Compact Backhoes are the All-Time Perfect Rental Machines

Many rental businesses are coming out of the recent recession with a serious need to replenish their fleet with equipment pieces that can offer high utility at a reasonable acquisition cost. Today’s compact tractor-loader-backhoes (CTLBs) are the perfect choice.

“CTLBs are becoming even more popular with rental dealers and end-users,” says Kelly Guthrie, director of marketing at TerraQuip Construction Products, makers of the Terramite line of compact tractor-loader-backhoes. “Some rental stores that were hit hardest by the economic downturn are now rebuilding their inventory. Lower purchase price and faster ROI are helping them regain cash flow.”

If ever there was a machine designed perfectly for the rental market, it’s the CTLB. With their light weight, maneuverability and ease of use, CTLBs appeal to homeowners who need to tackle a number of small jobs around the house, while their solid performance makes them attractive to contractors who need a smaller machine to get into tight spaces. With this in mind, manufacturers are offering machines with important features that appeal to both types of customers.

TerraQuip, for example, redesigned its entire CTLB line this year, including improvements in many areas. Of the three models in the line (T5X, T7X and T9X), the T5X is the most applicable to the rental industry, according to Guthrie. Some of the changes include the incorporation of a two-speed transmission, 9-mph travel speed, 25-hp gas or diesel engine and a redesigned boom with a curved arm and 180-degree swing, to name a few.

For its part, Allmand Bros. offers five CTLB models – the 220 and 325 powered by gasoline, and the 425, 535 and 6235 which run on diesel. The 6235 is the newest and largest in the line with the highest horsepower and true four-wheel drive. All machines except the 220 offer Extended Service Life (ESL), says Doug Dahlgren, director of marketing at Allmand Bros., who notes ESL models include a backhoe attachment designed and manufactured by Allmand specifically for the rental market.

“There’s no metal to metal contact in the Allmand backhoe,” Dahlgren explains. “We use steel-backed, poly-lined bearings; oversized pins; and seals in all the moving joints to keep the grease in and the dirt out. It’s great for rental because if it doesn’t get greased regularly by customers, it won’t do any damage.”

Dahlgren explains the joint technology is beneficial because it prolongs the life of the machine, but also because it enables more efficient performance. “There’s less resistance because of the reduced friction in the joints. And since the machine isn’t trying to overcome that resistance, it conserves that power from the engine and puts it toward the work where it should be.”

CTLBs are typically considered to be machines with digging depths of less than 10 feet, but the designation of compact speaks also to the overall weight. In order to meet the needs of homeowners, CTLBs need to be light enough to be easily transported. “If they’re too heavy, you can’t haul it with a typical half-ton or three-quarter ton pickup truck,” says Dahlgren. “Anything under 6,000 pounds is feasable to transport.”

All of Allmand’s diesel models offer servo-controlled hydrostatic transmissions, giving them precise, more comfortable controls. Dahlgren says many CTLBs include manual-control transmissions. “This just takes our machines to the next level,” he says of the hydrostat. “We’re applying larger machines’ technology to compact models.”

The Kubota L45 features an HST Plus Transmission and the versatility of three machines in one, combining a strong, integrated loader and quick-attach backhoe with a Category 1 three-point hitch. “With a slanted boom design and braceless frame for excellent visibility, the loader is designed with a lifting capacity of 2,200 pounds,” says Keith Rohrbacker, product manager, construction equipment, Kubota Tractor Corp., which offers Models B26TLB, L39TLB, L45TLB and M59TLB in its line. “The backhoe offers a 10-foot digging depth and backhoe crawling mode to re-position along trenches. Powered by a 45-hp Kubota diesel engine, the L45 TLB’s versatility is ideal for operators with professional results in mind.”

Dahlgren says Allmand has put a lot of effort into designing machines that are appropriate for the less-seasoned end-user and also the experienced. “In our entire design, we tried to find ways to make everything more comfortable for the novice operator without compromising performance. For example, on our ESL backhoes, we’ve cushioned the hydraulics so it’s not banging against physical stops; the machine slows down automatically. This makes it more comfortable for the operator, and there’s less abuse on the machine.”

All about value

Performance and durability top the list of priorities for rental businesses when choosing a CTLB, and therefore, these are primary concerns for manufacturers as well. “In 1996, we introduced our first CTLB model,” Dahlgren says. “There were a lot of players in the market who are not there anymore because they offered low-level performance and quality and didn’t evolve. Allmand intentionally wanted to step it up and find a niche there.”

“Many manufacturers have looked for more cost-saving measures to keep their sales price the same, despite rising manufacturing costs,” adds Guthrie. “TerraQuip has chosen to plow forward with efficient engineering and make numerous improvements while maintaining a sales price that meets or beats the competition.”

CTLBs are all about maximum value, Dahlgren says. “Most customers are sophisticated these days and we want to offer them the highest quality and overall best value. You can’t always look and see some of the differences – things like pins, bearings and seals – so we need to make sure our customers understand the difference.”

Ideal for beginners and seasoned operators

CTLBs are perfect machines for rental, partly because they are so versatile. “They’re basically three tractors in one,” says Rohrbacker. “The convenience of the loader and backhoe availability, particularly when the [CTLB] is designed with an integrated frame, offers the operator versatility and sturdy productivity.”

For rental business owners, CTLBs offer a low purchase price/quick ROI asset that’s easy to service. “We surveyed a collection of rental dealers and found that the number of times a Terramite CTLB is required to be rented out to reach full ROI, a full-sized backhoe rented out the same number of times has only reached 25% ROI,” says Guthrie. “Since CTLBs are easy to operate, transport and inexpensive to run, they appeal to both contractors and do-it-yourselfers.”

He continues, “There no question that if you need to dig deep or move a lot of material, a full-size backhoe is the way to go. But a CTLB would be a good addition for smaller jobs like footings or in work areas that are tight. While a full-size backhoe is tending the big stuff, another operator could be running around the site tackling smaller jobs. Since a CTLB does not require special operator training/certification, a big tractor trailer and Class A license to transport, non-traditional operators, drivers and smaller trucks/trailers can be utilized.”

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