Mini diggers - easy to drive?

Discussion in 'Builders' Talk' started by DIYaster, May 24, 2007.

  1. DIYaster

    DIYaster New Member

    I have a mini digger hired for this weekend to level some of my backgarden and to level / set founds for a garage. The garden is sloped and quite uneven. The fella is charging £85 a day without a driver or £150 with a driver.
    The area to be leveled is about 30m * 10m. Has anyone driven these diggers before and are they simple enough to use?

    Basically if it is a hard job I will get the driver as he will probably be a lot quicker than me and if he can do it in one day it would make sense.

    I am worried that it'll tip over and have heard a few horror stories>

    Anyone any thoughts?
  2. devil's advocate

    devil's advocate New Member

    Hi DIYaster.

    Well, if you want to live up to your name...

    I hired a mini JCB to dig a couple of cable/water trenches, remove tarmac from my drive and to try and level the area afterwards. The ground was only slightly off level to start with, so easier than what you are proposing.

    Ok, first, it was GREAT fun! You need to plan it carefully, so that you reverse away from the trench you are digging. I did find myself, once, right on the edge of the 750mm deep trench I'd just dug, and was swallowing hard as I tried to inch away from it - quite hairy.

    Getting the hang of the controls was surprisingly easy after 1/2 an hour or so, and my neighb was well impressed when I told him I was a JCB virgin up to that point. However, as the hours passed, and I became a bit tired, I found I was starting to get a bit confused... :(

    Then it came to levelling the driveway, the job I thought would be a piece of pish... I now realise that is the type of job which really separates the men from the chancers, 'cos I was complete carp.

    I tried to use the 'plough' on the front, raising it up and down slightly as I pushed over the ground, but this only partially worked as the digger itself would go up and down with each bump. Apparently, it's done using the 'thingy' bucket, BUT to use it properly, you need to tweak the up/down and back/forwards levers simultaneously to keep the bucket scraping the ground at a perfectly horizontal level. Suffice to say, I simply couldn't do it :(

    So, to sum up (!!!), if you are doing a simple, straight-forward job, then DIY and have fun. But, for what you have in mind, pay for a driver!

    (My opinion, of course... :p)
  3. Hombre

    Hombre New Member

    I fully endorse DA's comments.
    If you want to have fun DIY, but if you want a professional job done quickly pay the driver...
    I went for the DIY option ;o)
  4. DIYaster

    DIYaster New Member

    ok thanks guys - I having a chat with him tomorrow before he drops it off so if he says it's a tough one for a beginner then I'll just hire him and get it over with. Cheers.
  5. jonob

    jonob Member

    i only learned to drive by hiring them

    started on small ones

    now well confident on 18 tonners

    levelling is difficult to start with , but if youve an idea it gets easier
  6. lojo

    lojo New Member

    If your fairly practicle with stuff like this, you should be ok after an hour or so

    After pushing the levers the wrong way a few times and nearly tipping you'll soon get it
  7. ­

    ­ New Member

    Levelling and grading are the hardest skills to achieve. You need many many hours of doing this before it becomes 'natural'.

    Remember when you first learnt to drive a car. How you had to think what pedal to press, when and how hard etc etc. Now driving is totally natural and needs no thinkng about (I'm assuming you are a good driver?......)

    Well digger driving is the same. You need to have done the hours of grading and levelling to get good at it. Even trench work is easy to get wrong. As a novice you may end up doing more damage to the surrounding walls/fences/trees or whatever than you would have paid the driver to do it for you.
  8. P F Hammer

    P F Hammer New Member

    I started on that size, but sadly when I used the smaller models, I found that two controls were reversed! It's harder than never having driven one trying to unlearn what is embedded in your brain!
  9. limestone cowboy

    limestone cowboy New Member

    I would go for the digger and driver option, unless you want the experience. It's cheap at £150, if it's a 1.5 ton machine. I charge £155 for my 1 ton and £165 for my 1.5 ton, plus delivery, plus fuel. I'm competitive in this area. It's only £65 extra for a days skilled labour. As others have said grading is the hardest to learn, so a driver will get the job done quicker so you will not need the machine on hire as long.
  10. gardm1nt

    gardm1nt New Member

    A operater who uses one day in day out will save money in time saved alone.

    I part run the family building firm and since i have land the sitmaster is parked up in my barn between jobs. i have used plant ocasionly on and off for nearly twenty years and have driven both minis and the jcb to cover sickness etc but I am far slower than our day to day driver.

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