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low cost front end loader for light use?

woodturner9's picture

Thinking about getting a light front end loader for light digging, but mostly moving gravel, etc.


Thinking about a lawn tractor with a small bucket.  I'd like to keep the cost under $1K.


 


Anyone have any experience or advice to share on the feasibility of this?  Any other options I should consider?



Thanks.


 

(post #81629, reply #1 of 36)

I'd like to keep the cost under $1K.


Rent a skid loader for half a day, whenever you need it.  Or one of those smaller walk-behind track loaders. 


Rentals are the best answer for many contrators because we can pinpoint the need and get just the right machine, for just the time required. 


Check www.ironsearch.com to get an idea about pricing on used equipment. 

(post #81629, reply #2 of 36)

Rent a skid loader for half a day, whenever you need it.  Or one of those smaller walk-behind track loaders. 


I have done both, as needed, but the cost runs about $250 a day around here.  Often we need 4 to 8 hours of machine time spread over several days, and often there isn't a way to batch the work to do it all in one day.


So at $1K or so, it's in the range of alawn tractor with bucket.


Much of the work is at my own property, or jobs in my neighborhood, so transportation is not really an issue.


I'd love to own a Dingo or similar walk behind - but at $9K to $12K, I'm better off to rent those, and I don't really need a heavy machine for much of what I do.

(post #81629, reply #3 of 36)

If you find a used lawn tractor with a front end loader for $1K, I'll suspect you stole it from a recently widowed lady who can't read and never leaves the house. 


Lemme know if she has more than one. ;-)


 

(post #81629, reply #4 of 36)

 

If you find a used lawn tractor with a front end loader for $1K, I'll suspect you stole it from a recently widowed lady who can't read and never leaves the house. 


 


I was surprised to find that new prices aren't much more than that.  Sears is currently selling last year's models new for around $800-$1500, add a bucket at around $300, and for something like $1500 you have a light duty loader.


I'm hoping by buying used I can get a little more tractor and a hydraulic rather than manual bucket.

(post #81629, reply #13 of 36)

Sounds like you need a teenager with an empty wallet and a new girlfriend to motivate his earning power. 


Seriously, if you just need a few wheelbarrows of gravel, buy a good wheel barrow and quality long handled, pointed shovel. 


I own an old wheelbarrow (bought it new in '72), several long handled shovels and a couple of trenching shovels.  I'm happy to have occasion to move some dirt in a wheelbarrow.  If it's more than a few cubic yards and it needs to be moved right away, I'll get some help. 


 


 

(post #81629, reply #16 of 36)

I own an old wheelbarrow (bought it new in '72), several long handled shovels and a couple of trenching shovels.


I just bought a Festool (metric) digital wheelbarrow and it's better than any wheelbarrow ever made. Wheelbarrows have come a long way since '72.  plus, if you act now, you get a good deal on the matching shovel:-)

(post #81629, reply #17 of 36)

Can I get a kick-start teenager with that?

(post #81629, reply #18 of 36)

Can I get a kick-start teenager with that?


No longer available in the US market.

(post #81629, reply #32 of 36)

Can I get a kick-start teenager with that?


No longer available in the US market.


Too true.


They only are available in self-starting or non-starting.


Can't put a boot where it really belongs or CPS will getcha. too


Occupational hazard of my occupation not being around (sorry Bubba)
I may not be able to help you Occupational hazard of my occupation not being around (sorry Bubba)

(post #81629, reply #23 of 36)

I took your advice and got the festool digital wheelbarrow with the matching shovel. I had a dollar three eighty off coupon ,saved me big bucks.You are absolutely correct, this is the excavating tool of the new century.I dug two foundations yesterday,could have done a third but supper was ready.


thanks ,mike

(post #81629, reply #12 of 36)

try craigslist.org i have had great luck with it ,and you shop local... CJ

(post #81629, reply #5 of 36)

(post #81629, reply #6 of 36)

(post #81629, reply #7 of 36)

Your budget makes things tuff.  But twere it be me, and I've been there,


I'd go to a Kubota dealer that has a inventory of old traded in machines.  You may get lucky and find what you need like that, I've found that better material transfer occurs with a back shovel on the 3 pt hitch - considering the size of tractor.  Like 16 HP.


 

(post #81629, reply #9 of 36)

woodturner9


 If you want a work tool buy a used skid steer.. the lawn tractor is a toy that will break often if you use it like a tool.


  I can't begin to explain to you how tough ground engagement equipment is used. and the wear and tear it experiances in it's life!

(post #81629, reply #10 of 36)

 lawn tractor is a toy that will break often if you use it like a tool.


Frenchy and I dis-agree on a lot of stuff and agree on a lot also.


Pay attention to what he says in the above quote, I agree 100%.


You can throw away $1K or watch for something in the $6 to $8K range and get a full sized backhoe or track loader - ya need to have some machinery repair skills though or be willing to learn. 


When I was 25, could do more by hand with a shovel than the 8HP garden tractors with a scoop.


My 85 Yo neighbor has downgraded in the last few years from his full sized dozer, backhoe, and dump truck to a small Kubota loader/tiller/plow - for which he paid $10K used!  All he does anymore is build greenhouses, heavily truck farm 2 acres, not much <G>? My Pop was already dead by then.


Unless you are > 20 years older than me or Frenchy ( Frenchy is near 60, me a few more) do not buy a toy.  At Just 60 something, I'm thinking of buying a telehandler just for DIY on account of Frenchy's advice.

(post #81629, reply #15 of 36)

>>I'm thinking of buying a telehandler just for DIY


What....? You're not going to make one?!

(post #81629, reply #11 of 36)

how handy are you?  i have a  ford  think it's a CL40 (v4 water cooled) skid steer in one of my warehouses  i got it for an "extra" purchased it out of a guys yard... drove it to the warehouse... and thats it... it takes 15" tires  the guy had the tires off his jeep on it so it needs a set of tires.. i don't have a clue what else it might need but it was working when i pulled it in..  so it's been out of the weather anyway...  I was just about to list it for sale... since i purchased a new (to me) bobcat and i still have my old bobcat... i can't see me ever needing this one...


i want $1500.00 for it... i know you'll need tires, and a battery, i have the rims... it comes with a bucket 60" i think... it's in ok shape... and i have a set of forks for it also... it's a high lift model so that it can dump stuff into the bed of a normal dump truck...


if anyone else is interested let me know... if i put it on ebay i'll have to find some tires and stuff... not sure i want to mess with it


p

(post #81629, reply #14 of 36)

Definitely interested - sent you an email.


 


Thanks.


 

(post #81629, reply #27 of 36)

Ponytl I am interested in the skid steer give me a call and I will come out and look.


ANDYSZ2 (335-5300)


WHY DO I HAVE TO EXPLAIN TO FRIENDS AND FAMILY THAT BEING A SOLE PROPRIETOR IS A REAL JOB?


REMODELER/PUNCHOUT SPECIALIST


 

WHY DO I HAVE TO EXPLAIN TO FRIENDS AND FAMILY THAT BEING A SOLE PROPRIETOR IS A REAL JOB?

REMODELER/PUNCHOUT SPECIALIST

 

(post #81629, reply #19 of 36)

Hi Woodturner,


Depending on you needs and what you mean by "light digging".  You really do not dig with a loader, you dig with a backhoe.  Have you thought about one of those back hoe trailer units that are just the back hoe unit only?  Given your $1000 limit that may be the way to go here. 


I bought a small  (used) loader/backhoe when I started to remodel my home about 5 years ago.  I spent around $10K on  it, and it has paid for itself at least 3 times now.  I always figured that I would sell it when I was "finished"  with the outside work.  At this point,  I may keep it, as it is such a useful tool to have.


 


 

(post #81629, reply #20 of 36)

Depending on you needs and what you mean by "light digging".  You really do not dig with a loader, you dig with a backhoe.  Have you thought about one of those back hoe trailer units that are just the back hoe unit only?  Given your $1000 limit that may be the way to go here. 


I bought a small  (used) loader/backhoe when I started to remodel my home about 5 years ago.  I spent around $10K on  it, and it has paid for itself at least 3 times now.  I always figured that I would sell it when I was "finished"  with the outside work.  At this point,  I may keep it, as it is such a useful tool to have.


A lot of what I would use it for is moving gravel, etc.  However, I have used the front bucket on a terramite for digging out a hillside, etc.  I agree that a backhoe is better for digging, but I think a tooth bucket will work for what I need.  The dingo I rented last summer had only a tooth bucket and successfully dug out a hillside with tight quarters where a larger machine wouldn't fit.


I've thought seriously about the terramites that show up on craigs list around $7K to $8K.  My concern is that I would not use it enough to justify that much cost.  In addition, the terramite is a TLB, with the inherent shortcomings - and it scares me a bit when you dump the bucket and the front end kicks up, even with the "wheely bar" (the backhoe).  Finally, the terramite had difficulty climbing even what amounts to a "slight"  hill around here.


I'm thinking the skidsteer may be the better choice.  I'd also like something I can use to clear the snow from the driveway in the winter, so it needs to be able to climb a relatively steep driveway.  It would be nice if it could climb the hills common in this area, but there are work-arounds for that - I had to build a ramp to get the rented terramite up the fairly short but apparently too-steep hill.


I've also thought about building one of the small skidsteers or towable backhoes, but that's another project, another 150 hours or so of work that is essentially a tangent for me, and I'm not convinced they are powerful enough to do what I need.  That, and I would need to learn to weld :-)


I appreciate all the thoughts and ideas, though - please keep them coming!!


 

(post #81629, reply #21 of 36)

I have never had much luck with skidsteer digging with them.  Loading up gravel etc. is what I thought they were designed for

(post #81629, reply #24 of 36)

I have never had much luck with skidsteer digging with them.  Loading up gravel etc. is what I thought they were designed for

 


Thanks for the comments.


 


Looks like the skidsteer another member offered isn't going to work out - it's 800 miles away from me and needs tires and a couple of other things to get it going.  Great deal, just too much distance and time for me to handle right now.


It does sound like I really need a backhoe. I've been watching the ads, just missed out on a towable backhoe over the weekend.  After reading comments on the web, though, sounds like the towable backhoes may not be the best choice.


So I'm back to looking for a decent TLB at an affordable price.  Finding some very old, very large TLBs, but not a smaller one like a terramite at a reasonable price.  The search continues.


In the interim, I guess I will have to keep renting and "bunching" jobs as much as I can.

(post #81629, reply #25 of 36)

Having torn up the front end of farm tractors with loader work, I went to industrial loaders.  Much cheaper, designed for loader work.  Skidsteers are too tippy for me, and too popular with contractors to be cheap.


My rubber-tire Cat's considerably larger than what you want, but I'm pretty sure there's still a 4x4 2 counties N of here.  Gas engine (tells you the age) with a 5' bucket, $1500 last time I looked at it with a friend.  Owner couldn't be bothered to start it for us, just pointed out its location.  My friend looked, and ran.


These small older loaders exist most places, still have lots of work left in them.  Dual axle trailer adequate.  Will not be clean and shiny or dealer supported.  If you need that, rental looks very good.


PAHS Designer/Builder- Bury it!

PAHS works.  Bury it.

(post #81629, reply #26 of 36)

These small older loaders exist most places, still have lots of work left in them. 


Any suggestions on how to find them and what to look for?  I don't really care what it looks like, just looking for a usable machine for infrequent use.



Thanks.


 

(post #81629, reply #28 of 36)

Craigslist is a good place to start, both reading and advertising your interest.  Then there are the ad-only newspapers.  That's where I've found all of my mine.  An incredibly cheap motorgrader came my way by networking.


You're aware of the many tractor forums on the internet?  All of them have For Sale sections.  Those same forums will be invaluable when you need a repair.  Ebay and other auctions I generally avoid, you can't test drive.


Old industrial loaders have very little value here.  I'm assuming similar where you live.  One thing you will discover is that most will be larger than you probably want to live with.  Small is unusual, but exists.  Now that I think about it, you'd probably be very happy with a Hough.  Often called a payloader.  Quite a few around, 2x and 4x. 


The guy I bought my Cat from tried to sell me a larger one for surprisingly little more money- tractor in much better condition.  But it had a 12' wide bucket,  wider than my driveway.  And the cab was 13' tall, meaning I'd have had to trim a few hundred trees.


Patience is required, persistance will be rewarded.  Take a peek at what I got for $6k.  Which was only a decent price, not a steal.  I looked at a number of tractors over a several month period.  40-50 yr old tractors.  Still going. 


This is if you're willing to be a little more flexible in your price.  I didn't say anything about your original suggestion, finding it unreasonable.  One thing you will discover if you buy one, there are lots of folks with something heavy to move, willing to pay if you're interested.  Every tractor that lives here had somebody else pay for it. 


I'm no expert, but feel free to ask specifics about anything you find.  I had the great fortune of having an incredibly experienced Aussie guide my search.  I'd be happy to try to give something back.   


PAHS Designer/Builder- Bury it!

PAHS works.  Bury it.

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(post #81629, reply #29 of 36)

This is if you're willing to be a little more flexible in your price.  I didn't say anything about your original suggestion, finding it unreasonable.


Thanks for your comments.


Yes, I'm realizing that I will probably need to go somewhat higher than I hoped. The question is at what point is the cost high enough that I am better off just to rent as needed.  $5K -$6K is still in the buy range for me, but probably about the limit.


I have seen some older equipment on craigs list, but it's much larger than I can practically store.  I really want something I can fit in the garage, so I don't annoy my neighbors too much.


I did find some tractor forums, but if you have specific ones to suggest, please feel free.



Thanks again.


 

(post #81629, reply #30 of 36)

Yeah, I have more space available than most.  And no close neighbors.


You don't need to spend anywhere close to $6k.  A Hough wouldn't run much over a couple thousand, from anybody interested in selling.  A buddy here bought one for $1.5k.  The one in that picture, if it wasn't too high (and they don't all have roofs) would fit into half of a double garage.  Unlike my 23,000 lb Bertha with her 8' wide bucket. 


http://www.ytmag.com/ttalk/wwwboard1.html is a huge site, couple dozen forums.  Most inappropriate for you, but look around, especially at their For Sale part.  That's where I snagged the Hough photo: http://www.tractorshed.com/contents/adpic2224.htm  an ad looking for the best price by 1/15/05.  Certainly reasonable to contact the owner to see if he ever sold it.  You'd have to cut off the (clearly not original) top, but the bucket's probably 5-6' wide, same as the tractor.


Not to focus on Hough, but there's probably a forum just for them if you search.  Unfortunately I don't know a lot about smaller loaders, don't remember who manufactured the one I looked at here.  Certainly Case made some smaller loaders within their W series, how small I'm uncertain.


I did see at auction here a tractor you'd absolutely love.  An articulated (bends in the middle) Mitsubishi, about the size of my compact one (4500 lbs, 5' bucket), diesel of course.  But unlike my compact, won't have the front end destroyed with serious loader work- that's exactly what they're designed for.  There's a Yahoo Mitsubishi group, but it's for compact farm tractors.


Once you start to get a feel for who made appropriate-sized machines, you can search them individually.  Then find a dedicated forum.  Where everybody's interested in manuals, parts sources, and repair advice. 


I received great help when Bertha developed a large power loss last summer.  An antique Cat forum had guys with incredible experience and dealer repair literature.  Turned out I needed to rebuild the governor.  Running fine now.  My local Cat dealer has exactly 1 mechanic old enough to have ever seen a tractor like Bertha.  He guessed it was 30 yrs back.  Any yet, she's still happy to go to work any time.


If you missed it, a buddy helped me with Bertha's tires.  You probably want something a tad smaller.  Notice what my Mitsubishi tires look like with that load (~600 lbs).  Not good.


PAHS Designer/Builder- Bury it!

PAHS works.  Bury it.

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