This page is a little out of character for this site, but I can't resist writing about a nifty little machine that I rented recently for a specific project. Featured here is the Terramite made by Terramite Company This machine is consistent with the recent trends for manufacturers to make knockoffs of larger machines. We all know how the Case backhoe changed the way construction is done. Now we have the 'mini's'. It is a rental yard favorite because it is small enough to load on a small equipment trailer and tow behind a pickup, yet big enough to do do some real work.
I ultimately selected it for rental for these very reasons. I needed to dig a hole 70 miles from nowhere out in the desert, and this machine was easily towable on a 12 foot equipment trailer behind a pickup. This model is powered by a 20 horse 2 cylinder Kohler gas engine and is fully hydrostatic drive. There is no clutch or brake in the conventional sense. Under your right foot is a rocker pedal. Rock it forward and the machine goes forward and rock it the other way and it backs up. Release the pedal and a self centering spring stops the machine. It is variable speed depending on how far you push the pedal. The machine is well balanced front to rear and will scoop well with the front bucket, but will also keep its front wheels on the ground. The backhoe is controlled 'John Deere' style, with two joysticks. I found the machine to be amazingly productive with only a couple minor design blemishes. The space provided for the operators feet in the backhoe mode was grossly inadequate. My shoe size (12) would just slip into the pockets for the operators feet, but I had to twist and turn my shoes to get them out---an inconvenient and dangerous condition to my mind. My other criticism is the failure of the backhoe to swing more than about 75 degrees to each side (instead of a preferred full 90 degrees). I'm not sure whether stability issues or other limitations led the manufacturer to impose that swing limitation, but it is a nuisance if you want to dig a hole. It makes no difference in digging a ditch, but if you want a wide hole (the digging of which will lead you to 'quarter' the machine with the excavation, the swing limitation leads you to have no place to dump the dirt.
|Terramite (non expanding photo)|
Beyond that, the backhoe is fast and productive and works just like the big machines. While it lacks reach enough for such applications as grave digging, it is a natural for uncovering underground utilities, and generally digging around in the back yard. It is an interesting alternative to a skidsteer machine. It is 'butt ugly' and mostly of a fabricated design making it look crude and unsophisticated, but looks are deceiving. It is the hydrostatic drive that makes this machine possible and that is all out of sight.