Handling concrete on a jobsite is simple when a truck can be driven to the edge of a form and wet concrete sluiced out the rear. Easy. Not so easy is the transfer of concrete to a site inaccessible to a big, heavy truck or the hauling of a small batch of concrete mix to a pour site.
Enter compact machines. Fitted with an appropriate attachment, a skid steer, compact track loader or compact excavator can easily get the wet mix to its final resting place. A variety of attachments offer practical solutions to concrete-handling questions.
There is, of course, a tried-and-true method for mixing and pouring concrete in hard-to-get-at places. Just load a sack or two of cement into a wheelbarrow and push it there. Ditto with a barrow load of sand and aggregate. Finally, pick up and carry a couple of pails of water to the site, roll up your sleeves and go to work. If such a laborious approach doesn’t appeal, consider a “cement chuter.” The Paladin chuter has been a long-standing part of the Paladin portfolio of products for over 15 years. The FFC chuter comes in two sizes — 1/2 yd and 3/4 yd. The dimensions of the larger model are 58 in. wide and 31 in. tall.
The chuter is a roughly triangular holding space with a hydraulically controlled vertical slide at the front where two sides meet. When a skid steer or compact track loader is stopped just short of a form, the slide is opened up and wet concrete pours down the attachment’s 29-in. chute. A flexible chute is an option so concrete can be dispensed to the right or left, “but most buy it with the standard chute,” says Justin Perkins, senior product manager for Stanley Infrastructure, Paladin’s parent company.
The chuter has no internal auger, so concrete cannot be mixed in it. It is a delivery system only, albeit an efficient one. The attachment sometimes is repurposed. Outfitted with the optional flexible chute, it is filled with cattle feed and driven alongside feed bunks to deliver grain and supplement. “A lot of our attachments are used for secondary functions, especially in ag. Grain handling is quite common,” Perkins says.
But landscapers and small contractors with compact machines are the usual buyers of Paladin’s cement chuter. The half-yard model weighs 450 lbs, the larger model 520 lbs, both easily transportable by an average sized skid steer, compact track loader or excavator. Some rental yards have the units on their lots, or they can be purchased for $2,500, give or take a couple hundred bucks.
While Paladin has assorted concrete demolition attachments, the cement chuter is its only liquid concrete attachment. Perkins says the company is not convinced a broad market exists for more sophisticated concrete-mixing attachments. “There are lots of really economical options for mixing that won’t consume valuable time on an expensive skid steer. We see the opportunity here primarily in precision placement, rather than mixing.”
Danuser has a different take on the market, offering a mixing attachment. In 2017, the company went all in and upgraded the attachment to what it calls its Mega Mixer. The mixer’s standard hopper holds 3/4 yds of concrete. Hopper extensions raise the capacity to a full yard or 27 cu ft of concrete. The unit is almost 8 ft wide.
“We don’t offer recommendations to buyers about the size of machine to mount it on. We leave that up to the operator,” says Mike Willis, Danuser sales manager. “The mixer weighs 805 lbs, so if you are hauling concrete, it gets heavy pretty quick. You’ll want to attach it to a pretty large skid steer, or load a smaller amount, if you’re working with concrete.”
It is built to handle the heavy stuff, with a 3/16-in. steel bottom and 11-gauge steel sides. The Mega Mixer will accommodate concrete aggregate up to 1 in. across. Anything larger begins to compromise clearances at the auger and dispensing chute. “One-in. maximum is our guideline because we want to allow plenty of clearance.”
The auger is 8 in. in diameter and spacing of the auger flights also is 8 in. Coupled to a high-torque hydraulic motor, the auger can efficiently transform rock, sand, Portland cement and water into high-quality concrete. Willis says the proper mixing technique is to dump four to five bags of concrete mix into the mixer and add plenty of water, start rotating the auger, then dump in incremental amounts of mix and water to dry down the mix.
Because the auger is reversible, the mix can be churned one way and then the other for faster, more thorough, mixing. The reversible mount also lets the mixer dispense concrete out of either side. A well-designed manual discharge gate helps regulate the flow of concrete out of the chute. How fast can the Mega Mixer be emptied? “We can dump the 3/4-yd hopper in as little as 26 seconds,” Willis says. The attachment can be found in some rental yards. Purchase price is around $5,400.
Among Blastcrete Equipment’s lineup of mixers and pumps are two skid steer-mounted concrete pump attachments, the RD6536 and D6528. The first is 3 ft in diameter and pumps up to 25 cu yds per hour. The second is 28 in. in diameter and pumps up to 12 cu yds per hour. Both are peristaltic pumps, that is, fitted with a tube that is squeezed by revolving rollers. The rollers create vacuum to suck in wet concrete from a holding container and then push it around inside the tube before ejecting it.
“It works on the same principle as squeezing a tube of toothpaste,” says Tripp Farrell, Blastcrete president. In 2014, the Alabama company updated the smaller pump unit, going to two rollers from three. “This change significantly reduced wear on the pumping tube, offering more tube longevity.”
The larger 6536 model is the top-seller, primarily because of its greater capacity. It typically is used to deliver concrete to a pour site, whereas the 6528 is recommended for use with wet shotcrete, grouting and some hot epoxy applications. Other mix recommendations for the pumps include using pea rock or aggregate 1/2 in. or less in size, river sand instead of more angular manufactured sand and a minimum of 20 percent of cement or a cement and fly ash combination. “Most customers have been paying a pumping service, so concrete mixes might be totally new to them,” Farrell says.
The pumps are reversible, which comes in handy when a line gets blocked. “You are going to plug a concrete line at some point,” says Farrell, “and we recommend reversing the pump for a minimum of five seconds. With the pressure off, you can disconnect the sections of line and find the blockage.”
These pump attachments are most commonly mounted on skid steers and compact track loaders, and each pump has a universal mounting plate. The hydraulic flow rate requirement for both pumps is 18 gpm. “Several of our customers operate the concrete pump with excavators, backhoes and separate hydraulic power units,” Blastcrete’s president says.
Blastcrete’s concrete pumps are just another cool example of the vast variety of attachments on the compact tool carrier market. Someday, when that concrete has served its purpose and needs to be broken up and removed, a machine like a skid steer or mini excavator can come back in wielding a breaker and various grapple buckets and thumbs to spearhead the concrete demo project. Compact machines and their attachments continue to be the ultimate utility player.
Grab-N-Drive Post Driver
The Grab-N-Drive Post Driver allows an operator to handle, place and drive wooden, concrete and metal posts without the assistance of a person on the ground. The multifunctional hydraulic attachment consists of a grab to handle and set posts and a hammer to drive them. The flagship model — the GD30S — delivers up to 1,250 bpm at 502 ft-lbs. Designed by Exac-One and manufactured in the United Kingdom, the Grab-N-Drive can be fitted to excavators from 1 1/2 to 14 tons within minutes with an interchangeable mounting bracket. A special universal adapter plate can be purchased separately, allowing the attachment to be used on skid steer and tractor loaders. The Grab-N-Drive is available in the U.S. exclusively from Ransome Attachments. For more info, visit ransomeattach.com.
Auger Attachment Rental Tips
Digging a hole? For a fence? Tree? Footing? To bury evidence? Then you could always rent an auger — a drill attachment that consists of a prime mover mount, a drive head and an auger bit. For augers specifically, understanding your ground conditions and what type of auger bit to use is highly important. The two most common types of auger bits are simply referred to as dirt and rock bits. Dirt bits are more widely used, more economical and can corkscrew through easy-to-moderate soil conditions. Rock bits are made for rock (duh), as well as asphalt and concrete. Direct drive and planetary drive will also be something to consider. Hydraulic requirements for augers overall range from 6 to 35 gpm and go up to 3,000 psi. Most rental houses will keep common auger sizes like 9, 12 and 18 in. on hand.