History has proven that some people are just smarter than others. Case in point: The guy in the following video needed a machine that would allow him to knock over trees and dig holes, while simultaneously drinking beer. But instead of buying a Bobcat with a cupholder, he built this rather ingenious mini excavator/backhoe that uses hydraulics to sort of ‘walk’ itself around. It’s absolutely crazy to watch, and it seems to be pretty well made too. In the video below, the Canuck definitely shows he knows a thing about mechanical engineering, because the design of his homemade backhoe is clearly well though out. The tough little digger appears to be patterned after an all-terrain Spider Excavator, which uses its boom (that big metal arm the bucket attaches to) to drag itself up steep slopes, or maneuver into places that a normal size machine wouldn’t fit (like a big Caterpillar excavator).
The advantage of not propelling it with 4 wheels, or a pair of tracks, is you can walk a spider excavator through many different types of terrain without causing much damage. The big, heavy chassis on a normal digger (like a Kubota or John Deere), would leave a trail of demolished landscape in its wake.
And that’s why spider-type excavators are often used for conservation work (like controlling soil erosion) in environmentally sensitive areas. As you saw in the video, buddy rode his little machine through the woods, and it didn’t cause much (unintentional) damage.
We’re pretty sure that Mrs. Custom Spider Excavator was told how many gardening and landscaping projects her husband would be able to do for her, once she let him build this “affordable” machine. But that custom-made miniature earthmover looked like it was made from some pretty expensive parts. And that over-engineered beer holder (next to the control levers, in front of the seat) suggests that he built this mini excavator more for his own entertainment, than to work on his “Honey Do List”.
Making The Custom-Made Mini Excavator
No matter how eco-friendly this mini excavator/backhoe is, we seriously doubt that this Canadian Cowboy built it to go dancing through the daffodils. He wanted to dig stuff up, and knock stuff down. That’s likely why he used such a sophisticated hydraulic system. To make it function, a series of 5, 2-inch hydraulic rams (they’re sort of like a radio antenna that can be raised or lowered by adjusting the amount of pressurized hydraulic fluid being channeled into one end) are used to control the movement of the boom and bucket. They’re operated by a 4-way valve (the thing with the big levers) that directs the flow of hydraulic pressure being created by the pump. The hydraulic pump itself, is run by the 6 horsepower “Chinese” gas motor located under the seat, and the pressure that it generates, helps to give this custom made mini excavator such impressive pulling/lifting power.
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In a nutshell, a hydraulic system uses pressurized fluid to physically move different parts within the system. So the hydraulic pump on this homemade spider excavator creates and maintains the pressure needed to move hydraulic fluid throughout the system. Those hydraulic rams can then extend or retract themselves to move the bucket/boom, based on how much pressurized fluid is being directed to them. The big levers on that 4-way valve control the position of the bucket and boom by adjusting the amount of pressurized fluid going to each ram. The lifting/digging power of the bucket arm is dictated by the amount of pressure (psi) being created by the hydraulic pump, as well as the strength rating of critical components like the hydraulic rams and hydraulic lines. After watching that little machine lift those big rocks and dead trees, we suspect that buddy used some heavy-duty components indeed.
As you may have seen in the video, buddy also made several other buckets for his mini excavator/backhoe. The first one he called a ‘trenching bucket/banana bucket”, which looked to be the ideal width (6-inches) for digging a trench to bury cable lines or water pipes (the Misses must’ve requested a new sprinkler system). The “rock bucket” looks like one of those deep fryer baskets that fry cooks use. But he actually designed it to sift and smooth gravel, which would make quick work of a chore like, leveling out your gravel driveway.
To make the main excavator bucket, our Canadian friend used thick plate steel, then fashioned the bucket teeth from the ends of several big pry bars. This looked like the bucket he used to lift those huge boulders and fallen trees. And the fact that it didn’t buckle under the weight proves he’s a pretty good welder too. The fact that he could design and build a working homemade mini spider excavator in the first place proves this guy’s a heck of a lot smarter than your average good ole’ boy.