off the undercarriage. That's just to name a few things. Now I would be the first to admit that a faded powder coat (topside) or a fuel sender that doesn't work is hardly a show stopper, but come on, this machine is only 3 years old!!! There isn't much about it that inspires confidence that this is a machine that's been designed to sit outside in all weather all it's life and operate reliably for a decade or so in reasonably hostile conditions. Projects I've powder coated myself for example have been out in the weather for almost 10 years now and look as good as the day they were installed, never mind not having fallen off! So if some idiot in a mini workshop can manage to powdercoat just fine, how is it that a manufacturer can't do better? It just makes me wonder if that side of things is so tragic, what's the rest of the machine like?
     
    John Shipp likes this.
  11. Cmark

    Cmark Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2009
    Messages:
    1,547
    Location:
    Australia
    Hours aren't the full story, years aren't the full story. It's a combination of both, mixed in with how well the machine has been operated and maintained.

    Mini diggers and skid steers will typically be started and stopped maybe dozens of times a day with resulting wear to powertrains due to components not being allowed to remain at operating temperature and cabs being entered/exited many times. Add into the mix multiple operators and a "maintain it when it breaks down" attitude and you can get 10 year old, 2000hr machines fit only for scrap.

    On the other hand, larger machines which only stop two or three times a day and are looked after properly can give great service. My rule of thumb is that if you do 2000hrs/year and service it every 250 hrs, you will be unlucky to get a major breakdown at under 10000hrs.

    Only last week I did a repair on a Cat 325 that was pushing 33000hrs. Granted, it wasn't the tidiest machine you've ever seen but it was still giving the owner reliable service because it had been well maintained.
     
    mikebramel likes this.
  12. DMiller

    DMiller Senior Member

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2010
    Messages:
    2,008
    Occupation:
    Retired
    Location:
    Hermann, Missouri
    They(the manufacturers) do not want to see machines last longer than a decade or little less as that means turnover, they get to make new machines in higher volume as there is such a turnover and no need for repair parts past 15,20 years as the machines won't make that and they are well aware. We have posts on less than 20 year old Case dozers you cannot buy undercarriage for, machine lines come and go as changes in seasons yet they do the exact same function as the older if in no way any better just 'different'.

    Is happening in the trucking, auto even motorcycle worlds where at one time we could buy parts to keep a 18 year old W900 functioning or a Panhead Harley on 'Factory' parts. The Japanese were first to perform this miracle of disposable machinery to which they never stopped, the rest of the world's manufacturing figured that out as well for the bottom line. They do only make 4,5,7 or even 10% but it is become Every Year as models 'Improved' or changed and had to be bought as the last years mechanisms were time costers.

    EPA, in the US and similar departments world wide have also set the stage that Tiers of level had to be achieved where after that level came and was found not so good the next was rolling off the lines. They could not engineer the truly clean or environmentally safe machine yet over and over change small mechanisms on the existing units that cannot be used on the previous to compensate for something they changed previously. Was a wrench all too long, they can blow the magic smoke up the skirts of the youth but no longer anywhere near to myself as to the environment cleansing devices or additives or materials removed to make clean exhaust from IC engines. Aerodynamics fit High Speed aircraft, they do not on slow cumbersome bricks on wheels or autos that operate at speeds designs of less than 100 mph, my own Dad was a Manager at McDonnell Aircraft, I was allowed to see some of the wind tunnel tests they performed for designers as Chevy Ford and Chrysler when the speed of the tunnel had to be over 110mph to get the smoke to do what they 'expected'. Proof in the pudding the A10 Warthog, flies like a brick with wings, Straight Wings, as so slow does not Necessitate extensive aerodynamics.

    EPA devices started in 1966 in volume, they convinced the manufacturers to go to PCV first, the effect was more fuel use due to loss of 'Clean' intake air, they added A.I.R. pumps to "Burn Off" the rich exhaust, it has become such a game of add this and that to compensate for adding the original designs they need to stop. Electronics became the game where timing and injection quantity could be more tightly adjusted/managed works great runs too lean causes a myriad of 'New' emissions gases they did not expect and to which they added more devices, again it Needs To Stop. DPF, DEF inj, Higher volumes of fuel to compensate for removing the Sulphur which was a major BTU value in the fuel I mean this has gone too far and so stupidly as to read like a dime novel or horror comic book.

    I ride Harley's have for years, modify them as I see fit to make better economy and rid that damned heat the EPA devices cause from severe lean burn. Get higher HP, get better economy and a helluva lot better ride. To me less out the tailpipe in total is better than destroying the machine to prove you can reduce the emissions that cannot really be controlled as the machines don't last as well nor use fuel as well. As most here know I run old junk, hard controls no electronics junk forty some years old yet they still run still dig dirt and still use less fuel than comparable newer machines, just astonishes me to think so.
     
    old-iron-habit likes this.
  13. xr4ticlone

    xr4ticlone Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2013
    Messages:
    62
    Occupation:
    Trusted Adviser to the Construction World
    Location:
    TEXAS
    What type of machine?

    On mini's the biggest issue I see is lack of maintenance & grease.
    You'll also have to bush them up at some point most likely.
     
  14. John C.

    John C. Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2007
    Messages:
    3,875
    Occupation:
    Machinery & Equipment Appraiser
    Location:
    Northwest
    Renting machines can be a good option and has been the go to source in this area of the country for the last 3 - 5 years. The problem with renting is you may not be able to source a machine when you need it. Around here it used to be that no one would buy a roller. Renting was the only way to go. Then when things got busy there were not enough rollers to go around so you were lucky to get one and the rental price went up along with the increased demand. Good used rollers less that five years old bring a premium price on the used markets. I think the prices also went up on everything else as well. At least so far around here there are plenty of sources for mini excavators and skid steers.
     
  15. DMiller

    DMiller Senior Member

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2010
    Messages:
    2,008
    Occupation:
    Retired
    Location:
    Hermann, Missouri
    That is the rental issue around here, about the time you find a need for a machine you get put on the 'Will Call' once comes back available list for the machine. Not much in the reasonably priced categories anymore either, just have to wait it out.