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Ditch Witch Per Foot Average/Suggestion?

13851 Views 15 Replies 13 Participants Last post by  Cuda

I apologize if I'm going to the wrong forum with this. I was hoping someone could be kind enough to offer some insight - I have recently been offered an opportunity to purchase an entire Ditch Witch JT922 package. This includes everything - JT 922 2012 w/ 1400 hours; 2008 Ford Flat Bed 80K w/ brand new motor; Belshe Trailer, Mixing System, Locator, Display, etc.

I would be purchasing and then in turn leasing the entire "package" to a local sub contractor. (With all appropriate contracts & agreements in place). They have offered me $1.25 a foot, averaging 7 - 8k feet monthly. - I will be the 3rd party to receive a piece of the pie. (Prime Customer Paying-> Utility Construction Co -> Subbing Out to Contractor -> Contractor Leasing My Machine.

I am responsible for all maintenance on the equipment, with the exception of gas, and materials needed to get the contracted job completed.

I was looking for advice on what the average cost is for monthly service for the JT922, and should I be asking for more then $1.25, (They get paid flat per foot by the Gen Contractor, doesn't matter if they bore, shovel, excavate, hard ground, depth, etc).

Any advice, thoughts, would be greatly appreciated - I was just looking for some unbiased opinions, aside from the contractors locally, and Ditch Witch dealer. :thumbsup:

Thanks! Monika
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Too many variables. Soil types. Sand and cobbles are not your friend in directional, they like to cave in. Are you the first utility in the area, or is it like here where there are 7 different lines in the ROW? The phrase, you break it, you bought it applies here, or you at least pay out the nose for the owner to fix it, plus downtime and lost product depending on the line. You have left out what you are drilling for. Is it com wire? You wont need a reamer on that. Or is it water service, gas service?
Were there huge profits, why is a third party needed.?
Thanks guys..

deter: It's Alabama & Louisiana soil, with the possibilities of moving into SC/NC in the future.

JDavis21835: Yep, com wire, should have mentioned. However, possible opportunity for gas also, which I realize is much more $. The utility/underground basis is relatively small here, so the work is there. And you're very right about the "you break it motto" - I was reviewing the wording on some of the leasing contracts and some other drilling contract examples to get ideas of how I want to structure, and might need to reevaluate the original offer we sloshed around. With my luck the machine would fall to pieces the week after I start the contract with them, and I end up with a mess. They are looking to increase productivity levels without having to add to their fleet of machines they already have. Without them taking on any responsibilities of repairs/breakage, I feel like the liabilities of the agreement would be very one sided, and not on my side.

I wanted to have an idea of how much these communication companies pay the Utility Construction Companies, which in turn pay these sub-contractors, which would allow me to ask for more $ per foot possibly.

Thanks again,
Sounds way too cheap to me.

How many men will be needed to work this Ditch witch? I've never worked around a directional drill before, but when I see one on the side of the road there are usually 3 or 4 guys right there with it.

I can't see a 3 or 4 man crew making you any money if you are only billing 8 to 10K per month.

But again, I am not familiar with directional drilling.

Best of luck.
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Reactions: greg24k
Something smells bad to me. Why wouldn't you want to expand your fleet of machines if the work is in place to pay for them? Are they in good shape $ wise? Can't get loan for new equipment? Great deal for the would be contractor though. If I could do that I would save a $65k payroll for a mechanic and probably that much more again not having to maintain everything.

Doesn't sound like much of a deal to me. Are the crews hard on equipment? You might only get 2-3 years from a piece that should last double that. Beware!

If the work drys up you could be left with a pile of poop equipment that still hasn't paid for itself.
Retired ATT buried inspector. Last billing I saw from contractor was $6.50 per foot on directional bore.
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Reactions: Wile E Coyote
It seems that you would be taking the risk for someone else to gain from.
That price is way to cheap for you maintaining equipment for a bunch of knuckleheads to run your equipment and not care how its treated. Also the 6.50 ft is cheap, those were the type of numbers coming out when fiber optics hit big since there was so much volume. I get more than that for horizontal boring. Not much but a little more, my equipment cost is a decent amount less also.
You can run one of that size efficiently with two people if they are experienced, a third person is needed on larger machines to run the mixing system. But 1.25/ft is pretty low, there is allot of risk involved in running one. If you hit any type of buried line (it happens more often that you would want to think) you buy it. I would be scared to let a sub run MY machine if there was any chance of there screw up rolling back on me.

I have seen two or three guys who tried to take smaller jobs thinking it would be cake, and wind up in jail after clipping large communication lines or water lines.

Too much risk for me.
some cities now require vid camming all sewer mains/laterals after any directional boring in immediate area. in minneapolis several years ago, they d bored a bunch of nat. gas lines. pierced a sewer lateral, it backs up, plumber comes in, runs out his auger, hits the nat. gas line, explodes, killed him, burnt the house down and heavily damaged the next door neighbor's.
So you know...a quick pencil would tell you that the cost would be so much, and you have a contract worth so much, but....what does it cost you to do the work? Sounds a lot like working for wages and you pay the freight when something breaks.

I trench for $1 a foot, and up. and I pay the maintenance....chains ain't cheap, and boring...who knows what you may pay for upkeep?

Kind of related...but think about the guys who lease to own a truck to haul...they get more per mile then a company driver, but they pay the expenses, and the taxes, and when it is all said and done, at the end of the day, they make the same or less then the guy driving the company truck. But they do get to say they are an "owner operator".
I've rented a 922. It was new at the time and it was junk then. Personally I own a TT 4X. I was drilling 1.25" sewer line for $10.00 You wouldn't get me on the job for 1.25 per foot. As for footages, with a good crew you can probably average 500' per day drilling, depending on utilities, ground conditions etc. The 922 will carry 300' of stem. So if you get 2 shots done for the day that is 600' Also mud can get expensive if you mix the mud as you should.
Lets not forget that you also need to be on the look out and have the ability to clean frack outs if you are anywhere but in the middle if a field. That mud is pretty good at finding any and all ways to the surface.

If they are paying 1.25 a foot flat and dont care how you get it in, why not look into alternative methods?

If the ground isnt too hard and the job only requires a shallow line. Stitch boring with a pair of missiles would be just as fast and much cheeper. Plus the aquisition of a couple of pullbehind compressors is never a bad thing since they can be used for many things.

If there are no utilities that you are likely to cross a ditcher is the fastest rout.
Look up HDD forum on google and ask there that is what they do. If you are just the purchaser of the equipment then a lease for a set price per month with them paying for all upkeep is the way to go. How would you even keep track of the feet anyway?
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