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  1. #1
    Bronze Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
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    76
    Location
    Knoxville, tn
    Tractor
    Kubota L3200 (2012)

    Default small tractor backhoe - in clay???

    I live in a very clay area of Tennessee. I'd like to do some digging, but wondering if a small tractor type backhoe is up to the job in clay.

    On the one hand, I would think that if you take just small bites of the earth with each "scoop", it is possible to get fairly deep... just a little slower.

    Not sure though, I would be mightily impressed if, say, a BX25's backhoe could do the work in tough clay.

    BTW, I have no experience with tractors but can see that I will need one on my new land acquisition!

    Thanks
    Ohbehave

  2. #2
    Veteran Member
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    Jan 2010
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    1,605
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    Piedmont, NC
    Tractor
    Kubota L4610 & BX2230, Farmall Super M, Super A

    Default Re: small tractor backhoe - in clay???

    The issue with, say, a BX-sized backhoe is that everything about it is small. The short reach means you can't place the spoils far from where you dig, so you'll have to take time out from digging to reposition and to move the spoils with the FEL more often. The smaller hydraulics and lighter weight mean it doesn't have the digging power of a larger machine. That could be important if you're in hardpan or really hard, dry clay, for example, or if you're removing stumps and such. If you're in softer material, it probably will work just fine. If you have small projects, the little units can be perfect; if you've got bigger chores, you'll probably want a bigger tool. That said, there have been any number of owners that have done some very impressive work with those little machines. I'd suggest you arrange to actually use one at a dealer before signing on the dotted line.

  3. #3
    Super Member radioman's Avatar
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    May 2008
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    5,527
    Location
    Ontario, NY
    Tractor
    Kubota BX24

    Default Re: small tractor backhoe - in clay???

    I dug in clay with my BX at different times with varying levels of moisture. I can tell you this -- its miserable digging if it really wet as it sticks to the bucket but digs fine. I know its the same with larger BH's. When I was digging in middle of drought - at first, I had to stratch the surface to break through the crust and it was easy digging after that until I hit the hardpan. I just make lots of puffs of dust scraping it.IIn my area, hardpan is about 40 to 56 inches deep and that is pretty much the limit of the BX BH reach anyways. When the clay has the right amount of moisture - I can dig and dump just fine.

  4. #4
    Super Member mguitas's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
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    5,569
    Location
    Schuylkill County Pennsylvania
    Tractor
    Massey Ferguson 1423 Hydrostat

    Default Re: small tractor backhoe - in clay???

    I dug clay also, backhoe worked fine. My bucket is 12 inches.
    Massey 1423, 1462 loader, wallenstein Ranch ho gx620, with subframe mount.

  5. #5
    Veteran Member
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    Jan 2010
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    1,605
    Location
    Piedmont, NC
    Tractor
    Kubota L4610 & BX2230, Farmall Super M, Super A

    Default Re: small tractor backhoe - in clay???

    I should also add that I have regretted not getting the backhoe with my BX so many times, even though we have another large BH. The small size has some very great advantages.

  6. #6
    Super Star Member LD1's Avatar
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    Apr 2008
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    10,141
    Location
    Central Ohio
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    Kubota l3400

    Default Re: small tractor backhoe - in clay???

    Clay is miserable no matter what sized machine in terms of coming out of the bucket. But it digs pleanty easy as it is soft. I have a 36" 1/2 yd bucket on my BH, And it sticks in it pretty good
    ".........there is only one way to find out."
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  7. #7
    Super Member
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    Sep 2000
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    6,548

    Default Re: small tractor backhoe - in clay???

    Quote Originally Posted by LD1 View Post
    Clay is miserable no matter what sized machine in terms of coming out of the bucket. But it digs pleanty easy as it is soft. I have a 36" 1/2 yd bucket on my BH, And it sticks in it pretty good
    Yes, WET clay is a royal PITA! Sticks in the bucket and is a bother to get out. I've shoveled out the BH bucket many times when digging wet clay it forms a suction and just won't come out. Grrrrrr. But DRY clay crumbles and comes out nice. I just LOVE digging in our dry clay, full bucket every time and it makes a nice mound, etc etc etc. Just make sure you're done before it rains in the hole, cuz it goes south quick after a rain.

    The size of the machine dictates the speed you can dig, depth, reach, etc. You will have to move frequently with a small machine, b but can do a lot.

  8. #8
    Silver Member Dusty1's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
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    100
    Location
    Athens, OH
    Tractor
    John Deere 410 LBH

    Default Re: small tractor backhoe - in clay???

    Spray the inside of your clean bucket with silicone before you start work, it helps a lot to keep it from sticking.

  9. #9
    Veteran Member
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    Jul 2004
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    1,628
    Location
    Bancroft, Ontario
    Tractor
    JD4300

    Default Re: small tractor backhoe - in clay???

    Just read a thread about welding chain to the inside of the bucket. When you dump the chain tightens and the clay falls out, as you curl to scoop the chain loosens and lets you fill the bucket. Gonna try it next spring on my JD 12" bucket.

  10. #10
    New Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
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    2
    Location
    Houston,Tx
    Tractor
    John Deere/990/2305

    Default Re: small tractor backhoe - in clay???

    I've got a small PTO driven groundbreaker backhoe. I don't have much experience in wet clay, but in dry clay, with the teeth... not so bad. Granted, I'm not going to win any races, but I can get the job done.

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