-----In 2004 we bought a falling-down house and 30 acres. This blog documents our progress-----

Monday, February 05, 2007

A life-size tonka toy for Dave

Given how expensive hiring equipment has turned out to be, and just how much excavation we have to do, Dave floated the idea with Dad to invest in a second-hand digger. For the record, here's the various emails where they discussed it.

It looks like Dave will get his life-size Tonka Toy after all! :-)


Dad said:

You asked if I thought getting a piece of equipment would be wise. At last you have come to an idea which I have long entertained.

I cannot stress how important to you and Dave it is to have a piece of equipment to do the hard digging and moving of soil to make the house and land to the shape you need. Buying one means you will save heaps in the long run, not least because you are so distant from places to rent

However, getting one piece of equipment to do all things is the hard part, and maintaining an old piece could be a factor.

But I have looked at several types of equipment over this past 1 1/2 years since I finally bit the bullet and hired the equipment to excavate the hobbithole. I have learned a lot from my experimenting, but I feel the way forward for you guys is to look at equipment being sold from such departments as councils, forestry, vicroads in country areas. I have seen such items on ebay asking for bids. These are well maintained, little used, and go for very cheap prices. Also the big equipment auction places... they sell large lots of building materials cheaply when you know what you want. I will talk at length about this if you decide to explore this concept further.

Dave replied: The more I think about it, getting hold of a tractor/excavator seems a must, considering we've spent well over $1000 on hiring them already, and hardly scratched the surface (pardon the pun). I figured we could, once purchased, put it in the garage you got off my brother.) I had a quick look online. What sort of machine do you reckon will be best?

Dad replied:

Great!!! Now we are talking.

The machine we need is this:

It must be in pretty good nick or will be a large waste of money and time when getting on with a project when you are here for a brief time

It must be affordable as a machine which will be idle most of the time and not earning it's keep.

It must be robust enough to do the job of moving hard earth reasonably well: Dingo is too gutless for your work, though good in many way.

It must endure to be versatile enough for other uses once you have shaped the land into the areas you wish level, and those which are slopes or even heaps of soil to provide support for the level areas. The capacity to carry in the bucket is necessary to avoid double handling.

I think trenching capacity is essential, as well as digging with an auger for postholes.

I believe a smallish tyred tractor with attachments is likely to be the best. Or something surplus from the forestry than is larger but affordable. I looked at a Case frontend loader and backhoe for $16,000 last year but could not get it as we had not discussed any such things, and I felt I was way ahead of the game to spend my money on equipment that I would need to sell on should you not like the idea of keeping and maintaining it. Perhaps getting such a piece would be better than worrying about the smaller function of posthole digging as to hire a machine like a dingo to posthole dig is relatively cheap compared to hiring even the mini excavator. But should you get a decent backhoe/frontend loader you would be able to shape so much of the land to retain water and soil nutrients.

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