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  1. #1
    New Member
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    Jun 2013
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    3
    Location
    Westcliffe, CO
    Tractor
    IH2444

    Default recommend best way to move dirt around my valley

    I've recently finished building a house on about 160 acres in the mountains of southern Colorado. The site is so remote that hiring someone to do dirt work is very expensive, when I can even find somebody willing to haul all the way out here.

    I don't know a lot about equipment. I have an old farm tractor with loader that I use for mowing, and maintaining the driveway, but there's very little flat ground, which really limits where I can use it. It's also just two-wheel drive, so even with chains on it often wont make it up the driveway in the winter.

    So, I'm looking for something that will let me do more work around the place, myself, and I'm looking for advice on how to get the most out of about $20-25,000.

    There are a lot of projects I could do around the place, although, to be realistic, I'm not going to be putting a huge number of hours on whatever piece of equipment I buy. Some of the jobs I think I would do if I had the right equipment include:

    * back fill around the house foundations have settled, so I need to do more backfill around the house. Much of that is steep enough I'm not comfortable doing it with my tractor.
    * widen the driveway by moving dirt 100 yards or so downhill to fill, then smooth
    * clean out an existing pond
    * maintain a steep, gravel driveway
    * move snow when there's more than my 4-wheeler can push
    * general landscaping work around the house, again, where it's too steep for my existing tractor
    * maintain some old logging roads through the woods that provide access to parts of the property

    I feel like I have four options:

    1. old, high-hours "real" 4wd backhoe
    2. newer, low-hours 4wd CUT tractor/loader/backhoe combination
    3. newer skid steer loader
    4. older compact track loader

    It looks like I should be able to find a backhoe in my price range, but it will have 5-6,000 hours on it. I have no doubt it would do all the dirt work I need, and is probably the only one of my four options that would allow me to clean out the pond. But even with 4 wheel drive, I don't think it would be any better on the hills than my existing tractor. Plus, being so remote, I can't afford to buy a machine that might need any major work.

    If I bought a much newer CUT backhoe, like a kubota L39, I feel like there's less chance it will need any major work. It won't be as capable as a big backhoe, but still can probably do everything I need to do. With 4wd, it should be a little better than my tractor on the hills, but I still think most of my property will be out of reach.

    Some of the contractors working on the house have shown me that a skid steer can do a very impressive job of digging and moving dirt, and can do it on slopes I won't try driving my tractor on. On the other hand, I don't know if I'd ever actually get comfortable enough to wobble around on two wheels they way they did. The amount I'm willing to spend would get me a fairly new skid steer, though, so I'd think it should be dependable.

    Finally, it seems like a compact track loader would be the one thing that might be stable enough to be really useful to me. Main problem, there, is that something in my price range is going to have at least 2000 hours on it, and it sound like the main reason people sell them around that many hours is because the undercarriages are shot.

    So, anybody have any advice? Have I missed any options? Am I too worried about the undercarriage problem on CTLs?

    Here's a picture to give you some idea of how nothing around my place is flat. Of course, it's all actually steeper than it looks. Every contractor who has used any kind of equipment around the place has been sure to tell me that!

    -dsc_4417-jpg

  2. #2
    Platinum Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Posts
    874
    Location
    WV
    Tractor
    John Deere 1026R

    Default

    I'd look into a mini excavator. It can push snow and grade with the front blade and do everything else with the hoe bucket. The only disadvantage is that it moves slow. With a big and small bucket you can do as much or more work than a tractor over short distances. They usually aren't as beat up as an equivalent skid steer. They are very stable
    Last edited by swick1; 06-02-2013 at 03:05 PM.

  3. #3
    Silver Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Posts
    127

    Default Re: recommend best way to move dirt around my valley

    For the price range you posted a used backhoe and a dump truck is the way to go. The backhoe will take the majority of the budget. Since you aren't hiway driving you aren't limited to a small single axle dump truck. I have seen tandem axle dump trucks that weren't road worthy anymore but still great for farm use go for less than single axles.

  4. #4
    Veteran Member Carl_NH's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2002
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    2,011
    Location
    Coastal NH
    Tractor
    01 Kubota B21TLB, 2010 Ferris 52" ZTR, Cub Cadet 1811, Gravely Super8

    Default Re: recommend best way to move dirt around my valley

    With your constraints I tend to agree a tracked machine is best, and I would look at a tracked skid steer/ASV like this.http://www.machinerytrader.com/listi...x?OHID=9143169

    You can get a BH attachment and or many other QA attachments like hydraulic brush cutters and so on. The implements will be a fair bit more money than PTO based ones.

    Carl
    Kubota B21TLB, Ferris IS2000, Cub Cadet 1811

  5. #5
    Super Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
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    9,392
    Location
    somewhere usa
    Tractor
    Deere 110tlb, 4520, x749, L130

    Default Re: recommend best way to move dirt around my valley

    Backhoes have a high center of gravity so I would be reluctant to recommend them on steep cross slopes. I think your best bet would be a tracked skidsteer and a garden tractor such as a Deere 700 series with 4x4ws. I think the tracked skidsteer would be your best bet for moving materials under your conditions, another choice might be a small tracked 455 loader but old tracked equipment can be high in maintenance costs. I use an x749 for work in steep yards and grassy areas because they are low slung and won't destroy the grass and vegetation while navigating your property. I should point out that it is easy to scar the landscape in your local but can be difficult to recover. I have a good assortment of implements for my x749 similar to my larger attachments for my 110 and 4520 and use the little one on steeper slopes than the larger tractors.

    About the pond cleaning, I would recommend you hire that out unless you see more need for a backhoe.

  6. #6
    Super Member crazyal's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
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    5,877
    Location
    Northern Vermont

    Default Re: recommend best way to move dirt around my valley

    I have a Case 580k backhoe and it's a great option for about half of your projects and terrible for the other half. In the snow it's heavy. Without chains it's deadly in the winter on steep slopes. Even with chains it's still going to give you plenty of heart racing moments. I think I would look at skidsteers. I've never used one in the snow on a steep slope. I know the steel tracks on my dozer work great on snow but they suck on ice. I would try to find out if you can get spikes or something to bite into ice. I'm also not sure how well they do dirt work on steep slopes.

    It really sounds like you need more than one piece of equipment. Trying to find just one that will do everything you need is going to be hard. You may want to separate the "one time" needs and rent the correct tool for the job and just focus on what you know you will be doing repeatedly.
    Kubota L4240,Case 580K backhoe, Case 450 Dozer

  7. #7
    New Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
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    3
    Location
    Westcliffe, CO
    Tractor
    IH2444

    Default Re: recommend best way to move dirt around my valley

    Quote Originally Posted by swick1 View Post
    I'd look into a mini excavator. It can push snow and grade with the front blade and do everything else with the hoe bucket.
    I know I have to move dirt around, so at first I didn't think a mini excavator made sense. Another response about a backhoe and dump truck gave me an idea. I have an ATV, maybe a dump trailer for the ATV plus a mini excavator would allow me to both dig and move dirt. I hadn't seriously considered that, yet. Probably wouldn't be the fastest way to do things, but I'm not under any deadlines or paying for labor.

  8. #8
    New Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
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    3
    Location
    Westcliffe, CO
    Tractor
    IH2444

    Default Re: recommend best way to move dirt around my valley

    Quote Originally Posted by crazyal View Post
    It really sounds like you need more than one piece of equipment....You may want to separate the "one time" needs and rent the correct tool for the job....
    I'm sure you're right about that, but the nearest rental place is 45 miles away, so delivery is prohibitively expensive (I don't have a big enough truck to pull any "real" equipment, myself). The biggest problem is I have to travel for work, so I don't ever have big chunks of time to work on projects around the place. Even if it's not really the right tool for the job, something that's sitting there, ready to go any time I have a few hours, would let me get more done than if I have to schedule a rental.

  9. #9
    Platinum Member
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    Feb 2013
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    583
    Location
    Thornville, Ohio
    Tractor
    No longer Searching. Mahindra 3016 Shuttle

    Default Re: recommend best way to move dirt around my valley

    nodigger,

    I had just looked at a few dump trailers while you were replying about them. A trailer pulled by your existing tractor plus what ever machine you end up with for the digging may have possibilities for you rather than trying to make one machine do everything.

  10. #10
    Super Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
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    9,392
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    somewhere usa
    Tractor
    Deere 110tlb, 4520, x749, L130

    Default Re: recommend best way to move dirt around my valley

    Dirt and gravel are heavy enough to be a disaster waiting for a place to happen if you are using a dump trailer on steep slopes. You will be better off just moving it with a loader bucket. Most ATV's cant handle more than a scoop or two so I don't see it saving you time. You estimated moving the dirt about a 100 yards or so, that is doable with the track loader and you can sprinkle it out once on the drive. Stay in one seat and just move the material.

    Most of the other jobs you list around the house and yard are best handled with a small subcut or garden tractor unless you want to make a mess.

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