New Equip­ment Test: Kub­ota KX040-4 mini ex­ca­va­tor

Kub­ota dig­gers have never let Ron Horner down over the years, and he has a good feel­ing about the new 4.2-tonne KX040-4 mini ex­ca­va­tor as well

Earthmovers & Excavators - - News -

If you ever had the chance to get in­volved in pur­chas­ing equip­ment in your life, you are sure to have a favourite where one or sev­eral will al­ways bring a smile to your face and a warm, fuzzy feel­ing in your guts.

The de­gree of sen­ti­men­tal­ity at­tached to a cer­tain ma­chine de­pends on many things: the dif­fi­culty of jobs you were en­gaged in whilst own­ing the par­tic­u­lar piece of gear, the peo­ple you met while on a cer­tain job or jobs, the money you earned while it was in your pos­ses­sion, or the un­be­liev­able good run you had with the ma­chine dur­ing that pe­riod of your life.

For me, I have sev­eral favourites depend­ing on the era from the ’70s to to­day.

Kato gave me the op­por­tu­nity to get in­volved in the in­dus­try way back in the ’70s but it was Kub­ota that helped me get back on my feet af­ter be­ing brought back to earth by what turned out to be one of sev­eral di­vorces.

The min­i­mal re­pair bill, the low run­ning costs and the con­sis­tent re­li­a­bil­ity pushed out by the lit­tle Kub­ota en­sured ev­ery dol­lar earned was one that was saved.

Need­less to say, when I walked onto a job re­cently and saw a new Kub­ota KX040-4 ex­ca­va­tor with a hy­draulic rock grab at­tached en­gaged in build­ing a rock wall … as cu­rios­ity hasn’t killed this cat just yet, I just had to ask!

Ben Preece is a Nerang-based (South East Queens­land) rock wall builder who has owned four Kub­ota ex­ca­va­tors pre­vi­ously. When asked why buy another, his an­swer was sim­i­lar to my first ex­pe­ri­ence with a Kub­ota.

“They just don’t break or break down, Ron,” was his an­swer. “Parts avail­abil­ity, ser­vice, low run­ning costs and re­li­a­bil­ity are the rea­son I could ill af­ford to go any­where else.”

Ben says that other than a few hoses, all of his pre­vi­ous Kub­o­tas were trou­ble-free and the first is­sue he had to over­come was suc­cumb­ing to con­tam­i­nated fuel; he was pres­sured to buy non-gen­uine fil­ters and caused an in­jec­tor is­sue. How­ever, that was quickly sorted and had noth­ing to do with the Kub­ota it­self.

This lit­tle KX040-4 comes with a fac­tory-fit­ted hy­draulic rock grab which can be locked and left fixed to the ma­chine. It is the new­est of the Kub­ota four-tonne range of ex­ca­va­tors and is prov­ing to be ex­tremely pop­u­lar with sales through­out Aus­tralia, push­ing it to mar­ket leader in this range of ex­ca­va­tors.


You can’t be any­thing other than im­pressed when first view­ing this lit­tle beauty.

You won’t need a trained eye to pick up the pos­i­tives so eas­ily no­tice­able here. The ex­cel­lent shape, great vi­sion from the open cab, the good de­sign of the out-front blade, good track frame de­sign, easy ac­cess to the en­gine bay, hy­draulics and fil­ters are just a few that stick out to me.

But if you want to stop and have a good look over it, you will no­tice the domed shape on the off side en­abling bet­ter vi­sion and con­tin­u­ing a nice shape that en­hances the look of the dig­ger, the out-front ar­tic­u­lated boom which gives bet­ter side-de­gree dig­ging an­gles, and the en­hanced cast-side bump pro­tec­tion strips.


As has been the case for many years now, Kub­ota has the ideal mini ex­ca­va­tor cab de­sign with ex­cel­lent vi­sion to all ar­eas, a mon­i­tor po­si­tioned so as to min­imise glare and re­flec­tion to the op­er­a­tor, a great all-weather fully ad­justable seat, and heavy-duty floor mat.

The con­trol po­si­tions are all per­fectly placed and easy to ac­cess for any-sized op­er­a­tor.

Blade con­trol is handy on the right side of the dash­board, and, ir­re­spec­tive of the slew po­si­tion, the op­er­a­tor has good vi­su­als on the blade.

When you have an open cab, keep­ing the de­sign wa­ter­proof and sim­ple is the key, and Kub­ota has re­ally hit the nail on the head with the cab lay­out on the KX040-4.

But what I like most about it is that there is am­ple room for a big­ger-framed op­er­a­tor – and that is very im­por­tant.


The Kub­ota KX040-4 is a gem of a ma­chine to work on ... if it ever breaks down, that is.

Run­ning a beau­ti­ful and well-bal­anced Kub­ota D1803-CR-TE4 3-cylin­der diesel en­gine, it pushes out 29kW of power from its 1826cc en­gine and weighs in at 4.2 tonnes. Hit­ting a top speed of about 5km/h, the lit­tle dig­ger is pushed along by the aux­il­iary hy­draulic pump de­liv­er­ing 92L/min.

Swing­ing the rear hood up­wards ex­poses the en­gine bay. Once again Kub­ota has pro­vided ex­cel­lent ac­cess to the ser­vice fil­ters, en­gine, air fil­ter, al­ter­na­tor and the ra­di­a­tor filler bot­tle.

It’s just as easy when it comes to check­ing the hy­draulics. Flip the side bon­net up­wards and all of the hy­draulics are sit­ting there per­fectly po­si­tioned for easy ac­cess and in­spec­tion. The ra­di­a­tor, oil cooler and bat­tery are also here.


This par­tic­u­lar ma­chine is used pre­dom­i­nantly for rock wall con­struc­tion, hence the hy­draulic rock grab at­tach­ment fit­ted to the dip­per arm.

With a quick hitch fit­ted for easy bucket changes, the hy­draulic rock grab arm pivot point has had to be ad­justed to suit the dis­tance be­tween the bucket and link arm fixed point. How­ever, this means that it can be kept on the ma­chine and not re­quire dis­man­tling.

When the arm is re­tracted, the link arm forms a pro­tec­tive shield over the ex­posed ram, en­sur­ing no dam­age is done if it is in­ad­ver­tently struck.

The beauty of hav­ing the bucket and rock grab on is that the ground can be lev­elled by us­ing the bucket prior to place­ment of the rock in the con­struc­tion of the rock wall.

When the rocks to be used in the con­struc­tion of the wall have been placed close to the work area the ex­ca­va­tor uses the rock grab to roll and place them in po­si­tion.

Some­times the rocks need an ex­tra push from the side and this is where the well-de­signed rugged blade is utilised.

Fur­ther en­hance­ment of the fin­ished area is achieved due to the Kub­ota’s rub­ber tracks which leave the road or work zone un­dam­aged.

Kub­ota has al­ways had an ex­cel­lent and proac­tive de­sign team on board and it is yet to dis­ap­point with the cur­rent blade de­sign. The op­er­a­tors can see the blade at all slew an­gles and can have con­fi­dence in the strength of the H-frame blade frame not to crack un­der pres­sure.

The ma­chine is very well bal­anced and sits nice and level on the ground.

The 64-litre fuel tank pro­vides enough fuel for a hard day’s yakka of 12 hours or more, and the mul­ti­ple aux­il­iary hy­draulic lines af­fixed to the dip­per al­low for sev­eral hy­draulic at­tach­ments to be fit­ted with­out ad­just­ing the oil flows.


Hav­ing owned a cou­ple of Kub­ota mini ex­ca­va­tors, I must say that I have a soft spot for them and my lik­ing is fully war­ranted.

I bought my first Kub­ota way back in 1986 and dur­ing that time – and en­su­ing years – made me a con­sid­er­able sum, which I can hon­estly put down to min­i­mal down­time.

I had a ham­mer at­tached to them for many years and, as we all know, they do even­tu­ally take a toll, but to Kub­ota’s credit they took ev­ery­thing I could throw at them.

Kub­ota is a leader in the mar­ket with some of the best deal­ers who pro­vide Kub­ota own­ers ex­cel­lent ser­vice and spare parts avail­abil­ity, and can of­fer in-house fi­nance with very com­pet­i­tive in­ter­est rates.

Hav­ing these at­tributes makes the whole Kub­ota ex­pe­ri­ence one that, if you ever get the chance, you should take. You won’t be dis­ap­pointed.

1. Nerang-based rock wall builder Ben Preece and his Kub­ota KX040-4

2. A beau­ti­ful and well­bal­anced Kub­ota D1803-CRTE4 diesel en­gine pushes out 29kW of power

3. Rub­ber tracks leave no vis­ual or phys­i­cal dam­age to the road or work zone 4. The cab is well-de­signed, sim­ple and wa­ter­proof

5. The blade is also well de­signed and a hard nut to crack

Above: Let there be rock

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