Mini-skid-steer Loader Has Ultimate Weight-to-Horsepower Ratio

Walt Moore, Senior Editor | September 28, 2010

Chevy 350 V-8 engine in the Ditch Witch SK650 mini-skid-steer loader
The V-8 nestles comfortably in the Super Witch VI's engine bay and powers the hydraulic pumps at the front of the loader.
Ditch Witch's SK350 mini-skid-steer loader, painted and named the Super Witch VI
The Super Witch VI mini-skid-steer loader is remote controlled and has a shutdown switch on the control panel. At every performance, a second remote, in the hands of an observer with a good view of the area, also has a shutdown switch.

The Ditch Witch SK650 mini-skid-steer loader weighs 2,630 pounds and rolls off the assembly line with a 31.5-net-hp diesel engine. That gives the machine a thoroughly acceptable weight-to-horsepower ratio of about 84:1.

We're guessing that a Chevy 350 V-8 engine weighs around 550 pounds. Now, if you should install that engine in the SK650 (as did engineers at Ditch Witch), you'd have a machine weight of, say, 3,200 pounds — or perhaps just a bit more for the added reinforcement.

Since the 350 is rated at a modest 410 horsepower in the SK650 (or the Super Witch VI), the weight-to-horsepower ratio drops slightly — to around 8:1. Since each horse is pushing around only about 8 pounds of Super Witch VI, this little skid-steer may be the fastest on the jobsite.

It's mostly fun, but the project also has been practically instructive for Ditch Witch engineers, who picked up some valuable tips on track retention, track-roller design and high-flow hydraulics.