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Skidsteer trencher vs. walk behind

673moto

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Dec 5, 2019
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NorCal
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I have a job coming up that will require about 2,000’ of trench for irrigation.
What’s productivity like with a skid steer trencher vs. a walk behind rental unit?
Wondering if I should buy a trencher attachment for my skiddy or just rent something from Home Depot and put in the work/walking?
I don’t do irrigation much but have had a couple calls and always like picking up new attachments.
 

gwhammy

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 20, 2013
Messages
606
Location
missouri
Soil conditions matter a lot. From what I've run trenchers on skid steers they aren't bad if you aren't going real deep. Done a lot of 30 inch deep water lines. If there is much rocks in the soil they suck. If it's to wet they don't work great either.
 

Simon C

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Jul 1, 2015
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692
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Rocky Mountain House , AB., Canada
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Heavy Equipment Mechanic
Had one from John Deere for using on my previous 326D from Deere. Did do about 1000meters. It could go down 4 feet but if you hit rocks what a hassle. A 50 size excavator with good operator and narrow bucket will do a fast job and can dig out most rocks. I would rent a small excavator before a trencher from my experience.
Simon C
 

willie59

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Dec 21, 2008
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Knoxville TN
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Only you can answer your own question. All we can do is point out the things to consider, some mentioned above, like, soil, it needs to be soil, if there's rocks then it goes south. One thing I would add is you mentioned it's for irrigation. Well, what type of irrigation? Ag or landscape? If it's landscape then a skiddy is going to more turf damage than a walk behind trencher. And I'm all for picking up new toys to play with, but you mentioned you don't do irrigation much. If that's the case, hardly seems a good time just yet to drop coin on purchasing a goody that will sit idle more than it will making money. Again, only you can answer your question.
 

Steve Frazier

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Oct 30, 2003
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6,677
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LaGrangeville, N.Y.
There's a number of variables, depth of the ditch, soil conditions and how much work do you have for the tool? I've run a walk behind to trench 18 inches for electric, the requirement in my area. about 150' ditch took 4 hours in what we call bank run gravel. We had to stop 3 times and pop oversized rocks out with a digging bar. It will beat the snot out of you but it beats a shovel. If you have rocky soil it will be slow going and tough on both body and machine.

A skid steer unit will go deeper and faster than the walkbehind but don't expect to run to your attachment store and buy one. I just took delivery on one this past week I ordered nearly two years ago, after 18 months of waiting and an attempt by the manufacturer to jack up the price by $5000 from the signed contract I canceled that order and placed an order elsewhere. That one took 6 months to deliver and was $9000 under government pricing.

What i like about the trencher over an excavator is the ditch doesn't settle out nearly as much as an excavated one after being filled. I'm installing security cameras in parks and crossing playing fields so this becomes a safety concern.
 

673moto

Senior Member
Joined
Dec 5, 2019
Messages
320
Location
NorCal
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Slacker
Thanks all.
I’m looking into renting a skidsteer trenching attachment for this job.
It’s irrigation for a play field and orchard so turf damage isn’t a concern as there’s no grass yet.
Rocks are an issue but when those are found it’s best to go around since they are too big to dig out.
Attachments are getting crazy to find... seems like there’s a flood of cheap Chinese stuff that’s going for what the name brand stuff used to be and the name brand stuff has doubled in price.
 

gwhammy

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 20, 2013
Messages
606
Location
missouri
The trenchers on a skid steer don't turn real good. You usually have to reset on an angle which isn't bad. In really good dirt the one I have will turn out several feet an hour doing water lines. I got it when my brother passed and he bought it used back in the mid 80's. About the only thing left original on it is the main frame and boom. I've replaced everything else.
 

Zewnten

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 2, 2018
Messages
568
Location
Earth
for your run why not rent an actual riding trencher, get to face forward not looking over your shoulder. Digs 48" plus with tons of power and it won't lift up as easy as the skid front end, which has alll it's weight int he rear anyways for lifting loads.
 
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