Versatile excavator meets maintenance goals for New Mexico municipality

April 25, 2019

For virtually all municipalities throughout the U.S., there is a constant need to do more with less—to meet a growing range of maintenance needs with fewer men and fewer machines.

This is particularly true in the Southwest, where cities are experiencing rapid growth, which has created a growing need to manage the flow of rainwater using drainage ditches. Properly maintained, the ditches can be used to productively control and divert stormwater in both residential and agricultural areas. That also includes desert grassland areas that are commonly dissected with arroyos—dry streams—that carry rushing water after frequent thunderstorms on afternoons during the summer months.

In New Mexico, one municipality (which was not allowed to be named) found that a single, highly versatile 880C Gradall excavator was able to help meet its maintenance goals while minimizing equipment costs. So after many years of use, the city replaced the older Gradall with a newer XL 4100 model.

Both machines feature Gradall’s well-known highway speed undercarriage, enabling them to rapidly travel from one work site to another without requiring the time and expense of another truck and lowboy trailer to transport the equipment. Among the newer model’s advantages is an automatic transmission, which operators appreciate.

To efficiently manage the ditching maintenance work, the municipality also acquired a 60-in. Alamo mower and a 66-in. ditching bucket with the new Gradall purchase. In addition, the new excavator was ordered with a 6-ft boom extension, which is never removed from the machine. The extra reach allows the boom to telescope out over 31 ft—enough to reach across ditches and into the bottoms of streams to clear away soil, debris and vegetation.

The Gradall boom also fully telescopes and tilts 220°. The tilt action enables the operator to place the mower and bucket exactly where they are needed, mimicking the curves and slopes along the edges of ditches for more precise mowing and clean-out. Because the entire boom tilts—rather than relying on a boom-end rotation attachment—there is no loss of power as the attachments are precisely manipulated. Also unlike conventional knuckle booms, the low-profile telescoping design also can work in low-overhead, hard-to-reach spots like under bridges and beneath overhanging trees.

The Gradall excavator can be driven at speeds up to 60 mph, making it possible to work in more than one ditch clean-out location in a single day. On routine clean-out jobs, the transfer case design also makes it easier to reposition the excavator from the upper-structure cab, moving along the edges of ditches and working continuously.

At the end of the day, the Gradall’s mobility also allows the operator to drive the excavator back to the safety of the equipment yard, minimizing the possibility of vandalism or theft.