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What To Expect When You're Expecting

Posted: Thursday, February 12, 2015 at 3:48:48 PM EST by Michael Hayes

In Australia, areas for excavation and excavator work are becoming smaller and smaller, and therefore many operators are finding size a serious problem. Many operators with bigger machines continually find it difficult to fit their bulky machinery into increasingly smaller areas. So you’re caught between a rock and a hard place and are looking for a mini loader to get the job done, but don’t know what to look for? Here are some friendly tips from industry professionals who know what it’s like to be a first-time buyer.

1. KNOW YOUR BASICS

Even with a background in earthmoving, too many operators seem to forget the basics and therefore seriously handicap themselves when going to buy a mini loader. If you’re an inexperienced operator, learn from their mistakes; familiarize yourself with the basics so you know what to look for when buying a mini loader.

            CAB

The cab of a mini loader is typically where the operator sits to control the machine. Not all excavators possess such cabs; brands like Boxer, Dingo and Kanga have stand-on capacities, where the operator stands behind the machine itself on a platform with the controls in front of him. This makes it easier to swap between machines and change hydraulic attachments and generally makes accessibility easier.

            ENGINE

Engine specifics also vary from mini loader to mini loader; the main difference being petrol v diesel engines.

            PETROL

Petrol engines are usually simpler, what with a V twin engine; petrol engines are generally good for first-timers looking to get a feel for their first mini loader. Hire companies often use petrol powered mini loaders due to simplicity and easy serviceability.

DIESEL

To put it simply, diesel engines generally have more push and more power than petrol engines, and have a longer shelf life than petrol engines, making them the ideal choice if you intend to use the machine more frequently; i.e. daily. They also tend to be more economical, what with better burning capacity.

            CONTROLS    

Yes, something as simple as controls can differ from machine to machine as well. If you are new to, or not overly confident in, the art of using mini loaders, we would suggest going for industry standard controls for your first time. This is generally known as a 4-stick control, and is the easiest control to use in the market currently. This is especially suggested if you have a multitude of people using the machine (such as staff or hires for weekend warriors).

            BOOM

The boom is the long arm extending from the main chassis that holds hydraulic attachments to the machine.

            ATTACHMENTS

There are all sorts of attachments that can be used by mini loaders; for a full list of attachments and their uses, please see our attachments tab here.

HYDRAULIC OIL COOLER

While this may not be as much of a concern in other parts of the world, our hot Australian climate in addition to the heat generated by a constantly running engine makes a hydraulic oil cooler a necessity in an excavator. If overheated, hydraulic oil thins, which slows down your machine and basically spells huge trouble. When buying a mini loader, always ensure it has a hydraulic oil filter.

 

2. KNOW YOUR CONDITIONS

Here in Australia, there’s always dirt to be moved from A to B; but our great nation made sure the terrain is often vastly different between the two points, and you’ll need to be prepared for anything.

            WEATHER CONDITIONS AND TERRAIN

Weather and terrain consideration is something constantly underestimated when it comes to buying a mini loader. In Australia especially, where the weather is rarely predictable and freak storms, flash floods and 40° days can occur in 24 hours, you need to seriously consider which machine is right for your line of work. The main difference here is whether to buy tyres or tracks.

            TYRES

Tyres are especially good for uneven terrain, given they provide mini loaders with 2 balance points. Tyres are also generally more operator friendly, especially if more than one person will be using the machine (staff, for example).

            TRACKS

We love tracks here at QMD. The main attraction is that there is barely any downtime when/if something goes wrong; you’re less likely to get bogged (no downtime during wet weather), there’s no fear for a flat tyre (no downtime getting a tyre changed), you get about 3-4x the life of tyres out of one set of tracks (no downtime with constant repairs and maintenance, plus it’s cheaper in the long run). Boxer has even come up with a simple answer to the conundrum of the single balance point tracks, provided by incorporating a spring platform to lessen the blow on operators operating all day and providing extra support.

SPACE CONSTRAINTS

Even within mini loaders, there are differences in size and shape. Those differences can also make the difference between a successful, easy job and a complicated one. You need to know a rough average of the width you’ll be working with; if your business is landscaping mostly domestic residences, you will probably need to work out the smallest space you’ll potentially have to maneuver through (such as the smallest possible gate you will encounter) and work off those rough measurements. Brands like Boxer cater to those specific needs with their loaders usually less than 900mm wide, whereas a standard Dingo would be 1m wide. If you know you won’t be working with less than 1m worth of space, there’s nothing wrong with going for something a little bigger, but if squeezy spaces are something you’re anticipating, it would be a good idea to stick to your comfort zone and purchasing something a little smaller, just in case.

 

3. PRICING

Obviously, this is the kicker for most buyers in the market for mini loaders. Prices can range from cheap as chips to no-freakin’-way, so we’d suggest doing some research into why the seller has put the price where he/she has; if it seems suspiciously cheap, we would suggest asking why and at the very least meeting face to face to discuss (buyer beware!).

 

4. KNOW WHAT YOU’RE IN FOR

When buying a mini loader, you need to know that the initial purchase cost is not all you will be looking at. While some expenses are obvious – you’ll need to fuel it up every now and then – first-time buyers often don’t anticipate upkeep, maintenance and servicing. You will also come to realize that attachments are what makes you money in the long haul, and that these do not grow on trees either. Speak with an industry professional for a rough idea of what these babies will make you versus what they will cost you, and if the tally in your head seems off, there is a good chance that the purchase price will be too.

 

5. GET A PROFESSIONAL OPINION

Yes, that’s right – there are some unbiased third-party observers who are happy to tell you exactly what you’re getting. On-site consultation and inspection by industry professionals is never a bad thing; having someone come out and have a look can help keep you grounded and remind you of what is wrong – or right! – with your new potential buy. We actually perform these here at Queensland Mini Diggers (along with selling new and used mini loaders); we accommodate for all brands to ensure you know the pros and cons of everything available with the most experience in servicing and repairs on all brands, makes and models, you know that at Queensland Mini Diggers you can get the right advice for the mini loader you’re looking at. If you’re a little lost or want someone to talk to, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

 

Still unsure on the machine you’re about to purchase? Ask one of our staff to come out and do an on-site consultation and inspection. Contact us here now!

 

Good luck and enjoy your new machine!