Are you thinking about buying an excavator? More importantly a used excavator? If so you need to take a look at our over check list that we have prepared below. Unlike buying used backhoe which has it's own set of issues, buying a used second hand excavator has a lot of issues to be dealt with in checking things over.
One of the most important items to keep and eye on is the condition of the under carriage and track gear. You can buy a great looking hoe with low hours but if it is an excavator that has been roaded a lot and the under carriage is in tough shape, be prepared to walk, deal, or pay a huge premium on getting a new undercarriage done. It's a huge amount of money. Depending on excavator size you can be expected to pay upwards of $10,000 - $15,000 per side. Pads, rails, rollers and drive sprockets cost a lot of money and cahnces are if the excavator has been roaded a lot the drive motors themselves could be on the weak side. Replacement of these motors will cost thousands of dollars even if they are rebuilt. Remember the best way to think of an excavator is an engine that powers on big hydraulic pump that in turn powers everything else. And hydraulic works are not cheap!
Here's A Quick & Simple Checklist
When first taking a look at the machine, take notice of the serial number and plate. Make sure that it has not been tampered with and make a note of the serial number itself. You'll need this number to check for leins and such if you do decide to buy the machine.
Walk around the excavator taking a good visual of the over all condition. Things like the under carriage, engine leaks, hydraulic leaks. Just do a general overall look at it's appearance.
Check the oil level and coolant level, Take a quick look at the batteries checking for corrosion and age.
Check the boom, stick and framing for cracks or even painted areas. Take a look for bucket wear. Some operators have a habit of "Ass Wiping" the bucket and in a lot of cases the bucket could be almost wore through. While your checking over the boom and stick portion of the excavator take a close look at the hydraulic rams. Are they seeping? Feel around the ram wiper seals for your self to see if any oil has been leaking out. Getting hydraulic cyclinders rebuilt can cost a lot of money. Depending on what make and model of excavator you are looking to buy, there are several hydraulic cylinders on the digging arm and all of them have the potential to leak. While inspecting them take a clost look at the pins that hold these rams into place.
Now that you are satified it's time to start the excavator up. Get in the cab and get a feel for the seating and controls. Let the engine idle to warm up and and check your gauges at this time. This is also a good time to check the hour meter. Look at the interior, the seating, and controls for excessive wear. If it looks worn a lot but the hours shown on the meter are low there could be a reason for suspission.
Leaving the machine idle get back out a do a walk around looking under the hood and under the housing of the excavator checking for any leaks of drips. If you satisfied, climb back in and start your test run.
One of the first things to do is to swing the excavator house sideways and with the boom, push down so you can lift one side of the machine. Lift the machine high enough so as the track is clear of the ground. You can them climb back out or have a buddy check the slack and tension in the tracks. This is a great time also to roll your tracks back and forth. Listen for any dryness or squeaks in the rail pins. Watch close as the pads roll over the main idler. See if there is any sideways movement. If so this could be the main front idlers bearings are starting to wear out. Once both tracks have been rolled it's time time put the excavator to the test.
The main issue with used excavators is worn pins and bushings. This cause from excessive wear and lack of lubricant. Onc you start digging with the excavator notice if the engine lugs itself or has to work excessively hard. With your bucket dug into the groundwith max power on start digging a trench. As you go deeper into the trench and swing each bucket of material off, keep an eye on how the boom and stick react to different speeds and weights. Look for any sloppiness in the boom, stick and bucket. Once the machine has been worked for say 30minutes of hard digging, check your gauges to tempurature and notice if there is any odors such as hot oil or any kind of hot smell.
After you have dug your trench, move back a bit, lift your boom and and make sure your bucket is well clear of the ground. Then with full power start to turn you excavator house so it spins around. Keep it spinning as fast as you can an listen to see if there is any howling or grinding sounds that might be coming from the swing motor. Once done, it's time to scrape you materialback into the trench. At this time you want to be gentle so see how the excavator behaves doing tidy landscape type work. Are the hydraulics running smooth? Doing this also allows the machine to cool down somewhat so when you are finished leveling out your trench area you can then get out and take another walk around looking for any leaks. This a good time to open the side panels againand see if there is any oil seeping around the main hydraulic pump and around the engine itself.
With the stick and boom curled down take another look at all the hydraulic rams for leaks or seepage.
You may want to add to this list for your own personal use as it is just a basic guideline of what to look for when buying a second hand excavator.