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How to operate a mini excavator

So you either rented or purchased a mini excavator for a commercial job, or work around the farm or house and you have never operated one before. Below I will walk you through the steps of safely operating a mini excavator. For reference, I run a KX series Kubota, I will be describing the functions from this machine. These are going to be common functions that are somewhat universal, however each machine may vary.

But, first things first - safety!

First and foremost, let’s talk about safety. Before you start digging any ground, you should call your local diggers hotline office to come out and mark the ground for any underground utilities in your immediate area. Next, before entering the machine you will want to read through and familiarize yourself with the operator’s manual. You will want to learn about the pilot controls and how they function. You will also want to know your lifting capacity. You don’t want to overload the machine and put yourself into a dangerous situation. Also, you will want to know your auxiliary output if running an attachment such as a mini excavator brush cutter. You don’t want to have to little or too much GPM when running any attachment with a hydraulic motor.

When entering the mini excavator, use a 3 point contact. This means both hands on the entering handles, and 1 foot on the track. This will limit the risk of slipping when entering the machine, especially in mucky conditions. Next, you will always want to put your seatbelt on. The reason for the seatbelt is if you do happen to roll over, the rollover structure of the machine will protect you as long as you stay in your seat.

Secondly - Start and operate your skid steer

You are ready to start your machine. Most machines these days start by turning a key inside the cab. Once the machine is started, in order for the machine to come live (all functions working) is to push down on the lock lever. This engages the hydraulic pump(s) on the machine and you are ready to go. You have two pilot controls, one on the left of you and one on the right. If you pull back on the right lever, it will lift the boom up. When you push the right lever forward, it brings the boom down. When you pull back on the left, it brings the boom in. When you push the left lever forward it extends the boom out.

Next you will have two travel sticks directly in front of you. These travel sticks control the forward and reverse of the tracks. The tracks operate independently from each other for turning purposes. If you push the left lever forward, the left track will move forward. If you pull back on the left lever it will reverse the left track. The same goes with the right travel stick.

There is a second joystick on the right side of the operator. This operates the front blade. Pulling back on the lever will raise the blade up; pushing forward will lower the blade.

Curling the bucket is done by taking the right lever and pulling it over towards you. Moving it the opposite way opens the bucket back up.

To spin the machine left or right, you simply use the left joystick and either move it left or right. This will spin the machine either left or right depending on which way you move the joystick.

Overall, safety is the biggest concern when operating this machine. If you are using your machine for any forestry applications such as a brush cutter, you will want to make sure you have a forestry package installed on your cab. Otherwise, operating a mini excavator is quite simple and easy to learn.

If you have any questions feel free to call 866-315-3134