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Bobcat E50 vs full sized backhoe

Discussion in 'General Industry Questions' started by Wyo99, Oct 16, 2019.

  1. Wyo99

    Wyo99 Member

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    Location:
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    Hey everybody, I was wondering if anyone could give me a fair comparison between a Bobcat E50, (or any 5.5-6 ton compact excavator) and a full sized backhoe, specifically I’m wondering if the mini excavator can dig trench (5-6 feet deep) as well as the backhoe, I’ve operated a Case 590sm quite a bit, just curious if it can keep up. I’ve read the specs and I realize the E50 doesn’t have the breakout force that the backhoe does, I am just hoping to get some actual comparisons from some of you guys that have operated both, thanks!
     
  2. JD8875

    JD8875 Senior Member

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    Location:
    Harrisonville, Missouri
    A mini ex makes time against a backhoe in tight quarters and maneuverability. If I have a lot of trench and plenty of room my backhoe is my go to. If I have to work in tight spaces and fit in little backyards my mini ex quickly makes up time just because it's more maneuverable. How much time exactly depends on the job at hand truly. My backhoe has more hp, more weight, more reach, faster travel speed, bigger bucket. It becomes a hindrance though when things get real tight or I absolutely need to throw dirt more than 189 degrees.

    John
     
  3. Wyo99

    Wyo99 Member

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    Thank you for a speedy reply! Another question, if it was a wide open place and not tight quarters would a excavator in that class (5-6 tons) come close to trenching with a backhoe?
     
  4. 690elc

    690elc Active Member

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    Location:
    Yosemite, California
    I would own the backhoe and rent the little excavator when needed. The backhoe is the Swiss army knife of equipment and you can drive it down the road. Tough to do that with the excavator.
     
  5. Welder Dave

    Welder Dave Senior Member

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    Just trenching, I think the mini would keep up if the buckets were a similar size. No stabilizers, no seat to turn around, better visibility, less fuel, better on soft/wet ground and easier to make corrections in direction. You have to make a fair comparison though. You can't compare a backhoe with a bucket 3 times the capacity of the mini ex.
     
  6. NepeanGC

    NepeanGC Well-Known Member

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    Occupation:
    #dirtherder
    Location:
    Ottawa, Ontario
    Working in tight spaces, mini will win every day. With a tilt rotator, even more so.
    Straight trenching, wide open spaces, backhoe will outproduce. Backhoe will also outproduce a mini if you've got a side dump bucket and need to fill trenches with sand or stone.
    A backhoe the size of a 590 will also load trucks easier than a 5-6 ton mini in my experience.

    Also depending on the distance between jobs, you also may not need a truck and float for the backhoe.
    They're two very different tools, for very different work imho. Figure out you do 90%, buy for that, and then rent what you need for the other 10% of the time.
     
  7. Wyo99

    Wyo99 Member

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    Great input thank you, the reason I ask is because I want to start a part time water line repair business for ranchers in my area, I would also install drinking tanks or troughs for cattle, I have access to a backhoe, but no way to transport it. The area I would be potentially covering is very rural. I do however have a 3/4 ton pickup with a gooseneck tilt-bed trailer. My overhead costs would be relatively low if I leased a mini ex for 3 years as opposed to buying a truck and trailer big enough to pull the backhoe around, and the rental on the backhoe. I am just hoping the mini ex is up to the task, I am going to demo a few to get a feel for them. I may rent a Bobcat E50 for a week and put it to work to see if it will get the job done for me.
     
  8. RTSmith

    RTSmith Senior Member

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    Occupation:
    Amateur demolition & dirt pusher
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    Middle Tenn.
    You can dig faster with a hoe, but you can reposition faster with the ex. So even on a long straight line dig, I'd think they may about equal out. But- backfilling? I have a blade on my 7T mini, but have never tried to do a lot of backfill with it as I always have a backhoe or skid around. I'd think closing the ditch may bring a whole other consideration into play.
     
  9. Welder Dave

    Welder Dave Senior Member

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    The other option is to bring in a skid steer when needed. Mini-Ex and skid steer is a popular alternative to a TLB. Skid steer can be hauled on the same trailer as the Mini-Ex (not at the same time). If you have a good helper the 2 machines will be way more productive than one. 360 deg. rotation is a huge advantage on a lot of jobs. Saves having to move material twice.
     
  10. Wyo99

    Wyo99 Member

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    Does anybody have any experience backfilling with the grading buckets on a mini ex? Looks like they speed up the process considerably.
     
  11. NepeanGC

    NepeanGC Well-Known Member

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    My experience is a Cat 308 shovel is equivalent to a Case 590sm, in terms of digging anyways.

    Backfilling with a mini ex or back hoe kinda sucks. Precise sure, but slow. Skidsteer or loader if space allows is significantly faster.

    As Welder Dave mentioned, the skidsteer and mini ex combo is a good alternative to a backhoe, and that is what we choose to run. Mini is made for digging, skiddy is made for moving and lifting. Our sites are too far apart to run a machine on the road, so we trailer them, but behind our single axle dump I can easily float the mini ex and skidsteer together.

    The biggest advantage of a backhoe is the ability to road the machine. If that's not of significant value, I personally wouldn't bother with one. They're a jack of all trades master of none kinda deal. 2 machines is more versatile and generally faster, even if you have to jump back and forth between them as a solo operator. I do it regularly. That said to start out with, buying a mini and making some $$ with it, and then picking up a skiddy later on is a relatively low risk approach, and lets you figure out what you really need.

    That's my 2 cents.
     
    RangerJake72 likes this.
  12. Wyo99

    Wyo99 Member

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    I appreciate all of the advice guys, it’s nice to have a forum to pick your minds, lots of experience! I would expect most of the trenches would be less than 100 yards in length, although backfilling might be slow, it sounds feasible with the mini x. I do have access to a skidsteer, so that would be useful if I ever did need it.
     
  13. backhoe1

    backhoe1 Well-Known Member

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    Location:
    South Dakota
    I own 25 pieces of equipment and 20 trucks. I'm pretty sure we put more hours per year on my E50 than any of the others. It's big enough to dig water lines, small enough to pull behind a pickup, can backfill with dozer blade, and can easily run the plate packer to use in backfilling.
     
  14. Norwegian Steam

    Norwegian Steam Active Member

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    Location:
    Orange County
    You need about an 8 ton excavator to compare with a backhoe for an apples to apples comparison.
    IE Cat 308, CASE CX80, Deere 80G

    That being said, the backhoe market is dying a slow death because most people are realizing they can do more jobs more quickly by getting a skid steer and a mini ex instead of just a backhoe.
    I was a territory manager for an equipment dealer who made most of their money in backhoes, but over the last couple years the backhoe sales slid and the mini-ex/skid steer combo sales grew and grew.

    If you only want to buy one machine, a backhoe is the right choice. It can do several different things. If you’re willing to buy two machines, a skid/mini-ex combo will do more jobs more efficiently.
     
  15. AzIron

    AzIron Senior Member

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    Location:
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    I never could pencil out the skid steer mini ex combo as opposed to a backhoe it cost to much and needs to operators to get the efficiency certain applications they will beat a backhoe hands down but all around work you can get limited

    I own a mini its handy as a shirt pocket in places I literally cant drive a backhoe into but typically if I can get into a job 95 percent of the time a backhoe kills it head to head a 50 size machine and a backhoe cant be compared a backhoe is way bigger weight wins every day
     
  16. Norwegian Steam

    Norwegian Steam Active Member

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    Location:
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    We did the math with a couple clients and you’d need at least an 8 ton excavator to compete with a 590SN/430F/410 and closer to a 14 ton excavator to compete with a 710/450 size backhoe.

    A good CTL, 5-8 ton ex and a skip loader is a 3 machine combo that will keep you working and getting paid constantly in our area if you know how to bid work.