For the front end, Dorazio specifies a 4-in-1 bucket. “The loader should be a clam bucket or a 4-in-1, since a GP bucket cuts down on the off-the-wall jobs like grubbing or cleaning up,” he explains.
For the rear, Dorazio prefers an extendible dipper stick with an outer slide design. He also likes a narrower style boom with over-center placement. “The narrow hoe boom... makes it easier to see into the ditch and also see the laborer,” he says. “The over-center feature of the Case [backhoe-loader] helps keep the weight on the front wheels.” This helps to reduce porpoising during travel.
The auxiliary hydraulics must be able to run a breaker for tough rock conditions, concrete demolition, etc. Plus, Dorazio makes sure the backhoe is equipped with a Wain-Roy quick coupler. “That is what the rental yards around here all use,” he says. “This is so we can rent different buckets.”
Mechanical “wobble sticks” are still his first choice of backhoe controls. “The pilot controls are nice for making quick motions to fill in the bucket and move spoils, etc. But I would probably take the higher flow option of the basic open-center machine that is in the ‘Super’ package, like a [John Deere] 310SJ or a [Case] 580 Super M (now N). The wobble sticks with a standard pump are less cost to maintain.”
Dorazio specs four-wheel drive largely for the added safety it can provide. “Four-wheel drive is not marketed properly,” he asserts. “It is much safer for braking. Downhill braking with the load in the loader is scary once you know how much better it is with four-wheel drive.” This feature also provides the ability to more effectively push into a pile, as well as helps in “getting unstuck and mucking around.”
Differential locks further enhance traction by minimizing wheel spin. However, models with controls mounted in the floor board have proven awkward to use. “You need one foot on the brake and one on the throttle, then how do you hold the diff lock?” Dorazio asks. “Well, you can’t. So my next machine, I will add a manual override to the control to hold it so I can get out of a jam or a hole.”
Dorazio makes a point of adding extra lighting to his machines. “I like a lot of lights for illumination,” he says. “So we have at least eight lights on the machine: two pointed low, two pointed high on the front and two pointed inward and two outward on the back.”
However, cabs are avoided largely due to vandalism risk. “A cab is a liability, so we don’t spec any cabs,” says Dorazio. “But a clamp-on acrylic windshield comes in handy for loading dusty loads into the wind.”
Smooth, comfortable performance Required
Klima Drainage & Land Improvements, Center Point, IA, has been installing drainage tile throughout Eastern Iowa for 30+ years. “It’s long hours and hard work that we love,” says Nic Klima. “We are proud to work with farmers installing drainage tile, building ponds, fixing waterways, tree removal, directional boring of pipes, etc.”
The company is owned and operated by Doug Klima, who has been in the business for more than 40 years. He started out as an operator for his father, Mike, before going on to become co-owner and eventually sole owner of the business. His sons have since joined him in the operation.
“I’ve grown up operating backhoes. It’s in my blood,” says Klima, who recently competed in the finals for the Case Triple Threat Rodeo at World of Concrete in Las Vegas. “My older brother, Michael, and I both attended Northwest Community College (NWCC) for Heavy Equipment. We are both operators in the business and we have six other employees.”
In addition to two tiling machines, a couple Link-Belt excavators and horizontal directional drills, the company owns five Caterpillar 420E backhoe-loaders. “They’re mainly used for digging connections for the tiling machine,” Klima says. However, they are also used to remove trees and rocks and look for existing tiles in fields, dig septic systems, even tear down small sheds. “A little bit of everything really.”