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    Default Central Texas Mesquite Clearing/Pond Digging: Midsize Dozer vs. Mini Excavator

    Ive got 23 acres in central Texas (Caldwell county, near Lockhart) and I've got two big jobs that need done on it. The dirt in the area is about 18" of sandy loam over maybe 15' of hard yellow clay. No rocks.

    1) Theres a ~6 acre old hay field on it that hasn't been worked/cultivated in maybe 15 years and is infested with lots of sprangly 3'-10' mesquites. I want to clear this part of my land such that it can easily be cultivated with my ~34 hp tractor and 5' disc (for planting hay initially and thereafter anything else I want). As far as I can tell this will require some kind of root plow/rake/rippers to remove the living mesquites and stumps. Yes yes, I know I can spray the mesquites, but I need them out of the field anyway so I don't see the point of spraying them and then clearing them when clearing and burning them will kill them just as dead. yes, i know they'll still grow back but I can more easily take care of small mesquites that grow back or from buried seeds with my smaller kubota tractor.

    2) There's an old tank/pond thats way too shallow and small for my needs and I need to expand and deepen it so it will hold more water, can be stocked with fish and have less of a chance of drying up in a drought. Its probably a little more than a quarter acre right now and I'd like to at least double it and make it much deeper.

    Dozer operators in my area want anywhere from $75-$120/hr. depending on the size of machine and move-in/out fees of up to $400, which seems pretty **** crazy to me, so I'm definitely looking at renting... but I need to know what will give me the best bang for the buck. This seems like a job that will cost me a lot less to do on my own, even if I'm slower than a professional operator. I plan on taking a week off from work during some paid holiday time to do this.

    One problem is that nobody in my area as far as I can tell will rent me a dozer big enough to run a root plow that actually comes with a root plow. Most of the rental places will only rent JD 450s and 550s. This place will rent me a JD 550J with rippers (hydrostat, so its easier for a novice like me to operate it) for only $1050/wk plus $100 dropoff/pickup:

    Dozers for rent, Equipment Rental from Austin tx to San Antonio tx from Longhorn Equipment Rental

    Alternatively, they'll rent a Takeuchi TB 135 or W-N 3503 mini excavator with a straight push blade for $570/week and $100 dropoff/pickup:

    Mini Excavators for rent, Equipment Rental from Austin tx to San Antonio tx from Longhorn Equipment Rental

    http://www.longhornequipment.net/Wac...Excavator.html

    Which do you think would do the job better? I can see the mini excavator being better for digging out the tank, but can it also tackle 10' mesquites, especially when its only 48hp and doesn't have a thumb?

    The JD 550J can probably push over those mesquites, but I don't know if the rippers will do a good enough job pulling up the stumps compared to a real horizontal blade root plow or a root rake. Digging out the pond seems straight forward enough with the dozer, but it seems that the excavator might be able to make it deeper more easily, especially in the hard yellow clay.

    I've considered using a forestry mulcher/hydro-axe, but nobody I know of in my area rents those due to liability concerns, plus they leave lots of mulched up trash on the ground that prevents grass from growing... and still leave stumps and roots in the ground. In short, not an option.

    My budget is going to be a $2,000 hard maximum for both jobs using a max of one week of my free labor plus rental equipment (this includes the pittance I get from the USDA/NRCS EQIP program grant, BTW).

    Thanks in advance.
    Last edited by perdurabo; 10-06-2009 at 01:13 PM.

  2. #2
    Super Star Member brin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Central Texas Mesquite Clearing/Pond Digging: Midsize Dozer vs. Mini Excavator

    I had a JD 450 C crawler -loader and used it to clear pine stumps after logging and it had plenty of power so the JD 550J will certainly do the job for clearing your field but with only the one root plow...time becomes critical if you only have a week off and there will be a learning curve to get used to the equipment and it would seem to me you would need the excavator to increase the size of your pond..If the pond already has water in it it will be difficult to use the dozer to increase the size whereas the excavator would stay on the land as you pulled and dug the bank back..not so with the dozer and you don't want to ever get one of those stuck. The equipment seems right to me but the time is the question....hope that helps some...when I did it I under estimated how long it would take...also if your pond is spring fed be careful about increasing the size since it may stop your spring...the added water back pressure...

    Also consider if you are taking a week off and that is definite and then after a day or so the dozer breaks down..and it happens..can you go back to work until it's repaired or are you stuck ? If the rental person seems knowledgeable and fair minded why not ask him to ride out with you and look at what you've got in mind and ask him to tell you if your plan to do this in a week sounds reasonable and just see what he says --that is if he knows the capabilities of the machine and is not just a clerk..
    Last edited by brin; 10-06-2009 at 01:57 PM. Reason: More information & typo
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    Default Re: Central Texas Mesquite Clearing/Pond Digging: Midsize Dozer vs. Mini Excavator

    If it were my project, with such a time constraint, I would prioritize what I want to do and concentrate on that task. If it was my property, I would rent the dozer, clear the trees as best as possible. Clear and pile the trees in several piles. Something your tractor can handel the cleanup of. Make the "pasture" workable for your tractor. I would worry about the pond later. One option you also may have, if the yellow clay will test out good for compaction is to have a someone come and dig your pond larger in return they sell your dirt.
    Rent it out and run it like ****. insurance on dozer! lol

  4. #4
    Elite Member CurlyDave's Avatar
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    Default Re: Central Texas Mesquite Clearing/Pond Digging: Midsize Dozer vs. Mini Excavator

    Look around some more.

    I had to check 5 different rental yards to find a mini excavator with a thumb. I think with a thumb an excavator could uproot a mesquite of the size you describe, but I have never tried it.
    40 Acres on a hill - fantastic view. JD 110 TLB, 4-n-1, 12" bucket, 18" bucket, Addington thumb, rock bucket (doubles as root grapple)

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    Default Re: Central Texas Mesquite Clearing/Pond Digging: Midsize Dozer vs. Mini Excavator

    if you have access to a larger skid steer and use a dedicated stump bucket (like blue diamond), it will make short work of the mesquites and you will have less to clean up and potentially cleaner burn piles to contend with. I think the dozer would be a better choice for the pond but I try and avoid dozers for light clearing. You can get more finesse out of smaller machine and have less to burn and less to clean up.

    you can rent a skid and dozer for what your budget calls for.

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    Super Member Dargo's Avatar
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    Default Re: Central Texas Mesquite Clearing/Pond Digging: Midsize Dozer vs. Mini Excavator

    That Takeuchi will easily out dig a full sized backhoe by almost a factor of 2. I've had several full sized backhoes (weighing around 20k) and I assure you you'll be amazed what that 'little' Takeuchi will do. It makes a 90 - 100hp backhoe look like a toy with what it will do in a day's time. They are so good that I no longer have a backhoe. I have a Bobcat mini excavator (and the Takeuchi machines are far, far superior to the Bobcat machines) and a Takeuchi TL250 compact track loader. Take those two machines along with my JD 5525 cab tractor with an 84" bucket on it's front loader and I'm set for working on a couple hundred acres. I could buy larger equipment but then I'd have a lot less flexibility in moving the equipment. It was a PIA to move my Cat 955 track loader and the old D6 I had was even more of a hoss to move.

    My point is don't discount what a mini excavator will do; especially a Takeuchi mini. A 24 hp Takeuchi mini excavator will outwork my 40 hp Bobcat mini excavator and there's nothing wrong with my Bobcat.
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    Platinum Member BarryinMN's Avatar
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    Default Re: Central Texas Mesquite Clearing/Pond Digging: Midsize Dozer vs. Mini Excavator

    I took my pond deeper this Fall. Couple of pix attached.

    What are you going to do with the spoil? The hole could easily net 200-500 cubic yards...

    An equipment discussion is kind of moot as your budget and labor availability is limited. One project or the other maybe.

    Smaller eq. is going to leave you weather dependent as one good rain is going to stop your pond. A dozer simultaneously with a bh or excavator ripping spoil loose increases productivity - my blade is a 1 yard but if pushing loose spoil I can get dirt hood high 2-3x per push.

    My field cleanup I used a combination of eq. bushhog what I could chainsaw on the big stuff, bh on rootballs or the dozer if on a sidehill. An ag plow worked good for leftover smaller roots but my tractor is 10K lbs MFWD. I used a woodchipper for anything not firewood. Took way more than a week and $2K

    Keep asking Q's
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails -dscn0559-600-x-450-jpg   -dscn0563-600-x-450-jpg  
    Last edited by BarryinMN; 10-11-2009 at 06:20 PM. Reason: add pix
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    Default Re: Central Texas Mesquite Clearing/Pond Digging: Midsize Dozer vs. Mini Excavator

    Quote Originally Posted by Dargo View Post
    That Takeuchi will easily out dig a full sized backhoe by almost a factor of 2. I've had several full sized backhoes (weighing around 20k) and I assure you you'll be amazed what that 'little' Takeuchi will do. It makes a 90 - 100hp backhoe look like a toy with what it will do in a day's time. They are so good that I no longer have a backhoe. I have a Bobcat mini excavator (and the Takeuchi machines are far, far superior to the Bobcat machines) and a Takeuchi TL250 compact track loader. Take those two machines along with my JD 5525 cab tractor with an 84" bucket on it's front loader and I'm set for working on a couple hundred acres. I could buy larger equipment but then I'd have a lot less flexibility in moving the equipment. It was a PIA to move my Cat 955 track loader and the old D6 I had was even more of a hoss to move.

    My point is don't discount what a mini excavator will do; especially a Takeuchi mini. A 24 hp Takeuchi mini excavator will outwork my 40 hp Bobcat mini excavator and there's nothing wrong with my Bobcat.
    Do you sell Takeuchi Excavators? A 8000 Lb excavator only has so much bucket ad dipper force, and I suspect a well rooted 10" tree will take a lot of work for a small machine to remove, expecially in dry hard clay.

    Granted an excavator smokes a backhoe, but I would use something at least twice the size of a 135

  9. #9
    Super Member two_bit_score's Avatar
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    Default Re: Central Texas Mesquite Clearing/Pond Digging: Midsize Dozer vs. Mini Excavator

    I second what some others said about getting a mini-ex with a thumb for the mesquite clearing. Try to save any larger mesquite logs you can. There is a saw mill near you that might want them or you could use them for yourself.

    I saw a large excavator working some land between Odessa and Midland clearing mesquite last year. They had a flat root rake type attachment on the excavator boom that could be pushed just under the surface and lifted, pulling out roots, stump and all with one smooth motion. He cleared what looked to me like about a half acre in less than about 15 minutes. I pulled over on the shoulder and took a video but it's been deleted now. That machine with what was obviously an experienced operator, made it look extremely easy to pull and pile up mesquite. It was amazing just watching it work.

  10. #10
    Super Member Dargo's Avatar
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    Default Re: Central Texas Mesquite Clearing/Pond Digging: Midsize Dozer vs. Mini Excavator

    Quote Originally Posted by mike69440 View Post
    Do you sell Takeuchi Excavators? A 8000 Lb excavator only has so much bucket ad dipper force, and I suspect a well rooted 10" tree will take a lot of work for a small machine to remove, expecially in dry hard clay.
    LOL. If I had a line on buying a Takeuchi excavator for a low price, like is commonly found on other makes in this economy, I'd have one instead of my Bobcat. Don't get me wrong, I like my little Bobcat and it's a worker. However, it won't come close to keeping up with a similar sized kubota and the Takeuchi machines run circles around even the Kubota machines. If you've never run a Tak mini ex, try one. You can throw specs and preconceived notions out the window. They use their hp and weight better than any machine I've ever seen.
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