I’m very excited to tell you all about our newest toy today! FYI, my husband would be mad at me for calling it a toy. For years, we have wanted to buy a backhoe but like many homesteaders, there’s just not any money in the budget for such an expensive machine.
We recently ALMOST made a HUGE mistake and purchased a used 1975 backhoe/trencher but then my husband stumbled upon the YardPro mini towable backhoe. We contemplated whether it would really be able to get the job done since it’s so small. It actually only weighs a bit over 1,000 pounds without an operator in the seat. Well, probably a little more than that when you have 4 gallons of hydraulic oil in it that it doesn’t come shipped with. But the difference isn’t much.
Some of the things that were appealing to us were that it can be towed behind a vehicle like a log splitter, it was only about $3,300 brand new, and it could get into tighter spaces than a traditional backhoe.
We did a ton of research on these machines and during our research, we noticed that one of our neighbors had one that was made by a different manufacturer. We knocked on her door and asked if she would consider selling it and her exact words were, “Heck no! That thing has paid for itself ten times over!”
That was enough to convince us so we placed our order and a few weeks later it arrived. Assembling it was quite a chore though. Even with both my husband and myself working all day and with the help of the front end loader on our tractor it was a big job. My main complaint about the assembly process was that the instructions were a bit confusing to us and in our opinion, poorly written.
Once it was finally assembled, we were really happy with the overall quality of the machine. The steel used in the YardPro version was heavier duty than the one our neighbor has and the hydraulics moved pretty quickly as well.
It comes with a 9 inch wide “trenching bucket” but we also bought the 14 inch wide bucket. So far, we’ve been able to do everything we needed to do with the 9 inch bucket though. I’m sure there will come a day when we’re digging in soft dirt that we’ll be glad that we bought the bigger bucket. Bigger bucket = more dirt moved in a shorter amount of time.
It took about a day of operating it for my husband to become pretty proficient with the joystick controls. The first hole he dug was a post hole for a gate and there was a huge rock that he was able to dig out. It was even bigger than the rock in the photo in this article! When I saw the size of the rock, I was positive that he wouldn’t be able to get it out with that little backhoe but the machine was actually up to the task.
We had it attached to our little Yanmar 155D tractor when we were lifting the heavy rocks out but we quickly discovered that we prefer to use it when it’s not attached to a tow vehicle.
When it’s not attached to a tow vehicle, you move it around by putting your bucket in the dirt and lifting the outriggers into the air. Then you just pull or push yourself in the direction you want to go.
Modifications We Plan to Make
After putting about 15 hours on the machine, my husband has decided that for his liking, the seat isn’t quite long enough under his legs. He said that after spending about 5 hours on it, the front edge of the seat caused him some discomfort in his legs. We’ll probably replace the seat with a tractor seat that can be adjusted forward or backward.
Another complaint he had was that he felt like the controls weren’t very ergonomically designed. The way they are positioned, a 6′ tall person has to bend over to reach them which has a tendency to make my husband’s back sore. He said that he’ll probably just fabricate some extensions so that he can sit comfortably without having to lean over and stretch to reach the joysticks.
The last issue AND THIS IS A BIG DEAL is that my husband wanted to make sure the wheel bearings were packed with grease before we towed this thing anywhere. They did have a little bit of grease on them that looked kind of like Vaseline.
Ironically, there was a little tub of grease inside each wheel bearing cap that said something to the effect that the bearings come covered in assembly grease but for long trips you may need more grease. We just repacked them with good wheel bearing grease before we towed it to be on the safe side. By the way, it towed like a dream!
What’s the Bottom Line?
We were a bit nervous that this little backhoe wouldn’t be suitable for our little hobby farm but we’re actually extremely pleased with it so far. The only problem now is that I can never get my husband to come inside for dinner!