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Posted: 11/20/2015

From Smallest to Largest, Bobcat Excavators Make Quick Work of Utility Projects

Smooth, precise controls and quick attachment changes deliver best-in-class results

Making Quick Work of Utility Projects

After the first 30 minutes, Scott Wiese was already comfortable operating his newest Bobcat® excavator — a mighty E85 — complementing a much smaller Zero Rail Swing 418. He had a good feel for what the smooth, powerful machine could do. Within a few days he was producing results that owners of other brands could only imagine.

As owners of Chief Construction Inc., Wiese and his father, Paul, install and repair electric, gas, water and cable services in towns and on farms throughout the northern prairie. The work includes both main lines and street-to-building installations. On farms they put in gas lines to grain dryers — some lines are as long as 1 or 2 miles.

“One of the first jobs I used the E85 on was lowering utilities that were 24 inches apart,” he says. “I dug between the existing utilities with an 18-inch trenching bucket with no problem whatsoever. The controls were very smooth and precise. The job went almost as fast as if the utilities were not there and I was just digging in the soil.

“On another job, I was digging between gas and fiber optic lines in a wet area,” he continues. “I needed to do a lot of work to stabilize the ground. I couldn’t believe how fast the project went. Those types of jobs really sold me on the E85.”

Another advantage of the Bobcat excavator, according to Wiese, was completing underground work by using his largest bucket to quickly backfill material in his trenches.

Several years ago, Chief Construction purchased a 22-metric-ton excavator for a large project. It was difficult and costly to haul around and, after watching it sit idle most of the time, the Wieses decided a smaller, more efficient excavator would better fit their needs.

Although the minimal tail swing E85 is the biggest Bobcat excavator, its compact size compared to larger equipment made it the ideal machine for the company’s booming utility business.

Plus, it had plenty of desirable features, including:

  • Long arm to reach farther and do more work with minimal repositioning
  • A quiet, comfortable cab with an adjustable seat and deluxe instrumentation
  • Powerful hydraulics and fast cycle times
  • Joystick controls with integrated boom swing and auxiliary controls
  • Auto-idle throttle to lower fuel consumption and the noise level, and enhances jobsite communication

“My favorite is the quick-tach attachment mounting system,” Wiese says. “I have three Bobcat trenching buckets — 18, 24 and 36 inches wide — and I can take one off, put another on and be digging within minutes. Working fast with precision is critical in utility work.”

418 goes where E85 can’t
When fenced-in backyards take the E85 out of the picture, the company turns to its other Bobcat excavator — a 418 — the smallest in the Bobcat excavator lineup. With a retracted track width of 28 inches, the ultra-compact, time-saving excavator provides access to confined locations. Once it arrives at its worksite, the undercarriage expands to 43 inches for increased stability
and performance.

“On one job we had to repair an electrical line in a backyard and the only alternative to hand labor was the 418,” Wiese says. “We dug down five and a half feet into tree roots to expose the line. It would have taken us at least a day to dig with shovels; the 418 did it in 2 hours. That excavator is perfect for this type of job. It is a superb complement to the bigger, more powerful E85.”

Those two machines and their attachments, purchased at Bobcat of Mandan, provide Chief Construction with an efficient, cost-effective way to succeed in the underground utilities business.

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