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Old 10-26-2018, 12:53 PM   #1
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Moving earth in a hard to get to area


Hello all,
It's hard to make out in the attached photo, but one-third of the upper right-hand corner of the photo is a ridge in the bedrock that extends, presumably, straight down about 4-6 feet. At the ridge top, the soil tapers down and out about twenty feet where the soil meets the bedrock. I want to remove all the vegetation and soil from the ridge line to where the soil meets the bedrock at the twenty foot mark. In other words, the soil at the bedrock is 0" deep and gets thicker and thicker the closer it gets to the ridge, which is approximately 4-6 feet above grade. The area I want to remove is approximately 20x30 feet in width and 4-6 feet deep.

I can rent a skid steer or backhoe (both personal sized- very small) from Home Depot. Will either of those work for this project? And if so which one would be better for said project? The earth I remove is to be moved about 50 feet to a new location. I'd like to do the project with the area as-is. That is, with everything as seen in the photo, except any trees. Any and all roots will have to be removed with the machine I rent. I'd rather use the skid steer as the bucket would remove more material per scoop than would the backhoe. Am I being realistic here or is this a pipe dream?
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Old 10-26-2018, 01:47 PM   #2
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Re: Moving earth in a hard to get to area


I would go to an equipment rental company like Sunbelt rentals & rent a backhoe loader it will have a front bucket to move the dirt & the backhoe will make the removal of roots & stumps simple.
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Old 10-26-2018, 03:23 PM   #3
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Re: Moving earth in a hard to get to area


Camera angles can be a bit deceiving, so I am not sure what that slope really is. However, from what I am seeing, a slope like that is no place to learn to operate equipment.

You need to try hiring a pro. If they say itís too dangerous/canít be done, try another one. After 3-5 you will either know what it will cost or find no one willing to touch it with equipment because it is too dangerous to do it.

If a price is quoted, Iíd pay it. Itís cheaper than a hospital bill and not worth your life. Even pros get injured/killed every year in equipment rollovers.
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Old 10-26-2018, 04:00 PM   #4
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Re: Moving earth in a hard to get to area


The slope is nothing like it looks. It's very gentle actually. I don't think the slope poses a danger of any kind. It's the 70-foot drop-off at the end that's the real killer.

My real question is if those dinky backhoes or skid steers one can rent from Home Depot will do the work. I'm sure the backhoe can tough through the soil but would take forever to move it. The skid steer would move the soil a lot faster but can it dig through millenniums of undisturbed soil? Sand mostly. I just don't know how tough that equipment is or what they're capable of.
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Old 10-26-2018, 04:40 PM   #5
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Re: Moving earth in a hard to get to area


I wouldn't do it.
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Old 10-26-2018, 05:52 PM   #6
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Re: Moving earth in a hard to get to area


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Old 10-26-2018, 05:52 PM   #7
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Re: Moving earth in a hard to get to area


I got started with one of those " personal sized- very small" machines and it did what I wanted, but it was small, Terramite backhoe and loader. But it planted the seed and I bought a Kubota B7500. Still not really big but wow have I done a lot of work, makes getting old a lot easier.

If the slope is reasonable and you sound like you are aware of the issues, go to a real rental place and rent a bigger machine, not " personal sized- very small". And a bigger machine will get the job done faster so shorter rent.

As for a skid steer doing it all, I've seen some do some real digging, but no personal experience. Talk to the rental place as they advise people all of the time.

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Old 10-26-2018, 07:19 PM   #8
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Re: Moving earth in a hard to get to area


The reason I want a very small machine is so to leave as small of a footprint getting to and from the job site as I can. The area I want to clear, and eventually build a cabin on, is pristine wilderness on top of a mountain and hasn't been disturbed for a very long time. I want to keep it as natural as I can, and not tear the place up. I'm not even going to build a driveway up to the cabin, but I'll be able to park a short walk away.

There is already a trail leading to the jobsite (probably made by deer and other critters), and trimmed and widened a bit by me. I'd like to use it to get a machine to the site so the smaller the better.

Since posting my query I've watched a few videos on mini excavators and have since learned that they're tough as nails if you know what your doing. And for a thousand bucks for a weekly rental, I think I'll save myself a summer's worth of back breaking manual labor and rent one. I just wanted to see if anyone out there has any knowledge of these machines or has ever used one.
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Old 10-26-2018, 08:39 PM   #9
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Re: Moving earth in a hard to get to area


Assuming this is all your land and there are no 'sensitive land' restrictions by your department of natural resources or whatever, if the terrain is as accommodating as you say for a rookie operator, give a rental a try but spend some time with it on level ground. I don't know much about skidsteers but anything with a loader-type bucket has a maximum dig depth and it's usually not all that much (my tractor was something like 3"). They're really not designed for digging. Check with the rental shop.


Keep in mind that mother nature may re-do (or un-do) anything you do until any disturbed soil becomes stabilized again, and that includes any tracks you make.
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Old 10-27-2018, 10:21 AM   #10
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Re: Moving earth in a hard to get to area


Here is a safety video on a Bobcat Skidsteer.

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Old 10-27-2018, 12:14 PM   #11
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Re: Moving earth in a hard to get to area


I went to Home Depot this morning to have a look at their rental stuff and sit in the seats. They have a Kubota BX25 that I thought might do the job I need. I came home and searched YouTube for that tractor and found one that a guy has and used it for exactly the same purpose that I want to use it for. I stole his video and edited it down to just the basics. I think this machine will do quite nicely.

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Old 10-29-2018, 06:08 PM   #12
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Re: Moving earth in a hard to get to area


Quote:
They have a Kubota BX25 that I thought might do the job I need.
Ayuh,.... My Bil used to have a BX3something or other, 'n it really Impressed me, the week I had it at the family lodge at Chemo pond Maine,.....

'n I run machines in the 8 ton range as part of my job,.....

The hydrostatic drive is the key,....
You can load the front bucket, without spinnin' the tires,.....

The neighbor at Chemo has a John Deere in that class with a clutch/ standard trans,....
Ya can't load the bucket, cause the hyd.s run at the same speed, spinnin' the tires, while curlin' the bucket,.....
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Old 10-30-2018, 06:27 AM   #13
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Re: Moving earth in a hard to get to area


I've spent a chunk of my life in heavy construction on about every piece of equipment. I currently own a CAT D7 dozer and 325 excavator. My weapon of choice here would probably be a mini excavator because I can put it exactly where I want it, and the rubber track system, if run correctly, will leave zero evidence. However, it sounds like you are getting a tiny backhoe.

It will probably work for your small job but learn how to pin the machine with the bucket and outriggers for your safety. As well, I see rookies all the time assume they can "dig" with the bucket. Unless that is all silt, you won't. The harder you stab it with the bucket, the more packing you do and it's hard on the machine. Do your digging with the hoe, spoil it, and then move it with the bucket. You will notice that guy fight a bit even with loose stuff getting a mouthful. They are light so it takes practice.

Learn finess with the hoe and you can dial it right it.

One thing.... I have been on little hoes like this and typically they have puny hydros that do not have enough volume to multitask the hoe. the pro way is synchronized control of the boom/stick/bucket. at a minimum you need to move the boom and stick together. If you can only do one function at a time, your day is going to suck and the finish will be limited.
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Old 10-30-2018, 11:57 AM   #14
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Re: Moving earth in a hard to get to area


That's some good advice Viper, I'll be sure to heed it.
What I also need advice on is getting a taper to the wall I'm about to create. If I don't taper the sides of the dig the soil will just collapse back into the hollow I just made. What's a good method to create a taper in the side walls? Remove the hoe's bucket teeth and just scrape the soil until I'm delighted with my handiwork? I have a feeling there's an art to that procedure.
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Old 10-30-2018, 03:33 PM   #15
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Re: Moving earth in a hard to get to area


I really don't understand your excavation too much but if it is basically a notch in the side of a hill like the video, yes, an excavator or hoe are the right and only tool for that. Removing the teeth on the bucket is likely not possible and should not be operated like that. You either make a sleeve to go over the teeth or use a finishing bucket. You have to have a designed cut edge of the bucket.


Yes, you will have a challenge there and to be honest, I would not even mess with that little tractor but that is your call. I know a proper excavator will perform as needed. I have used little hoes like that and they are jerky, slow, and very little digging power so you will fight to get what you really want.


But, if you are trying to get a 6ft vertical wall with a little taper in dirt, assuming it will stay that way through life, it won't. There is a max grade you can have, and even at that you must get vegetation growing in quickly so the roots can lock it up. What you are proposing is more of a retaining wall and you will notice most are masonry for that reason.
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