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

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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.

WALKAROUND

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 dan­ger 5. Con­trac­tor Nick bought the ma­chine with an after­mar­ket tilt hitch from Norm En­gi­neer­ing and a set of buck­ets from SRS At­tach­ments

Above: The bat­tery, ra­di­a­tor, header bot­tle, oil level and var­i­ous fil­ters are ac­cessed through the rear door

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