Buying File Gallery: Chain Trenchers



Hydrostats Stretch Longest Trencher Line

The hydrostatic RT450 introduced in June is "designed to provide contractors and rental-center operators ease of operation, powerful performance and rugged reliability," according to Vermeer. The new model, with its Tier II-compliant engine, stretches Vermeer's hydrostatic RT trencher line to three, including the pedestrian models RT100 and RT200. This model has a 10 percent horsepower increase along with axle and trencher motor improvements.

Number of models: 17. New models: RT450.

Max. trench depth: 6'. Trench widths: 3"– 18".

Product-line features: Vermeer offers more trencher models than any other manufacturer, even if you don't count the LM model lawn plows that can wield a trencher attachment. The LM42 is the biggest of the pedestrian trenchers, with a 43-hp engine and operating weight of 3,300 pounds—more than double that of any competitive walk-behind. For all its bulk, though, the LM42 with trencher attachment doesn't cut the deepest or widest trench of the pedestrian machines. 


The All-Hydraulic Line

Barreto introduced the hydraulic, 13-hp 1318-H at the American Rental Association trade show last February in order to "respond to demand for a small, economical trencher to cater to the homeowner," according to a company press release. The machine is just 33 inches wide. Boom lengths up to 30 inches are available. Chain-drive redesign eliminated the head shaft and coupler, allowing the digging-chain sprocket to be bolted directly to the hydraulic motor's shaft.

Number of models: 3. New models: 1318-H.

Max. trench depth: 3'. Trench widths: 4"– 6".

Product-line features: Barreto fields a two-wheel-drive model and a four-wheel-drive model, each with choice of 13-hp Honda engine or 16-hp Briggs & Stratton. Direct hydraulic drive to the head shaft on these models eliminates gearboxes or belt drives. SnapLoc Four-Wheel Drive shifts the trenchers' fulcrum point, applying more pressure on the boom for better ground penetration. 


Biggest in the Category

At 99.5 horsepower, the turbocharged 960 is the most powerful trencher in the under-100-hp category. Only the Ditch Witch RT machines, with trenching depths around 8 feet and trench widths up to 24 inches, can cut bigger trenches than the 960 Turbo's 7-foot depth and 18-inch maximum width. The 960 is also the heaviest machine in the category at 16,000 pounds, with the closest competitor weighing more than 3,000 pounds less. Case's 60 Series riders employ a flywheel on the chain drive, which stores energy to power through tough spots. On the 460 and larger models, the flywheel is connected with a torsion shaft to a two-speed hydrostatic motor.

Number of models: 8.

Max. trench depth: 7'. Trench widths: 4"– 18".

Product-line features: All the Case 60-Series ride-ons have limited-slip differentials except the 960, which has locking differentials. Ground drive is hydrostatic, with outboard planetary drives on all four corners and four-wheel steer.

Ditch Witch

Industry's Only Powershift

Ditch Witch introduced the RT70 and RT90, 70- and 85-hp machines, with the option of two-speed powershift trencher drive to attract users who are suspicious of hydrostatic machines' ability to handle high-production trenching. Powershift, like the ground-drive powershift in many tractors, allows the operator to change gears without interrupting power to the chain. Both models come in hydrostatic versions as well, but Ditch Witch stands alone as the only manufacturer of a powershift trencher drive for users who want a more mechanical feel. The RT70 and RT90 tractors are also available with an optional tilt frame that allows you to cut vertical trenches across hillsides.

Number of models: 10.

New models: RT70 and RT90 Powershift, 1030.

Max. trench depth: 6'. Trench widths: 4.3"– 24".

Product-line features: The company recently (not within last year) added the all-hydraulic 1330 pedestrian trencher in the 13-hp range. Only Barreto's 1324D models are direct competitors (all hydraulic, same engine power). Other models that cut nearly the same size trench are Vermeer's RT 100 and Burkeen's B-16 hydrostatic machines with 15 and 16 horsepower, respectively. 


Taking Hydrostats Down-Market

Burkeen's 16-hp B-16 pedestrian has only one direct competitor for the distinction of the smallest hydrostatic trencher drive on the market—the 15-hp Vermeer RT100. The B-30B, which is actually a vibratory plow with trencher attachment, extends Burkeen's trencher line to five. The line offers most of the major trencher-drive options, with one mechanical, one hydraulic, and three hydrostatic drives.

Number of models: 5.

Max. trench depth: 5'. Trench widths: 4"– 12".

Product-line features: The telescoping boom on the B-36B allows the boom to be adjusted quickly between 36- and 60-inch lengths. Boom length on the B-25 telescopes between 24 and 36 inches. 


Heavy-Duty Frame Option

Parsons offers its three pedestrian trenchers in optional Extra Heavy Duty configurations, with reinforced frames and thicker steel that, according to the company, "can withstand the daily pounding that trenchers encounter in difficult digging conditions such as in Florida coral rock." Parsons recently discontinued manufacturing its three riding trenchers.

Number of models: 3.

Max. trench depth: 3'. Trench widths: 4"– 6".

Product-line features: Parsons trenchers all feature mechanical chain drive, and the company positions the line as easy to operate and maintain, "with a very economical price."