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  1. #1
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    Default Is a dozer worth buying?

    Is buying a dozer worth it? We are working on a deal that we hope will end with us owning 68 acres of rolling land that has not been used for over 50 years but was a farm at one time. The higher points of the property have more mature hardwoods and the lower points, fields at one time, are a thick mass of volunteer trees and brush with fair size pines mixed in. Soil is Georgia red clay with a heavy mix of gravel size stone but no large stone visable. There will be a lot of dozer work to clean things up and in some areas just to see what we have. A main drive will have to be cut in, house and barn sites graded, future fence lines cleared and other projects yet to be defined.

    Local equipment trader magazines often have D4 or JD450 size dozers for sale in the 10 to 20k range. That has me thinking it might be worth buying one for the first few years to do the clearing as time allows. Given the amount of work to be done, I would guess to hire the work out will end up in the 10k range over time. I have never operated a dozer and know there would be a learning curve. I also would pay an experienced equipment person to find or look over a potential purchase.

    The questions.

    Can an inexperienced operator learn enough to do the work? Time will not be that much of an issue.

    Is a dozer in the D4 or JD450 size large enough for the types of projects listed?

    Is a dozer in the 10 to 20k price range a usable piece of equipment or just a money pit?

    Are there any special features that should be a must (6 way blade, loader rather than dozer) to look for?

    So guys, any insight or opinions sure would be appreciated. There is also a reward offered to anyone who will face my wife if I decide to buy one.[img]/w3tcompact/icons/smile.gif[/img]

    Thanks,
    MarkV

  2. #2
    Super Member RobS's Avatar
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    John Deere 790

    Default Re: Is a dozer worth buying?

    Mark, given your situation I would buy a dozer in a heartbeat. Assuming you get a fair deal, you'll be able to sell it after a couple of years use for nearly what you paid. I have a friend with a deere 450. It's a blast to operate and I'm sure any competent CUT operator could become proficient in a few days of use. A dozer is definitely the tool of choice for the work you described.

    Buying one can be tricky though. You'll need to study up and/or find a knowledgable expert to help you appraise what you see. The biggie is the undercarriage. All the components are basically "wear out" items so the undercarriages are rated for % wear. Replacement parts can be pricey, and there are lots of them (link pins for example). Engines, transmissions and hydraulics are pretty straightforward.

    Again, assuming you get a fair deal it should be a good investment for you. Good luck [img]/w3tcompact/icons/smile.gif[/img]

  3. #3
    Super Member
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    JD 8320 MFWD, JD 6415 MFWD, FEL, and cab, John Deere MFWD 4600, John Deere 4020, John Deere 4430, John Deere 455 mower, Deutz, and Gehl 4610 perkins skidsteer

    Default Re: Is a dozer worth buying?

    Mark,
    I've never bought one and I've cleared over 68 acres of ground, had ponds built, roads made, fencelines cleared, etc. In all the work that I've done over the last 8 years I haven't even spent $10k yet. Just for an instance the last ground I had done was a 33 acre spot. Had the guys come over and in 20 hours they had it cleared, leveled, and brush piles burned and buried. My total cost was $1400. Most everything I will do myself but I just can't justify the cost of a dozer and more importantly the cost to fix one. You can easily eclipse what you originally paid for the dozer with one major repair. That's why you see alot of these dozers for sale for not alot because the guy knows it's going to need something major and that cost is worth more than the dozer is.

    Now can you learn to operate one. Yes you certainly can if you can drive a tractor. Are you ever going to be as good as these guys that do it everyday and make road as level and smooth as you want? Most likely not. You will have uneven spaces, 10 times the work these guys do, etc. Yes it can be done but with the kind of dozer you are talking about buying you aren't going to do it very easily.

    A dozer in the 10-20k range to do the work you want to do is a money pit pure and simple! They are extremely expensive to work on. If you do decide to buy one make sure and don't buy one at an auction and get someone that knows and works on them everyday to go with you and buy one. Plus the fact that you are talking about buying a small dozer and you are going to be looking at twice the work that a person with a big dozer can do.

    All in all I guess if you have the time to learn, the time to do the jobs, and the extra money to buy one then do it. Also remember there is alot of maintenance on these as well, esp. if you are buying an older dozer. As far as your wife goes my recommendation would be to hire it done.

    Best of luck with whichever way you decide to go.

  4. #4
    Veteran Member Dozernut's Avatar
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    Kubota L4610, ZD21, RTV900, B2630

    Default Re: Is a dozer worth buying?

    MarkV

    That is an open ended question. Buying a used dozer is like buying a used car or truck, sometimes you can get a good one, sometimes not. Are you mechanically inclined? Do you have a good set of mechanics tools, large and small. Are you set up to handle very heavy parts and components. I am by no means attempting to discourage you, but unless you possess the above, you should have a large bank account. Hiring repairs on a dozer gets real expensive real fast!
    If you decide to go ahead, find someone with knowledge about dozers or track loaders and have them examine the unit and test it out. Pay particular attention to the under carriage ( the track and its components), if it is worn out you can spend $5,000 on parts alone.
    A D-4 or 450 Case will do a lot of work but don't expect to push over large trees with them. A D-6 is really the smaller end machine for pushing trees, it can be done but you have to work at it.
    Yes you can learn to drive a dozer, thats the easy part. Learning to controll the blade will take a little longer. This is where the artistry comes in, it is like the difference between punk slam dancers and a highly trained ballet dancer. A real thing of beauty when an experienced operator is working.
    Take your time when you look and pay attention to the history of the dozer, specifically the maintenance records. This will tell you if the equipment has been cared for and what problems they have experienced in the past. A good one will be well cared for and worth the money. Watch the estate sales, sometimes you can come across a real gem. Good luck, but let me caution you, operating a dozer gets addicting. Hope this helps you.

  5. #5
    Super Member
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    Default Re: Is a dozer worth buying?

    I sure do enjoy this forum. Ask a question about something that you know nothing about and you get advice from those with experience that is unbiased, helpful and friendly.

    All of you, so far, point out the importance of not buying without knowing what to look at on a used machine. Fortunately I have a family connection that has had a grading business for years and I believe he would be willing to assess a machine and offer some operating training. There may even be a possibility of renting a smaller piece of his equipment when it is not in use.

    Rob, you may have hit on my problem <font color=blue> It's a blast to operate </font color=blue>. That part does sound very appealing to me.[img]/w3tcompact/icons/smile.gif[/img]

    Richard, you make many good points and the one that sticks out is that I may be over estimating how much the work would cost to hire out. I have only had to hire heavy equipment a couple of times and it was on a very tough site that most didnít want to deal with so it was expensive. As I use your example, it looks like you were paying about $70 per hour and they got a great deal of work done in 20 hours. That is the price range charged in this area so I will get some people to take a look at the projects.

    Dozernut, I do OK with a wrench but the big stuff is probably past my limits. Thanks for the shopping tips and I would not consider making a purchase with out a pro looking it over. I understood that a small dozer will not do everything but though it would handle the basic clean up given the size of what is growing.

    I look forward to more advice so keep it coming.

    Thanks,
    MarkV

  6. #6
    Veteran Member
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    B2620, Toro Z-Master 45 3 (2 3hp Kaw asaki, 52" deck.Kubota RTV 900)

    Default Re: Is a dozer worth buying?

    Having grown up in a small excavating business, I know you can get alot of work done with a dozer. On those 68 acres, I am sure you would never run out of uses.
    However, I am not sure that 20,000 would get a real dependable dozer, especially if you want to use it for all the projects you have listed.

    A 450 sized machine could do all of your work, but I know that my brother turns down work often because he feels it would be too hard on his Case 550.
    Personally, I think you are in a great position to hire some of the heavier work done, and then look for a dozer to have "just because."
    Good Luck, Will

  7. #7
    Platinum Member
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    2004 JD 4310 300CX 72MM, dozers, excavtors, bachoes, loader, tractors.

    Default Re: Is a dozer worth buying?

    MarkV,

    My vote is buy one. Yes maintenance is expensive but worth it also. If you pick up a unit that needs repairs then you pay what it's worth in the condition it's in as long as you find it before buying. If it needs a new UC then the price is lower and if it has a new UC well it's higher priced. If need be buy one from a reputable dealer. Or just take the risk and buy with the help of a experienced mechanic and fix her up. As far as finding good used equipment under $20K your close to cost depending on where you look and don't limit yourself to your state. Shoot I've now bought a Cat 416B from Wisconsin, a Magnatrac from Georgia, a excavator from Texas, a dozer from Edmonton Canada, etc. etc. BUT I've also been shafted from a guy in Nevada on a excavator deal and out big bucks with nothing to show for it. OUCH!!!!! Anyway what ever you do goodluck and keep us informed.

    Darin

  8. #8
    Silver Member
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    Cleveland GA
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    varies never keep one long enough to post here lol

    Default Re: Is a dozer worth buying?

    Hello Mark, just wondering where the property is, I'm in northeast GA and I work on equip. for a living, if your close I would be happy to check out something for you, I would think you could get an excellent piece of equip. for 20K, also a 6-way blade dozer is great for cutting roads on grade but in my opinion not much else, I prefer a loader for clean-up work, granted they wont push as much as the dozer (track design) but a dozer wont get a bucket of dirt and take it somewhere else, very handy for grading house sites or barns, etc. and also the loader is trickier to operate as far as getting a road on grade but can be done very well with time and experience, my 0.02 cents (may not be worth that much lol)

  9. #9
    Super Member
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    Default Re: Is a dozer worth buying?

    Will, do you think I need to up the numbers ($) to get a machine that will not be a nightmare? I would guess you have seen it both ways with a family business.

    Darin, thanks for the advice. Sounds like you have gone through this a number of times. One question, when you buy out of state how do you arrange transport and what kind of hauling fees do you have to plan on? Do you hire someone local to look the equipment over?

    Gatractorman, I have seen a number of your posts and wondered where you were located. This new property is in N.W Georgia around the Rome area. Our weekend home is probably closer to you between Dahlonega and Cleveland. Thanks for the offer and if I get to the point of being serious Iíll drop you a note if I see anything up your way.

    Thanks,
    MarkV

  10. #10
    Super Member RobS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Is a dozer worth buying?

    Hey Mark, have you thought about renting out ride time on the dozer to help defray the costs? I'd pay a few bucks an hour just to "play".

    In fact, several years ago some friends and I were discussing a potential business venture (probably over some beers [img]/w3tcompact/icons/wink.gif[/img] ) The plan was to buy 10 or so acres of wasteland, some old equipment and rent it out just for fun. Could even put up a bunkhouse and host "guys weekends". Operate equipment during the day, campfire and beers in the evening. The perfect get away [img]/w3tcompact/icons/smile.gif[/img]

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