Mini-x operation tips-
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  1. #1
    featherweight clydesdale
    Reputation: Fattirewilly's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2001

    Mini-x operation tips

    So our local club rented a mini-x last week. Cost was $210 and we did pickup/delivery ourselves. It was our first time running our own equipment, but we have members with equipment experience, just not this application. Brand wise, a friend rented a Bobcat 322 and had the tracks come off 3 times. The brand the club got purely by chance was a Takeuchi, the tracks were adjusted nice and tight and we had no mechanicals. I'll post a new thread when I get one. I'd like to keep this informative.

    Prior to last week, we'd only had an sk500 and operator for a day. Wanting to keep the event a positive the first time out, I seeked some advice from a pro. Hopefully others will find it useful. Feel free to add additional info.


    Can you give me brief, 5 to 10 point lesson on mini-x use in building trails. We have 3 people who have used one in the past (VDOT employees, landscapers), but likely on level to almost level ground. I'm wondering what the max grade is that you can traverse sideways (parallel to topo) and straight up and down (perpendicular to topo). I'd rather make a good impression rather than flip this thing over.


    A mini-x is slow, tippy, and has a steeper and longer learning curve than other machines. I like them when working in areas with lots of rocks, stumps, or a heavy duff layer. They do have nice ergonomics.

    I prefer using them these days if the job is right, but I failed in one in front of a bunch of land managers a few years back and have experienced more terrifying moments than in any other machine.

    They come with two different control patterns, ISO and ASE. I run ISO, any backhoe operators will probably use ASE. The difference is in the one of the boom controls. A bobcat 323 may or may not have an external control pattern switch.

    Slow and stable

    Use the blade as a jack

    Don't bring the boom to sudden stops when extended.

    you can easily track across a 20% sideslope, but you risk popping a track.

    Keep a socket set and a grease gun handy for putting the track back on.

    Be prepared for your roughed in bench to be 4-5' wide before you start raking down the spoils.

    Your bucket won't reach to the machine chassis so be careful of packing dirt up behind you where you can't get to it when the blade is in front.

    The boom and back end are the counterweights, avoid having both of them off the edge at the same time.

    Spinning tracks on fill may cause it to collapse under you.

    I'd probably build a 1/2 bench and remove much of the fill after the digger passes.

    More questions....Should steep sections (20%+) be driven sorta straight up and down to avoid track popping? How steep is too steep going straight up and down???

    Yes, unless you are building the trail at that point. Drive up w/ the blade behind you till you are across the trail corridor. Level the machine with the blade. Spin the cab and start digging. If there is a thick duff layer remove it before placing fill. Place your fill much higher than the excavated bench as it will compact under the machine.

  2. #2
    Builder of Trails
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    I'll add a little:

    I've used several mini exes, the latest being a Takeuchi TB016 with the larger bucket and thumb. When traversing straight down the slope, I like to set my bucket forward and use it as a tripod. It will most likely slide along the ground if you exceed 15% slope. As long as you don't mind that it's not an issue. I've driven one down a slope exceeding 40% from one leg of a trail to the other. The trickiest part is getting your machine back along the tread. Your operator should be comfortable running the machine, of course!

    Also, when climbing straight up a slope you can use the bucket to grab stumps, rocks, etc. to pull the machine up while running the tracks at the same time. It takes a little coordination but isn't too difficult to do.

    As far as losing the tracks off one side or the other, I find that the soil type/composition sometimes plays a role. This summer's work included very fine soil with a LOT of minuscule decomposed granite. The tracks would tend to bind, so I often raised the machine and ran the tracks to free them from the soil and rock. The only time I lost the tracks this year was when the tracks got muddy and clogged with rock, too. Putting tracks back on in mud while its raining sucks!


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