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  1. #1
    Elite Member Richard's Avatar
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    Fullsized JCB Loader/Backhoe

    Default Terramite T-7 on the job

    Dad called a couple weeks ago. The power company came out & cleared some brush off his (95 year old) mother in laws side lawn and left a TON of stumps and brush. He wants those dug up so they can turn it into a regular lawn.

    Discussions on what kind of backhoe to rent, I told him bigger is always better. He ended up renting a Terramite T-7.

    I drove to Columbia, SC last week to help him.

    Now to keep in perspective, I have only worked two backhoe/loaders in my lifetime. Yes just two. First one was a rented (by me) kubota L-35 and the other is my now owned JCB 1550-B industrial (15 ½ digging depth). I had maybe 10 hours on the Kubota as my initial experience and I have several hundred now on “Brutus”.

    Enter the Terramite

    When they dropped it off I was discretely laughing. Turns out I was somewhat wrong to laugh at it.

    Yes it was a gasoline engine
    Yes it was a two cylinder Kohler engine
    Yes it is a single speed
    Yes the loader control seemed unsophisticated
    Yes the stabilizer controls seemed backward (lift up to lower & push down to raise.... with Brutus up is up with legs & down is down with legs)
    Yes the reach was “pathetic” but then again, it only dug to 8 ½ feet verses 15 ½ so I’m spoiled

    Given all those “shortcomings” when I put it up against what I’m accustomed to (that’s fair isn’t it? Putting up a (and I’m guessing) $20,000 machine in today’s dollars against something that cost $75,000 back in 1987???)

    Ok, with that all out of the way, I want to add that in NO WAY AT ALL, am I disparaging this nor any other machine it’s size.

    We had a work area about 20’ x 200’ as a guess. We were going to turn all the soil over and extract all the stumps.

    I got started bright & early. Seems the soil is VERY easy to work with and is sort of a mixture of dirt/sand rather than the clay I’m more accustomed to here in Knoxville.

    I started to dig/flip bucket after bucket. I came to my first stump. I was prepared to flick it out. Such wasn’t to be as again, this isn’t an 18,000 pound machine with like 11,000 pounds of breakout force (I forget what Brutus has).

    I ended up digging around this stump and it took me maybe 20 minutes or so. Turns out this foliage was some kind of brush that sends out feeler roots.

    During the whole process of digging this area up (and of course I forgot pictures), we dug up HUNDREDS and HUNDREDS of root shoots. It looked like a mass of snakes when it was all piled up.

    I hit another stump & this one was big, relative to the first several. This stump literally grabbed the Terramite and shook it all about. At this point I started realizing the benefit of “bigger is better”. Brutus would have snatched that stump out in 2 minutes TOPS whereas I was fighting it again for probably 30 minutes.

    The backhoe bucket was probably 12” wide and shallow. I’m very spoiled with a 2’ wide deep backhoe bucket. It took a LOT of scoops to dig & turn the earth.

    As I was fighting the above mentioned root ball, an interesting thing happened. The backhoe just stayed there like it was napping. It would not stand back up. I immediately knew we had an issue & started looking closer.

    Seems the wobble sticks aren’t designed very well. When you pull stick back to raise boom, it pulls the valve up. Well, not any more. What happened is the stick is connected to the valve assembly by a short threaded screw. The screw seems to be about 3/8” long. The female part of this (on the valve side) reamed out and the screw just popped out while the hoe was completely extended and laying on the ground. Hmmm... I was clueless as to how the rental guys would MOVE this thing, much less mount it onto their trailer.

    After a 3 hour ordeal of hardware store & otherwise tinkering on this trying to fix it, I realized it was beyond my tools at hand so the BEST thing I could try to do is get the hoe pinned back up so I can at least use the loader.

    I managed to screw the weak screw into hole and with a wrench lift it while trying to torque it sideways to jam it into it’s setting & thereby cause enough friction to hold onto the stripped threads & pull the valve up... IT WORKED!!!

    Pinned the hoe up and used loader to move a bit more dirt & smooth out what we were able to get done (hoe broke about 80% way through)

    Rental guy was cool about what happened. It was clear that it reamed out and shouldn’t have happened. IN fact, what he SHOULD have done was apologize to us and offer my dad some kind of recompense for the inability to use the machine. I think my dad felt we (I) got SO much more done than he expected, that he still got his money’s worth.

    Myself, I knew that if he’d spent the extra 50% on a larger machine, we’d have had the entire job done HOURS earlier rather than not being done at all.

    As it is now, he’ll have to rent something again and probably spend more money than if he’d just done it right to begin with.

    What I learned from this is first the obvious, a Terramite is not an industrial. That said, I WAS VERY IMPRESSED with what it really did do. Had the screw not stripped out, I could have finished the job.

    After the Terramite died, we (I) also had to dig four holes for trees that he’d been wanting to plant. I got to dig those by hand [img]/forums/images/graemlins/frown.gif[/img]

    My take on it is, it’s not something to be rented if you have other options. I think it might be better suited for the home owner who might have more time to do a project rather than have the clock ticking like you do in a rental situation.

    Others may disagree and that’s fine. All I do is ask you to realize my only experience as an operator/ower is coming from the perspective of using something MUCH bigger and as such, I really had no where to go but down in my expectations of what it might do.

    Would I WANT to rent a Terramite again? No
    Would I WANT to use something that sized for a full days job? No I’d much rather pay DOUBLE the price and get something more than twice as capable. It would make the job faster easier AND with less wear & tear on MY body.
    Would I prefer to disagree with myself on all the above and rent one in order to keep from having to dig holes by hand?

    I’ll let you figure that one out

    [img]/forums/images/graemlins/cool.gif[/img] [img]/forums/images/graemlins/wink.gif[/img]

    Oh, and yes, I DO love being spoiled with Brutus

  2. #2
    Bronze Member
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    Jan 2005
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    The NC High Country
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    BCS 850

    Default Re: Terramite T-7 on the job

    Excellent post Richard! Thanks for the very useful info.

    Our local rental yard has a 35-horse diesel Terra-Mite on their lot. It seems to get used a bunch, but I have not tried it out. Looking at the $1000 per week rental costs has convinced me to delay those backhoe projects until I can afford to take larger chunks of time off of work or (better yet) buy the right tool of my own, and use at my own pace.

    You stated that you had a kubota L-35 for ten hours. Did you get rid of it because it was too small / insufficiently powerful? How does the L-35 compare to the (smaller, gas) Terra-Mite? I hope it's at least a far cry better... The only L-35 owner I know personally runs a shrub & tree nursery, and it seems to do the trick for him, but that's in a primarily agricultural context (digging planting trenches, moving mulch, etc.).

    I'm looking at an L-39 for trenching/spring box/ road ditch/road culvert/ digging footers/ minor terracing tasks, but want to make sure that I scale my projects and equipment proportionally. Since the L-39 is at (or above really) the top of my equipment budget, making the right choice here is crucial.

    What do you think? One thing's for certain, I won't be renting or buying the Terra Mite T-7 that you describe...

    -otus

  3. #3
    Elite Member Richard's Avatar
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    Default Re: Terramite T-7 on the job

    I got rid of the kubota because the rental time was up.

    My 2 cents to you would be (if you have a number of decent projects) rent a full sized loader/backhoe so that you don’t have some little thing slow you down like those stumps did for me. There is ZERO doubt in my head that Brutus could have snagged those stumps out in 2 to 5 minutes each instead of 20/30 minutes each. The plant was probably 5 or 6 inches in diameter at the trunk so these were not large.

    I’d put the Kubota WAY above the Terramite. Now, I only used the L-35 and you are looking at the 39. The L-35 had VERY “twitchy” controls for the backhoe and my understanding is they’ve tamed that “all on or all off” tendency. I hope so. Also, with the L-35 I rented, it was TERRRRRRRRRRRIBLE on our hills during gear changes. It scared the Be-George out of me when I was on a slope and changed gears (can we all say freewheel backwards). To fix it I had to put INTENSE pressure on the brakes to hold the machine still during the gear change. I quickly learned to hate the brakes of that machine. And just so it’s pointed out, it was a VERY new machine as I recall…only a couple hundred hours so brakes had to be within tolerances.

    One thought for you given my understanding of the price of a L-39… maybe get something used like a full sized industrial that’s ugly but mechanically sound (Like Brutus), and get a different tractor for the tractoring.

    There have been times that it was GREAT bringing buckets of dirt over from the other side of farm using Brutus… hop off onto tractor with box blade already attached and get working on that. (used backhoe to collect/dig the dirt, loader to carry it and then tractor/boxblade to spread it out)

    I’d think if you did something like I (specifically) did with a single machine, it would take a LOT longer with all the equipment changes. You could probably get a larger industrial AND have it work better/faster for those tasks at hand.

    Just my 2 cents. Bet you’re glad you didn’t ask for a nickel’s worth [img]/forums/images/graemlins/blush.gif[/img]

    (I might also add I QUICKLY learned to not do any more gear changes on the hill even though the place was a mild slope and it slowed me way down)

  4. #4
    Silver Member willfick's Avatar
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    Default Re: Terramite T-7 on the job

    I also had occasion to use a Terramite a few years back. (In Columbia, S.C., for further coincidence)
    A suburban friend needed a new drain field in his back yard for his washing machine's mini-septic tank.
    My bh wouldn't have fit in his yard and I haven't a way to transport it, but I've at least operated one. So he rented the Terramite and I did the digging.
    I must say I was impressed with how much it would do. I think you're right; a stump might have stumped it, but I had just a few big pine roots to deal with. For something its size it would move a lot of dirt.
    The "right tool for the job," and all that.
    Wm

  5. #5
    Platinum Member
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    JD 5105

    Default Re: Terramite T-7 on the job

    just wanted to say nice to see other midlands folks here! I moved from Irmo to Saluda county. let me know if i can ever help you guys.

  6. #6
    Elite Member Richard's Avatar
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    Default Re: Terramite T-7 on the job

    The hotel I stayed at was in Irmo (or near it?) I was lost as the dickens lol.

    We worked in Lexington off of Old Hickory HIghway??

    Drove across the dam to get to the hotel and turned right instead of left (putting the dam behind me rather than in front of me)

    It was rather comical. Dad said turn Left/Left right (or some such) and what did I do but turn Right / Right/ left. I did not get ONE of the turns right

    [img]/forums/images/graemlins/tongue.gif[/img]

    Pretty lake too

  7. #7
    Super Star Member
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    Default Re: Terramite T-7 on the job

    </font><font color="blue" class="small">( Excellent post Richard! Thanks for the very useful info.

    Our local rental yard has a 35-horse diesel Terra-Mite on their lot. It seems to get used a bunch, but I have not tried it out. <font color="brown"> Looking </font> at the $1000 per week rental costs has convinced me to delay those backhoe projects until I can afford to take larger chunks of time off of work or (better yet) buy the right
    tool of my own, and
    use at my own pace

    )</font>
    **** ************
    <font color="red"> Looking </font> at that My BX 23 BH was paid for in less than 4 weeks of owning my tractor.

  8. #8
    Member
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    05 dk45se

    Default Re: Terramite T-7 on the job

    you could also look a a used KIOTI CK20. i have one and it is a little monster. i have moved lots of ROCKS and pulled stumps inmo

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