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  1. #1
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    Default Digging a pond with backhoe... Need advice

    I started digging my pond this weekend with only a backhoe at my disposal. I am not doing any sort of dam, rather digging a big hole in the ground. I want a pond, but my other motivation is the amount of fill dirt I need else where on my property. I can dig for about 10 min and then have a rather large pile of dirt to be moved. It takes me about an hour to an hour and a half to move the pile of dirt that took me 10 min to make. Part of the problem is that the ground is soft and it you have to regrade the path that is driven on after every few passes hauling dirt. I have other people helping me and we have been taking turns on the machine. I was thinking about renting a second piece of equipment for a weekend (one day rental) so I dont have to stop digging. The front bucket on my hoe is a 1 yd . I was looking at a track loader (bob cat with either 1/2yd bucket or 3/4yd). The loader and a small (6yd) dump truck are the same price per day. Would I have better luck with a dump truck or a small track loader? I would think the truck would be easier to get stuck and we may even have to lay mats down but I would also think the truck would go a little quicker once we got set up.

    Would you go with the loader, the truck, or something completely different? Thanks guys....

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Digging a pond with backhoe... Need advice

    It usually comes down to a truck moves faster than a loader and becomes more efficient over longer distances. A loader has quicker cycle times moving dirt than loading and dumping a truck and is more efficient over short distances. I would consider whether you think you could load and dump a truck once, or move 12 bucket loads with the loader in a shorter time over the distance you are looking at. If the distances are short and the ground is soft it seems to me the track loader will win. Also, trying to dig out a badly stuck 6 yard truck could take a good chunk of your time.

  3. #3
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    My votes for a tracked loader or skid steer. If you're already getting stuck and there's that much mud the last thing you want is another set of tires. Especially a truck that's going to have duallies (sp?) they get stuck faster than anything in mud or snow.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Digging a pond with backhoe... Need advice

    You found the worst part of digging a pond "getting rid of the dirt". I would go with an excavator and {because of mud} some type of tracked dump??? If the BH is doing what you want then just get the tracked dump. If the dump is not an option then a TRACKED skid steer would be the next best. Allmost every person I've come across feels pond digging isn't so bad, but moving dirt can become a real nightmare fast.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Digging a pond with backhoe... Need advice

    Quote Originally Posted by 20 20 View Post
    You found the worst part of digging a pond "getting rid of the dirt". I would go with an excavator and {because of mud} some type of tracked dump??? If the BH is doing what you want then just get the tracked dump. If the dump is not an option then a TRACKED skid steer would be the next best. Allmost every person I've come across feels pond digging isn't so bad, but moving dirt can become a real nightmare fast.
    I'll take it.
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  6. #6
    Elite Member Ken45101's Avatar
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    Default Re: Digging a pond with backhoe... Need advice

    You didn't say how far you are moving the dirt. Moving it very far with a bucket is a slow process. Track loaders don't move real fast (those with dual speed move faster but still not as fast as a tractor).

    You might consider just piling the dirt close to where you are digging until you get the pond done. My biggest concern would be rain filling the hole before you have it done.

    If you pile it close to the pond, then you can get the pond done and move it at your leisure.

    Ken

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Digging a pond with backhoe... Need advice

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken45101 View Post
    You didn't say how far you are moving the dirt. Moving it very far with a bucket is a slow process. Track loaders don't move real fast (those with dual speed move faster but still not as fast as a tractor).

    You might consider just piling the dirt close to where you are digging until you get the pond done. My biggest concern would be rain filling the hole before you have it done.

    If you pile it close to the pond, then you can get the pond done and move it at your leisure.

    Ken
    Pond is WAY to big to just dig and move dirt later, and there isnt really anywhere it could be temporarily put. I would have to say it is getting moved about 250-300ft. Water filling up the pond before it is done is unavoidable with the size of the pond. I have about 25-30hrs in it and I estimate about 1% of the dirt that is going to be moved is moved. Its going to get wet and im just going to have to let it dry out. A track loader cant be any slower than the back hoe at this point because we are having to go slow with the back hoe once its got a load on it.

  8. #8
    Elite Member Ken45101's Avatar
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    Default Re: Digging a pond with backhoe... Need advice

    Quote Originally Posted by futuresweets10 View Post
    Pond is WAY to big to just dig and move dirt later, and there isnt really anywhere it could be temporarily put. I would have to say it is getting moved about 250-300ft. Water filling up the pond before it is done is unavoidable with the size of the pond. I have about 25-30hrs in it and I estimate about 1% of the dirt that is going to be moved is moved. Its going to get wet and im just going to have to let it dry out. A track loader cant be any slower than the back hoe at this point because we are having to go slow with the back hoe once its got a load on it.
    Wow! You have a major project there and I don't think you have the right equipment to do it, nor will a CTL be adequate.

    You say you have 25-30 hours (3 days?) and are 1% complete? That means 300 days of work

    What if it doesn't dry out, but continues to fill?

    Some years ago, we had a 100' dia pond dug by a contractor. He used a large track hoe (excavator) and two pans (earthmovers) to move and distribute the dirt.

    Most ponds around here are done either with dozers or excavators, not backhoes or CTLs.

    Ken

  9. #9
    Super Star Member EddieWalker's Avatar
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    Default Re: Digging a pond with backhoe... Need advice

    When I dug my 3/4 acre pond, I used my New Holland 2wd 555E to do all the work. I found that if I dug low areas and left a higher area in the pond for driving on, those higher areas dried out for me. I would back in along my roads, dig out into the low areas and pile the dirt on the road. Then when I had about ten yards, give or take, I would drive out and come back in front ways to get a load with the bucket and back out with it.

    This worked fairly quickly at digging and removing the dirt, but with winter coming, I became panicked about the rains coming and started just dumping the dirt around the outside of hte pond. This really helped speed things up, and allowed me to keep digging until the rains shut me down. Fortunately I was done and just getting out as much extra as I could.

    I spent a full year hauling off that dirt a little at a time. Not having it in there meant that I was in no rush to get it done.

    I now have a 5 yard F600 dump truck. It's so much faster at moving dirt. I dig with the backhoe and load right into the bed. The real trick is to park the truck on dry ground.

    I think the track loader or skid steer will be a waste of time and money. Tracks are better at getting aroudn in the mud, but not great. Nothing is great at dealing with mud and sometimes you just trade one problem for another that is a lot worse.

    How big is this pond right now? How big will it be? How deep? What type of soil and who are you going to get water into it?

    Eddie

  10. #10
    Super Member Dargo's Avatar
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    Default Re: Digging a pond with backhoe... Need advice

    It took me 3 years, but I dug my 1 1/2 acre pond 20' deep with steep sides except next to the dock for swimming. The steep sides have completely prevented any cattails or the likes from growing. According to the calculations, I have about a 7 1/2' average depth; which is relatively deep. It would have taken me 5 years if I didn't rent a long stick 40 ton excavator with a 2 yard bucket and keep 4 dump trucks running 12 hours a day for the last 5 days of digging.

    I used my 955 Cat crawler and D6 to smooth out the dirt berm (not really a dam because it's just a big hole in the ground with natural springs). Once I got past about 10' deep the Cat and D6 were useless because I was spending more time and power just to get the machines back out than I was moving dirt. At about 20' deep the 'dirt' was pure gray clay. I mean pure gray, not even a hint of dirt in it. Talk about heavy!! I could only take about half a scoop with the excavator each bite and 3 of the 4 dump trucks couldn't dump a full load. Somewhere I have a picture of a tandem axle dump with the front tires about 8' off the ground. I used the Cat high lift to try to scrape the clay out of the bet and only succeeded in standing the dump on it's rear.

    The driver in that truck, a brother in law, wouldn't get out until we sat it back down. I had to drive the excavator over behind the dump to scrape the clay out while I had my dad use my 955 Cat hold the front of the truck up until the bed was empty and then slowly lower it down. Such fun....not!

    My trouble is that most of the 'pictures' are actually videos. Digital cameras were just starting to emerge then. I think Sony had a camera that would record pics on a 3 1/2" floppy disk, but that was about it.

    Anyway, without having at least 1 dump truck, it will take you years if you're going to build a pond of any size. If it does take a while, no big deal, just pump it dry in late spring and start digging. The shocker will be that you'll have to constantly shut your pump off and clear the chewed up fish from the intake. Seriously! Each year I had fish that were 4" or 5" long in the water. Theories vary, but the most accepted theory is that geese and ducks eat fish eggs in other ponds, fly to my water hole, drop their poo with fish eggs in it that are still viable.

    Get you a dump truck and good luck! I dug about a 1/4 acre pond for a friend earlier this year with my Takeuchi 145 mini excavator and his old Ford dump truck in one week of working afternoons until we couldn't see anymore. If he had 2 dump trucks running I could have dug it in half the time. It seemed like I was always waiting on him.
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