When trenchers were first introduced to the residential and commercial contractors, they rapidly became the backbone of the crew.  The time and labor trenchers saved when they replaced the pick and shovel was simply incredible.  The contractor was able to double the number of jobs his crew could complete in the same amount of time - or less.

The standard types of trenchers, whether dedicated units or attachments, they are versatile machines for contractors to have with them on the job.  They can be used for many different purposes, from digging valve box holes to trenches for drain pipes.  In areas that contain rocky soil, large roots, or other problems where the other machinery can't access the soil, the trencher will minimize downtime that was once spent digging by hand.

The many types of vibratory plows will offer even more labor saving options.  These plows eliminate the hand labor of having to lay the pipe and backfilling on numerous jobs.  Even though vibratory plows have taken their market share and are great for pulling pipe, trenchers are still very important for many different types of applications.

The impressive company Bobcat offers three different trenching attachments that are designed for use on the smaller skid steer loaders.  The attachment models LT102, LT203, and LT304 all have digging depths from 2 - 4 feet.

Mini trenchers The mini trenchers have been re-designed and finely tuned from the same concept that made standard trenchers so popular.  As the name suggests, they are lightweight, with the largest models weighing less than 400 pounds.  They are also compact, allowing you to put them in the back of an average pickup truck.

They will also dig a trench around 4 inches wide, and up to 13 inches deep, neatly laying the soil on side of the trench.  Without any trouble at all, you can cover pipe with the backfill, leaving a barely visible seam in the soil.

With time being money, these types of mini trenchers are the answer when working in tight or small areas, or on jobs that have a lot of trees or shrubbery. Mini trenchers have a turning radius of less than two feet and they will easily fit through most garden gates.  Jobs that would normally need a lot of manual labor will now save you a lot of time and man power.

If you do construction or excavation work, even gardening, you'll find trenching and plowing equipment to be essential to your work.  If you've never used these types of equipment before, you'll be amazed at just how much time you can save.

If you are just starting up your business, you'll find this type of equipment to be just what you need.  You won't need a lot of labor with a trencher, as you can do most of it yourself.  For saving time, money, and effort, trenching and plowing equipment is the way to go.

Digging trenches is one of the oldest types of work with both construction and excavating.  Prior to World War 2, trenches were dug by hand.  As workers dug the trenches deeper, the sides needed to be shored or supported, to keep the walls of the trench from caving in.  

Following the World War, several innovations were made in backhoes, and trench digging seemed to fade away as a profession.  By 1950, hydraulically actuated backhoes were developed, which make it possible to rapidly dig very deep trenches.  Resulting from the innovations with backhoes, and because there were no workers inside digging the trenches, the walls no longer needed to be shored.

All types of trenches have what's known as a stand up time.  This time is the amount of time that elapses from the time the ditch is dug until the time the trench walls start to collapse.  The stand up time is dependant on many factors, which include the type of soil, water content, trench depth, weather conditions, and whether or not the soil has been disturbed.  

The stand up time can be as short as zero seconds or as long as several months, as they are very difficult to predict.  Before the trench can be dug, someone must take soil samples as way of estimating the stand up time.  Keep in mind that the soil conditions can be dramatically different only a few feet from where the sample of the soil was taken.

After the trench has been dug, workers will go down into the trench, and perform whatever work is needed, such as laying pipe or installing telephone lines, welding pipe, or installing valves.  If the trench walls aren't supported, there is the possibility of the walls collapsing and trapping the workers in the trench.  Throughout history, there have been 100 - 300 people killed in the U.S. each year due to trenches collapsing.

The public has become very aware that industrial progress will often have negative side effects as well.  The place of engineers protecting the public from these types of side effects is a very controversial issue.  The use of trench boxes on the site, will help to ease this debate.

The trench box, also called a trench shield, may be placed in the trench to prevent failures from injuring workers. The trench box consists of two large plates, normally made from steel, which are parallel to the walls of the trench, and horizontal cross members which will hold the two plates apart.

The lower edge of the trench box rests at the bottom of the trench, with the top edge of the box extending above the top of the trench.  The workers will stay between the plates of the trench box, so that if the trench does collapse, the dirt will be stopped by the outside of the trench box.   As the work progresses, the trench box is pulled along in the trench with a backhoe or other machine.

When a project calls for a large excavation such as digging the foundation for a tall building, the supporting structure for the excavated walls will be specified in the plans.  The big problem with not using trench boxes occurs in cities, when water or sewer lines are being installed or repaired.  The engineer doesn't specify for the trench box in the plans, but instead leaves it up to the contractor.

Anytime you are going to be digging trenches or working in them, you should always use common sense and take your time.  Trenches can be very deadly, especially if trench boxes aren't used.  To be on the safe side, you should always use a trench box if you need to be in the trench.  If you don't need to be in the trench - do the smart thing and let the machines do all of the work.

There are always going to be times when, no matter how carefully an excavation company plans out a project, there simply isn't enough equipment on hand to handle the requirements of the project without running out of time.  The choices at this point are clear - rent the machines you need or go ahead and make the purchase.

It is however, not easy to make these types of decisions, thanks to several factors that you'll need to consider.  

Rental pricing

Its no secret that rental companies make a killing with the equipment they rent out.  Most companies will rent on a daily or weekly basis, which is good for them but can be bad for you.  Depending on what area you work in, the price can be very high or just right.

Depending on what type of equipment you need, the price to rent will vary.  Excavators and off road dump trucks are among the highest to rent, as they can cost as much as 12,000 dollars per month!  This may seem a bit outrageous at first, although if you own a profitable company and are working on a big project, you'll have problems meeting the price.

Buying

When you need more equipment and don't want to rent, you can buy your equipment.  Buying is the way to go if you plan on using the equipment more.  If you work on large projects on a frequent basis, you may want to look into buying the equipment you need instead of renting.

Buying will save you money in the long run, providing you are going to be using the equipment again.  If you need the equipment for one or two projects, you may just want to rent.  Sure you won't own the equipment, although you certainly don't want to buy something you won't be using.

Servicing

One of the great things about renting is the fact that company you rent from is responsible for fixing anything that breaks.  Your company won't be responsible for repairs, as you don't own the equipment.  If something breaks or goes wrong, simply call the company and they will come out there and fix the problem, as the price for repair is included in the rental contract.

If you choose to go ahead and buy the equipment, then your company will be responsible for the repair of the equipment.  As you probably know with owning other equipment, you'll need to do regular maintenance and service on the equipment.

Making that final choice on renting or buying is ultimately up to you.  You should always think about finances, and if you can afford the machinery.  If you don't have the finances or capital to buy what you need, you should go with renting.  Either way you go, you'll get the machines you need to complete your job and stay ahead of schedule.

The skid loader is a rigid frame, engine powered machine with lift arms that are used to attach a wide variety of labor saving tools or attachments. Skid loaders are normally four wheel drive with left side drive wheels that are independent of right side drive wheels.  With each side being independent to the other, the wheel speed and direction of rotation of the wheels will determine which direction the loader turns.

Skid loaders are capable of turning in their own tracks, which makes them very maneuverable and valuable for jobs that require the use of compact, agile loader.

Unlike conventional front loaders, the lift arms lay beside the driver with the major pivot points located behind the shoulders of the operator.  Due to the operator being in close proximity to moving booms and buckets, earlier models of skid loaders weren't as safe as conventional front loaders, particularly during entering and exiting.

Skid loaders today have fully enclosed cabs and other safety features that will protect the operator from injury.  Just like other front loaders, the skid steer can scrape material from one location to another, carry material in a bucket, or load material on a truck or a trailer.

Operation

A skid loader can sometimes take the place of a large excavator by digging a hole out from the inside.  The skid loader will first dig a ramp that leads to the edge of the hole.  Then, the loader will use the ramp to carry material out of the hole.  

The skid loader will then reshape the ramp by making it steeper and longer as the excavation gets deeper.  This method is very useful for digging under an overhead structure where the overhead clearance doesn't allow for the boom of a large excavator, such as those situations where you are digging a basement under a house.

The bucket of most types of skid loaders can be replaced with several specialized buckets or attachments, many of which are powered by the hydraulic system of the loader.  

History

The first 3 wheeled front end loader was invented by two brothers, Cyril and Louis Keller in their machinist shop in Minnesota back in 1957.  The Kellers built the loader to help a nearby farmer clean turkey manure from his two story barn.  The light and compact loader, with the rear caster wheel, was able to turn around within the length of itself, while performing the very same tasks as conventional front end loaders.

Down the road, the Melroe manufacturing company in Gwinner ND, purchased the rights to the Keller loader in 1958 and hired the brothers to continue their loader invention.  Resulting from the partnership, the M-200 self propelled loader was introduced at the end of 1958.  

The loader featured two independent front drive wheels and a rear caster wheel, a 12.9 engine and a 750 lb lift capacity.  Two years later, they ended up replacing the caster wheel with a rear axle and introduced the M-400 loader, which was the first four wheel skid steer loader in the world.

In 1962, the Bobcat name was added to describe the key features of the machine - touch, agile, and quick.  The M-440 was powered by a 15.5 HP engine and offered a 1100 lb rated operating capacity. In the mid 1960s, the skid steer loader progressed with the introduction of the M600 loader.

Years later, the Bobcat skid steer loader experienced quite a few changes, including the development of a hydrostatic drive system, enforced cab structures, radius and vertical lift arm configurations, deluxe instrumentation, and even heating and air conditioning.

In addition to the rubber tire skid loaders of today, there are now all-wheel steer loaders and even compact track loaders. Compact track loads offer less ground disturbance and feature better traction and control in soft, muddy, wet, and even sandy ground conditions.

A skid steer loader with backhoe attachment or a backhoe loader in general can be very productive if it is operated safely and efficiently.  The best way to get the job done safely and efficiently is to know yourself, the job site, and your equipment.

Even though the models of backhoes will vary, there are safety features with all of them that include steps and grab handles for getting on and off of the machine.  Backhoes also feature frame lock levers and attaching levers to keep the backhoe securely fastened to the loader frame during operation as well as transporting.

In addition to these standard safety features, there are some backhoes that provide a safety chain.  The safety chain will prevent the backhoe mounting frame from rotating backwards and unexpectedly trapping the operator, which can result in serious injury or death.  Therefore, it is always important to know and check all of the mounting and attachment points and the safety chain before you operate the backhoe.  

If you've attached the backhoe to the loader, you should take a moment to inspect it and perform any necessary maintenance.  Check for broken or damaged parts, also making sure to check for leaks, cracks, excessive wear, and check the control levers.

The warning and safety signs and instructional decals are very important and will help you to avoid injury.  You should always take them seriously and replace any damaged or missing decals.

Every 8 hours or so, you should grease all of the zerk fittings, and check the hydraulic fluid and oil and a daily basis.  If the fluid is low, the backhoe will not operate.  Therefore, you should always take the time to check your machine.

Anytime you have to leave the operator seat of the backhoe, you should lower the bucket or attachment to the ground, turn the engine off, remove the ignition key, then exit the machine.  

When the time comes to drive to the next job site, you should always make sure that you have fully raised both the front and rear stabilizers and make sure you've put the backhoe seat into the "down" position for better visibility.  Before you drive off, make sure that you've installed the transport locking pin.

Here are some other things to keep in mind:

-  Always select the right size bucket for the job.

-  Stake out the work area that is going to be excavated and use flags to mark the area.

-  Never work in areas that have inadequate overhead clearances.

Always make sure that you keep bystanders or other workers out of the swing area.  If anyone gets in the way of the boom swinging, they can very easily get injured.  The machine has no feelings, therefore you should always be aware of who is around you and where they are standing.