Mechanized Bobcat MT 52 vs. Ditch Witch SK 500- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Mechanized Bobcat MT 52 vs. Ditch Witch SK 500

    For those that have constructed trail with either the Bobcat MT 52 or Ditch Witch SK 500, what have you liked or disliked? Also, is a 6-way blade available for the Bobcat mt 52? What have been the most useful attachments? Just looking for real world testimonials prior to purchasing a machine. Thank you.

  2. #2
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    I prefer the DitchWitch SK500 over the NT52. Definitely use a 6-way utility blade if you can find one for it. Also get turf tracks and not metal tracks. The SK500 was ergonomically better and more intuitive to use. I think both offer the "float" feature, which comes in very handy.

    If I remember correctly, the track tension is set hydrostatically using heavy duty grease injected through a zerk fitting on the side of the machine through an access panel. I mention this b/c, depending on your terrain, there's a chance that one of the tracks will come off.

    The Bobcat is a good machine, but I prefer DW. Their MX9 mini excavator is a great machine for trail building, too.

    D

  3. #3
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    Also consider that the Bobcat has a 36" blade v. a 42" blade (I think) with the DW.

    D

  4. #4
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    You may also want to check out the Volvo in the same class. Best stinking seat in the world. Also neat and easy maintenance for things like oil filters etc. I don't work for them, or sell them, but think they still assemble them in Asheville, NC, a plus for us locals.
    http://www.volvo.com/constructionequ...steer+loaders/ for details.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by xxxbike
    You may also want to check out the Volvo in the same class. Best stinking seat in the world. Also neat and easy maintenance for things like oil filters etc. I don't work for them, or sell them, but think they still assemble them in Asheville, NC, a plus for us locals.
    http://www.volvo.com/constructionequ...steer+loaders/ for details.
    If the Volvo has a seat, it's in a different class. The NT-52 and SK-500 are walk-behind mini skid steers. I think less damage can be done with these than with a skid steer that one sits in.

    D

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    If the MT 52 has lever controlls, then the two are about the same. If the mt 52 has the big block thing that you have to pull to controll it, go with the SK500. The second type of control is really bad for people with small hands, and not as intuitive as the levers. Also, as Dewayne pointed out, the SK has a 6 way blade, where the mt only has a 4way blade. What you may want to do, instead of forking out all the $ for the machine, and being dissapointed is purchase the blade you want to use, then rent the machine to find out if it's what you really want.
    Ryan
    www.biketexas.org

  7. #7
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    It sounds like these are more sophisticated than I expected. I didn't expect them to have floating blades, but OTOH Cats from late 50's and early 60s had it so it filtered down.

    This is all interesting to me because we have the DW rented for two weeks in the near future. My frame of reference is operating heavy equipment (Cats, cranes, loaders) so I'll be involved in the beginning at least.

    We ended up committed to the DW due to some recommendations and availability of attachments from rental agencies as well as an agreement where they deliver it to our work site for a most reasonable fee.

  8. #8
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    I would use either, and now we will have a 6-way available for the Bobcat. It just so happens that our local Bobcat dealership has been fantastic to work with and providing great pricing and customer service-so we are going with them, DW hasn't been horrible to work with, but not nearly as easy. With a phone call, they made sure we will have a 46" Bradco 6 way blade, which when angled will be about 36" wide.

  9. #9
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    If you do get the Bradco blade be sure to get the heavy duty version.
    I use the HD Bradco blade and have had to make many repairs on it. I use the blade on a ASV RC-30. Now you want to talk about a trail building machine.....RC-30 is hard to beat.

  10. #10
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    Weaknesses

    Bitflogger and I are just about to wrap up a trai build using the SK-500.

    Overall, it has been great. We accomplished about as much in 2 weeks as would have taken us 2 full seasons with manual labor *if* we could still get the volunteer turnout we used to. And if we could get volunteers to cut a deep bench properly.

    The learning curve is steeper than I would have wished for. By that I mean it's a challenge to figure out how to use a relatively light weight machine to cut through roots and dig rocks out of gravel/clay matrix. Especially on a steep side slope. As soon as the treads start to slip, the machine slides down slope.

    Obviously the machine cuts a lot better going downhill than up.

    I could have saved a lot of time if I understood that controlling the blade attack angle with the bucket hinge control is much more effective under extreme conditions. Bitflogger got that one much more quickly than I did. However I find that controlling the blade attack with the arm lift control tends to work better for flatter, easier conditions. It seems to be easier for me to feather the cut that way.

    I was not able to cut roots of any size simply using the weight and power of the machine. I was, however, able to pull them up out of the dirt with a combination of pushing and lifting. Then the little Ditch Witch had enough traction and power to crack them. Otherwise the treads will loose traction before the roots will cut if you try to push through them while they are embedded.

    This was my experience anyway.

    Another problem was we broke 2 hoses from them rubbing against the blade mount. I finally figured out that the hoses controlling the blade roll (using aircraft terminology) need to be pulled away from the mount using bungee cords if they are to survive.

    Good luck with your work.

    Walt

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    Congrats, Walt! That read like it went well enough for you. It is amazing how much a machine ran by a skilled operator can accomplish v. a volunteer labor force. I hop eyou get the chance to build more trails using machines. Next, you should try the mini excavator.

    I'm working in clay soil with very high limestone rock content, most of it embedded. A walk behind skid steer nor a mini excavator would work well enough for me to even try it. Fortunately, I'm able to pay a crew of 5-8 people to cut the trail with me, and I'm only working in sections of 5,000 feet or so at a time.

    D

  12. #12
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    Tough going?

    Quote Originally Posted by dburatti
    I'm working in clay soil with very high limestone rock content, most of it embedded. A walk behind skid steer nor a mini excavator would work well enough for me to even try it. Fortunately, I'm able to pay a crew of 5-8 people to cut the trail with me, and I'm only working in sections of 5,000 feet or so at a time.

    D
    That sounds like some tough stuff to work in, but it should hold up very well once you are done.

    How the heck do you cut into such stuff? Picks? Explosives? Inquiring minds need to know!

    Walt

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    Quote Originally Posted by Walt Dizzy
    That sounds like some tough stuff to work in, but it should hold up very well once you are done.

    How the heck do you cut into such stuff? Picks? Explosives? Inquiring minds need to know!

    Walt
    Hey Walt,

    Yeah, a pick mattock, a sledge hammer, and a rock bar are all common tools when working in limestone. If a rock moves a bit when working the tread, it usually comes out. If it's deeply embedded, it stays in the tread and becomes a TTF. Here's a picture of a section I recently completed where I was able to work through the larger rocks. People love this section! BTW, thats me crawling along, posing, for the picture.


  14. #14
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    Impressive terrain!

    Dburatti,

    That looks to be a major effort to build in. Where is it located? Trail name?

    My build will be finished tomorrow, barring additonal mechanical problems (the charging system on my rental Ditch Witch has failed, so I'm swapping batteries as needed). We are down to the last 200 yards or so. Steep side slope, and the last 10 yards are a composite matrix of dolomitic limestone, tree roots, and clay. I dug for 45 minutes with the DW on that one spot with little or no progress. I definitely could have used a pick this afternoon, I'll take one out tomorrow. That phucker is getting done come heck or high water!

    Overall I'm pleased with how things have turned out. I'm estimating 3.5 miles of new trail in 2 weeks. Way more than we could have done with our tiny volunteer base.

    Walt

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    Walt,

    The trail is located in a housing development in Austin, TX. The trail system doesn't have a name for itself, per se, but the sections are each named for the roads or groups of houses within the community.

    I know what you mean about the sometimes making little prgress with a machine. I quickly found that the MX-9 didn't have the power to break roots much bigger than 1.5" in diameter, so I kept a pulaski nearby to take them out.

    Despite the slow down, it sounds like you made excellent progress! Where is this trail, btw?

    Dewayne

  16. #16
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    Trailfreak,

    Do you have a model number for the Braco blade that fits on the ASV-RC30? I have been looking for such but un able to find such.

    Woody- Trail Dynamics LLC

  17. #17
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    Hey Woody,

    Check this distributor's price list, page 64. They show that their order number for the ASV is 2008120 shipping at 190 pounds and selling for $1,355.00.

    BTW, are you going to be working at Curt Dowdy in WYoming this November? I may be up there running a mini skid steer for Chris Bernhardt. I'll know more about it later. That is, of course, if the weather allows.

    Dewayne
    www.talontrails.com

  18. #18
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    Blue Mound, WI

    Quote Originally Posted by dburatti
    Walt,

    The trail is located in a housing development in Austin, TX. The trail system doesn't have a name for itself, per se, but the sections are each named for the roads or groups of houses within the community.

    I know what you mean about the sometimes making little prgress with a machine. I quickly found that the MX-9 didn't have the power to break roots much bigger than 1.5" in diameter, so I kept a pulaski nearby to take them out.

    Despite the slow down, it sounds like you made excellent progress! Where is this trail, btw?

    Dewayne
    DeWayne,

    We just finished last night. By finished I mean we did all we could with the Ditch Witch. There will be a couple of things to do by hand in the spring when our regular work days resume. The trail is 99% rideable today with a couple of short hike-a-bike sections.

    The new trail is in the Pleasure Valley section of Blue Mound State Park in south central Wisconsin.

    With regards to roots, we found that we could break through roots up to 4" in diameter by catching them on the blade while keeping tension on them (by pushing gently with the entire machine), then lifting the blade+root out of the ground and applying forward motion to the machine. Under the best of circumstances it doesn't always work, especially if the root is wrapped around rocks, but we saved a lot of time with this technique. Using the arm lift vs the bucket tilt seems to work slightly better.

    The trick is to avoid spinning the treads until you get the root out of the ground. The amount of traction available in a small machine is pretty limited, but you can crack a root under tension/bending that is 2-3 times larger than one that is supported by surrounding earth.

    I busted through our problem section yesterday with a pick. Worked *much* better than a Pulaski. Thanks for the tip!

    Walt

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    Dewayne,

    No, the TD crew will not be involved in the WY project (assuming that IMBA TS gets the contract). We have way too many other iorns in the fire back home and will be very busy this fall season. I met with Chris last week and we planned for Tam 07 but I let him know we could not assisit with Gowdy.

    Thanks for that price list link, it answered my questions that a blade is available which is cool. I really like the ASV RC30 using the bucket, but an available blade would make that machine even more versitle.

    Great picture of the trail you built down in Austin. Good to see you back on a bike.

    Woody

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodman
    Dewayne,

    We have way too many other iorns in the fire back home and will be very busy this fall season. I met with Chris last week and we planned for Tam 07 but I let him know we could not assisit with Gowdy.
    Glad to see that you're so busy. That helps me get some of the work!

    Quote Originally Posted by Woodman
    Thanks for that price list link, it answered my questions that a blade is available which is cool. I really like the ASV RC30 using the bucket, but an available blade would make that machine even more versitle.
    How does it compare to any of the walk-behind equipment we used in DuPont? Can you finesse it like a mini skid steer?

    Quote Originally Posted by Woodman
    Great picture of the trail you built down in Austin. Good to see you back on a bike.
    Woody
    Thanks! I can't believe it will be two years at the end of this month that I got the illness. I think I've adapted as much as I'm going to at this point. I still hope to gain more fitness and bump up my skill level a bit, though.

    Dewayne

  21. #21
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    I love the RC30 and do feel a lot of controll over the machine. If I am doing a maintenence contract (rolling dips, de-berming, etc), it is my number one pick due to its crawl speed of 6 MPH.

    We have a full fleet of machines including: 2 walk behinds, the Ibex, a Sweco and are looking to add a mini ex soon. Also would love to buy an ASV in the near future.

    Another to look at is the new DW SK650 deisel.

    Woody

  22. #22
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    Woody,
    Just read your last post about the RC-30. Have you put many hours on one?
    Just wondering, I've been having lots of issues with the drive motors and wondered if you were having the same thing?
    So far I've got over 600 hours and 7 hydraulic drive motors

  23. #23
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    Trailfreak,

    I do not own a RC30, but have rented and used one a fair bit on projects. Never had any (nor heard of any) problems with this machine. I love it for maintenence contracts: dips, rolling dips etc. and for surfacing trail.

    Woody

  24. #24
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    Thanks for the quick reply,
    all my bad motors have been warranty but just wondering if anyone else was having a problem.

    Yes the machine is great for Maintenance work, but have you used it to cut trail......I love it.
    Bench cut's like a dream. I just cut about a quarter mile of very steep bench with a
    Mini X and could not wait to get back on the RC. The Mini is brutally slow, But the RC could not go where the mini went.

  25. #25
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    Yes, I have used the RC for some new trail construction. Trail Dynamics owns and operates a number of machines including: 1 DW SK500, 1 Dingo TX425, a Sweco 450, an Ibex from Italy and we have rented a number of other machines from time to time (mini ex and the RC). I have never used a blade that was really meant for the RC, but instead a Dingo 4 way blade with an adapter. I look forward to using one wiith a 6 way blade at some point.

    I love how fast the machine can travel and the suspension. Is you blade a Bradco unit? Does that work well?

    TD will be adding a few more machines to our fleet this coming year and I am looking into the RC and also a NX15 mini ex. We have found that the mini ex out front with an SK500 and blade behind are just as fast as our sweco and can operate on super steep side slopes for bench cutting. We regularly build on 50-100%.

    Where are you building with the RC30?

    Woody

  26. #26
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    Woody,
    Your right the RC is fast and smooth.
    The Blade is a Bradco, but I have not been real happy with it,Way to many repairs.
    The blade tends to brake at the pivot point between the quick attach and the actual blade.

    The county park where I have put the most hours on one, bought an RC-30 for the trail construction project. Turned out to be a sweet deal, But this is also the one with all the Drive pump problems. The VP of ASV is taking care of things for us and looking into any manufacturing defects that may have occurred. Supposedly they have not had this problem before.
    I've also rented the RC and the Mini X for other trail projects and I agree with you.
    Running the two together makes for fast construction. Where I really like the Mini-X is dealing with saplings/trees and of course steep slopes.
    Just pop those suckers out the ground and move on. The RC handles them just fine, just takes a little more effort and stress on the blade.
    I would love to try the Sweco in the woods, I was able to play on the IMBA one at the MOAB summit. Seems like a great unit.

    I'm in Hot Springs Arkansas. Let me know when you get ready to purchase the RC, I know the salesman here in our state. May be able to get a good price or at least a comparison.
    Have you tried a Boxer mini skid? I've been looking at those, seem like a nice machine.


    Barry

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    We are looking to purchase 2 RC 30, but aren't sure about how they will work in rocky terrain and gravel. Several people have told me that the rollers and track will get tore up. We already have a sweco 480 to do the heavy work. Any body able to give me some feedback on this.

  28. #28
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    Kink,

    The ASV holds up fine in those kind of conditions (in my opinion). The Sweco could be your front machine doing the heavy lifting and the ASV running behind doing finish work. I also like the ASV a ton for maintenence work, rolling dips etc.

    Woody

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    Thanks for the info. Actually have a RTP grant to purchase 2 RC-30s or equivelant machine.

  30. #30
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    Caution;  Merge;  Workers Ahead!

    Kink,

    Congrats on the RTP Grant award, that is a good use of grant money and will make a huge difference in your area (whereever that is). Please note that the ASV is not a machine for your average volunteer, only a special few should be trained on it. You can flip one on it's side pretty easy, my crew has done that twice on projects.

    Woody

  31. #31
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    Woody.... good call.
    I forgot to mention this to you Kink in the PM.
    Heed Woody's warning!!!!!!!! The ASV is a great machine, but it can be darn scary at times. Once in the machine, if it rolls there is no baling out.
    I have also seen one other person do it and I have had the tractor at the edge of it's balance point. I can not stress this enough, be sure to only let qualified operaters use this machine. And always "Take your time"!

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    Thanks for the info. Its been a while since I've used a skidsteer. I'm used to the sweco 480. I have over 550 hrs on it. We will be using it at St Joe State park in Missouri.

  33. #33
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    Our club(TORC/SORBA) in the Triangle area of NC has just signed an agreement to build public trail in a large private development S of Chapel Hill, Briar Chapel.When we told the developer we were kicking off a drive to raise 25k for a machine they came back with a check to fully fund the purchase!We are also deciding between the DW and the Bobcat,probably the MT 52 to keep the corridor as small as possible.I think the Bobcat looks like a more suitable machine in the woods if our dealer can find an aftermarket 6 way blade.I understand the DW has some exposed hoses underneath that are susceptible to getting snagged and the Bobcat is more adept in irregular terrain.We are also wondering if a combo bucket would help in removing small woody stuff from the tread(bite down on the 2' stub,wiggle it and lift it to pop it out) to reduce manual Pulaski time. The MT55 is about a grand more with 4 more hp and a wider track footprint resulting in a 6" wider corridor.

    Input?

  34. #34
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    I really wanted the Bobcat MT52 also based upon proximity to dealer and customer service. A Bradco 6-way is available for the Bobcat, but from previous posts may be a bad choice due to mechanical failures, also the hydraulics aren't set up for a 6 way, but can be retrofitted. Please post you experiences w/ either. thank you

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    I gave our dealer the Bradco name from these forums but I did not have specific model info. I also asked him to look into the heaviest duty version available because of some of the repair concerns. The sales person was speculating that it would involve using one of the auxiliary electric switch locations on the Bobcat control panel. He also intends to get in a combo bucket for us to demo next weekend.

  36. #36
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    Any more feedback on the Bradco 6 way for the Bobcat mini tracks or an alternative?
    We are planning to demo the machine without the blade end of this week but the more info we have about the blade the better.We are still looking at the DW but it just looks like the Bobcat is a sturdier piece of equipment in the conditions we will be working it.

  37. #37
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    The Bradco is a good blade but it does have some weakness.
    The blade I use has broken several times. We finally had some half inch steel welded in the weak spot.
    I did a quick search and found this one,
    http://cgi.ebay.com/78-six-way-plow-...QQcmdZViewItem
    It looks pretty well built, but with any blade make sure to find a good welder. You will need one!

  38. #38
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    That looks like a solid blade and he makes smaller ones for the mini skid steers. We were looking aftermarket for the Bobcat but that dealer is being kind of slow to respond while the DW salesman is very responsive.DW has a 6 way blade but at least from the pictures the one you sent looks beefier.Hopefully the DW blade will be satisfactory because they all sound like they need occasional repair.I do have a biking welder buddy though!The DW salesman is strongly recommending the SX650 so we will probably be demoing that this week.

    Thanks for the info!

  39. #39
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    The 650 is great. But you won't want it to cut trail with. I just had a demo and cut 10k feet with it. Keep your feet on the ground with a 500.

    When you do demo the 650, remember to throttle all the back to cut trail. If you are in easy terrain, it will more 3-5ft before you even know what happened.

  40. #40
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    I have cut a little bench with a Bobcat MT50 which has a 36" tread width and my inclination has been to try and use a machine that narrow to maintain a narrow corridor.We can do that with a Bobcat MT52 or with a DW 500 with a narrow tread setup but not the MT55 or the 650. Do you really prefer not using the platform?One of my problems using the Bobcat was not being able to see what the blade is doing and I am 6' tall and I thought the elevated perch would help visibility.Thanks for the feed back because most non bikers (including equipment salesmen) don't have much of an idea of what singletrack is.

  41. #41
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    The cockpit on the 500 seems to be lower overall. The Bobcats are designed to have the operator on an attached skateboard behind the machine, so the cockpit is higher. The cockpit on the 650 is extremely high as the platform is close to a foot off of the ground.

    Standing on the platform of the 650 creates a circus act when building trail in any terrain but flat. If you have to cut trail up a brief undulation, you have to lean your chest forward, grasp the bar with your pinkies, and operate the tracks and blade. If it is rainy, snowy, or just muddy, the platform becomes an ice rink. Also when you stand on a platform, you have no clue how the trail is shaping up. Having your feet on the ground allows you to realize your screw up right away.

    Finally, width of the machine does not effect your trail width. The project I just finished in Wyoming was in terrain that was flat to 15% cross slopes. I was able to satify the project managers request for 18-24" trail tread even though I had the 42" wide SK650.

  42. #42
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    That all makes sense about the platform and cockpit height.

    My concern about machine width is not really about finished tread width as much as it is about corridor width.Much of our trail is in fairly dense woody growth and it seems like we end up taking out more than we need to accomodate a wider machine. It is probably more important to worry about having enough traction to do the work and enough stability to be safe.

    The promised donation is now burning a hole in our club account so we want to make a decision and get it to work!

  43. #43
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    I can understand wanting a walk behind mini skid, But after cutting trail for 8 or 9 hours with all the back and forth that goes on. I'd be one whipped puppy.
    In my mind and this is from a solo trail builders perspective the walk behind would be counter productive.
    One thing I really like about the ASV is the fact when sitting in the cockpit you are looking directly at the blade and what it's doing.
    Another machine I have been wanting to try is the, Vermeer S600TX.
    It's a ride on platform with good visibility. Here is a link to a mini skid steer evaluation where several were compared.
    http://www.constructionequipment.com...dustryid=23400

  44. #44
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    Folks,

    I had the chance to demo the new DitchWitch SK650 today, it kicks ass. It is the best of that bunch of machines and needs to be considered seriously by all in the market.

    I used the Bobcat a few weeks back for a few hours and did not like it at all, the 650 is a much better machine.

    -Better power
    -Better visibility of your blade
    -Better blade attachment
    -Faster crawl speed
    -The ride on feature is cool for getting to the site
    -Better customer support

    Hands down my favorite in the smaller walk behinds and stand on machines. Don't let 6" additional inches be the reason for not buying this machine (and going with the 36"BobCat). Your landscaping/finich crew can choke back in the trail with good landscaping and coral rocks.

    Woody

    Trail Dynamics LLC

  45. #45
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    Woody,

    That is good to hear.We plan on demoing the machines that we are considering but I want to set it up so we have time to bring them all out and get a good test in similar conditions. The DW salesman has been the most engaged and seemingly full of facts.He has a 500 and a 650 there for us to check out.After reading the review that was posted yesterday I checked and we also have a local Vermeer dealer and we are going to give them a look. Ryan and Kristin are here for the weekend and we are having a school and groundbreaking at the new Briar Chapel trails.If time allows today we are all going to go check out the machines.
    I am not going to be overly concerned about machine width - it falls behind traction for sure.

    Thanks,
    Stewart

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    Stewart,

    DW of the Carolinas is awesome to deal with, mention my name and they will take good care of you. I don't know the salesman in your area, but Steve Ford (Sales MGR) and Chad Neal (VP) are awesome and really understand what we do in the trailbuilding world. I have found no other companies as engaged and customer support is important.

    Tell K and R to call me, maybe they can come up this way for a visit next week.

    Woody

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    How are other folks feeling about the shopping process for these machines? Our club has talked to DW, Bobcat and Vermeer and checked the machines out on their yards.All are expecting to let us use a machine to give it a good working test at our site. The thing that bugs me is getting pricing info. We have told them we have the funds in place and are ready to make a decision but that price is part of the equation and we need their best delivered price before we spend a lot of time testing a machine we would only decide was more money than we want to put there.It is worse than trying to buy a car! I would be surprised if they did not have a 20-30% margin on this equipment that they could work with but so far the discounting from list price has been pretty meager. Do any of you have recent pricing info that you would be willing to share? Discount percentages or final prices would be helpful. Maybe these newer machines are like the Prius and they can't make tham as fast as they can sell them!

  48. #48
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    Blurred V,

    As far as DW is concerned, you can expect to pay 15-18K for a SK500. I would suggest spending the extra money for the deisel SK650, expect to pay 23-25K for that machine.
    These prices are with no attachments. A 6 way blade with run $2500, you could go with the less expensive 4 way for about $1500. I took delivery this week of the 6 way and early impression is it will help a lot.

    I know of no one running the Verneer, I would shy away form that one as it has no track record. The Dingo is an OK unit, but the DW is much better. Look at the ground clearance as you are shopping, it is easy to high center the Dingo.

    Woody

  49. #49
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    I read the review from CE mentioned in an earlier post dated Feb 06 and they gave a list price including a standard bucket for the machines they tested. They had the 650 at 21,200 so it sounds like either there has been a significant price increase and/or buyers are having to pay close to full list price.From talking to folks who are familiar with the new small equipment business I had understood there should be 20-30% margin the dealer can negotiate in.So far they are not rolling back much from list price so we have to decide if the larger more expensive machines are what we need and are worth the extra costs.We could do a SK500 with a 6 way blade and a 4 in 1 bucket on a trailer for our target budget or if they do a better discount and we hold off on the 4 in 1 we might be able to do the big machine.
    The Vermeer machine looks excellent.I prefer the chariot style ride on position and handlebar/joystick controls.Operator has a great view of the blade at work.It has a 25hp diesel Kubota and a faster ground speed than DW 650.Vermeer has a good rep with a wide variety of machines but you don't see many of these skid steers around.I would not be afraid to buy one if they make a good offer.

  50. #50

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    I'm a fencing contractor who has recently rented a DW 650 and was delighted to find this forum a month or so ago when I started to seriously look at these mini-skid steers. I have decided to buy the 650 after seeing how versatile, maneuverable, and powerful it is. I ran a 12" power auger for a couple days of digging in the woods and was blown away by how much gumption this machine had--the torque is extreme! Much more powerful than any other portable digger I've tried, and almost as strong as the Belltec auger on my 46 HP Kubota tractor. I was pulling up full plugs of earth without even engaging the auger in reverse once I had it buried 3' deep! It will also tear through most roots like nobody's business, and I had very few problems with it jamming in fractured rock.

    (BTW, for those considering the Vermeer--DON'T--at least not without testing it thoroughly first--as I read a very negative review of their mini on a landscapers site recently. The reviewer wanted badly to like the Vermeer--he was testing it against the DW and liked the Vermeer's controls better--but said the power was just pathetic next to the DW, which he raved about. Something about the DW using 3 hydraulic pumps and the Vermeer 2. The power was so bad on the Vermeer he thought something was wrong with it--but apparently not) If you do a google search you might be able to find the whole review--it was very informative.

    Here's how my local DW distributor is pricing the 650: 10% off list for the machine; not sure how he's pricing the attachments, but the bottom line is $25,000 total for the machine with the 12"x 36" power auger and loader bucket. They're also allowing me to put the entire monthly rental fee of $3000 towards the machine. Financing is 5.9% for 60 months; even lower APRs for shorter terms. They're also working with me on possibly getting me a slightly used rock hammer attachment for less than half the list price new (I'm testing the hammer next week in some shale conditions).

    This is a major investment for me as I run a very small business, but I am seriously considering selling my Kubota tractor for this machine as much of our work is on heavily landscaped properties where heavy equipment access is limited, and where the 650 would shine. I also want a machine my foreman can operate without worrying that he'll kill himself if he tips it.

    But back to the 650: the 32.5 hp Kubota diesel is a beautiful, quiet and fairly clean (for a diesel) engine. It only smokes when the engine bogs, which is rarely. I tested the lifting strength this week by putting the bucket on, then clamping a heavy fork to it (off my tractor) and lifting a nearly 400 lb roll of 8' x 330' steel woven-wire by running the fork down the center of the roll. Not only did the machine lift the entire roll clean with half the weight cantilevered out 4-8', but it was not a problem loading the roll on the back of my one-ton flatbed truck. Given that this wire is the single heaviest piece of material we need to maneuver on most of our jobs, this was a key test that the DW passed beautifully. The machine did feel a wee bit tippy with that load cantilevered all the way out, but not scarily so, and as long as I took it slow it traveled with it fine from the supply pile to the truck. Using both forks and loading the wire parallel to the bucket would likely be a piece of cake since the weight would be much closer to the bucket. It might even lift two rolls this way, and I will be testing that soon.

    This is the first track machine I've run and I'm pretty much sold on the tracks for 1) keeping the machine weight nice and low to the ground; 2) the ability to work in the wettest of conditions--at least on flat ground--; 3) traction in the woods, and 4) their extreme maneuverablity in positioning and repositioning the auger as you dig. I find the hydraulic controls to be well designed and very intuitive for the most part.

    I've been burned in the past buying underpowered equipment and am determined not to make that mistake with this purchase. After looking at the specs on all the mini skid steers I could find on line, I'm convinced that the DW is in a class of its own power-wise, and believe it will set a new industry standard as others scramble to match DW's numbers.

    Larry Hayes
    DeerGuard Fence Systems

  51. #51

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    I was able to find that review of the Vermeer vs the Ditch Witch. This guy may well have saved my arse with this write-up as I was on the verge of buying a Vermeer myself after finding a (suspiciously) nearly new one (6 hours on it!) on eBay deeply discounted. Guess there's a reason the guy's selling it.

    Enjoy:



    http://www.groundtradesxchange.com/f...ad/t-4817.html

  52. #52

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    FWIW, there's a DW SK500 listed on EBay right now with a Buy It Now price of $8000. Seller is a used equipment dealer in CT, not far from Waterbury. The machine has 700-800 hours on it but looks to be in decent shape. Auction is almost over but it looks like no one's close to the reserve, so I'm betting ti will be relisted immediately. Anyone seriously interested should just call the guy--he seems to carry a lot of used minis, mostly Dingos.


    http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...ME:B:WNA:US:12

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    We had the Vermeer last weekend to demo it. It is an absolute beast and we were amazed at how stable in steep and very irregular terrain it was. It was able to approach a 20-24" oak stump with the root ball intact on a steep and muddy slope from below and easily move it while lifting the boom arms and curling the bucket.

    I had previously read that review and was doing everything I could to replicate what the reviewer had described and I could not.My guess is that the reviewer had tried a gas burner because while I was at the Vermeer dealer waiting for the diesel model to come back in I played around in the dealers lot with the gas engine version. It did stall somewhat when you were driving,curling and lifting all at once but it only got bad when you continued to hold down the joystick when the arms or the bucket were at the end of their travel. The other possibility is that Vermeer has corrected a problem - this was a new model with some cosmetic changes from the version on the site and in the brochures.At any rate the diesel model I demoed did not stall. The only issues with the Vermeer are cost and the fact that we had it on a very heavy trailer and the whole rig was hard to handle with a standard full size pickup.

    We should have the DW 650 to demo this weekend but those exposed hydraulic lines underneath really bother me for trailbuilding. I have a gas and diesel Dingo now and we might try the Bobcat as well even though most people don't seem to like it for trailbuilding. I have used an MT50 and I could not see what the bucket was doing at all.I do not like any of the aftermarket ride on platforms so we will see how the 650 does.

    So far the Vermeer has the best operator position by far up on top of the machine with the chariot style cockpit - you can lock your hips in the pads and the handlebar grip and joysticks are easy to hang on to in irregular terrain. If we can get the price down a bit more and work out the right trailer to safely tow it that might be our pick.

    I think the bottom line is if you are looking in forums for info you need to have a large enough sample of opinions to pick up on patterns of satisfaction or dissatisfaction rather than take one persons' opinion. I can not find much real world experience about the Vermeer but my brief demo experience did not turn up any of the problems that the quoted reviewer had and I found many things I thought were superior to the competition.

  54. #54

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    Glad to hear your experience with the Vermeer was so positive. Maybe they added that third pump--or perhaps you're right about the diesel being that much more powerful than the gasser. In any case it will be interesting to see how the DW 650 compares. Best of luck with whatever machine you go with!

    Larry

  55. #55
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    Our club has around 60mi of trail to build over the next few years so anything will be better than all manual labor! We spend a lot of time digging out small woodies by the roots and I was hoping a 4 in 1 bucket would handle those. Here is a test of an eliagnus which is usually tough to dig up and it popped out like a baby tooth with almost no hole left behind:
    Attached Images Attached Images

  56. #56

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    Wow, great photo! What a monster bucket--it looks completely out of scale mounted on such a little machine. Is this an aftermarket accessory or custom-made job? Good stuff!

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    Anyone know if the Vermeer has a rock hammer attachment? Next to the auger, this may well be the most useful tool for me in trying to dig holes here in the rocky northeast.
    My local DW dealer is dropping one off on site for me next week to demo as I'm on a job right now with a lot of shale. Previously I've used a gas-powered Pionjar hammer/drill to get down into the shale, but those machines are *****y to start and run, especially in cold weather, and it looks to me like the DW ought to have a ton more power with that 20 HP net at the attachment end. Can't wait to give it a go!

    I'm also thinking the hammer may be the ticket for punching pilot holes for steel t-posts in (fractured) rocky sites. With a little ingenuity I bet it might even be adapted to drive the same.

  58. #58
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    Quote Originally Posted by Woodman
    Folks,

    I had the chance to demo the new DitchWitch SK650 today, it kicks ass..... It is the best of that bunch of machines and needs to be considered seriously by all in the market.
    Hands down my favorite in the smaller walk behinds and stand on machines.

    Woody
    Woody,

    Glad to hear the strong endorsement of the SK650 but I think the price tag might be out of reach for me. How much more dramatically effective is it vs. the SK500? What is your feedback on the DW SK500 vs. the Dingo TX425?

  59. #59
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    Quote Originally Posted by TrailYoda
    Woody,

    Glad to hear the strong endorsement of the SK650 but I think the price tag might be out of reach for me. How much more dramatically effective is it vs. the SK500? What is your feedback on the DW SK500 vs. the Dingo TX425?
    I'll chime in with my input, if you don't mind!

    I love the SK650. More power and a smoother feel than its little brother. The diesel makes a world of difference. And by standing on a platform behind it one can see over the blade a little better. It's definitely a workout hanging onto it but not as difficult as one might think.

    I dislike Dingos Under-powered and clunky. The controls aren't as ergonomic or intuitive, and any aftermarket blade you drop onto it bogs it down tremendously.

    If you get a chance to try the 650, DO!

    D

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    Ditto every thing Dewayne said.

    There simply is no comparison between the SK650 and anything else. Yes, it would be more expensive to buy but it would inclrease your production rates by 50% over anything else. The COTA boys in Bend OR had been renting a Bobcat MT machine and then got some money to buy one. I told them to demo the 650 before they made any final decision and when they did get their hands on the DitchWitch unit I heard from them and they said "no comparison".

    I had not used a Dingo in many years and got to on two days this year. I did use the newer diesel version and it does not hold a candle to the 650. I had forgotten how bad the ergonomics were, but Dewayne is right that the controls wear you hands out fast and it is more difficult to see over the machine (as compared with the stand on platform).

    I would suggest you set up demos with all machines being considered before you buy. If that is not possible, then I suggest you save your pennies until you can spring for a 650. The only other machine in this class to consider in the SK500.

    Woody

  61. #61
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    Ditch Witch offer a 6way blade but some of you recommend the Bradco instead. Any reason why? Is it really tougher? Price difference?

    I'm looking for a used SK650 right now.
    I build trails for moose & beaver
    PTBA member

  62. #62
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    Quote Originally Posted by HypNoTic
    Ditch Witch offer a 6way blade but some of you recommend the Bradco instead. Any reason why? Is it really tougher? Price difference?

    I'm looking for a used SK650 right now.
    My experience is that it's more responsive and beefier that the DW blade. I used a new 6-way DW blade this year, and it broke at one of the cylinder mounts. DW would not warranty it.

    BTW, DW does not bake it's own blade; someone else does, but I cannot remember who. Woody, do you know?

    D

  63. #63
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    Quote Originally Posted by dburatti
    My experience is that it's more responsive and beefier that the DW blade. I used a new 6-way DW blade this year, and it broke at one of the cylinder mounts. DW would not warranty it.

    BTW, DW does not bake it's own blade; someone else does, but I cannot remember who. Woody, do you know?

    D
    The DW blade is made by Bradco. Well actually, it is made by Pallidan who is a subsid of Bradco.

    My crew prefers the DW 4 way blade over the 6 way, it is taller and way beefier. Back to old school, the blade many of us learned on in the early days of walk behinds.

  64. #64
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    Woody & Dewayne,

    Thanks for the information on the SK650 I like the SK500 controls. And a friend of mine told me the additional power of the diesel is significant.

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