Posted on: 25 Feb 2019
Topic: General News
Some days I just wonder in what direction our once brilliant industry is heading and, if it’s heading in a better direction than I think, just who is leading it.
Now as an old bloke I tend to think we done it better, quicker, harder, tougher and sometimes smarter than any of the new generations of young blokes you come across, until you run into fellas like Jack Healey of Echuca on the Murray River in Victoria.
Now Jack is a young bloke of about 25(ish), a strapping young lad in build and as polite and respectful as you would wish to find in any young "Y Genner".
This generation cop a fair bit of flack, sometimes warranted, by the older generation for not having a go and being part of a "taking and not giving, disrespectful, arrogant and non-communicative generation of young adults".
Although we are almost two generations apart, Jack and I have a common interest and that is excavators. So, when the power of social media brought Jack and me together whilst I was in Echuca, Vic, I found it an absolute pleasure to sit and talk to this young bloke about how he attacks the industry as an owner of a couple of excavators (with heaps of attachments), a skid steer, a couple of real tidy trucks and his aspirations and the direction he is taking in creating a better industry.
Now when you walk into his yard it doesn’t surprise one that there is a bit of everything lying around due to the fact that he shares it with a couple of other trades, but sticking out like a "red light on an industrial brothel" are a couple of small excavators with the appearance of just coming off the showroom floor.
First impression is the lasting one for me so needless to say I was very impressed after my quick look around. Well-greased, spotless presentation, dogged down on the trailers ready for the next day’s work (after all, it was a Sunday afternoon), all of the hydraulic attachments perfectly in place, in order and easily identifiable, augers, hammers, rippers, forks, an assortment of buckets for each machine, Grade Lasers and wheels… a place for everything and everything in its place.
With the Bobcat T590 skid steer tucked away and in readiness for the next shift, it was the immaculate Bobcat E50 bladed excavator sitting on the wash bay pad that took my eye.
Pride in your machinery cannot be taught – you either love it and hold onto your passion, or you treat it like a chore with a "she’ll be right" attitude.
Jack holds the former view and the Bobcat E50 excavator is absolutely immaculate.
Spotless in all areas, serviced to the "tenth-degree" and with over 1,300 machine hours on the clock, it is a credit to its owner.
Zero scratches or scuff marks, no dents, no cracked glass, no excessive grease bulging out, sitting square, straight and neat as a pin. Brilliant!
UNDER THE HOOD
The Bobcat E50 runs the tried and true V2403 four-cylinder diesel engine and pushes out about 49hp (36.5kW). These engines are real world class and are proven in just about every field you could imagine from marine and industry to agriculture and construction, and parts are available all over the world. A great little engine for any purpose.
To access the hydraulics or engine bay it is as simple as flicking a lever and the engine bay cowling pops up and forward toward the cab, giving the operator or fitter easy access to all the filters, engine check points, radiator, etc., but the hydraulic pump cover flips directly forward, showing off the exceptional pipework and intricate nature of the hydraulic plumbing and hose work.
All quite accessible providing you have some certain contortionist DNA traits passed down from our predecessors.
ON THE JOB
Once in the machine you know the owner just loves it like a newborn baby.
Cranking the little girl up, it immediately becomes responsive to every lever movement and not a squeak, pin slap or groan to be seen or heard.
The near 50hp engine certainly develops enough power to push just about anything you would want to throw at it and is definitely helped by the design of the curved blade, with a good leading cutting edge.
Not enough thought goes into the design of the blades and a total underestimation by the design engineers of the pushing power of excavators is a worldwide issue in my opinion. Not so on the Bobcat as the leading edge protrudes well forward of the top of the blade, it has great curvature and is positioned well enough forward so the operator has good vision of the corner tips, meaning it’s a "win-win" from me.
Digging in the good Murray River topsoil flats is not an issue and the Bobcat gets to full depth of 4.3m in record time. Loading out into the tipper with the big bucket is no effort either as it has a dump load out height of over 4m. Jam that blade into the ground to get more height and immediately you have created ample room for operator loading error.
When in travel mode Bobcat has decided that 3kph in slow and 5kph in high speed travel mode is as good as you deserve so no land speed records broken but no traffic fines either. It suits this little machine just fine as the 80-litre lockable fuel tank offers better than a good day’s run before dipping into the pocket for a drink.
The optioned 400mm-wide rubber tracks handle the heavy pushing perfectly, but certainly shine when working on those dreaded surfaces where the steel tracks would scuff and break it, leaving a significant amount of damage and a bill to fight over at the end of the job.
IN THE CAB
I don’t usually ogle over excavator cabs; most are pretty good and are either dirty or clean, but this one is like new.
The floor mat, dashboard, gauges, seat cover and seat belts, radio, monitor and the glass all look, smell and feel like it has just arrived after a pre-delivery from the Bobcat dealers’ yard prior to sale. For the amount of hours on the Bobcat it is really a credit to Jack in his presentation of the gear; a total reflection on how he runs his job and undoubtedly how he treats his clients.
The country gets very flat and the climate extremely hot out this way in summer and the heavily tinted cabin glass is a godsend for 90 per cent of the year and can be a real bitch on those other days of poor light and heavy cloud when you find it difficult to see through the windscreen.
But then again this is Australia – a land of "drought and flooding rains". More of the former than the latter, so we are good to go I reckon.
The suspension seating is perfect and the gauges easily readable. Bobcat has gone that extra distance in not just throwing a squared-off monitor on the dashboard, but instead inserting a good-sized oval shaped monitor, blending in with the rounded aesthetics of the dashboard and the integrated air conditioner vents directed at the operator.
Controls are all IOS. Easy blade control and swing shift to 75 degrees left and 50 degrees right makes life easy even on the hardest day.
This is the first Bobcat excavator I have had the pleasure of reviewing and I must say I’m impressed by the design, performance and level of detail.
Built-in protective shrouding on the dipper arm and boom, the neatness of the hoses over the boom and down to the hydraulic pump, the blade design/shape, full shrouds over the blade hydraulic rams for protection from rocks and the aesthetic design of the comfortable cab have all gained credibility and sit well with me.
The balance is also good and the presentation from young Jack is a credit to him.
I asked him what made him take a liking for the industry and why go for the Bobcat-branded skid steer and excavator.
‘Price was not a factor," he said.
"The dealers in the area are pretty darn good and although we overnight any parts from Sydney if required we can still keep our clients on board. If we can’t keep our clients happy, get the jobs done to time, budget and to my own high standard then I shouldn’t or wouldn’t be in the game at all. Added to that is that the Bobcat E50 specs up pretty good with the other brands and I have not found any issue with it to this point in time.
"I suppose going to work with my dad when I was young got me into the game. He was a bricklayer and was always on unfinished housing or building projects with a local earthmoving contractor Gavin Kennaugh.
"Just watching those machines working and being local gave me the courage to talk and sit with Gavin in the cabs whilst he was working. When I left school I asked him for a job. The rest they say is history."
Article featured in Earthmovers & Excavators Jan19