When it comes to digging in new waterlines, setting cistern tanks, creating small ponds, excavating footing trenches for new buildings and even planting large trees at your place, nothing can beat the compact excavator for efficiency. These digging machines are designed to do one thing and they do it well. I recently spent some quality time with the Bobcat 418 compact excavator – it is really on the miniature end of the compact excavator range – and found it to be capable and a breeze to operate. In fact, I wouldn’t mind having a Bobcat 418 compact excavator of my own – just to play in a big-boy’s sandbox with. Seriously, I can think of plenty of uses for the machine around the farm.
The Bobcat 418 compact excavator is small enough to get into barns for digging in that new water hydrant and it’s narrow enough (with tracks retracted) to easily scoot through a 30-inch gate. A skilled operator could get the machine through a 28-inch wide opening, but I know I would scrape something in tight conditions like that. If you think about it, you could pretty easily drive the Bobcat 418 compact excavator through the front door of your house and tear up the living room floor to excavate footings for that new masonry chimney you have planned.
Don’t be fooled into thinking that the Bobcat 418 compact excavator is too small to get much useful work done. Nothing could be farther from the truth. This excavator weighs in at more than 2500 pounds, has a digging depth of 6 feet and a bucket breakout force of 1,865 pounds per foot. Tree roots, stumps and thin limestone layers are no match for this excavator. The Bobcat 418 compact excavator also swings within the footprint of its tracks when they’re extended, which eliminates tail overhang and decreases the possibility of the excavator’s weights and engine compartment coming in contact with buildings, fence posts or other nearby objects.
Operating the Bobcat 418 compact excavator was a breeze, thanks to a pair of joysticks that controlled everything from swing to boom crowding to bucket curling. The seat is comfortable, the noise level is low and in the event that you do wind up topsy-turvy, this excavator is equipped with a tip-over protection system (TOPS) that will keep you from landing on your head.
If you have a significant amount of backhoe work to accomplish in a relatively short period of time, I would recommend renting a Bobcat 418 compact excavator or another machine in the same class. If you anticipate a lot of backhoe work over a long period of time, it might make more sense to purchase the little excavator new or used. Check with your Bobcat dealer for more details.
Hank Will raises hair sheep, heritage cattle and many varieties of open-pollinated corn with his wife, Karen, on their rural Osage County, Kansas farm. His home life is a perfect complement to his professional life as editor in chief at GRIT and Capper's Farmer magazines. Connect with him on Google+.