How to dig a trench

Chris11

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Jun 6, 2014
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How does one dig a water line trench? Dig 6 feet or so with the seat facing backwards, get up, reposition the seat to forward facing, move the tractor 6 feet, get up, repositon the seat to the back again.....etc, etc. That doesn't seem reasonable.
What am I missing?
Thanks, Chris
 

Quick

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Yep. And after you get comfortable with it, you'll figure out how to move the tractor forward using the backhoe without swapping the seat around . Don't rush it.
 
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North Idaho Wolfman

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Or you'll realize you should have used a mini excavator! 😋 :ROFLMAO:
 
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nbryan

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Yep. And after you get comfortable with it, you'll figure out how to move the tractor forward using the backhoe without swapping the seat around . Don't rush it.
This^^^.
Takes many hours to get a good and reliable "feel" for what your backhoe can do and how to finely control it without one's mind getting in the way. It gets like your fingers are connected without thought to the tip of the bucket. Like learning to drive a car.
By then it will be clear enough to you how to safely use the backhoe to maneuver the tractor in many situations.
I do now, all the time, but after over 3 years of getting comfortable with it.
 
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TX Chris

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Precisely why you don't see pros using small backhoes to dig long trenches. For us homeowners, we deal with the cons that come with utility tractors with a backhoe stuck on because we need a jack-of-all-trades, master of none, so to speak.

Like everyone else said, practice with it and play with moving the tractor around after a while. It's not that bad.
 

Elliott in GA

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I do not have a backhoe; I did/do not have enough uses to justify buying one. For those that need/want a backhoe enough to spend the money, you made the right decision for you.

I did need to dig an approximately 180 foot trench for some direct bury electrical wire. I rented a treaded trencher; it was a Vermeer unit that costs about $30K. I rented it from a place about 30 minutes away. I was able to pick up the trencher (it came with a trailer), use it and return it in less than 4 hours. I paid less that $160 including the insurance for my half day rental. The trench was very clean and easy to cover.

If I had owned a backhoe, I still would have rented the trencher.
 
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The Evil Twin

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I do not have a backhoe; I did/do not have enough uses to justify buying one. For those that need/want a backhoe enough to spend the money, you made the right decision for you.

I did need to dig an approximately 180 foot trench for some direct bury electrical wire. I rented a treaded trencher; it was a Vermeer unit that costs about $30K. I rented it from a place about 30 minutes away. I was able to pick up the trencher (it came with a trailer), use it and return it in less than 4 hours. I paid less that $160 including the insurance for my half day rental. The trench was very clean and easy to cover.

If I had owned a backhoe, I still would have rented the trencher.
Yep! Did the same for a gas line to my generator. Minimal disturbance to the lawn and perfectly clean cut.
 
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85Hokie

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How does one dig a water line trench? Dig 6 feet or so with the seat facing backwards, get up, reposition the seat to forward facing, move the tractor 6 feet, get up, repositon the seat to the back again.....etc, etc. That doesn't seem reasonable.
What am I missing?
Thanks, Chris

Chris,

there is another way - some may call the safety police however!

There are two safety switches under your seat - if you "zip tie" one of them down (a temporary fix) you can stay in your seat! How you ask - you will need about a 3 foot stick also, when you want to move forward a bit, raise your FEL up, raise your outriggers up a bit and reach around to the left and use the stick to hit the HST pedal a bit - lower your bucket and 'riggers and dig on. True the backhoe push is a bit faster - it too takes a bit of practice.;)
 
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dirtydeed

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Two options for you:

1) as others mentioned, you simply use the hoe to move you along (push or pull) and for repositioning the tractor. Leave the machine in neutral for this. Do this on flat ground until you get the hang of it. The hoe will keep you anchored (brake) as will the outriggers.
2) the second (not so common practice) involves the use of stick (boat hook works better). You use the stick to depress the go pedal or under hook the pedal to reverse while seated in the backhoe position. Obviously, you'd need to keep the tractor in gear.

There are lots of youtube videos on how to do both of these with option 1 being the safest/most common.

Edit -ha, Hokie beat me to it
 
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GreensvilleJay

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1st, find out how deep your 'frost line' really is. Here in southern Ontario it's '4 feet', so no way I need to dig down SIX feet for a water line. Less material to remove(and replace) ,the faster the job will be.
Assuming it's a straight line, point tractor's bucket to the 'end' point. Be sure wheels are straight,then start digging. lift bucket up a bit, raise the legs 6" then push yourself forward, lower legs and bucket, repeat until you get to the 'end'.
It is slow compared to an excavator but can be fun.

Please consider putting the line inside of 4" conductor pipe,weeping tile or conduit. This way WHEN it has to be replaced, it's a simple task and a LOT faster than digging up the trench again.
 
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allis15

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1st, find out how deep your 'frost line' really is. Here in southern Ontario it's '4 feet', so no way I need to dig down SIX feet for a water line. Less material to remove(and replace) ,the faster the job will be.
Assuming it's a straight line, point tractor's bucket to the 'end' point. Be sure wheels are straight,then start digging. lift bucket up a bit, raise the legs 6" then push yourself forward, lower legs and bucket, repeat until you get to the 'end'.
It is slow compared to an excavator but can be fun.

Please consider putting the line inside of 4" conductor pipe,weeping tile or conduit. This way WHEN it has to be replaced, it's a simple task and a LOT faster than digging up the trench again.

Jay
I think the 6 feet referred to was distance / length, not depth.
Gary
 
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Mark_BX25D

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How does one dig a water line trench? Dig 6 feet or so with the seat facing backwards, get up, reposition the seat to forward facing, move the tractor 6 feet, get up, repositon the seat to the back again.....etc, etc. That doesn't seem reasonable.
What am I missing?
Thanks, Chris
You have described the hard way, and it works fine. It's what beginners should do. My boys and I have done a few thousand feet that way. It's nothing to cry about. You get faster at swapping it around.

But once you have the feel of the machine, there is a faster way. Others have described it. Here's a video on it:

 

D2Cat

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I am curious to know how the responders to the original question knew he was talking about or owned a backhoe? :)
 

dirtydeed

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I am curious to know how the responders to the original question knew he was talking about or owned a backhoe? :)
Signature. Equipment says BX25.
 

Lil Foot

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Dig 6 feet or so with the seat facing backwards, get up, reposition the seat to forward facing, move the tractor 6 feet, get up, repositon the seat to the back again.....etc, etc.
Not sure about qwned, but it seems like he was talking about a tractor mounted backhoe....
 

North Idaho Wolfman

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I am curious to know how the responders to the original question knew he was talking about or owned a backhoe? :)
Seat facing backwards was the giveaway for me. ;)
 
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GreensvilleJay

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Dig 6 feet or so with the seat facing backwards, get up, reposition the seat to forward facing, move the tractor 6 feet, get up, repositon the seat to the back again.....etc, etc.

was the clue for me....

then again, I'm wondering what that big, yellow ball in the sky is today ? It's making my face warm....hurts my eyes too... :giggle:
 

North Idaho Wolfman

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then again, I'm wondering what that big, yellow ball in the sky is today ? It's making my face warm....hurts my eyes too... :giggle:
You lucky bugger!
Gloomy here!
And makes it hard to spot UFO's
 
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