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Volvo EC15B hydraulic thumb....home made.

Discussion in 'Compact Equipment Attachments' started by joispoi, Sep 14, 2012.

  1. joispoi

    joispoi Senior Member

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    Here are a couple of pictures of the thumb that I made for my mini. It's made out of 12mm Hardox 400.

    I had a longer bucket pin made up for the pivot point and made up a bracket and welded it to the dipper. It operates of the aux hydraulic pedal on the floor.

    I've tried it out on some light brush clearing and so far so good.
    IMG_3893.jpg IMG_3894.jpg IMG_3895.jpg IMG_3896.jpg IMG_3897.jpg
     
  2. Hendrik

    Hendrik Senior Member

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    Looks good, just be careful with the exposed hydraulic fittings and usually it is better to have the bucket teeth and thumb interlock.
    Also remember one of the main disadvantages of a thumb is that a poor operator will pick something heavy up off centre and twist the dipper arm.
     
  3. joispoi

    joispoi Senior Member

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    Thanks Hendrik. I would have prefered to run the hydraulic lines to the side and behind the cylinder, but a cylinder with orientable ports was nearly 3 times more than what this one cost me...so I took a gamble. The bucket teeth on the 20cm and 60cm buckets line up with the teeth on the thumb. When I eventually get around to buying or making a 40cm bucket with 3 teeth, the thumb will interlock with the teeth. You're spot on about picking things up so that they're balanced.
     
  4. Danny Steel

    Danny Steel Well-Known Member

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    :drinkup
    Hey there great job on the thumb:notworthy
     
  5. joispoi

    joispoi Senior Member

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    Thanks Danny. I've put about 100 hrs on the machine since adding the thumb. It's proven itself to be well worth the time it took to make it.:cool2:D
     
  6. Lindsey97

    Lindsey97 Well-Known Member

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    very nice nice job on the thumb. looking foward to getting one for my machine.
     
  7. joispoi

    joispoi Senior Member

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    Thanks Lindsey. I've put a little over 200 hrs on the machine since I added the thumb. About 50 of those hours were on jobs that I would not have taken if the machine didn't have a thumb. It was definitely worth the time and effort to make it.
     
  8. 204saskman

    204saskman Well-Known Member

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    How long of stroke does that cyliner have for the thumb.
     
  9. joispoi

    joispoi Senior Member

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    300mm
     
  10. glenlunberg

    glenlunberg Senior Member

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    That's a good machine. It looks very good. Your 200 hrs is really worth it to have that machine.
     
  11. joispoi

    joispoi Senior Member

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    I've been pretty happy with this machine, glenlunberg. It's a little bit light, but it's cost effective and it gets the job done.
     
  12. mancavedweller

    mancavedweller Active Member

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    Happy for you Joispoi.

    I made a rigid thumb for my 1.8 tonner and it still makes me feel good when I use it, so I can relate to what you are saying.

    Hope you have more appreciation from customers than what I have had. Most don't even notice it and when I do use it they don't realise just how fast I can do the job with it. I loaded a bin with concrete in a quarter of the time it would take me without the grab, but the customer didn't bat an eyelid. That situation seems common with attachments. Their main concern is, "What's your hourly rate ?".
     
  13. joispoi

    joispoi Senior Member

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    As for customer appreciation of the thumb, some get it and some don't. If you price your work by the job and not by the hour, you'll make better money. Having more attachments than the competition is more of an investment in securing more calls for jobs than more money on the jobs.

    I pulled my machine + operator rental ads over 6 months ago. I've been advertising for bid work and it's paying off. I get fewer calls but better the calls I do get are for better paying jobs (not to mention fewer calls from people who are simply price shopping).
     
  14. mancavedweller

    mancavedweller Active Member

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    That sounds like the way to go. I bet you have a lot more control over your schedule too. Don't know how it works where you are but typical hourly hire is you get booked for a 7 or 7:30 am start on a certain day. Two or more other customers want you for that day and the day after is no good so they go elsewhere, and their work is gone. Then sometimes I get cancelled and have NO work, and no compensation after turning down the other customers. It absolutely stinks the way this backwards industry works. Or the job MAY be 2 days so I can't give another customer a confirmed booking for the 2nd day and they go elsewhere. The job gets finished in one day and I have no work the next day despite customers wanting me previously. No compensation for being held for the 2nd day just in case the customer needs me. If that's not a backwards industry what is. It's considered completely standard here.

    Hey don't know if you are aware of it but there's a steel that's somewhere between 350 grade mild steel plate and the much stronger low alloy steel plates that many attachments are made out of. It's called Boilerplate and I was told its' grade is about 550 so a decent jump above the 350, but only costs a little bit more. May be a compromise if you don't have to go all the way to Hardox. I made a 5 tine rake out of the boilerplate and seems good enough for my little 1.8 tonner.
     
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2013
  15. joispoi

    joispoi Senior Member

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    I've had calls at 4pm Friday afternoon where people couldn't believe that I couldn't come work for them at 8am on Saturday morning. I've found that if they're weird or rude on the phone, it's not going to get much better when you meet them in person. I let those jobs go to someone else.

    For the most part, people seem to understand that I'm running a business and that I'll get to them as soon as I can. Unless it's a true emergency, I don't push off one customer to do work for another.

    My advice to you would be to review all the jobs that you've been hired to do and then market your services on a per job basis aimed at that type of work. If the rental market in your area has gotten to the point that you describe, it's going to take a very long time to improve (if ever). Go head to head with the contractors who are hiring you on short notice. If you've been getting hired to drill fence post holes, take on the entire fencing job. The same goes for any other type of work. Having your own machine puts you ahead of them as they have to find someone to come in and do the job that they can't do themselves. If you get a call on short notice and you can fit a day job in here and there, all the better.

    Getting back to what you said about trying to get the customer to appreciate the value of the attachments that you have, it's generally a lost cause. You know the value of your equipment better than anyone. Keep that under your hat and use that information to price out your jobs.

    Once you get established on the contracting side of the business, you'll find that you have less time to do the rental jobs. You won't miss the rental business on the days when you're making "X" times what you would have made at your regular day rate.
     
  16. CM1995

    CM1995 Super Moderator

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    Good business model, I agree as well.

    Things that turn me off quickly when meeting a new customer and looking at a job -

    1. Asking me how much it's going to cost within 5 minutes of walking around
    2. Any of the following combinations of "I need it cheap", "I don't have much money", "I can rent a bobcat for $XX a day", "I might do it myself".
    3. My brother, brother in law, friend at work, etc. has a backhoe and he said he could do it for $XX

    I am not going to work for someone that tries to beat you down right out of the gate, it's not worth it.
     
  17. mancavedweller

    mancavedweller Active Member

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    Thanks for that input Joispoi.

    I only just checked you machine specs and I see it's about the same size as mine. May be there is hope for me LOL.

    Well as far as attachments go I'm certainly in a good position for making my own now. The last 6 years have been like doing a long degree at uni. Paid off a 5 years loan for engineering gear (big lathe, mill, press, bandsaw, etc), built a big cnc plasma cutting table, diy line boring (successfully LOL), 3D cad, and my latest ventures learning the Arduino microcontroller and making PCBs. The last two may seem unrelated but I've just made an electronic circuit board to control the speed of a car wiper motor. It will be used on a rotary welding table. It helps that I used to be a sparky too :)

    It must be true what you say about making a decent bit more money, because many times the customer who's hiring me also has one or two "helpers" there to "supervise" me. A lot of the time I'm the advisor and they are there for no other reason than to tell me what they want doing. So the customer has to pay for me, and his workers, and still make profit on top of that.
     
  18. joispoi

    joispoi Senior Member

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    Mancavedweller, by what you say, you're over-qualified for the rental business. Stop goofing around and tackle some work that the guys who are always available for those last minute rentals aren't able to do. It doesn't matter if you're the best swimmer in the kiddie pool. You're too big for it, anyway. It's time to give the beach a try.

    I'm not knocking the rental work. It's income and it counts. I know we have several members here who work on a day rate basis and do a fine job of it. But in your case, it should be filling in the gaps between your bread and butter jobs. Whether those jobs are in your shop or out on a job site is up to you.

    CM- I had a GC who asked me to look at a job. He was all smiles and pats on the back and kept offering me cigarettes (I don't smoke) as he explained the job to me. I nodded and listened and for about 20-30 minutes we walked around the site and he was my bestest friend in the whole wide world. At the end he tells me that he only has a budget of 3,000 euros to do the job. I said okay, shook his hand and I left. A few weeks later, I saw him again and he said that he never received my estimate. I told him that I knew he only had 3,000 euros to do the job and that it wasn't going to be enough. I also told him that I knew he was being straight with me on his numbers and I couldn't put him in a position where he couldn't pay for the work- the job would have been fairly priced at 13,000 euros, but the dumb look on his face was priceless.
     
  19. CM1995

    CM1995 Super Moderator

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    Good advice. It's hard to make any real money doing hourly work on a day here at this job and day at another - don't get me wrong the hourly work is nice fill in between the bigger projects and helps pay the overhead.

    I mainly do small commercial projects, ground up sites with buildings averaging 4-20K SF and associated parking. We self perform erosion control, demo, grading and storm sewer. There is a lot of competition in this market so you have to bid a lot of jobs to land some but my small operation only needs 3-4 a year to stay busy and make good money. The projects usually take 1-3 months as we are the first ones in and one of the last ones out.

    Don't own any dump trucks or a lowboy, I hire them as needed and as the project phases dictate. My office is in my house and the back end of the company is ran on laptops, Ipads and Iphones for the "paperless" work. Low overhead and hands on customer service is my business model. I have had a much larger operation at one time and it ended up running me, I found myself further and further from what I really enjoyed which is being in the field.
     
  20. joispoi

    joispoi Senior Member

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    You do commercial projects? All this time I thought you were running a fried chicken shack. :D

    I'm surprised you don't have a truck in your line up. It doesn't go out all that often, but my 19 ton roll off truck has proven to be a great addition to my business. It may seem like overkill to pair with my little mini, but it works. If business continues to improve, I'll be investing in a 5 ton machine. As things stand right now, I've got 3 jobs that I can't start because the customers are waiting for: a bank loan approval, a law suit over a property line dispute to settle and an insurance adjuster to come out. There seems to be plenty of room for improvement.