New Equipment Test: Takeuchi TB215r mini excavator
Reviewer Evarn Covich recently received a phone call from a mate asking if he’d like to test his new 1.5-tonne Takeuchi TB215r mini-excavator. He didn’t have to be asked twice
My mate Nick is looking to update his excavator early next year as the old one is starting to show a few signs of wear and tear, so he asked for my thoughts on what brands impressed me when it came to new machines I had tested and used in the past.
Having played on almost every brand of excavator over the past 30 years, I learnt in the last couple during testing that, when it comes to this type of machine, there doesn’t really seem to be much difference in performance between manufacturers like there used to be in the past.
With this in mind I informed Nick that, since the machine will be his ‘office’ for the next threeto-five years, he should look more towards a machine which sports more of the functions and after-sales care he is looking for to make his time behind the controls more enjoyable.
After trying out a few different brands of machine which ticked most of his boxes, Nick informed me that he was now sporting a new 1.5-tonne Takeuchi TB215r on the back of his truck.
Now, Nick is a man who likes to thoroughly research anything that may lighten his wallet, so I was somewhat surprised when he told me that he had trouble finding reviews of the TB215r and suggested I should try it out and put something together to help more people like him.
By the time I was able to finally view the machine it had already been in service for Nick’s Bobcat Hire for more than a month working around the Gold Coast area, and was already sporting a few bumps and bruises from some of the close encounters while working in tight areas.
However, now that Nick already had bit of time in the driver’s seat, it did allow me to quiz him a little bit about the machine.
I started my walkaround with the boom, which looks to be well made. The lift ram cylinder is situated behind the boom in order to give more clearance and keep it well away from the line of fire of any projectiles or large objects protruding from the bucket.
The hydraulic hoses are also cleverly run through the inside of the boom to the individual ram cylinders, minimising the amount of hose exposure to the elements and foreign objects. They also have a protective cover.
This particular machine was purchased with an
Although this model of machine has been on the market for a number of years now, Takeuchi still seems to leave some of the competition behind
aftermarket tilt hitch from Norm Engineering that looks to be quite a compact yet sturdy unit with a working range of 180 degrees. It also came with a set of buckets from SRS Attachments, which also appear to be well made and rather heavy duty for the size of machine they’re fitted to.
The Takeuchi is powered by a 3-cylinder Yanmar 3TNV70 engine producing 10.9kW (14.6hp).
The expandable track frame can be adjusted by pushing down with your right heel on a small lever located near the floor (to bypass the blade function) and use the blade controller to operate the track adjustment which ranges from a width of 980mm to 1300mm.
This feature can make all the difference when negotiating the machine through narrow gateways or having to dismantle a whole section of fence to gain access to some of these everdecreasing worksite areas.
This particular machine is fitted with the optional extended dozer blade that protrudes around 300mm further out than a standard blade past the end of the tracks.
Nick claims he quite likes this setup as it provides additional counterweight when working on awkward sites, and he is also able to jack the tracks up higher when working on slopes.
IN THE CAB
The canopy covering the operator work station is ROPS and FOPS rated. It’s a fairly easy climb into the driver’s seat, which easily accommodated my ample girth and felt comfortable to sit on.
The control levers were comfortable to hold and, along with the conveniently placed armrests under the forearms, made for a good operating setup.
The tramming levers have small bars attached near the bottom between the foot controls to help when tramming with your feet. Unfortunately there is not much room to operate these with my size 10 boots and I found it almost impossible to use them to tram the machine backwards.
Visibility from the driver’s seat is excellent as one would expect from a machine this size.
ON THE JOB
I cranked the machine into life and immediately set out for the back of the block where we were performing our test. The plan was to dig a trench near the boundary line for Nick to plant some bamboo to help create a screen from neighbours.
Although the site had a slight slope, the grade wasn’t steep enough to test the machine’s climbing capabilities to its full extent. However, I did find the machine was able to traverse the slope we were working on with ease and at a good speed.
As I set about digging, I quickly found that, although the ground that we were working was very dry, it was quite hard with a lot of tree roots running through it, which had the machine working harder than usual at times.
I found the bucket break-out force seemed to be superior to the break-out force encountered through the arm, especially when digging through the tree roots. Once I found a happy medium, though, I was able to dig the trench at a good pace with minimal bucket stall.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Although this model of machine has been on the market for a number of years now, Takeuchi
still seems to leave some of the competition behind with simple innovations like positioning the lift ram on the back of the boom, or running hydraulic hoses through the boom to minimise unwanted damage or wear and tear.
The provision of three hydraulic service ports as standard also helps with machine setup, mitigating the need to pay for aftermarket piping in order to run auxiliary attachments such as quick coupler or tilt hitch. This was one of the key points that helped Nick with his decision to purchase this machine.
I found the Takeuchi TB215r comfortable to operate, only lacking a bit of legroom – which is to be expected with a machine this size.
The digging power, speed and fluency were all good for a machine its size and reach has been enhanced by around 300mm with the tilt hitch extending this digger’s reach to around 4m at ground level.
Nick did mention that at times he is faced with work areas where a zero-swing machine would be ideal and, even though this restricted swing machine only slightly protrudes over the side of the tracks, it can be awkward to negotiate in some of the tight areas that he often encounters. However, he says he always manages to work around things to get the job done.
I like that the machine itself is quite basic with only your standard control levers, tramming levers, foot pedals, blade control lever, and a small throttle control lever situated in the operator’s work station. There is a small LCD screen showing fuel and temperature and a few switches for the quick coupler and lights, etc.
Overall, I feel the TB215r is an operator’s machine. By that I mean it doesn’t have any of the computer-assisted tricks some machines do to help the operator make a better job. The skill of the operators themselves will determine the outcome of the job.
1. Evarn Covich contemplates the Takeuchi TB215r mini excavator 2. That’s a well-made boom 3. It’s a comfy, basic cab with excellent visibility 4. The lift ram cylinder is situated behind the boom for more clearance and to keep it well clear of...
Above: The battery, radiator, header bottle, oil level and various filters are accessed through the rear door