How to Properly Transport Your Compact Excavator

Posted on August 28, 2018

Transporting your compact excavator to and from the jobsite is no small feat. But it’s time well-spent. Using the right-sized trailer as well as correctly loading, positioning and securing your equipment can help you protect your investment as well as reduce the risk of load violations while on the road.

Transporting compact excavators from one jobsite to another sounds simple. But, it involves several steps that shouldn't be overlooked, such as using the right-sized trailer as well as correctly loading, positioning and securing equipment. 

If you follow these four hauling techniques and the recommendations in your Operation & Maintenance Manual, transporting your equipment can be easier than you think.

Select the Right Transport Vehicle

Your excavator cannot get to the jobsite without a safe, reliable way to haul it. Before transporting your excavator, properly match the transport and towing vehicle, such as a trailer, to the equipment. 

Most smaller excavators can be transported on a 10,000-pound trailer, while larger equipment may need a 20,000- to 30,000-pound trailer or larger. If you are transporting oversize loads, such as an excavator and an attachment, you will likely need a larger trailer with a larger weight rating to handle the load. A transport vehicle’s load rating can be found on its identification plan or in the equipment owner’s manual if you are unsure how much you can safely haul. 

All states and local municipalities have regulations based on gross vehicle weight rating. Load ratings vary in each state, so always check federal, state and local laws and regulations regarding weight, width, length and height of a load before transporting your machine. Special approvals or permits may be required for oversize loads along your planned route.

Load the Machine Properly

Once you have selected the right transport vehicle, it’s time to load your excavator. Always load your machine as outlined in your Operation & Maintenance Manual to ensure critical actions are not missed. 

You should also follow these basic loading procedures: 

  • Check that the trailer is parked on firm and level ground. 
  • Secure the parking brakes and block the wheels of the transport vehicle. 
  • Use ramps that are the correct length and width and can support the weight of the machine. 
  • Use metal loading ramps with a slip resistant surface. 
  • Travel up the ramp with the heaviest end up when you are loading the equipment onto the trailer. 

Disengage the auto idle feature and move the two-speed travel to the low range position.

Secure It Before Transport

Next, lower your excavator’s bucket or attachment to the floor of the trailer and stop the engine. All doors and covers should be locked before transport. 

Chocks, cradles, wedges or other blocks should be placed in front of and behind each track to prevent rolling or shifting during transport. Then, install tie-downs at the front and rear tie-down positions, as identified in your Operation & Maintenance Manual. 

Most manufacturers recommend at least four tie-down positions to prevent any movement. Some transport devices have D-rings, chain slots or built-in strap rails that allow you to easily connect your excavator to the trailer. Always use the recommended connection points and securements to minimize damage 

At this time also inspect the tie-down points and tie-down equipment used to secure your machine. All pins and connection points should be secure and the hooks still functional. If you see any cracks, stretches or fatigued links, remove the tie-down equipment.

Don’t Forget Attachments

Whenever possible, the attachment should be connected to your excavator before transport. If that isn’t possible, set the attachment on the trailer so it can be secured by chain straps. Buckets and other attachments should be properly secured to the transport device, especially when transporting smaller excavators. 

If your excavator is equipped with hydraulic attachments, make sure the hoses are routed in an orientation where they are not interfering with the machine on the trailer. For instance, hoses should not be laying underneath the machine, located in the way of a tie-down or connected where they could become disengaged. 

Transporting your excavator doesn’t have to be difficult. By following these four tips and instructions along with recommendations in your owner’s manual, you can minimize loading challenges the next time you need to transport your machine.