What sort of pitfalls does a newb need to know about working a mini-excavator?

Contractor quoted me $7000 for an asphalt driveway (approx 800 sq ft) and that was the lowest bidder out of 3 bids. 3" of asphalt over 3" gravel.

For $7k I can put in a concrete driveway (8" gravel base, 6" concrete) myself if I rent a mini-excavator to do the digging, make the concrete forms myself, and broom finish the concrete once it's poured.

I just don't have any experience running an excavator, so I'm trying to figure out what I need to know in advance.

Do I need to worry about it bogging down in soft clay soil or do the tracks spread the weight enough to avoid that?

Will the excavator's weight compact the gravel if I drive over it a few times, or would I need to rent a compactor/tamper?

Can I drive it back to my place on a rural road, or will it tear up the asphalt? (I'd prefer not to pay for delivery if I don't have to.)

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  1. 4 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    >Can I drive it back to my place on a rural road, or will it tear up the asphalt?
    These things are slow anon. Really slow. Is the rental place your neighbour?

  2. 4 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    >Can I drive it back to my place on a rural road
    it won't tear up the road, but they are REALLY slow like that other anon says. Look up the top speed in the manual for the model you're considering.

    As far as operating it-- they are very easy to operate as a complete noob as long as you observe basic safety rules (don't frick around on steep slopes, don't pick up stuff thats way too heavy and then drive with the boom up etc)
    Again, read over the manual real quick and you'll be prepared to hop on it and start going. The manual explains the controls in detail.
    You're going to be waaaaay slower and way less accurate and effective than an experienced operator, but that might not matter for your purposes.

    For compaction, you could either just drive it around (compact after excavation, then consider doing the gravel in 2 lifts) or you can rent a compactor for a couple hundred bucks. The ground pressure put down by a mini-excavator on tracks is not very high; it's way smaller than a cars tires or probably even your own feet.

  3. 4 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    >What sort of pitfalls
    falling into a pit would be a big one

  4. 4 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    If you want a serious answer about stuff I never thought about but turned out to be important, you will get sunburned in places you never thought you could get sunburned, they are louder than you think after endless hours so wear earplugs, they are more thirsty for fuel that you think so get a big gas or diesel can, and you need to call your states local equivalent of onecall now not later. Yeah legally if you can prove you called three days earlier you shouldn't be found guilty at trial if you dig a utility up, but it's just better to plan ahead. Also if you are not liable for digging up a gas or electric line that is nice but you are still dead anyway. Finally everything takes longer. Some pro on YouTube could do it in a morning means it will take you half a week and given what you are paying to rent you might want to reconsider diy.

  5. 3 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    Anon that's a 1 ton digger, just fashion some ramps out of 2x8s and drive it into your truck bed. Yes it will fit.
    >inb4 trucklet
    A trailer is fine too. Your shutbox will unironically pull that no problem on the smallest uhaul trailer.

  6. 3 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    >>Do I need to worry about it bogging down in soft clay soil or do the tracks spread the weight enough to avoid that?
    yes and no, this is situational awareness. you can get it stuck in a million ways, including digging into soft soils and dirts.

    >>Will the excavator's weight compact the gravel if I drive over it a few times, or would I need to rent a compactor/tamper?
    yes, but a car will too, the surface area of the excavator is just the tracks..you won't be able to tamp it down appropriately with only the excavator, but as I worked I would drive over it to make compacting it easier, when you get to that step. but fuel cost to use this as a Tamper is dumb.

    >>Can I drive it back to my place on a rural road, or will it tear up the asphalt? (I'd prefer not to pay for delivery if I don't have to.)
    no.
    just no.
    in the end, I'd recommend hiring someone boss. the questions involve the equipment more than the job, you have 2 hurdles to try to do a decent long lasting job.
    you can probably do it, but your gonna find out why they charge what they charge sooner or later, the hidden cost.

  7. 3 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    i think you wanna be renting a backhoe unless your dirt is so slick that wheeled machines just can't go

    • 3 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      Thanks, everyone.

      What are the dimensions of the driveway, might be better to use a mini skid steer if you are wanting to only rent one machine.

      Planned dimensions are 18x30 on relatively flat ground (I'd like to put in a garage/workshop eventually) and then about 12x30 on steeply sloped ground.

      A backhoe or skid steer might work better. That's a good point.

      • 3 weeks ago
        Anonymous

        >18x30
        >backhoe or skid steer may work better
        get one with a 4 in one bucket so you can use the scraper function of the bucket.

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  8. 3 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    What are the dimensions of the driveway, might be better to use a mini skid steer if you are wanting to only rent one machine.

  9. 3 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    Jesus frick the advice given here is cringey.
    So many variables to consider.
    Unless you need to chip up old concrete just rent a skid steer. Cut to grade, gravel and form it up.

  10. 3 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    1. If somehow you get it stuck use the bucket to pull yourself out. It's strong enough to do that.
    2. No, excavators have pretty low ground psi, so they don't get stuck. A wheelbarrow with earth in it probably has a higher ground psi. Rent a tamper.
    3. If it's got rubber tracks you won't rip up asphalt. They are walking speed to put that into google maps and check your journey.

    When you go to rip up whatever (old driveway etc) just make sure to get all the teeth on the bucket under your object. Don't use one tooth, you could rip it off the bucket.

  11. 3 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    >$7000 for an asphalt driveway (approx 800 sq ft)
    frick. i was thinking about having some concrete drivway and parking area added to the space around my garage. frick i dont have $10k to spend on that.

    • 3 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      The previous owner of my old house worked at a concrete company across the street for three years and every week he'd bring the cement truck home build a form and pour another chunk of driveway with tailings. The result was a very nice if mismatched U drive and huge pad with a few shoot off parking spots. One of the big reasons I bought the property. He quit the day he poured his last free slab. Pretty fricking based if you ask me.

      OTOH I had a programmer friend who didn't want to pay for a cement driveway so he poured his own one single bag at a time, mixed in a wheelbarrow. Kind of insane but it's certainly possible. I never saw it but I imagine each single bag form was a small piece so a lot of little slabs I guess. Still it makes a driveway/slab and you are quite literally doing PrepHole.

  12. 3 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    buy a mini, do the job, then sell the mini
    it'll be way cheaper then renting

  13. 3 weeks ago
    Anonymous

    >why hire a contractor if I can spend a week and do it myself lol, btw i've never done it before

    • 3 weeks ago
      Anonymous

      You wanna learn how to build driveways or consoome product on the weekend?

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