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Checklist: Buying a used digger


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This checklist is copied  from a post we made on ebuild. It is a summary of the authors' collective wisdom. Unfortunately the links are dead - but the author's name is always listed. And since most of the usernames have been preserved, they are still relevant. This (and every) checklist will benefit greatly from your comment and experience.

  • Bring a tame fitter with you / or ask for a recommendation from him or her. (Triassic#10)
  • A digger from a hire yard will be better looked after and will have always been serviced. (Declan #5)
  • Stolen? Paper work, service history: check serial numbers (Declan#8)
  • Cab? (Ed#9)
  • If so then : window covers (GRP / metal)
  • Hydraulics Pipes will burst; local hose supplier - easy to swap, you just need big spanners.
  • Have a 25 litre drum of hydraulic fluid as a second hand digger will leak
  • Check track depth : new tracks cost about £200: (proDave #3)
  • Check teeth on the Drive Pinions (proDave #3)
  • Track Motors: Hydraulics Leaks? (proDave #3)
  • Engine service history ? None? Immediate service (proDave #3)
  • Pins: play? If an old machine re-bush. (prodave#2)
  • Joints: play?
  • Slew: play? If it's going you will hear grinding, popping or clicking noises. Check the grease on the bearings. If it's got metal filings in it then it's been grinding. (Declan#8)
  • Check for clean grease around nipples, all the pins should look like they have clean grease on them. Over-greasing is good!
  • Check it will hold the arm extended/bucket raised for a length of time, if hydraulics are on the way out then the arm gradually lowers. (proDave #3)
  • If you have a choice, get one with the main boom ram mounted on top of the arm - the older ones that have it below the arm are prone to damage and bending when something gets caught between the bucket and the ram. (PeterW#3)
  • Fully extend Spool valves and Rams - you may need an assistant to push the levers as far out/back as possible and look for weeps on the joints and also on the ram end seals. (PeterW#3)
  • Equipment: What does it come with? Quick hitch? Right buckets for your needs (Ed #9)
  • Need to buy a bucket? Where from? Check before purchase (proDave #3)
  • Check engine start FROM COLD; easy, hesitant, non-starter?
  • Get the seller to show you how to drive it. (proDave #2)
  • Can machine easily lift itself off the ground with the dozer blade lifting one end and the bucket lifting the other? (proDave #4)
  • Water in fuel? Check fuel filter
  • Water in the oil? Look for mayonnaise-type emulsion on oil filler cap
  • Use red diesel - and don't be tempted to use it in your car.
  • Leaks of oil and hydraulic fluid : get a drip tray
  • Keep it (and spare buckets) secure
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