Renting the right excavator, pedals vs levers? - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 22 Old 06-16-2015, 01:12 PM Thread Starter
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Renting the right excavator, pedals vs levers?

A couple paragraphs of background before I get to our real solution....

Some of you might remember my shop is in the basement, and I've got uhhhh, ummmmmmm..... some water issues down there. There's some pics in this thread about an exterior drain project ya'll helped me with a few years ago.

Then I posted about scaffolding to line/repair the chimney, and ya'll gave some good ideas on that too. Turns out a truck mounted lift can't get into the backyard, a trailer mount can't park close enough to reach, and when I got under the roof deck to reinforce/locate the loadpath for scaffolding on the roof I found the rafters for that roof have pretty much detached from the building as the whole addition pulls away from the main structure. What do you expect? Some hack just toenailed the rafters into the old lap siding and called it good... then there's the deck, that was hung on the additions' rim joist with no flashing, and the foundation wall that is caving in.....


ANYWAY.... Once we realized we had to pull off the deck and rebuild the additions foundation wall, one thing led to another, and we're just going to start over. Pull off the addition, dig a full-width extension to the basement (bigger shop, yay!) and a 2nd full bath and mudroom.

30 years ago, I drove a bobcat on simple landscaping jobs, and later I rented a few machines with levers. How I loved the foot pedals compared to the levers.

What about today's small excavators? Have they improved the hand-controls enough so you don't burn out after half a day of unfamiliar arm motion? My town has lots of old mini excavators... all arm based. The central PA mountain I'm on is best described as "Shale glued together with clay". Should be fun..... (installing the finished trim, that is.)

Thanks for digger advice.

BTW.... "Hire an operator" you say? Not in the cards. In this neighborhood, we won't recover our cost as it is.

If it jams, force it. If it breaks, it needed replacing anyway!
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post #2 of 22 Old 06-16-2015, 03:00 PM
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Yes!!!!! controls have majorly improved from the days you are talking about. Today controls are all done with just wrist action.
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post #3 of 22 Old 06-16-2015, 05:58 PM
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I agree with dirty-curty...controls are the way to go :)
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post #4 of 22 Old 06-16-2015, 06:01 PM
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^ x2.

Basically joysticks.
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post #5 of 22 Old 06-16-2015, 07:16 PM
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Are you talking about a skid steer or excavator? I have never seen an excavator with foot pedals to dig with. They usually just move the machine.
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post #6 of 22 Old 06-16-2015, 07:50 PM
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I took to mean he is talking about the old excavators that had the old joysticks that came out of the floor that were 3 feet tall, linkage controlled control valves that you needed to use your hands,arms and shoulders to operate. I thought he was comparing those controls to todays newer pilot or electric over hydraulic controls.
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post #7 of 22 Old 06-16-2015, 10:19 PM
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Our mini is two joysticks for the boom, another for the blade, and pedals to move the tracks. Really easy to pick up. We have a backhoe with the four sticks (three if you don't have an extendable boom), and it swings left and right with the foot pedals. Out other backhoe has regular controls, much easier in my opinion.

Any mini you rent will have regular joystick controls.

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post #8 of 22 Old 06-17-2015, 01:37 AM
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Operator here.
I have many questions :)
1) what will you do with the material you remove?
2) how do you plan on shoring up the structure while you remove all the material?
3) how big is the planned excavation?

I'd be happy to help. Now I have to go tell a story on myself.
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post #9 of 22 Old 06-17-2015, 07:49 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hwebb99 View Post
Are you talking about a skid steer or excavator? I have never seen an excavator with foot pedals to dig with. They usually just move the machine.

Careless word choice, sorry. The one-summer job was a basic bobcat skidsteer on wheels. Levers to drive, pedals to run front-end loader bucket attachment.

If it jams, force it. If it breaks, it needed replacing anyway!
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post #10 of 22 Old 06-17-2015, 08:34 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by skyking View Post
Operator here.
I have many questions :)

I'd be happy to help. Now I have to go tell a story on myself.
Awesome! Thanks.


1) what will you do with the material you remove?
Good Q... we'll use it for fill & terrace the steeply sloping yard.

2) how do you plan on shoring up the structure while you remove all the material?
The addition goes away before we dig. That leaves the original house on the original hollow stone/mortar walls. Probably no footer under them, but I haven't looked. We need to dig up to the stone wall, without knocking it into the basement.

My plan was to move more dirt than pros like you would! What I mean is I'd be extra cautious and dig the machine down to an amateur's working level to be certain I didn't over reach my skill and topple the thing into the pit or house. Also, I'll be scooping as parallel to the wall as possible and no closer than 2 feet. That way, there shouldn't be any lateral pressure on the old stone/masonry. I plan to peel the last 2 feet of dirt away from the old wall by hand & gravity (and friends).

As for how deep, and how far around each corner we have to go... that will depend on the drawings from the structural engineer which we haven't even ordered yet. I'm doing prelim planning here.

Another "small detail" I didn't mention is that the sill beam on the old wall is badly termited and I still haven't assessed the vertical structural components in that wall. Most likely we'll have some repairs to do in there before we shore the wall and knock out the old stone.

3) how big is the planned excavation?

24 long x 8 wide x 8 deep (unless $ compels a crawlspace instead).

Those dimensions include 2 ft beyond the finished wall surface, and extra depth for the slab and drain materials. More for the footing and exposing however much of the corners we have to for the tie-in. Still a bit more, since its a stubby L shape. We'll likely have material left over but at this early planning stage I don't have all the numbers to do the math.

Have at it folks! Am I bucking for trouble?

If it jams, force it. If it breaks, it needed replacing anyway!
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post #11 of 22 Old 06-17-2015, 11:20 AM
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Plan on sloping the excavation out at least to a 1 to 1 slope. 1 1/2 to 1 is better. No use digging yourself a man trap if the soil decides to re-arrange itself.
Pick out an excavator, and then get the next bigger one. You can thank me later.
Don't dig parallel to the old foundation, dig at an angle away from it. Cut a relief slot out there carefully, and then pull material into that slot away from the old foundation.
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post #12 of 22 Old 06-17-2015, 12:33 PM
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be sure to plan for....

There are 2 Laws you should plan for, Murphy's and Gravity. What's the worst thing that can happen? Plan for it.

When that happens Gravity will take over and it usually wins, unless a plan was in place beforehand.

For example:
When removing the starter from a GM small block, 2 bolts and some wires, it will fall and put a strain on the wires unless it's restrained by another, shorter wire wrapped around a bolt.

When removing the steering gear from the frame it will fall to the ground unless it's restrained by some wires and bungies.

When removing the heavy TH350 transmission off the end of the motor, the motor will tip backwards and fall off the motor mounts whose bolts have been removed, unless it's restrained by 2 metal straps bolted to the frame....
I just did all this yesterday and this morning. Murphy did not have any luck with me.... just sayin'

The answer to your question will only be as detailed and specific as the question is detailed and specific. Good questions also include a sketch or a photo that illustrates your issue. (:< D)
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post #13 of 22 Old 06-17-2015, 12:34 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skyking View Post
Pick out an excavator, and then get the next bigger one. You can thank me later.
No doubt!

The rest is all great advice, too. Thanks.

============

Has anyone bought a used digger for a DIY job then resold it? How did you make out?

If it jams, force it. If it breaks, it needed replacing anyway!
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post #14 of 22 Old 06-17-2015, 12:35 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by woodnthings View Post
What's the worst thing that can happen?

Finally fed up, my wife sneaks out at night, fires up the rig, and buries all my shop equipment at an "undisclosed location" !

If it jams, force it. If it breaks, it needed replacing anyway!
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post #15 of 22 Old 06-17-2015, 01:29 PM
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Finally fed up, my wife sneaks out at night, fires up the rig, and buries all my shop equipment at an "undisclosed location" !

Rule #1....hide the keys.

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The tools don't make the craftsman....
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post #16 of 22 Old 06-17-2015, 02:22 PM
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Part of the "bigger is better" is very practical. If you try and bench on in with a little machine, it takes a great deal more finesse. you'd be more likely to leave a big bench due to short-arm-itis, and really plan on coming back, only to have it slough off and deal a deathblow to your hand stacked footer and wall.
DOH!
I have been burdened by too small a machine many times, and you get awful blue holding your breath till you can get set back and remove that dangerous material. You can't get it while you are partially sitting on it, and it seems no matter how you plan it out something gets left behind that becomes a real PITA to go back and get.
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post #17 of 22 Old 06-18-2015, 12:16 AM
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Renting the right excavator, pedals vs levers?

[QUOTE=skyking;1001169]
Pick out an excavator, and then get the next bigger one. You can thank me later.

Why stop at the next bigger size? Pick out something like this. TRenting the right excavator, pedals vs levers?-imageuploadedbywood-working-talk1434597237.188217.jpg Then go with something like this. Renting the right excavator, pedals vs levers?-imageuploadedbywood-working-talk1434597289.567884.jpg Being series, I would be looking for a machine at least in the 10,000 pound range.

Last edited by hwebb99; 06-18-2015 at 12:42 AM.
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post #18 of 22 Old 06-18-2015, 01:09 AM
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50 series are very handy, yes. I also spend an extra 100 or whatever the rate is to get a digging bucket and a large cleanup bucket as well. Once you get it loose the big bucket will help you distribute it much faster, and also dig a nicer finish grade.
If you want to see some of my work, click this link and go to page 16. That's me standing up and operating the controls behind me with a 55' reach machine up in Mt. Rainier National Park.
https://www.yumpu.com/en/document/fu...er-summer-2014
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post #19 of 22 Old 06-19-2015, 02:11 PM Thread Starter
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Gee, nice spot to get paid. I've probably used that road more than once - thanks for your service!

If it jams, force it. If it breaks, it needed replacing anyway!
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post #20 of 22 Old 06-20-2015, 12:22 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skyking View Post
50 series are very handy, yes. I also spend an extra 100 or whatever the rate is to get a digging bucket and a large cleanup bucket as well. Once you get it loose the big bucket will help you distribute it much faster, and also dig a nicer finish grade.
If you want to see some of my work, click this link and go to page 16. That's me standing up and operating the controls behind me with a 55' reach machine up in Mt. Rainier National Park.
https://www.yumpu.com/en/document/fu...er-summer-2014
I watched an operator do that with the bucket 30' down in a trench. The trench was sloughing in almost as fast as he was digging. There was an incredible amount of water flowing through the trench.

Tact is for people not witty enough to be sarcastic.
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