Backhoe and tractor questions

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Rob_Red

Feeling the Heat
Feb 2, 2021
251
Southern New England
Hey all,

I recently purchased a house on a neglected 5 acre property. I have heavy logs to move, earth to move, big holes to dig, snow to plow ect. and I've got a few questions.....

I'm having a hard time with the cost of a brand new tractor with a backhoe. A friend of mine just bough an old B series Kubota for around $5-6000. can these "vintage" machines be setup with a backhoe? What about a grapple? would I end up spending as much as I would on a new machine trying to do this?

What about those tow behind backhoes? Are they useful or a gimmick? Could one of these be towed and used effectively with an old compact tractor?

Finally am I barking up the right tree? Should I be looking into something other than a Kubota? Is there a vintage tractor out there that can do this work and be a better bang for the buck? Some of the old ford tractors had loaders on them.

I'm mechanically capable but I can't take on another huge project.

thanks!
 

SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
6,085
Downeast Maine
If you want to use a backhoe with a tractor, just make sure it is a "subframe" hoe and not a 3 point hitch attached hoe. The three point hitch is not designed for that kind of abuse, but there are plenty of Chinse 3pt hitch backhoes out there. What do you need to excavate and what is your budget?
 
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SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
6,085
Downeast Maine
Honestly if you can work on them many times you can find an old full-sized backhoe for the cost of a decent compact tractor.
I had the same thought as well. Are there 4x4 backhoes? The grapple will be a little more difficult. Might be better to get a larger 4x4 cat 1 tractor and rent a mini ex for the big jobs.
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
25,021
central pa
I had the same thought as well. Are there 4x4 backhoes? The grapple will be a little more difficult. Might be better to get a larger 4x4 cat 1 tractor and rent a mini ex for the big jobs.
Yes there are 4x4 backhoes but you aren't going to find them cheap. But really a big 2wd backhoe is pretty capable.
 

brenndatomu

Minister of Fire
Aug 21, 2013
6,362
NE Ohio
4x4 on a backhoe helps some...not a huge difference though...an experienced operator will go places with a 4x2 hoe that a lesser operator won't make it with a 4x4.
I agree with buying an older dedicated backhoe vs the tractor add-on type...those are better than a shovel, but that's about it once you are used to a "real" backhoe...
 

Highbeam

Minister of Fire
Dec 28, 2006
19,065
Mt. Rainier Foothills, WA
B series kubotas aren’t that old. Yes, you could add a backhoe to them but those backhoes are very expensive and not all that useful. I think you’re better off renting an excavator when you need it.

A real yellow backhoe like a case580 are much heavier and more capable. Both the hoe and the loader.

You’ll might want to consider one machine (or hire out)for the land clearing and a different machine for maintenance and chores. Land clearing and especially stump removal is very hard on a tractor.
 

brenndatomu

Minister of Fire
Aug 21, 2013
6,362
NE Ohio
Often times you can shop around for a while and find a good deal on a real machine (like that 580 Case, or an excavator) use it for your project(s) and then turn around and sell it for break even or even make a lil money if you got a really good deal or maybe put some sweat equity into the machine while you had it...
 

MTY

Feeling the Heat
Jan 9, 2019
486
Idaho
One of the first things I did after purchasing my property was to buy a mini-ex. I could probably sell it today for what I paid for it, and it has already paid for itself at least once. I dug out the foundation, buried power and water, landscaped, and today spent 6 hours back filling around the footings for the goat barn.

The goat barn was a 50 year old wood shed. I had to dig out over three feet of debris to get to clean ground. I poured 2 foot square pads 8 inches thick, and poured 3 foot piers on top of the pads. The shed is 12X16 and I would probably still be digging out the debris if I had been using a shovel.

When we get a little moisture in the ground, I will dig the foundation for the shop. One of the problems with a mini is that if you have hard dry clay, the mini will lift up when you want the bucket to go down.

I have a Ford 8N with a bucket and back blade, but I leave it at the other house. I use it to clear snow out of the drive there. I will move it here when the the other place is sold. Between the bucket and blade on the mini, I have been able to get everything I need done without dragging the tractor here.

Big jobs would take forever, so I will hire someone if need be. I hired out the new driveway and and several hundred feet of 42" deep trench.

Wonder where I am going with this? You can probably buy a used mini, do what you need to do, and sell it later to purchase a tractor.

One more thing, owning a mini-ex is like winning the lottery. Everyone wants to be your friend.
 

Rob_Red

Feeling the Heat
Feb 2, 2021
251
Southern New England
Here are the projects I need to complete:

French drain around the house crawl space (only a few feet down)

new retaining wall for corner of house that is below grade

front yard (maybe an acre) takes forever to mow because of all of the rocks, I want to dig those out where possible and grade everything smooth

perimeter stone wall is collapsed and has stumps grown through it, I want to repair the high visibility areas and remove the stumps

old asphalt driveway is really bad, want to remove and replace with grated stone

Then just general landscaping maintenance / snow control, along with firewood cutting in the back woods

So the question is should I still look for a proper excavator? Or could I do this with a small tractor?
 

sloeffle

Minister of Fire
Mar 1, 2012
844
Central Ohio
IMHO for what you have to do, owning a backhoe doesn't make long term financial sense. And then you need to store the backhoe in a proper place. Storing it outside is not a proper place. Hydraulic fluid and lines don't like the sun, snow, or rain.

I'd look into getting a compact tractor or SCUT and then renting a mini-hoe to do the jobs the the tractor can't do. You can rent a mini-hoe for $500 - $600 a week. You should be able to knock most of your projects out in a few weeks. A decent size back hoe or mini-hoe that isn't going to need a ton of work is going to cost >10k. Good luck finding a good used piece of equipment these days too. They are about as scarce a brand new one ton Ford pickup.
 

bholler

Chimney sweep
Staff member
Jan 14, 2014
25,021
central pa
I see useable backhoes here for between 4 and 8k pretty regularly. If I had that much to do and didn't have friends with equipment I would buy one. Use it for a year then sell it and get a compact tractor. That's just my opinion
 

SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
6,085
Downeast Maine
I see useable backhoes here for between 4 and 8k pretty regularly. If I had that much to do and didn't have friends with equipment I would buy one. Use it for a year then sell it and get a compact tractor. That's just my opinion
That's not a bad idea either. Shouldn't be hard to sell if it stays in good shape.


IMHO for what you have to do, owning a backhoe doesn't make long term financial sense. And then you need to store the backhoe in a proper place. Storing it outside is not a proper place. Hydraulic fluid and lines don't like the sun, snow, or rain.

I'd look into getting a compact tractor or SCUT and then renting a mini-hoe to do the jobs the the tractor can't do. You can rent a mini-hoe for $500 - $600 a week. You should be able to knock most of your projects out in a few weeks. A decent size back hoe or mini-hoe that isn't going to need a ton of work is going to cost >10k. Good luck finding a good used piece of equipment these days too. They are about as scarce a brand new one ton Ford pickup.

I disagree about storing outside. Most of this kind of equipment is kept outside and has no issues. There are 90's era backhoes being used in my area that have never seen indoor storage and work fine.
 
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sloeffle

Minister of Fire
Mar 1, 2012
844
Central Ohio
I see useable backhoes here for between 4 and 8k pretty regularly. If I had that much to do and didn't have friends with equipment I would buy one. Use it for a year then sell it and get a compact tractor. That's just my opinion
Guess I'm not a fan of buying something and then wrenching on it for a week to get it up and running. In my area, anything in that price range has seen better days and not worth the hassle.

I disagree about storing outside. Most of this kind of equipment is kept outside and has no issues. There are 90's era backhoes being used in my area that have never seen indoor storage and work fine.
Have you ever seen the inside of a gear box on tractor that was stored long term outside and not used much ? Most of them are a rusty mess. Storing a piece of equipment outside and then using it every once in awhile is not good for it. I know lots of people that don't have a problem storing their equipment outside long term. Personally, I am a fan of having all of my tractors and equipment in a shed year round. It also enhances the resale value, no faded paint, and little to zero rust.

I realize a piece of equipment on a construction site is never going to see a shed. But they also get used everyday too. The heat from using the equipment will disperse the water in the fluids etc.
 
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SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
6,085
Downeast Maine
Guess I'm not a fan of buying something and then wrenching on it for a week to get it up and running. In my area, anything in that price range has seen better days and not worth the hassle.


Have you ever seen the inside of a gear box on tractor that was stored long term outside and not used much ? Most of them are a rusty mess. Storing a piece of equipment outside and then using it every once in awhile is not good for it. I know lots of people that don't have a problem storing their equipment outside long term. Personally, I am a fan of having all of my tractors and equipment in a shed year round. It also enhances the resale value, no faded paint, and little to zero rust.

I realize a piece of equipment on a construction site is never going to see a shed. But they also get used everyday too. The heat from using the equipment will disperse the water in the fluids etc.
I suppose that is different, I run my tractor at least a few times a week, it rarely sits. Modern HST equipped vehicles should not be allowing any water inside the cases. I could definitely see unpressurized gear transmissions having issues with sitting for a long time, rain, etc. Most people just don't have the space to contain a large piece of equipment, attachments, etc.
 
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MTY

Feeling the Heat
Jan 9, 2019
486
Idaho
Every big rental outfit has a sales department for their used equipment. It is true for them just as it is for the big car rental companies. If you chat with the local sales manager, you can probably get him to keep an eye out for you. My mini came from a landscaping business that was looking for a larger excavator but needed to sell the mini they had first. The sales manager from the rental company told me about the pending deal. When I made the deal, he delivered the mini to my place. He got his commission, the landscaping company got a newer excavator, and I got my mini. All of us made out.
 

SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
6,085
Downeast Maine
I think it depends on your type of ground and size of stumps. Maybe some pics and do you need a digging bar?
I can't imagine trying to dig out a stump, even with an excavator, especially with lots of rocks involved. A grinder would make way more sense and can be fitted to a compact tractor. A bit spendy, but a tool that doesn't really depreciate.
 

SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
6,085
Downeast Maine
It’s a common practice. If you grind, the remains will rot and keep sinking. Best to diggem out.
I don't just let the stump holes rot. I can easily dig out chips and mulch with my tractor. A stump grinder is much cheaper than a mini ex or backhoe if you are dealing with a lot of stumps. If just a few or one time, then I can see the advantage to renting a mini ex. Could also sell the stump grinder when finished.
 

Rob_Red

Feeling the Heat
Feb 2, 2021
251
Southern New England
Ok so thanks to the expertise of everyone, I'm starting to draw the conclusion I wont need a backhoe all the time for property maintenance. The backhoe is for digging big holes and a hoe mounted on a compact tractor isn't all that great any way, so I would be better off with either renting or buying/ flipping a dedicated excavator.... Does this thinking make sense?

So with that being said I'm speculating that for my property maintenance, a mower deck, towing a trailer, possibly a brush hog, a grapple, a snow plow and a loader will get most of the use.

What is the lease expensive feasible tractor I should be looking for? The old Kubotas I see for under 10k (like a B7100 for $6500 I found), can they be setup with a loader/grapple? Would customer hydraulics be required? Would I end up dumping too much money into an older unit to do the things I want and be better off with a newer fully equipped unit?
 

SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
6,085
Downeast Maine
A grapple will at least call for a third function to be added to a tractor, but that isn't a big deal. I thought about a used tractor back in 2019, but there were few used tractors and I didn't want to inherit anyone else's problems. For five acres I think you could probably do just fine with a smaller compact or even a subcompact tractor.
 
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MTY

Feeling the Heat
Jan 9, 2019
486
Idaho
If you are going to flip it anyway, a hoe in this area is cheaper than and excavator in like condition.

I priced tractors last year, and decided the time was not right yet. What I did find was that most of the tractor manufactures were offering zero percent financing. If you would not be paying cash for a used tractor, be sure to compare the after finance used tractor cost with a new one at zero percent. The difference may be minimal.