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Hello, I am a residential contractor in southern Indiana. Right now I have a Deere CT322 skid steer and a Cat 302.5 mini ex. In the next year I would like to either add a good used backhoe to the fleet or upgrade the mini ex to a 8,500 pound mini. Right now I use the mini to dig house footings and sewer taps/ water taps. I only put around 200 hours a year on the machines I have now. I need some opinions from those who have more experience with backhoes vs. excavators.

Thanks
 

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Being in the same situation (CT322 and Kubota KX91-3) I can understand your needs. In my situation I will be adding a 11,000 pound machine. That should give the lifting and digging ability needed.
 

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For the most part the excavators (mini's on up) and skid steers have replace tractor backhoes altogether.

The only use we have for our backhoe now is when we do road maintainence in a large subdivision it provides the abiliity to pick up and travel around without having to deal with a trailer load up but except for that, the backhoe rarely leaves the yard.

So I would suggest getting the larger mini unless you feel the need to have a larger loader type of piece of equipment as opposed to the skiddy.
 

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I have not used my backhoe in months.

I do have an 11,000 lb mini ex and it is just so much more versatile as a digger.

Unless I need the greater strength or digging depth of the Case 580, it is just a yard dog.
 

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I agree with the above, I started on my own 3 years ago with a tlb. If I could do it over, I would never have bought a backhoe. A backhoe is like swiss army knife, can do alot of things just not very well. stick with the mini idea.
 

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A backhoe? Really? I wouldnt even consider one after having a mini ex.... Like said above, a yard dog, seldom used at that.... Spend your money on a bigger mini if you need more depth and breakout force.
 

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If you are digging additions or sewer/water taps a mini is the way to go. I've been wanting to buy one for a few years but can't justify it with the lack of work. Before I bought a loader I used my backhoe a lot. I still feel like it is a productive machine. I use it to load trucks when the loader is on another site & dig trenches where my excavators don't work. I have forks for it that come in handy. Also, it helps make a few bucks plowing.
 

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I sold my 580, low hour, tight machine to make the budget fit a mini ex, and I don't regret it.

Except for mobility, a TLB is basically a machine of the past now.

In today's market, lots of deals out there....but....it would be time to examine the actual cost of renting vs. owning. 200 hours divided by 50 weeks is only 4 hours a week...would it make more sense to rent, and keep your money in reserve?
 

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I have been pondering this subject myself from time to time. I thought that the compact machines would be the way to go. Faster and more versatile. I think when it is time to purchase, that will be the way to go. My business is smaller and we do not do the mainline stuff much, our work is mostly homeowner and small commercial, so the compacts would make since. We do use loaders and excavators to ex out foundations though:thumbsup:. Right now we just lease everything.
 

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If you get rid of your excavator you will regret it almost immediately. We replaced our old 410-D in 07 with a 410-G after a string of breakdowns. Now almost 3 years later it has 350 hrs on it, and its primary function is being a second loader. Most of those hours are loading trucks and pushing snow back. We wish now that we would have spent some money on the on D model and gotten that fixed up, and gotten a new excavator. If you are used to an excavator, stay with an excavator, its a whole different thought process running a backhoe in tight spots and so on, mostly because of the swing.
 

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I have often wished there would be an ideal solution for the TLB vs. Mini-ex for the small contractor, but it comes down to what you actually do.

90% of the work we do is done with a T200 skid loader. The ideal way eliminate a machine would be a backhoe attachment for the SS....but, the same money will buy a decent mini-ex. Lots of guys own TLB's since they have the loader capability, and if you don't have a skid loader or other, then by all means, it would be the choice.

It all comes down to what you do.
 

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Another thing to consider is what do you plan on moving the tlb around with? You can move your current equipment with a pickup and skid steer type trailer. You could probably do the same with the heavier mini ex. With a tlb you would be best off to have a single axle dump and a 10 ton tag. You could move it with a 10ton gooseneck behind a 3/4-1ton pickup but the "tail is wagging the dog". I've done both and definately prefer the dumptruck for towing a backhoe.
 

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Some good points made here. I have one backhoe left and it is nice to have for some jobs. Like someone else said, if you are digging and moving around on a city street they are nice. Especially if you have a good distance apart on the job.

I am not sure what you have to haul your equipment around with, but if you could haul like a Cat 307 or similiar size machine I would look at one of those. It has a lot more capabilty for a little bit bigger work, but it is still a mini. I think you would be surprised how much you would like to have a bit bigger one. I think it would go well with your skid steer and other mini.
 

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I have never owned a backhoe. I wanted one for snow and they are great for road work like catch basins etc.
They are not even close to a excavator. I own two excavators one 9 ton and on 19 ton both steel track. The steel tracks are a pain but nothing a few pieces of plywood can't fix.

I would never trade a excavator for TLB unless I was a paver, water, or sewer and did city street work everyday.
 

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I have a JCB 214 backhoe loader, JD 35d mini-ex, two skid steers, as well as a dozer. We use the mini-ex and skid steers 90% of the time. Mini-ex is by far the most efficient machine for digging. Also, mini-ex and skid steers can be transported with our one ton and 14k lb tag along, where the backhoe and dozer require the big truck and trailer.

But, there is always a place and time for the each. When it comes to concrete removal or some serious demo, I prefer to use the backhoe.

I have dug trenches side by side with me on the backhoe and my son on the min-ex. The backhoe will out dig the mini-ex as it reaches farther and will dig rock better. But, not by much. The backhoe works you a tremendously lot more than the mini. No comparison, the mini-ex is by far more easier machine to run as far as fatigue and easier to transport. Stay with your mini. If my backhoe wasn't paid for, I'd sell it.
 
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