use cat mini excavator

How to Use a Mini Excavator

Being part of the construction industry means you have access to a wide variety of different heavy equipment, but nothing is as versatile, reliable and easy-to-use as the mini excavator. 

Mini excavators — like their standard sized counterparts — have a backhoe attachment, ideal for projects that require a moderate amount of digging, as they are faster and easier than attempting to dig through an area by hand. What makes mini excavators so appealing for many job sites are their lightweight design and ability to fit into smaller sites or cramped spaces where a standard excavator cannot comfortably fit.

A Variety of Uses for Mini Excavators

Due to its compact design, simple dual joystick controls and versatile operations, a mini excavator can be used for several different tasks. Part of what makes using a mini excavator so appealing for many is that there’s a wide variety of different attachments you can use in place of its shovel. Mini excavators can be used for:

  • Repairing sewer lines
  • Installing pools, hot tubs or ponds
  • Plowing snow
  • Demolishing small structures, asphalt, steel and concrete
  • Digging holes and trenches
  • Landscaping and stump removal
  • Drilling and backlifting

How to Use a Mini Excavator

Of the available machinery you can use for your next project, mini excavators are one of the simplest to use. After reading the owner’s or renter’s manual, you can operate a mini excavator by following these steps:

  1. In the cab of the mini excavator, move the excavator forward using the two travel levels — pulling back the left joystick will maneuver the machine to the right, pulling the right lever back will move the mini excavator to the left.
  2. If equipped, set the stabilizers down then push the control lever for the bulldozer blade to lower it. Push this lever until the blade slightly raises the machine. If you’re just beginning as a mini excavator operator, set your engine speed at 1/2 to 2/3 throttle until more familiar with the machine’s operations.
  3. To begin excavation, push the machine’s primary boom lever forward to move the boom away from you. Once the boom is halfway through its travel range, push the dipper stick forward. Now, push the boom level forward until the bucket’s teeth contact the ground and move each joystick until the bucket is at an ideal digging angle.
  4. Pull on the dipper stick level as the bucket fills with soil and debris, then pull on the main boom level to raise the filled bucket away from the ground. Swivel the boom by turning the left and right joysticks and move the excavated soil to an appropriate dumping location.

As you continue using your mini excavator, you’ll become more comfortable with using the controls and can increase your throttle speed to achieve more efficient excavation. When filling a hole or trench, reverse these steps by retracting the main boom and dipper stick.

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