When in the market for a new or second hand Skid Steer Loader be it for commercial or private use a lot of folk don’t really know what would best suit they’re application or needs , so in this blog I will hopefully clear up some of the myths and misconceptions associated with making that buying decision.
Today there are a lot of variants in the skiddy world and there are a lot of experts out there also.
When most people consider a skiddy purchase the first thing that comes to mind is horse power, let me tell you that with the endless range of skiddies on the market that the HP varies only as little as 60hp from the bottom of the range at 30 hp to the top of the range at around 90 hp , agricultural tractors however range from 25 hp to 700 hp. This is because skiddy performance largely comes from a combination of hydraulic , mechanical and mostly transmission dynamics.
Simply put a good operator can get more production , less tyre wear and less fatigue on a 50 HP skiddy than a bad operator can on a 90 HP machine .
Another myth is that a track machine will push harder than the equivalent size wheel machine , what a track machine will give you is more flotation but the wheel machine will give you more traction and traction is what gives you more pushing power . A track machine will however be a better option in sandy or boggy conditions .
So when choosing a skiddy for weekend or private use don’t fall into the trap of buying a big HP track machine especially when you factor in the cost of maintaining idlers , sprockets , rollers and tracks as opposed to a set of tyres every 1000-1500 hrs on a wheel skiddy , you would be wiser to spend your money on features such as Ride Control , 2 speed transmissions , Electric over Hydraulic Controls and Air Conditioning .
Another consideration for all buyers be they private or commercial is whether to buy a second hand machine or purchase a new unit.
Prices today for new skiddies are not that much more than when I purchased my first Case 1840 back in late 1990 , and in those days there was no such thing as cheap finance or 3 year warranties.
When you take into consideration finance rates, extended warranty , parts and labour availability , uptime and resale value as well as removing the unknown when it comes to buying second hand even private buyers should not over look buying new .
A mate of mine recently purchased a new Case SR175 from me and traded in his Bobcat 763 that was still in relatively good order , however it had the bucket crowd ram leaking . We priced a complete new ram as the gland was impossible to undo . We both nearly suffered a coronary when we found out the price of the ram……it was over 5% of the price of the new Case SR 175 he purchased . The point here is that was only one item that had a moderate leak …..you only need less than 20 of these small issues and you would have paid for the new machine in full including the cost of finance on the SR175.
Unfortunately folks this is where we are headed…….it certainly is becoming a “throw away world”
There are some very good brands of machines available today as that segment of Construction Equipment is still steadily growing with arguably the best Skiddies coming out of North America ,what is important however is that you purchase a brand that is well represented and supported in your area be it metro or regional . Even if you use your skiddy only once or twice a month there is nothing more frustrating than having parts not available or techs that do not have the knowledge or resources to support your asset or in my mates case parts pricing that is disproportionate to the cost of a new machine.
So if you heed any of this advice and have chosen a brand , a track or wheel machine , ROPS or A/C Cab , control options and the adequate Rated Operating Capacity , then there is also the decisions about what attachments you may need to do most jobs privately on your property or commercially.
Almost every Skiddy we sell is fitted with a 4 in 1 Bucket , which gives you the ability to load, grade ,scrape or clam , if used sensibly a good 4 in 1 should last the life of the skiddy but in the real world the life of the bucket is approx. half the life of a good quality skiddy .We also price almost all machines with 3 Bolt on Cutting Edges that are replaceable and reversible with the added benefit of strengthening the bucket particularly in clamming applications. A lot of operators will also purchase a spreader bar which makes even a novice operator look like a pro and spreader bars also reduce bucket wear.
Other attachments that are fairly common is a Auger Drive and a Trencher , my advice here is to stick with the common auger sizes such as a 300 mm and a 450 mm , maybe a 600 mm , in most conditions the hole size is never the same as the auger anyway so typically what you thought was going to be 300 mm turns out 400 mm . I would also purchase Tungsten Carbide wear parts such as teeth and pilot bits. The days of backhoe attachments have long gone with Mini Excavator sales outstripping all other CE sectors in Australia….more on mini’s another time
As far as trenching is concerned I have found that they are a very efficient method of digging a trench and again in most cases it is quicker to dig a trench than it is to backfill and compact it properly ….a word of caution for the commercial guys is that normal wear and tear on trenching components needs to be closely monitored as it really does creep up on you and cost you more than what you stand to make on the next couple of jobs…..charging by the metre is the smart way when it comes to trenching .
If want to lay a 32mm electrical conduit or some 25 mm poly pipe don’t fall into the trap of laying them in a 100 mm trench as it is not only difficult to clean out but almost impossible to backfill and compact properly and what you will find is that you will see the trench across your yard for years to come. It is also extremely difficult to pull a 200-300 mm rock out of a 100 mm trench so I would go no smaller than 200 mm in trench width and opt for a digga tech chain 300 mm is ideal for wheel rolling for compaction and generally saves you money on tamper hire .
Finally I mentioned Rated Operating Capacity in Skid Steer Loaders and also stated that most of the good Skiddies come out of North America . In North America they are still using imperial measurements such as feet / inches , pints / gallons and ounces / pounds(lbs) etc so most of these machines out of the US have their model designation refering to their ROC which is for safety reasons 50% of the machines lift capacity or tipping load , so to breakdown the model number on a Case machine for instance lets say a Case TR270 …..the “T” refers to it being a Track machine ….. the “R” refers to it having a Radial Lift pattern …….and the 270 refers to its ROC in lbs which is 2700lbs but in our part of the world means that you can safely lift and carry 1.27 tonne with this unit but actually lift almost 2.5 tonne.
I hope this has helped demystify the skiddy world and that when making your purchase decision you are not sold something that won’t do your job or something that you don’t need.
Another quick note for anyone considering a skiddy for commercial use with the possibility of also purchasing a Mini Excavator as well it is imperative that you future proof your skiddy and truck purchase and choose carefully complying to Qld Transport Regulations so you are not limited to carrying one machine at a time…….More on Mini Excavators and transporting machinery in the coming blogs . The “take away” here is if starting with a skiddy purchase think about its footprint in your truck and its weight
Case Construction used to have a great slogan back in the old days that read…
“Moving More Yards in More Yards”
How’s that for imperial measurements.
See you next time