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  1. #1

    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, Bobcat 331 or W-N 3503 mini excavator with a straight push blade for $570/week and $100 dropoff/pickup:

    Wacker_Neuson Compact Excavator for rent, Construction Equipment for Rent at Longhorn Equipment Rental
    Mini Excavators Bobcats for rent, Equipment Rental from Austin tx to San Antonio tx from Longhorn Equipment Rental
    Mini Excavators for rent, Equipment Rental from Austin tx to San Antonio tx from Longhorn Equipment Rental

    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; 10-07-2009 at 03:30 PM.

  2. #2
    Gold Member
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    Default Re: Central Texas Mesquite Clearing/Pond Digging: Midsize Dozer vs. Mini Excavator

    i think the dozer will do the best overall job. if your yellow clay is like our red clay the dozer should be able to dig threw it. around this area, people don't need a back hoe until they hit shale. w/ the excavator you'll be able to dig the pond deeper quicker, but unless you have a truck or trailer to put the dirt in, you'll end up having to move the dirt, adding to the work. at least w/ the dozer, you can immediately move the dirt away from where you're digging. as far as the mesquite root system, i've seen people use pallet forks on quick attaches to dig up roots and stumps. of course if your tractor doesn't have a FEL that won't work.
    Slow is smooth, smooth is fast.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Central Texas Mesquite Clearing/Pond Digging: Midsize Dozer vs. Mini Excavator

    Quote Originally Posted by perdurabo View Post
    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.

    In all honesty those prices are not that bad, think of their cost and time plus fuel grease etc..



    On too the problem at hand, excavator VS dozer for pond work. Hands down excavator will run circles around the dozer as far as actual digging of any pond. A good operator can handle moving the dirt also without a dozer{especailly on a pond this size}. Now if you want the real winning situation both would be great. You can dig out the pond then push back the dirt with the dozer. I own both and have done ponds both ways, but if I had to just use 1 machine, no question, excavator moves more dirt faster and is allways a better answer for pond digging. This is just my opinion, but I have used old tractors old dozers bigger excavator and mini's for pond digging. I would allmost bet once you use the excavator you'll wonder why you even thought about a dozer.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Central Texas Mesquite Clearing/Pond Digging: Midsize Dozer vs. Mini Excavator

    When I had my pond dug, they used an excavator and dozer together. The excavator would dig and loosen and the dozer would push the material out. It was a very effective use of both machines.

    Excavators are not good at moving material but are great at loosening and reaching. The dozer isn't good at digging but is great at moving material. Essentially, the dozer would back into the bottom of the pond and then push out the material the excavator loosened as it drove out.
    I plan to screech to a sideways stop at heavens gate, jump out with a cigar in one hand, a scotch in the other, yelling "WOOHOO!! WHAT A RIDE!!!"

  5. #5
    Veteran Member theboman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Central Texas Mesquite Clearing/Pond Digging: Midsize Dozer vs. Mini Excavator

    This sounds like we need to hear from Eddie Walker!

    A mini-excavator for a week for $670... BARGIN! It's $220+ per day here for 8 hours and that's those tiny ones that dig about 8-9' deep. I could do a lot with one in a week...but for that price I could get an operator on a BIG one to rip out all my stumps, dig a couple ditches for tile..... Anyone got $1,000 to give me until I win the lottery?
    Bo McCarty
    THE BO-MAN, er BO-DADDY

  6. #6
    Silver Member
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    Default Re: Central Texas Mesquite Clearing/Pond Digging: Midsize Dozer vs. Mini Excavator

    We had dozer work done this last March by Jerome Rabbe 361-772-6761.

    He re dug two tanks, two foodlplots and 2000 ft of fence line.

    My brothers place is east of 1322 in the Sand Hills and has a good mix of red clay, yellow clay and lots of sand.

    We were extremely happy with the work done. Both tanks have held water through the drought, we can now put up 2000 feet of fence at our leasure and not worry about clearing with chainsaws, and the foodplots are attracting deer and turkey.

    It's worth the money.

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