The Basics of Operating a Mini Excavator

January 24, 2017Diana Lengerson


If you’re thinking about even stepping foot near a mini excavator, you’ve got to know what you’re doing. Even though this small machine might seem like a toy, you shouldn’t be fooled into thinking you can just hop on and start excavating with the proper training.

Only trained professionals should handle a mini excavator.

However, if you have been trained and just want a quick refresher on the basics of using a mini excavator, we’re here for you! This article is going to take you through the very basics of how to use this pretty cool piece of machinery for your small and medium construction projects.

So if you’re looking for an excavator for sale, then hold off for a second while we take you through the basics of what you need to know.

Check around for warning labels and other specifications on the machine.

This is an important first step to take before you hop on and start operating the machine. You should take a look around the excavator and locate all of the warning labels and other information that’s written on the machine. This will ensure that you are aware of all the pertinent information regarding this specific excavator. Every machine is different and will have different warnings attached, so this step should be taken no matter if you’ve already used an excavator before or not.

Chances are it’s going to be a bit different from the other one you used!

Try the machine out in a wide, open space.

Even though it’s not likely, you could find yourself with an overturned machine if you don’t work on level ground. That’s why you should test out your machine with a little demo in a wide, open space without intrusions from other obstacles. Make sure that the ground is level and there are no big potholes or mud holes to disrupt your practicing.

This is an important step because, as mentioned before, every machine is different and should be properly tested before you head off and start your construction project.

Mount the machine and familiarize yourself with the controls.

The next step you should take is to take a look around and familiarize yourself with all of the controls. There is an arm rest on the left side of the seat that you can flip up in order to enter the machine for the first time. Flip it back down to secure yourself into the machine. One the right hand side, you should see the ignition switch for your key. Or you might see a keypad for the more digitally-inclined excavators.

You will also have a seatbelt in the seat, which you should really use. It’s only there for your safety in case the machine tips over while in use and you can stay safely attached to your seat!

The joysticks, drive/steer controls, and feet controls.

Some of the most important parts of the machine are listed above. First up, the joysticks are what control bucket/boom assembly and the machine rotating motion. If you were to move these sticks and then release them, they will also go back to the neutral position and halt any motion you started.

Next, you have the drive/steer controls, which are going to be between your legs in the form of two metal rods with handles. These are what you will use to steer and drive the machine forward. If you push them both forward, the machine will then move forward. Easy! And if you push one stick forward, it will turn the excavator in the opposite direction.

Lastly, there are foot pedals you will rarely use. On the left, there will be a high speed control, which is used to speed up when moving the excavator from one location to another. The right hand pedal is the two-way pedal, which is used when you want to pivot the hoe from left to right.

Start your engines!

Once you start your engines, you should be careful not to accidently bump any of the controls that you aren’t using. This will cause a pretty instant change in the motion of your machine and could be dangerous if you’re not sure what you’re doing.

There you go! Those are the basics for how you can operate a mini excavator. However, as mentioned before, you should be properly trained before you even hop on an excavator. No construction project is worth threatening your well-being!

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