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#158500 - 04/13/09 07:06 PM bulldozer on a budget
boomer2 Offline
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Registered: 07/20/06
Posts: 51
Loc: Northern Alabama
If someone was on a budget, what is the smallest used bulldozer or model type, one could buy to build an acre pond?

I live in clay county with a few big rocks a few feet below the ground. Time is not a concern. Could a backhoe do the job?

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#158505 - 04/13/09 07:45 PM Re: bulldozer on a budget [Re: boomer2]
Chris Steelman Online   content
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Registered: 02/26/06
Posts: 1399
Loc: Red River County,Tx
I built my .4 acre pond with Komatsu D31 which is equivalent to a Catepillar D3. I wouldn't go more than one size smaller than that.

It also depends on how much dirt you have to move. Will the pond be excavated or are you building a dam? My pond was mostly excavated with a small dam. We used our backhoe with a 2 yard bucket to move most of the dirt.
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#158508 - 04/13/09 08:02 PM Re: bulldozer on a budget [Re: Chris Steelman]
boomer2 Offline
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Registered: 07/20/06
Posts: 51
Loc: Northern Alabama
Hi Chris,

I am planning on excavating most of the dirt. I have large pit to fill in and could use the dirt on other parts of my property. Is it possible to build a pond with backhoe?

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#158511 - 04/13/09 08:10 PM Re: bulldozer on a budget [Re: boomer2]
catmandoo Offline
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Registered: 08/08/06
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Boomer,

If I were building a one acre pond tomorrow, I'd call one of my friends to do it. I'd get someone in the excavating business. Even though I've got a lot of seat hours, I believe my friends could do such a pond in a fraction of the time that I could, and I'd have a better product.

If they are in the business, they will have more modern "toys" than you will ever hope to own. A good local excavator will be able to visualize gradients you'll never see. They will know the local soil. They will come in with a lot more equipment than just a dozer.

The second possibility is renting. But, for a one-acre pond, you probably need more than just a dozer. You really should have a way to move the dirt a long ways (trucks, loaders, etc.), and you should have a way to compact the mud (sheepsfoot).

I'm sure Otto can tell us a lot more. But for a one-acre excavation, I wouldn't want something smaller than a Cat D6-equivalent, just to push dirt.

Good luck,
Ken
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#158512 - 04/13/09 08:14 PM Re: bulldozer on a budget [Re: boomer2]
Chris Steelman Online   content
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Registered: 02/26/06
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Loc: Red River County,Tx
Yes but it will take you forever to do it.

If you have a one acre pond with an average depth of 6 feet. That means you are going to have to move about 10,000 yards of dirt.
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#158514 - 04/13/09 08:20 PM Re: bulldozer on a budget [Re: boomer2]
boomer2 Offline
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Registered: 07/20/06
Posts: 51
Loc: Northern Alabama
Hi Catmandoo,

I almost hired an professional to do my pond a couple years ago but the deal fell through on his part. After a few years, I realized that I could use a heavy peace of equipment to clean up my property. This year alone, I cut down over a 1000 small trees. It would have been nice to have a dozer do it. Plus, part of the fun is doing it yourself. Boys love big toys and I do have the playground. I just want to buy right toy that suits me and one that will not break my wallet.

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#158516 - 04/13/09 08:21 PM Re: bulldozer on a budget [Re: Chris Steelman]
boomer2 Offline
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Registered: 07/20/06
Posts: 51
Loc: Northern Alabama
Chris, how long did it take you to dig your .4 acre pond with a Komatsu D31?

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#158521 - 04/13/09 08:36 PM Re: bulldozer on a budget [Re: boomer2]
Chris Steelman Online   content
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I would say between 150-200 man hours.

We started clearing last March or April and just finished this February.
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#158522 - 04/13/09 08:42 PM Re: bulldozer on a budget [Re: Chris Steelman]
boomer2 Offline
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Registered: 07/20/06
Posts: 51
Loc: Northern Alabama
That seems about right. A contractor that I almost hired to do an acre pond said it would take him about 10 days with a D6 Cat. I imagine he was going to dig about 10 hours per day.

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#158523 - 04/13/09 08:44 PM Re: bulldozer on a budget [Re: boomer2]
bz Offline
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Registered: 05/09/05
Posts: 843
Loc: Minnesota
I dug a pond 100 feet in diameter, average 5 feet deep with my JD350 dozer in one long summer day. That's about like a D3 I think and it's only less than 1/4 acre. A larger pond will take disproportionately longer since you'll have to push the dirt farther. I think it would take me about 20 to 30 days to dig a one acre pond with that thing. I dug a 1/2 acre pond with a D4 dozer in two long summer days. The fastest digging I did was with a 36,000 pound Komatsu tracked excavator that I rented. It had a 2 yard bucket and about 36 foot reach I think. Even if I had to move the dirt two or three times it was faster than even the D4 dozer. I can't say how long it would take to do a one acre pond because I used it to make two ponds larger so I was digging in water. That is slow because you almost never get a full scoop. As far as I'm concerned that will be my main tool for my next pond. Dig when the dirt is dry so you can stack it high and move it more than once when I have to. I like doing it myself for the fun of it. I think any backhoe whill be too small and take too long. After using backhoes and excavators ranging from a 1/4 yard bucket to the 2 yard bucket I'd never attempt a pond with anything smaller than 2 yards per scoop with the longest reach you can get. Bigger would even be better. I managed to do my own ponds because I was just digging a hole into the water table and letting it fill up. Like other advice given here, if you are doing anything complicated like trying to build a pond above the water table or building a dam you better get professional advice at least if not help. My 2 cents.
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#158565 - 04/13/09 10:53 PM Re: bulldozer on a budget [Re: bz]
bobad Offline
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Registered: 06/02/05
Posts: 2365
Loc: Eunice, Louisiana
A good thing to know is that digging is easy, moving the dirt is the hard part. Digging a 1a pond with a D6 Cat or 650J Deere goes really quick. Getting rid of the huge piles of dirt are much more problematic.

A good way to kill 2 birds with 1 implement is to use a scraper, AKA earth mover. An 8 yard earth mover pulled by a large ag tractor can really dig AND move a lot of dirt in a 10 hour day. Even with a big scraper, distance is still a big obstacle, and you can still take lots more time transporting the dirt than digging it.
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#158575 - 04/13/09 11:26 PM Re: bulldozer on a budget [Re: bobad]
rexcramer Offline
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Registered: 12/31/07
Posts: 285
Loc: Birch Run, MI
Keep in mind a dozer is the most expensive piece of equipment there is to maintain. Its not if its going to break but when and how many times. This is especially true on used machines under $30k.

Excavating a pond with a dozer will result in a large, shallow pond. Its simply not possible to push dirt below the water table with a small machine. Get a D8 and now you can do some digging. You will also be burning 40 gallons per hour of fuel.

As a backhoe owner I will tell you they are not pond digging machines. They are a great jack of all trades machine but suck at pushing dirt and are too slow at digging for pond work.

Dozers are awesome but messy. Pushing trees over is fun, but cleaning up the mess and making it look decent is 10 times the work. Using a backhoe to go through the woods and pick trees out of the ground is slower, but a LOT less messy than a dozer.

Buy a excavator in the 320 Cat size range and a backhoe and you can do anything. Sell the excavator when you are done and keep the backhoe to make things look decent
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#158592 - 04/14/09 06:09 AM Re: bulldozer on a budget [Re: bz]
boomer2 Offline
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Registered: 07/20/06
Posts: 51
Loc: Northern Alabama
Guys, thanks for sharing all the pro's and con's with heavy equipment. I guess there is a lot more involved than just having fun pushing dirt. Even though I have considered it, I surely would hate to buy a large piece of equipment and spend thousands of $$ fixing her up.

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#158600 - 04/14/09 07:24 AM Re: bulldozer on a budget [Re: boomer2]
david u Offline
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Registered: 11/28/06
Posts: 359
Loc: denton & montague counties
Boomer, I faced the same problem. In 1999 I bought a place covered in Mesquite with a couple of sorry, shallow ponds. After getting some bids I found that I could buy a used crawler and pay a guy with a scraper to get the work done for the same cost as the bids. Long story short, bought a 1976 JD555 crawler, used it for 5 years, sold it to a neighbor, bought it back 4 years ago after buying another place, and still own it. They require constant maintenance and break down with some regularity, so if you don't like fixing the easy problems yourself(radiator hoses, leaking gaskets, ruptured hydralic hoses, welding broken metal parts) or paying someone to replace undercarriages,fix transmission problems, replace engines pumps: then don't do it!!
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#158605 - 04/14/09 07:51 AM Re: bulldozer on a budget [Re: boomer2]
eddie_walker Offline
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Registered: 11/23/05
Posts: 773
Loc: Just North of Tyler, Texas
Good advice. A dozer is about the most fun you can have when you get it, but after a few hours on it, the fun sort of fades away and it turns into work. Then when it breaks, and it will break down on you, it becomes your worse nightmare.

Cat classifies dozers in three catagories. Small, medium and large. The small dozers are finish dozers. They are under 100 hp or just over, and are primarily used for smoothing out dirt piles, small grading jobs and easy transportation. They are not for digging or moving dirt, though with enough time and effort, a small dozer will get the job done, it's just not a very good tool for that type of job.

To answer your question, I would think the Mitsubishi B2D dozers are about the smallest affordble dozers out there. I've seen them from $7,000 to $11,000. It really seems to be more of where they are as to what they sell for. The small Komatsu's are also in that price range as are some older Case and Deere 350 models. I think the Cat D3 is a step up and close to a Deere 450 in size, but with older machines, it's not so much comparing size as it is getting the best deal for your money. The biggest thing you will have to realize with smaller and older dozers is finding parts. Some are gray market machines, which mean they were sold new overseas and after so many years of use, they were shipped here and sold used. Machines made overseas do not always have the same parts in them as those made here or for the US market. It might be very difficult finding the right parts, but from what I understand, not impossible. That also means parts will cost more then comparable parts for similar US machines.

All equipment breaks down on you. If you are prepared to fix it yourself, then buying a dozer or other piece of equipment makes sense. Small things like hoses or hydraulic cylinders are common. Things like pumps, tracks, engines and drive line components also stop working on you and you will have to fix them yourself. Even if you have allot of money, and I have a friend who does, getting a mechanic out there to fix it for you is a game of patience and frustration. My friend owns several companies, has millions of dollars and is pretty generous in spending it. He has a Case 1150 dozer that threw a track. He spent a year having it fixed because all the mechanics that he contacted are too busy taking care of their big clients with dozens of machines. They can charge him double, and he'd gladly pay it too, but they can't risk losing their long term clients for the quick cash of fixing my friends machine. He's not going to do it himself, it's just not his thing, so he waits, calls other mechanics and waits some more to get it fixed.

When buying a machine for digging a pond, remember that when you are done with it, you can sell it. If you take care of it, and buy it for a good price, you can usually sell it for what you paid for it. That is of course if you buy a machine that others will want and there is a demand for it. If you spend more on a better piece of equipment, then you should be able to get your money back faster and easier when you sell it. I paid $25,000 for my dozer and have another $15,000 into it in repairs. I dug my pond and put several hundred hours on it pushing dirt and clearing trees. 500 hours is pretty close on that project. I've cleard land and made roads with it with another 500 hours on it. Right now, I'm leveling out a pasture and grading my drainage to feed my lake so it's gradual and natural looking. That's a 100 hour project and counting. There are hundreds of hours on it that I'm not remembering right now, but since I've had my dozer, I've put 2,000 hours on it. It's a Case 1550 that weighs 40,000 pounds and is 170hp, or what Cat calls a medium sized dozer. To hire this sized machine would be in the $100 an hour range. My neighbor has spent that on smaller dozers, so that number is pretty realistic. 2,000 hours at $100 an hour would have cost me $200,000 !!!!!! I still have at least another 1,000 hours of work to do with it, so the savings are significant if you need a machine for long term and can do the work on it yourself.

That said, I hate it and can't wait to sell it. hahaha

If you just want a one acre pond dug, then the real question is how much do you have to spend? Where will the dirt go? and what is the soil like?

A small dozer sucks and digging hard clay. Even with rippers, which are more money, it's just too light to dig into the clay. Then the blade is so small that you are barely moving any dirt. Dozer work is very repetitive and boring. You just go back and forth over the same ground until you get it right. Then chance positions and do it again.

A scraper will be the fastest machine for digging and moving the dirt, but the most expensive to buy and maintain. Owning one of them will make a dozer seem affordable. If you are hiring it out, a scraper would be ideal.

For just plain digging, an excavator is the best tool for the job. Unfortunately, it's the worse choice for moving dirt, and like has already been stated, digging is easy, it's the moving of the dirt that is difficult. With an excavator, you will also need a dump truck and a dozer or something to spread the dirt after it's dumped. If hiring it out, this is the combination that I would expect to find and be looking for.

For buying a machine and doing it yourself, a commercial loader backhoe is probably the best option. I dug my 3/4 pond this way. It took months of hauling the dirt out of the pond with the front bucket. I was worried about the rainy season coming, so I just dumped the dirt next to the pond to get it dug, then spent anther year, off and on, moving the dirt from there. The front bucket on most of them is one yard. Some machines are bigger and you can go up to about 1 1/2 yards, but you really pay allot more for that extra size and power. The standard, most common sized backhoes are in the 80hp range and weigh around 14,000 pounds. Mine is 2wd, whih is cheaper, but not as good as 4wd. The big advantages to 4wd is being able to work in wet conditions where 2wd just gets you stuck and you can't move. You can also fill up the loader bucker faster and easier with 4wd. When you hit areas that are hard pan, the hoe bucket will dig it up quickly and easily. I bought a small 5 yard, gas dump truck that I load with my hoe bucket on hard pan soil to haul off. It's the fastest way that I have to move allot of dirt around my land. But a dump truck is another expense and vehicle to maintain and repair. I hate it. hahaha With the front bucket, you can move one yard at a time, do it all day long and slowly dig your pond. If you have the time and the patience, it's very doable. Buy a newer machine, pay $30,000 for it and when you are done, sell it for $28,000 or even try to get what you paid for it. You can't rent a machine for that and even if you sold it for $5,000 less then you paid for it, you are money ahead in what you can do with it while you own it. Take out trees, remove stumps and build roads. Estimate hiring a loader backhoe to work on your land for $50 an hour, which is cheap and probably not realistic, but easy for estimating. In an 8 hour day, that would cost you $400 to hire it out, but if you did it yourself, it's just twenty bucks in diesel fuel. Ten yards an hour is one load every six minutes for 80 yards a day. it's not much, but with a little extra effort, you can do more in a day and get that up to 100 yards a day for 500 yards a week or more. If you have the time, this is probably the only real workable way to do it on your own for as little money as possible.

Before buying anything, I'd call in at least five contractors and see what they would charge to do it for you. If it's less then what you would expect to depreciate the cost of the machine and they can get it done in a week, it might be cheaper to hire it done. You never know with contractors, some are hungry and wanting work, others are busy and don't really care if they get the job or not since there is so much work out there. They are probably going to do the best job, but because they are in such demand, they will be the most expensive. But don't confuse expensive with good. Some charge more based on the style of your home, what you drive and how desperate they are for cash. In my business, there are allot who base the price they charge on the house they are working on. Fancy house means charging more money.

Take your time, do the research and don't rush into anything. I'm seeing some low hour machines going for some great prices at the local auction, so if you decide to buy, figure out what you want and what you have to spend. Know that first, and then take your time looking around and waiting for the right deal.

Good luck,
Eddie
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#158618 - 04/14/09 09:21 AM Re: bulldozer on a budget [Re: eddie_walker]
esshup Online   content
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Registered: 01/26/09
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+1what Eddie said. He pretty much covered all the bases. After digging (renovating) the pond myself and with a friend, he's spot on.

I needed to move the remainder of the dirt from the renovation, and dig some out of the pond that washed in, so I rented a wheeled backhoe. They dropped off a Komatsu, but after a day they replaced it with a JD 310SJ (the Komatsu had a leaking heater core). The JD had 25 hours on it when I climbed in it, 1 1/3 yd bucket on the front and they put a 24" bucket on the back. The JD uses about 1/2 of the fuel that the Komatsu did, and it moved faster because of being able to shift gears on the fly. I thought it was a pretty good deal @ $1800/month. They allow 176 hours/month and I'm hard pressed to get that many hours on it with having to move dirt to my parents house that is 8 miles away (via single axle KW dump truck). I think I moved close to 300 yds there in 4 long days by myself. (yeah, the loads were a wee bit heavy )

Don't forget if you rent, and the weather turns crappy, you'll be sitting because the dirt will be too sloppy to work.

4-wheel drive really helps in the softer stuff when you're moving dirt with the front bucket, but even with 4-wheel drive, you can get stuck and will need to use the backhoe to pull yourself out. You can find unseen things under ground as well - I broke thru the lid of an abandoned septic tank and almost tipped it over. I had no idea that it was there by the stable!

While you can do a lot of work with one, for final grading it is much easier with a dozer. Anything that has a suspension on it makes it more difficult. When you go to cut, the bucket loads the suspension and it starts to cut deeper. You constantly need to adjust the depth of the bucket to keep any cut areas flat. If the tires slip and dig in, that changes the depth as well. With a dozer, there isn't any suspension and that's what makes it easier.

I'm just finishing up the property now, and this wet Spring is killin' me! I'v had a finish dozer scheduled to come over and hit the area around the pond for over a month now and every couple of days we get hit with another batch of rain.

A friend has a Cat ASV 1480. While this can move and pack a lot of dirt quickly with a skilled operator it is VERY high maintenance. He's constantly fixing the undercarriage or something else on it. But, he was able to move/place/pack dirt that was being fed to him my a tri-axle dump truck and a single axle dump truck as fast as we could bring the dirt from the pond, which was 200 Yds away. There was 4 of us that day, one in the excavator, one in each dump truck and one in the ASV. He was able to keep up, but just barely.

IIRC, Otto said that the quickest way to move dirt less than 50 Yds was a dozer, any further than that and the pan scraper gets the nod.
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#158626 - 04/14/09 09:58 AM Re: bulldozer on a budget [Re: esshup]
jeffhasapond Offline
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Registered: 07/28/06
Posts: 7608
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Wow, great posts guys.

One of my clients in San Diego is an earth moving company. We use a softare to track all repairs and maintenance by each piece of equipment (and also of course to properly charge each job for the equipment hours that the equipment is used on). Maintaining a large piece of equipment (backhoe, dozer, excavator) is very expensive. Hydralic pumps can cost into the thousands of dollars and new engines or transmissions gets into the tens of thousands.
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#158652 - 04/14/09 12:22 PM Re: bulldozer on a budget [Re: jeffhasapond]
bz Offline
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Registered: 05/09/05
Posts: 843
Loc: Minnesota
Someone mentioned parts availability. For that reason I'd stick with brands and models sold in the USA. John Deere still sells important parts for my 30+ year old JD dozer and some of them are surprisingly cheap. I just bought a fuel pump for $28, head gasket kit for $80, an engine part for $8 that I thought would cost me $50. The fuel pump was cheap because my machine uses the same fuel pump that they still put on new machines today. But the point is that if you can get parts that's most the battle. Unfortunately when owning you don't have the option to just not fix the machine because you'd never recoup your original investment if you don't. So you're stuck and you pay what it cost. There is also a ton of used stuff out there for a name brand machine like JD. I can get most anything that isn't still sold by JD at used dealers. I agree with Eddie completed, I hate owning the thing but it sure has payed for itself over time if you're willing to keep it working. I paid $6200 for my little JD350 but have probably done $50,000 worth of work with it so far. I too can't wait to sell it but I bet I never will.
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#158718 - 04/14/09 08:37 PM Re: bulldozer on a budget [Re: bz]
catmandoo Offline
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 Originally Posted By: bz
I paid $6200 for my little JD350 but have probably done $50,000 worth of work with it so far. I too can't wait to sell it but I bet I never will.


Geeze, could that be my old JD350? I had a 1965 or '66 JD350 loader, with a welded roll cage. It was pale yellow, not the orange-yellow.


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#158729 - 04/14/09 09:32 PM Re: bulldozer on a budget [Re: catmandoo]
Dave Davidson1 Offline
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Registered: 01/04/06
Posts: 10234
Loc: Hurst & Bowie, Texas
I have been holding off from saying this but: There ain't no such thing as a dozer on a budget. The darn things are going to bite you one way or another.
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#158891 - 04/15/09 05:39 PM Re: bulldozer on a budget [Re: Dave Davidson1]
david u Offline
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Registered: 11/28/06
Posts: 359
Loc: denton & montague counties
There is lots of good info & advise on this thread regarding heavy equipment. On thing not discussed is the difference between a dozier & a crawler. IMHO, if a guy is going to buy only one piece of equipment, I would choose a crawler somewnat like this:


It's kind of small mid sized, 85HP, has a clam bucket & rippers. This allows you to carry dirt & load it in a truck. It allows you to pick up trees The rippers let you dig hard packed clay, then push or pick up. I think Cats are the top of the market, then JD & Case kind of in the middle. Komatsu is in there somewhere, but I'm not very familiar with them. I can easily get parts for this 1975 model. One other important issue is how to move these things. If you stay under 20,000lbs, you can move them yourself; otherwise, you have to hire a big rig(expensive). And you will need to move it to at some point to get it worked on. So, if someone is hellbent to own one, this the type I would recommend...du
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