Ditch Witch Diversifies with Mini-Earthmovers

By Katie Weiler, Managing Editor | September 28, 2010

In our March issue, we published an Underground Report entitled, How Contractors Counter the Telecom Bust. The article profiled three contractors who specialized in telecommunications construction and how they survived the recent drop-off in that industry. The common denominator for each company's success was diversity.

Underground-equipment manufacturers have also taken a hit with the reduction in underground work and the poor economy so they, too, are finding success in diversifying their product lines. Ditch Witch illustrates the point.

Along with its traditional underground equipment (HDDs, trenchers, vibratory plows, vacuum excavators and accessories), Ditch Witch now offers a range of compact earthmoving machines to complement its existing equipment lineup. Earlier this year, the company introduced its SK500 mini-skid-steer, which it designed and manufactured from the ground up. A 24-hp Honda engine powers the 2,270-pound machine. With a rated operating capacity of 500 pounds (at 35 percent of tipping capacity), the walk-behind unit can handle a variety of construction applications.

In addition, Ditch Witch has recently announced a line of five mini-excavators. Models range in size from 1,960 to 10,300 pounds with digging depths from 4 feet 11 inches to 13 feet. Digging depths, arm reach, and loading heights can be extended when equipped with long-arm booms. The company describes the new MX family as rugged, versatile, easy to operate, and easy to maintain.

On the small end, Model MX9 is a 0.9-metric-ton, 8.4-hp machine that has a 4 foot-11 inch digging depth (5 feet 7 inches with long arm). On the large end, the 4.5-metric-ton, 39-hp Model MX45 has a maximum digging depth of 11 feet 10 inches (13 feet with the long arm).

The machines feature a tight tail swing for working in confined areas, and removable counterweights provide a true zero tail swing. The units also accommodate a variety of attachments including breakers, compactors, and reinforced dozer blade. Buckets range from a 10-inch size with 0.56-cubic-foot capacity to a 25-inch bucket with 6.4-cubic-foot capacity.

According to Ditch Witch, the mini-excavators feature a load-sensing system that permits operation of multiple hydraulic functions simultaneously at full power. A pilot-operated control valve provides smooth-operating hydraulics for increased productivity and reduced operator fatigue. Controls are arranged for easy operation, and control patterns may be switched between SAE or ISO patterns.

A ROPS canopy comes standard on each model. Optional cabs are available for the MX27, MX35 and MX45, and the MX45 can be equipped with an air-conditioned cab.

Estimated list prices for the mini-excavators range from $20,000 to $60,000.

Basic Specifications
Model (std. arm) Weight Dig Depth Dig Reach Width Lift Capacity
MX9 1,960 lbs. 4' 11" 9' 11" 28"-34" 493 lbs.
MX15 3,980 lbs. 7' 1" 12' 9" 39"- 49" 701 lbs.
MX27 6,605 lbs. 8'  8" 15' 1" 61" 1,389 lbs.
MX35 8,300 lbs. 10' 4" 17' 5" 69" 1,510 lbs.
MX45 10,300 lbs. 11' 10" 19' 3" 77" 2,340 lbs.