Mulching equipment creates year-round work for excavation contractor
For Mike Todd, excavating used to only be a seasonal endeavor. He doesn’t own a drive-in movie theater, a mini golf course, or a water park, but for years, he had the same enemy as those who do: winter.
Todd’s business, Todd Farms and Excavating, has thrived for three decades, but winters have always been notably difficult. Most farmers dread winter, especially in the Midwest and the northern border states. The climates are harsh and unpredictable. Landscapes are thicker, slicker, and less cooperative. As a result, there are significantly fewer opportunities for work and a weaker cash flow. Fortunately for Todd, that has changed in recent years, thanks to his purchase of a BH40 mulching attachment for his Cat 322 excavator.
ATTACHMENT TO THE RESCUE
Todd, interested in updating his arsenal, had been perusing YouTube and was more than impressed by the BH40. One video demonstrated its intensity and efficiency, as it ripped three whole trees apart in less than 45 seconds. Fecon, based in Lebanon, Ohio, sold Todd a Bull Hog® mulching attachment that, compared to its competitors, is faster, sharper, more durable. No matter what season it may be, the BH40 is better for business.
Designed for severe duty, the BH40EXC that Todd purchased is available in three different rotor styles, each with a 36-inch cutting width. He opted for the Depth Control Rotor (DCR) that is fitted with 16 Viking flippable cutting tools. Ideal for excavators in the 15-45-ton range, the Bull Hog can operate efficiently with hydraulic flow from 30 to 105 gpm to power its way through standing trees, brush, stumps, and whatever might be in its way.
“They are so far advanced over the other guys,” says Todd, who has since been able to turn his business into a year-round enterprise. At first, the excavator-mounted mulching head was just used to clear field lines, fencerows, ditches, and other commonplace on-farm projects. In addition to keeping the branches from scratching a combine or other farm equipment, moving the tree line has positive effects for farmers.
“It opens up sunlight to the ground so it dries faster in the spring,” says Todd. “It increases your productivity along the edge of the field because your crops can grow instead of having the tree suck up all the moisture.”
After working with the Bull Hog and excavator combination for a while, and observing its power, Todd realized the BH40EXC’s potential had been untapped. There was a diverse range of off-farm projects this attachment could tackle with ease, especially with the excavator thumb, which simplifies moving logs and debris. Once he started using the BH40EXC to clear entire sites, winter business started escalating, with no signs of slowing down.
The BH40EXC is not the only Fecon product in Todd’s repertoire. Curious to see what other Fecon products could increase productivity, he began investigating their forestry mulchers.
Todd recalls a 12-acre clearing job, with trees from 2 to 15 inches in diameter—which was slow going for his CAT 299 skid steer fitted with a CAT mulching head. Stacked up after that was a 5-acre job. With winter fast approaching and his soybeans languishing in the fields, Todd knew he needed something more effective. He called his local Fecon dealer, Company Wrench, which brought an FTX128L to his jobsite. Although the FTX128L was about the same size as the CAT, within the first 10 minutes of the demonstration, he could see just how superior Fecon’s product was.
“There’s nothing it can’t handle,” says Todd.
This machine boasts many features for both productivity and operator comfort. A 128 hp Cummins engine delivers plenty of power, but is easy on the fuel consumption, at just 3.5 to 4.5 gallons per hour. This high horsepower and a 60-gpm hydraulic flow, coupled with Fecon’s power management system ensures high performance in various mulching environments—including cutting and climbing up 40-degree grades.
Steel tracks with 20-inch shoes are ideal for difficult terrain yet, at just 3.8 psi, has a light footprint. When asked how it compared to his old skid steer, Todd simply says, “There is no comparison.”
In terms of operator comfort, the FTX128 features a panoramic operator view for production and safety, a view of the back of the mulcher head, and unobstructed rear visibility. A corner door allows easier cab entry, while a suspension seat ensures comfort throughout the day.
A universal quick attach coupler is compatible with most skid steer attachments, including Todd’s non-Fecon stump grinder. The ability to power multiple attachments enhances the versatility and profitability of Todd’s FTX128L.
While his BH40EXC is fitted with a DCR rotor and cutter teeth, the FTX128L has an FGT style rotor which allows him to change the teeth to suit the application. Recently he fitted the FTX128L with cutter teeth in the middle of the rotor and carbide teeth on the outer edges, a combination that provided faster processing in heavy materials. Another jobsite that was mostly overgrown brush, however, was better suited for all carbide teeth.
“This is a thicket of mostly 6-inch diameter materials and smaller, so we fitted the FTX128 with carbides and we’ll take it to ground level,” says Todd.
The FTX128 can easily take down and grind up smaller trees on its own, but when it comes to taller and thicker trees, the BH40EXC is able to act as a tag-team partner. The excavator tops the larger trees, then takes the trunks to stump level. The FTX128L then attacks the tree top, mulching it and all the limbs. Using both products in tandem has given Todd Farms and Excavating a one-two punch that has increased both their efficiency, as well as their workload.
“We can clear cut anywhere from an acre to two acres a day,” says Todd. While bigger trees can still take a day to cut down, uproot, and mulch, it’s a significantly quicker process than it was three decades ago.
They say, “be careful what you wish for,” but Mike Todd’s wishful thinking resulted in nothing but benefits. By using the BH40EXC and FTX128 to defy the elements, Todd Farms and Excavation has been able to expand their workload, profits, and their range of clients. Located in Cecil, Ohio, they work throughout Ohio and Indiana. Now that Mike Todd’s work is a yearlong endeavor, there’s more time than ever to expand.
For more information
Finding the right attachment can add productivity and increase the bottom line. For more information on Fecon attachments, visit www.fecon.com.
Modern Contractor Solutions, June 2019
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