Paul and Mike Walk Us Through an Auger Attachment Purchase for a Skid Steer
Paul walked into Mike’s Equipment determined to get his questions answered. The old ways of digging holes around his farm were just too inconvenient and backbreaking. As the entry bell rang and Paul wandered among the gleaming new machines on display, Mike bounded out to greet him.
“Paul! It’s good to see you.” Mike shook Paul’s hand and looked him in the eye. “What can I do for you?”
Paul cleared his throat. “You know I got that skid steer a while back. I hoped you could answer some questions about getting an auger system for it.”
“That’s no problem. There are some things I need to know, though.” Mike led Paul to sit in a cozy office. “You don’t know which model that was, do you? I can find it here.”
Paul sighed. “I don’t know off the top of my head.”
“What I really need to know are your hydraulic specs — flow and pressure,” Mike explained, flicking through files on his computer.
“Here we go — you’ve got 15 gallons per minute at 3,000 psi. We’ll want an auger system that fits those. Flow, your gallons per minute, determines the speed your auger bit rotates, and pressure or psi generates your raw digging power or torque. Auger drive units have ranges of flow and pressure they can work in, and you want to aim for their sweet spots, the middle of those ranges.”
“That makes sense. What else do we need to know?”
“There are a lot of things to consider. Some auger systems are for general-purpose use and others for professional use, which are often stronger but more expensive. Since you have a skid steer, a universal skid steer quick-attach should work to mount your auger system. We’ll need to think about what drive setup will work best for you. Chain drives, bearing packs and direct drive from the hydraulic motor are less expensive and simple in design but don’t give great torque, and some require more maintenance. You might consider a planetary gearbox, which is a bit more expensive, but maximizes torque and reliability and needs almost no maintenance.”
“Well, if I’m going to buy an auger system, I want the best quality I can get.” Paul crossed his arms across his chest. “What about the auger bit? I want a good heavy-duty one.”
“There are lots of auger bit options, too,” Mike went on. “You say you want one for heavy-duty work, so I’d recommend an auger bit with double-flighting and drive-in teeth — single-flighted augers with bolt-on teeth are more light duty. There are specialty bits, too, for drilling into solid rock or making cone-shaped holes for tree-planting or making wobbled-out holes without loose dirt at the top or bottom. In general, you want to match your bit to your ground conditions. You may want to have several bits on hand if you have different applications, like one for tree planting and one for setting posts.”
Tractor Auger Options
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Paul nodded along. “Say I buy an auger system and get it home and running. What do I need to watch out for?”
“That’s a great question. Safety is the most important thing,” Mike stressed. “First off, keep people clear when you’re operating the auger system. You shouldn’t have any bystanders closer than 25 ft while it’s in use — debris can get thrown by the auger and hit them, or it could rip buried fence lines up and drag someone toward the auger. Nobody should ride on the auger when you’re transporting or operating it. Always call 811 to make sure you don’t accidentally dig into gas, phone and sewer lines.
“Beyond safety, there are some best practices to follow — for example, clean your auger bit off by turning it ‘forward, stop, forward, stop,’ rather than ‘forward, reverse.’ When you’re transporting it, keep the drive unit settled into the cradle on the quick-attach, so it doesn’t bounce around. Another thing is stalling — hydraulic auger systems stall out when they strike an obstacle or reach peak torque, unlike older technology with shear bolts. If your auger stalls, just reverse the flow, clean off the bit if necessary and try again. A lot of this sort of stuff will be obvious once you start digging.”
Paul sighed. “This is gonna be a pretty big expense. How do I get the best life out of it?”
“Poor maintenance — that’s the easiest way to make it fail. You want to make sure to clean it off when it gets dirty, top up the planetary oil level if it gets low and lubricate and maintain everything per the operator’s manual. Read your manual! You want to make sure to have anyone else who might operate the auger system read the manual too and spend some time to train them. If any of the safety signs get scratched off, replace them for the same reason. You should replace components if they fail, to prevent other components failing too. I work with hundreds of customers a year, and these are the biggest problems I see.”
Satisfied, Paul shook Mike’s hand and returned home. He studied about his skid steer and made a decision on the right auger system for his needs. With the aid of a knowledgeable dealer, any prospective auger system buyer can enjoy the same success.
Cool Tool of the Month
Check Out the Vacuworx CM 3 Compact Equipment Attachment at CONEXPO
The CM 3 Compact Modular Vacuum Lifting System takes skid steer attachments to a new level! Easily adaptable to multiple applications and host machines, the CM 3 features rugged all-steel construction to handle materials up to 6,600 lbs. The first vacuum lifting solution of its kind, the patent pending CM 3 enables skid steers and track loaders to lift concrete slabs, steel plates and pipe with ease. Operated hydraulically, the CM 3 can accommodate single or double pad configurations for a variety of material weights and sizes. The CM 3 with standard mounting plate and two 24-in.-by-24-in. pads weighs the same as a standard bucket, so there is no change in lift capacity of the host machine. For more info, visit booth N10067 at CONEXPO in March or vacuworx.com.