There’s a story, circulating in New Zealand Ice Hockey Circles (Yes, we play Ice Hockey here in NZ), about a bunch of guys who got together to form a social ice hockey team. They wanted to have a bit of fun so signed up for the beginners division of a NZ Senior Non-Check league. At their first ever practice, so the story goes, they didn’t practice skating, or passing or shooting. Instead they spent their first hour together practicing how to ”change up” … the subtle art of substituting; of getting to and from the team bench. They figured that if they could get on and off the ice in one piece, without any embarrassing falls, they might stand a chance of playing a few good shots. It’s not a bad idea.
This story reminded us of training the ‘Newbie’ to drive the new Kubota excavator off and on the trailer last week. Most smaller excavators will operate on inclines of up to 30 degrees. But get anywhere over 20 degrees incline and it gets a bit worrying…
So the ‘Newbie’ made a few notes. Here’s our guidelines to make it easier and safer getting an excavator off and on a trailer:
1. Ensure all the strops and fastenings are undone and put away. Pretty basic really.
2. Check the surroundings. Make sure there are no overhead cables or areas of unstable ground. Make sure the trailer is on level ground.
3. Adopt an exclusion zone of at least 8 meters around the excavator.
4. Put on the seat belt, secure the left hand joystick control, and start the engine. If the park brake isn’t engaged or the left joystick control in the correct position, the engine may not start. (Took me a while to figure this one out).
5. With the motor at idle, raise the bucket by 400-500 mm, to clear the front of the trailer.
6. Lift the dozer blade so that it’s about 150 mm off the floor of the trailer, and move the excavator back about 300 mm.
7. Using the Left joy stick, swing the cab around so that you face toward the rear of the trailer.
8. As you are now facing backwards, remember that the forward / back levers work in the opposite direction. Drive slowly to the edge of the trailer.
9. Depress the bucket so that it is just about the ground, so as to provide some protection in case you tip forward while descending from the trailer.
10. Drive slowly off the trailer, adjusting the bucket so that it just touches the ground as you descend.
Placing the excavator back on the trailer is exactly the reverse and we appreciate it when clients leave the largest bucket attached and use it to secure the other buckets firmly against the trailer chassis. It certainly gets easier with training, but the first few times can be unnerving.
We’re always happy to provide some basic training ( the middle of the day is usually best as mornings and evenings can be very busy). And remember: operating these excavators is much easier than learning to play ice hockey.