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#72551 - 07/17/06 11:00 PM Small Dozer - Capabilities??
GaryTexas Offline

Registered: 08/22/05
Posts: 79
Loc: Colleyville, TX
Not technically a pond question, but I figure some of you guys have real life experience with dozers.

I'm wondering what the capabilities of the smaller bulldozers are...the 40 HP models like the Mitsubishi BD2 or the Komatsu D20? With the price and hassle of hiring someone for 3 days a year for my various projects, I can almost justify buying a machine this size, but only if it is capable of some real work. It seems like there is always something I would like to do that ends up with the thought "Man, a dozer would make short work of that!".

I need to maintain my fence lines and do light clearing tasks. Will this size dozer knock down an oak tree with an 8" base? What size tree can a dozer this size handle? I have lots of mesquite, cedar, and smaller oaks that I would like to clear.

Any thoughts from you dozer guys out there??

#72552 - 07/18/06 12:57 AM Re: Small Dozer - Capabilities??
eddie_walker Offline

Registered: 11/23/05
Posts: 773
Loc: Just North of Tyler, Texas

I've never ran one that small, but I do have some experience on a John Deere 450G, which is a 70 hp dozer.

I had it about half a year and found it to be just about useless. I could take out small saplings and brush if I could get it around the trees, but just about any tree several inches thick, or larger would stop me. With allot of effort, it will take out trees up to a foot, but that was in the softer creek botom soil.

It was way too light for digging in clay. The blade wouldn't break throught the surface and it was too small to move any amount of dirt.

What it was good for was smoothing out dirt piles and shaping roads that were already done.

It's good in sand and it's good for house pads, but not if there's allot of digging. It's real advantage is that you can haul it with a one ton truck on a good trailer.

In my opinion, the 40 hp dozers are one step above totally worthless.

I have a 168 hp dozer now that does allot of damage to the country side, but it's limits on oaks are about a foot. Pines are allot harder to take out and if the land is dry, I can get 6 to 8 inch ones out. When the ground is wet, I can double the size of pines I can get out.

Any tree that doesn't come out with one or maybe two tries isn't worth the effort to take out with a dozer. Then you need a backhoe or trackhoe. I have a 80 hp 555E New Holland backhoe that I can take out any sized tree.

My dozer is also large enough to dig through the hardest clay. No rippers needed, just put the blade down and start digging.

I have my doubts on the effectiveness on any machine much smaller than my Case 1550 for clearing trees or moving dirt. Think Cat D6, or a JD 850.

Good luck,

PS Buying a dozer means always having something to wrench on and spend cash on. They are high maintenace machines that have very heavy, and expensive parts. Nobody will come out to help you fix it when it breaks, so you better be able to do your own repairs!!!
Lake Marabou http://www.pondboss.com/forums/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=139488&fpart=1

It's not how many ideas you have, but how many you make happen.

3/4 and 4 acre ponds.

#72553 - 07/18/06 02:20 AM Re: Small Dozer - Capabilities??
h20fwlkillr Offline

Registered: 01/18/05
Posts: 320
Loc: Holden, Mo
I wouldn't buy a small dozer. I would spend the money on a more versatile machine such as a Cat 277B. It is a smaller track loader that accepts all standard attachments. My excavator has one and I have used it alot. Easy to operate and very powerful for size. I used it to take out a 36" diameter oak with no problems. It is a very efficient digging machine. They are quite pricey new, but a used machine in good repair is affordable.
I'll start treating my wife as good as my dog when she starts retrieving ducks.

#72554 - 07/18/06 11:37 AM Re: Small Dozer - Capabilities??
Meadowlark Offline

Registered: 03/09/04
Posts: 3075
Loc: East Texas

I have a slightly different view than my respected DIY friends above.

The first pond I was involved in building was with a "pop'n johnny" and a hand operated scoop. Dad was on the tractor and guess who was on the scoop?

I would never say a small dozer is worthless. I would say that a small dozer has limitations, but within those limitations, is an excellent machine, and a far cry from the old hand scoop.

You wrote "I need to maintain my fence lines and do light clearing tasks." I have a Case 450C that is absolutely perfect for such tasks. I wouldn't own land without it.

Want to build a 10 acre lake? Limitations. Want to clear out virgin forests? Limitations. Need to move large volumes of clay in a short time? Limitations.

I'm currently clearing 70 acres of the thickest 5 year old clear-cut you can imagine. The 450 is perfect for my needs. I can take out trees to about 8 inches which is the prevailing size after 5 years.

I've renovated two ponds with the 450. You can see the dozer in action at this link which is the renovation of a 1/4 acre pond into a 2 acre pond.


The real beauty of the 450 size machine is that it can be hauled around on a flat bed trailer and a pick-up....as opposed to large 18 wheel type trucks/trailors required for larger machines. It can also be worked on by just about any competent tractor mechanic. When mine has a problem I can't solve, I just load it up and take it in to my tractor guy who can fix it. Parts are expensive, but the labor is the same as working on my tractor.

I'm not familiar with the Mitsubishi BD2 or the Komatsu D20 and my biggest concern would be availability of parts and expertise to work on them. As Eddie mentioned, they are high maintenance items and if you can't get parts and/or someone to help you if/when you have a mechanical problem beyound your capabilities, then the machine would be worthless.

If you want to operate mine, see the results of fence clearing, see the results of 70 acres of land clearing, or see ponds, you are welcome to visit Meadowlark ranch.

One final thought...safety. If you do decide to purchase or rent a dozer it is helpful to have an experienced operator kind of show you the ropes. You can get in trouble on a dozer...just as you can on a tractor. They are unforgiving.

Would I prefer to have a D6 or D8 size machine? Depends on the tasks and job requirements. For larger ponds, for moving large amounts of dirt in short times, yes absolutely a larger machine is more appropriate. That kind of machine I would probably rent for short term needs. For day-to-day property maintenance, fence clearing, light clean-up, pond maintenance and small pond building, and hurricane recovery, I love the 450 class machine.

#72555 - 07/18/06 01:27 PM Re: Small Dozer - Capabilities??
GaryTexas Offline

Registered: 08/22/05
Posts: 79
Loc: Colleyville, TX
Thanks for the help, everyone. I was concerned that the smaller machines would not be able to clear the size trees that I need, and would end up having to hire the work done anyway.

Meadowlark, your 450 is a 60 - 70 HP machine? I can find lots of the smaller dozers in the 10 - 14K price range, but the next level up (Case 450 and Cat D3) seems to jump to at least 20K for a decent used machine. There's something magical about 20K that makes me NOT want to spend.

Guess I'll just keep hiring my projects out to the local contractors. In my area, I've tried three different ones... only one of the bunch would I use again. Luckily, he was the one I used for my big pond expansion and he did a good job.

#72556 - 07/18/06 02:54 PM Re: Small Dozer - Capabilities??
BrianH Offline

Registered: 06/25/02
Posts: 417
Loc: Hico, TX
Hey Gary, my dad bought a Komatsu D20P (I don't know what the "P" stands for). At first I was dissapointed because it doesn't do much on hard dry soil. Then he bought an old D6.
Our dirt is about as hard as it gets but after it finally rained, the little machine did some work. I also learned how to work it better. Like Meadowlark said, its easy to haul and everybody wants to borrow it.
The D20P has a tilt blade so it works good on small cedar, ok on pretty big cedar and I've even knocked out some really big ones. The soil you have will make a lot of difference. Get one with an angle blade.
It also has pyramid pads for tracks so it worked good cleaning out a small pond. If I can walk on the mud it can walk on it too.
For digging a large pond, I couldn't have done it without the D6. I just finished the dam for a 1+ acre pond. I would push the first dirt out of the way with the D6 and then when I found clay/gravel mix that I wanted roads I would jump on the D20 and push up piles to be picked up by the loader.
All in all, the D20 is so versatile with the angle blade and pyramid tracks that I have plans for it lined up for a long time--if I can keep it from throwing the left track when I back up.

#72557 - 07/18/06 03:59 PM Re: Small Dozer - Capabilities??
ken Offline

Registered: 01/31/03
Posts: 350
Loc: ohio
for taking down trees the best an easiest way i found is with a BIG backhoe , not some little farm hoe. i have a john deere 500C , weighs about 18,000 lbs. i rented a D4 dozer with an angle blade , the earth looked like a war zone after taking out 10 trees in about an hour. i'm talking trees 6" to 20" easy and 50' to 70'. probaly 40 years of growth and very thick , mostly maples. i cleared about 8 acres of timber an sold them. back to my baby. you dig one side of the tree up , put the hoe on that side , lock her in , take the teeth of the bucket and dig in up high , then push it over. with the teeth dug in you can push the tree any way you what when it starts to fall. never use botton of bucket , it will just roll off. you have control with the teeth in it. move the hoe to be on side of stump , shave the dirt off the stump , you get a lot off from the side. pack the dirt that you shaved off with the bottom off the bucket , you can't even tell there was a tree there. i cut the tree in two pcs. , dragged it with the tractor to one spot out back to cut up for fire wood and burn the small limbs. the base of the tree i cut too about 28' to sell. use the tractor or the hoe depending how big the stump was , pile them up , let them set couple years. take the hoe and smack them around some to get rest of dirt off. repile them , pour some old use oil on them , wait couple days then light them , gone. if you leave about 3' of tree on the stump , you can put that in the bucket , curl it to pick up the stumps. i can drop ten or so trees in half hour , shave them and never even looked like there was a tree there. after couple rains , take hoe dump little dirt in each hole , then grade with grade box. worked great for me.
i only wanted to have some fun

#72558 - 07/18/06 04:45 PM Re: Small Dozer - Capabilities??
Brettski Offline
Field Correspondent

Registered: 10/07/05
Posts: 6922
Loc: Illinois
I am only an observer, but I did alot of it while watching both the track-hoe and the D-6 in action with timber.
The prep was similar for both; cut the roots. The track-hoe takes a bucket from the left side, a bucket from the front right side, an bucket or two from the close side, then pushes about 8 - 10 feet up, monitoring the cracking sounds and bending trunk reactions to make sure she don't snap off. It wasn't unusual to grab it from the far side and give a yank to loosen, but ultimately they fell away from the equipment. Use the bucket to sweep the spoil back into the hole.
The dozer...the tilting blade is the cat sass. It made me smile watching Red run that thing. He would bang fwr/rr, left, right, snapping it around like a kid pushing a tonka dozer. He would line up to the right of the tree, tilt the blade down at the root ball, and dig in to cut the roots....way down. Go to the other side and do the same. Then, straight into the trunk and push, ease off, push...down she goes.

#72559 - 07/18/06 06:04 PM Re: Small Dozer - Capabilities??
Meadowlark Offline

Registered: 03/09/04
Posts: 3075
Loc: East Texas
Originally posted by Brettski:

...The dozer... It made me smile watching Red run that thing.
Watch out my friend, you may get hooked...that's the way it happened to me.

The operator, seeing your(and my) obvious smile, turns to you and says "want to give it a try?"

Set the hook, reel 'em in, another dozer operator wanna be... ;\)

#72560 - 07/18/06 06:19 PM Re: Small Dozer - Capabilities??
dave in el dorado ca Offline

Registered: 04/26/06
Posts: 3261
Loc: el dorado ca
my bkg was exactly the same.....watching a seasoned pro, getting invited to hop on, and being fortunate enough to know good friends that get as much satisfaction out of teaching a newbie as they do operating the equip. most of my exp. grew on a D-4/joysticks.....incredible feeling to control so much iron w/ such subtle hand movements. also operated an older JD 550 w/ levers.....old school....very cool.
GSF are people too!


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