They Wouldn’t Work Without Their Skid-Steer Loaders

Sept. 1, 1999
Gx Bug Web

Bohnsack and Hennen Excavating in Prior Lake, MN. has been using skid-steer loaders for at least 20 years. currently, the company operates three of them in addition to a dozen pieces of large equipment, such as dozers and track excavators. The company, operated by Leroy Bohnsack and his son, Mike, does excavating and finish-grading work for residential construction contractors in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area.

“We wouldn’t think about working without our skid-steer loaders,” says Mike Bohnsack. “They let us work in tight spots where we can’t get in with any of our other equipment. They sure beat a shovel. Also, our finished product is a lot better than it would be with larger equipment. because we can work much closer to buildings without causing foundations to crack. It’s pretty easy to learn how to run a skid-steer loader. But to be a really good operator takes a little more time.”

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Crews use smooth-edge buckets for digging, hauling, loading and backfilling, and—in addition to a grading bar—final-grading landscapes. Other attachments for the skid-steer loaders include a sweeper for cleaning streets in front of their jobs and sprucing up the company’s shop and yard area, a snow bucket and a hydraulic breaker. The breaker is used in demolition work to break large chunks of concrete removed by their large excavator into smaller pieces for loading into trucks. The company no longer has a tiller attachment. The tool did a good job, says Mike Bohnsack, but it wasn’t fast enough to fit their construction schedules.

The company has two Bobcat Model 763 skid-steer loaders (46 hp, 1,500-lb. rated operating capacity). One of their main jobs is working inside basement excavations to backfill footings. “We dump sand or rock, which we’re going to spread in the basement, to make a ramp into the basement,” he explains. “Then we drive the loader over the wall and down into the basement. When we’re finished with the work, we use a large excavator to lift out the machine.”

From start to finish takes about 45 minutes for a 1,000 square ft. basement, he reports. Usually backfilling a typical split-entry basement inside and out can be completed in three or four hours using one of the skid-steer loaders. The machines are also used to backfill garages and haul materials, such as decorative or drain tile rock.

Each of the two loaders is equipped with rubber tracks for working in wet spring conditions. However, the tracks remain on the machines year-round. The flotation and improved traction with these tracks make them better machines in most any condition, especially when working close to swamps or ponds or on sandy soil, Mike Bohnsack notes.

The company’s other skid-steer loader is a Bobcat Model 973 (73.5 hp, 2,400-lb. load rated operating capacity). With more power and lifting ability than the other two, this machine is excellent for jobs that require a lot of pushing dirt or loading trucks, he says.