Top Tips for Excavator Shoppers

Need a new earthmover? We've simplified the search for your next excavator with these buying tips and equipment picks.
Top Tips for Excavator Shoppers
DX225LC-3 excavator from Doosan Infracore America Corporation

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Investing in a new excavator is not a simple decision. But it’s much less painful if you have a list of needs — and wants — established before you start the search. Doug Fellner, co-owner of Fellner Soil & Septic Service Inc. in Sturgeon Bay, Wis., has machinery big and small.

The first thing he considers before shopping is what he intends to do with the excavator. For instance, you should know how deep you need to dig, and where you’ll be using the machine. A zero-swing tail, for example, is ideal for work between buildings or other tight spaces. 

Check the specs

Make sure the seat is large enough and the cab is comfortable. “That means a lot,” Fellner says. “If you can’t move your feet around, and you feel like you’re stuck in a bottle, it’s not fun all day.” 

Look at the cab door. If you leave it open, does it make the cab wider and restrict the space the machine will fit in? Check the decibel number for the cab. With the engine at full power and the doors and windows closed, can you talk on your phone or hear a radio? 

Check lift capacity, breakout force at the bucket, and how far you can reach. Also, can the excavator reach out, swing, and not tip when using a full bucket of the size you use on the job? 

Fellner has a 36-inch bucket perfect for digging trenches, but one of his three mini-excavators can be slightly unstable with this bucket attached and loaded. Can the machine simultaneously lift, turn, and crawl, or will you lose a little time because the machine doesn’t have that much power? 

Bells and whistles

Next, consider what else you may want your excavator to do. With so many attachments available it’s easy to double or triple the basic price of a mini-excavator, Fellner says. 

“Another key thing is the machine’s performance if you’re running attachments,” he says. 

If you want to use a hydraulic hammer, or anything else, make sure the fluid flow matches the demand of the accessory. Word of warning: Be careful not to buy a machine so powerful that it will destroy your current accessories. You can save money by buying a new machine with an attachment point to fit accessories you already own.

Many large excavators are designed for attachment capability, but it’s worth considering whether you need them. Running accessory hydraulic lines all the way down the boom adds about $10,000 to the price, Fellner warns. 

Whether you’re looking for a heavy-duty trench digger or mining-duty earthmover, here are a few options to narrow you search. 

  • The DX225LC-3 excavator from Doosan Infracore America Corporation features a 167 hp engine, paired with power modes that provide ideal performance and fast workgroup speeds for heavy-duty work. Its four work modes, including digging, breaker, shear and lifting, allow maximum efficiency and fuel economy.
  • The EX1200-6 excavator from Hitachi features a cab layout, controls and monitor from the Zaxis-3 line of construction excavators, while the main frame, undercarriage, swing gear and modular design of the engine compartment, radiator and oil cooler and control valve place it squarely in the mining camp.
  • The R380LC-9A excavator from Hyundai Construction Equipment Americas features a low-emission, low-noise, 290 hp Cummins QSL9 Interim Tier 4/Stage IIIB engine. Operators can choose between three engine modes — Power, Standard and Economy — which enable it to switch between full power and reduced fuel consumption based on user preference.
  • TMX mini-excavators from Innovative Equipment feature a quick-hitch system that can be hooked behind a standard half-ton pickup, van or light-duty tow vehicle. They eliminate tracks by using zero-turn technology for access to tight locations and lawns. Weighing only 2,941 pounds, they feature an 8-foot digging depth and 6,600-pound digging force.
  • The 81,800-pound SK350LC crawler excavator from Kobelco Construction Machinery USA features a fuel-efficient 270 hp, Tier IV HINO engine and a hydraulic system that reduces energy loss. With a digging force of 50,582 pounds, a dig depth of 24 feet 10 inches, a 1.57- to 2.09-cubic-yard bucket and a swing speed of 10.0 rpm, it ensures quick cycle times to keep productivity levels on point.
  • The 350Z NXT2 zero-tail-swing compact excavator from Mustang is equipped with a 23.9 hp electronically controlled Yanmar Tier IV emissions-compliant diesel engine that provides 20 percent less fuel consumption than the previous model and features an electronic throttle for precise control. When activated with a switch inside the cab, ECO mode will reduce the engine speed by 10 percent without sacrificing power. 

Want to learn more? Check out the complete product listings and manufacturer contact information

Check out the Pumper classifieds for great used equipment options. 


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