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Excavator purchase advice

Discussion in 'Excavators' started by Hates, Feb 11, 2017.

  1. Hates

    Hates Member

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    I am a home builder who has a 15 case TR270, I do all of my own backfill and final grades and I want to start digging my own basements and slab footings. I have never operated an excavator for much more than tearing down trees. But I do have an operator on staff who has much more experience.

    Doing only work for myself i expect to dig 12-20 foundations a year, I will install a system like Idigbest or buy a machine with grade control built in, or some trimble/Lieca 2d

    I am looking at used and new machines.

    I have found a 07 Kobelco 135SR LC - 5800 hrs - asking 36k
    I played with this one and it feels really tight, but I wasn't able to dig with it. Tracks don't have a lot of adjustment left Id call them 80% used up. Over all the machine was in good shape for its age. Used machines get me worried because repairs on these things are expensive to say the least. But the savings might be worth the risk

    I also looked at a new CAT 313 with grade assist, which seems to have a great lease plan. But its $160k depending on how I outfit it.

    I also looked at a Doosan 140 w 1,000 hours for $99k. But if I finance that I could get the new cat for less than $200 more per month.

    I really liked the older Kobelco, but even if it was to be a great machine its going to need work in the near future. Is the savings on this machine worth the risk? Any suggestions would be appreciated.
     
  2. Hates

    Hates Member

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    I should add the dealer selling the kobelco agreed to let me demo it at my location for 3days, and they also agreed to test pressures and insure they are at spec.
     
  3. Junkyard

    Junkyard Senior Member

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    I can give you some insight from a repair and parts perspective. I've run them a lot but it was clearing and loading trucks, nothing with any sort of tolerance.

    It's really hard to beat Cat. People can complain all they want about costs etc but it's rare to have a part more than a day or two away if the dealer doesn't stock it. They usually have plenty of techs so it's seldom much of a wait for repairs should you need them. That being said, I do see a fair amount of Kobelco machines around here. I don't think parts are too tough to find for them. I wouldn't touch a Doosan with a 10' pole. Support around here is no existent. It could be different there but long term I think your resale could suffer. Hard to beat Cat on that as well. If the lease pencils out I'd be inclined to do that then you just have to worry about working it. Assuming you can afford it lol.

    That's my .02 based on what I see here and have dealt with. Fwiw we've had good luck with LinkBelt and my friend/previous boss preferred them over Cat and Komatsu.

    Junkyard
     
  4. Hates

    Hates Member

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    Yes i can afford it.

    Part of me feels ridiculous purchasing a brand new machine to dig 12 holes a year right now, but I expect to grow into 20+ per year.
    Another part of me want to buy the used kobelco because it will pay for itself 2x's this year if I have no breakdowns. But at the same time I feel silly putting a 12k 2D system on a 36k machine.
     
  5. Junkyard

    Junkyard Senior Member

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    I know what you mean. I used to juggle those decisions when I was buying haul trucks. I bet you'll find plenty to do with it besides digging basements. The IF you have no breakdowns is a BIG IF. It may not give you any grief or it may nickel and dime you to death. It's always a challenge to make the decision. If you're good at shrugging stuff off and rolling with the punches you might tolerate a used one ok. Also, how tight are your timelines when you start to dig? If there are repercussions for delays etc that may enter into your equation. Hours on that Kobelco aren't horribly high but I'd feel better with some records. Also, if U/C is nearly shot that could add up quick. You could be into it for a 1/3 to 1/2 of the Cat. Or it will run like a Swiss watch and never fail.

    Junkyard.
     
  6. 1965IHdiesel

    1965IHdiesel Member

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    I would think you could move that grade assist to another machine if you wanted to, right? I mean, if the kobelco didnt work out, you could take if off and use it on a different machine or sell the system?
     
    movindirt likes this.
  7. Bumpsteer

    Bumpsteer Senior Member

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    You also need to figure out moving costs, do you have the equipment to do it yourself?

    IME, digging a good basement is a skill, not every operator is good at it. You'll hear about a crappy job from the foundation guy really quick.

    Ed
     
  8. movindirt

    movindirt Senior Member

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    That's not a big enough machine, if you are going to save money you need to be running as big of a machine as the guy who dug them before, most in my area including me run a 200 size machine, looks like you're in Indiana so you should be able to pull a 1.75 yard bucket through the ground pretty easy with a 200, a 130 size is maybe a 1 yarder. You've already doubled production and 200 size machine are usually cheaper because they aren't a small "everybody wants one" machine like a 130. I would assume you are going to all this trouble to save yourself some money, you'll need to be efficient and look at it like you're bidding your own work and have to be competitive. If you can't bring a machine to the site and dig your own basement for the same price or less than the guy you use now then you've wasted a lot of your own time and money. Something like a John Deere 200 or Cat 320, I'm not much of one for debt, so I'm not the best to ask about a brand new machine, what I can tell you though is there are plenty of good used machines out there in the 1,000 to 4,000 hour range that some other sap has already taken the "left the lot" hit on. Heck if all you're basements are in the same subdivision something in the 25 ton range might even be better if you never have to haul it more than a few hundred feet.
     
    69Camaro likes this.
  9. Hates

    Hates Member

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    Movindirt - THanks for the info, good stuff there

    THe guy diggin for me now has a Doosan 140 which is kinda small for the large walk out basements I do but its a good size when I do my slabs. It's been a great machine for him and a couple people I have spoke to had good things to say about the Doosan.

    WHich ever machine I get I wont be buying a truck and a low boy, at least not for a while. I have a company that will charge me 125/hr to move it. I can move it a lot of times before I cover the cost of a truck/lowboy/insurance/fuel and maintenance, not mention i would have to get a CDL. I currently will be working in 2 subdivisions, of which i have about 6-7 lots in each subdivision.

    Your point about a larger machine is right on, but is a 200 size machine wide load/overweight? I have had a guy telling me i really need to get at least a 160 for basements. BUt this guy is my Salesman at the Case dealer so I don't always trust every word of his. I can give up a little bit of efficiency using a slightly smaller machine in order to keep my machine cost down a bit. Cat 313 cost is $165k where the Cat 316 is $190K.

    Yes I am doing this to make money, I treat all work I do for myself as if I had to pay a sub. I charge myself accordingly.

    Right now I pay on average $2,400 to have my trench footings dug on my 3200 sf duplex dug. Takes him about 8 hours or less. Assuming I had to pay to move machine both ways (i would usually keep the machine there) lets say 2 hr min per trip, Im at 500, 8 hours fuel @4gals/hour (guessing) $75.00 and if i bill man&machine @ $225/hr @ 8 hrs that totals to $2,375. I think im right inline, but maybe i am missing something. I wouldn't have to move the machine every single time. I wont need a grade stick guy with a 2d or grade control system. And this is my smallest building.

    My largest building is a 3400 sf walkout basement duplex. These have been costing me about $4,500.00. Takes my current guy about 1.5 days to dig.

    Assuming trucking 2 ways $500 - again i wont pay this every time but It needs to be figured.
    12 hours man n machine @ $225/hour $2,700
    Fuel @ 4gals/hour $100
    Add man/machine on my skid to spot dirt @ $100/hour is $1,200 (this is high I could get away with 8 hours)

    Total for above is $4,500

    Now when I take into account the effeciency I expect to get doing fine grading with a machine control or 2d system I should be able to cut time by 20%. And I wont be trucking 2 ways every job. That's only excavating. I currently do my backfills with my skid steer, excavator will really cut our time down on backfills, especially on the slabs where i load about 25 6 wheelers of sand.


    Again please chime in with any advice you guys have.
     
  10. Hates

    Hates Member

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    1965IHdiesel. Yes I have to believe I can move an aftermarket 2d system to another machine. Good point
     
  11. crane operator

    crane operator Senior Member

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    I guess I see quite a large gap between your used kobelco at $36,000, and looking at a new cat at over $160,000. If you're just trying this out to see how it works, no way would I go for a new one. I'd look for a older well maintained cat. 40-50 grand could buy quite a nice excavator, without losing a lot of value if you decide you don't want it a year from now- or don't have any work for it.

    On buying a bigger excavator- If you're hiring the hauling done- why would you care if its a permitted oversize/ overweight load? Its not like you would have to buy a truck trailer combo different from what you already have. Pay someone a little more to haul it.
    Being new to the excavator, even with a grade assist, you won't be able to dig the foundation in twice the time it takes a guy who does it everyday. No computer will make up for lack of experience, let alone make you 20% faster than someone else, who has done it for 10 years or more. That's just my opinion-

    I run a crane everyday- have done a little dirt work in the past. I can run a skidloader/ backhoe/ excavator. But I'm not a great operator with any of those machines. Guys sometimes comment that I make the crane running look easy, that's because I do it every day. If I were to dig a basement- I could probably get it done- but I'm sure I can't do a job, like the guy who does it every day.

    If you really want to try digging your own basements- bare rent a rig for a basement. It will end up costing you more than a sub would charge, but you could get your feet wet and might keep you from making a $160,000 mistake.
     
    movindirt likes this.
  12. KSSS

    KSSS Senior Member

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    A 135 is not going to give you a lot of capacity or dig depth with means more repositioning and double swinging dirt. You don't need a new machine to do what you want to do and it doesn't need to be a CAT unless it is what you want it to be. I would find a good 160-210 in any of the popular makes, condition and care will mean the most in a used machine. I would want a Quick Coupler (maybe a thumb) with a digging bucket and a clean out bucket. I have a CX160 and I like the machine, I would not go any smaller.

    You will have to do the math and decide if owning a machine is worth it. There is something to making a call and having it done. Assuming your happy with your excavator contractor. No repairs, no transport issues.
     
  13. Hates

    Hates Member

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    I think everyone suggesting a larger machine is right on, but I think a 200 is a bit big for some spaces I have to get in, thank you for that advice. As mentioned ive never done this. But as ive mentioned I we already do backfills and final grades with our skid and i have always planned on digging my own holes at some point. Ive done the math quite a few times and the math works on new and used machines. THe question is how much I end up spending on repairing a used machine. No one can tell how that's going to pan out.

    From the searches im doing I cant find a reasonable used machine unless it has 5000+ hours on it. Im all for saving money and getting a decent used machine but my ignorance on machines makes me feel 5,000+ hours is getting up there and ive heard new undercarriage can get expensive. I have a fair idea on what to look for in used machines, but im no expert. Id probably hire a mechanic to inspect a good used machine if i can find one.

    Assuming our economy doesn't go 2008 again I plan on building for a long time. Renting a machine is something I have considered and if i do I know I could put most if not all of the rent towards the purchase price.

    In my area we have case/cat/kobelco/doosan close by so those are the brands I'd like to stick with. Deere/Hitachi are not very close by.

    Please keep advice coming. How many hours is too many?
     
  14. Shimmy1

    Shimmy1 Senior Member

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    $225 per hour for a 135 w/ operator?? Sign me up. Seriously, though, have you considered installing a mast on your bucket and using your receiver to cut grade? You're going to have to have a laser and receiver on your machine for benching the grade system anyway.
     
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2017
    movindirt likes this.
  15. Hates

    Hates Member

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    I was just throwing around some numbers. Im sure its high but no one has ever offered me more than what i asked for. I have no idea what hourly rates are. BUt thanks for you wealth of knowledge.
     
  16. Shimmy1

    Shimmy1 Senior Member

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    I've looked at the 2D systems, even tried them out. Not for an entire day, but enough to know that for $10K a laser and receiver works just as well, actually better in some instances. Unless you're sitting on a perfectly flat concrete pad every pass of the bucket, you need to bench the system. Trenching waterline it works great because you can run your trench relative to the ground you're sitting on. Any kind of grade cutting, it has to have a reference point.
     
  17. movindirt

    movindirt Senior Member

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    Thats what I was thinking Shimmy, I'll gladly drive there and dig for that hourly cost lol In my area here in IL a 130 size hoe is getting about $110 a hour with a operator, 200 size is $130 to $140. For cutting a basement floor and footings a receiver on the stick would work fine, and, unless you are laying a lot of pipe you won't need that expensive of a laser (no need for slope). If you do decide to go with a 2D system I would stick with a good system like Trimble personally.
     
    Shimmy1 likes this.
  18. Hates

    Hates Member

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    Wow im surprised the hourly rates are so low. I had a company that used to bill me by the hour but that was back 8-9 years Ago i may have to pull out those invoices. I am supposed to meet with a guy from Lieca monday morning, and some time this week i am supposed get seat time on a cat 316 w grade assist. As I understand it Cat system is a trimble system. I will post some info from both. I found a case 160 w 4k hours last night very close to me he's asking 65k.
     
  19. brianbulldozer

    brianbulldozer Well-Known Member

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    There must be more to the story:

    "Right now I pay on average $2,400 to have my trench footings dug on my 3200 sf duplex dug. Takes him about 8 hours or less."

    That's $300/hr or more, including mobilization.

    "My largest building is a 3400 sf walkout basement duplex. These have been costing me about $4,500.00. Takes my current guy about 1.5 days to dig."

    That's $375/hr including mobilization. And he's running a Doosan?

    I would have guessed that we had some of the highest operated rental costs in the country here in Western Washington, and I do hear of some surprisingly high prices from time to time, but that seems astronomical to me. Have you shopped around to see if you could do better than what you are paying now? I would think there would be some young owner/operator out there that would be happy to have your steady work in exchange for a fair hourly rate that is enough to make his payments and feed his family.

    I have seen a number of my builder, general contractor, and mechanical contractor customers get into the dirt business over the years. A couple have done it successfully. I think they were successful enough in there core business to afford it. The others eventually got out of it. What they all have in common is equipment that seldom gets greased, seldom has oil changes, never has air filter changes, that have beat up sheet metal, that have continuous fuel system problems from being fueled from dirty/watery five gallon cans or drums, that go through tires and rubber tracks like mad, that overheat because no one knows to blow out the radiator, and a whole list of other things that just drive me crazy. It is disheartening to get on a customer's machine that is only a few years old and has a thousand hours, and it is in worse shape than a machine I own that is 10 years old and has 6000 hours.

    If you can truly make $225/hr with the machine, then it probably doesn't matter how it is taken care of as long as you can keep it running and maybe the new machine makes the most sense. If it ends up not being as lucrative as you imagine, and your new machine takes a beating, then maybe you need to take into account how much the value of that $160k machine is going to depreciate and maybe a used machine makes more sense. Also, if the economy takes an unexpected turn for the worse any time soon, that $160k machine may suddenly be worth significantly less than what you owe on it. That was the death blow to some of my small contractor friends during the last recession.
     
  20. Hates

    Hates Member

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    I went back to 2008 when i had an excavator that billed my hourly for everything. I was paying him $140/hour for excavator time and he was using a 210. The fella I use now charges per job, evidently too much per job. But on some of these jobs he brings down his dozed to move spoil piles and I don't get charged more when he does that . I should price shop even if I buy my own machine I should be charging myself a fair price. Hell I may be able to shop around and save myself a grand or two per job doing no work at all.

    We take very good care of our machinery, skid steer gets serviced regularly, oil changes every 250, machine is greased daily. I have done a fair bit of lot clearing and bush hogging so it has some scratches.

    I pulled up some invoices on what im paying now and im actually paying a few hundered more than I posted. So the savings would be higher than figured, weather I buy a machine or hire a new company. Either way I make a tidy profit.

    I don't know of any smaller excavation companies around here but I might ask around.