Mini excavators are smaller-sized versions of full-size backhoe equipment found on most construction sites. The smaller excavators are used as a fast alternative to digging trenches and holes by hand. They also fit into smaller spaces than full-size backhoes. Backhoes require licensing and training to operate, while mini excavators may not require licensing in your state. Therefore, mini excavators can be more readily used by trained homeowners or landscapers.
Turn the ignition switch to the "On" position to start the excavator engine. Many excavators in this size class require the operator to be in the seat because the seat has sensors that release safety mechanisms at a certain weight.
Pull the lever below the left joystick to raise the left arm rest, if the machine is so equipped.
Locate the throttle lever in front of the ignition switch to adjust the throttle. Move the lever forward to increase throttle and backward to decrease.
Place the excavator so the boom arm is within reach of the desired starting point when extended. Move both travel levers forward to move the excavator forward in a straight line. Move the left lever backward to turn the excavator to the right. The opposite is true for the right lever, which turns the excavator left. Moving both levers back simultaneously moves the excavator in reverse.
Apply small amounts of pressure to the levers, when first moving them, to ensure the excavator is responding as required. Use the foot pedals along with the levers for greater control, if the excavator is equipped with them.
Lower the stabilizers if you have these. Push the dozer lever forward to lower the blade until it lifts the front of the excavator. The dozer blade increases stability to the boom and bucket while working.
Move the left joystick to raise or lower the main boom, which is the arm section between the excavator body and the joint forming the elbow of the boom. Move the lever forward to lower the boom and backward to raise it.
Move the right joystick to operate the stick boom, which is the section between the elbow and the bucket. Push the lever forward to swing the stick boom out and pull it in when you want to swing it back to you.
Extend the main boom until it is midway through its full extension range. Push the right joystick forward, stopping when the boom is two-thirds fully extended.
Control the sideways motion of the main boom with the left joystick. Some machines spin the entire frame instead of just the arm. Moving the lever to one side moves the arm, or frame, in the same direction.
Bring the main boom lever forward until the bucket teeth are close to the ground. Move the right joystick left or right to open or close the bucket. Start working with the bucket at a 45-degree angle to the ground.
Move the boom to bring the teeth into contact with the ground. Pull the bucket lever to curl the bucket inward. Continue curling the bucket as it fills with dirt to avoid spilling dirt.
Move the lever away from you to open the bucket and dump the soil.
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Jack S. Waverly is a New York-based freelance writer who writes articles relating to business, personal finance, gardening, sustainable living and business management. Waverly is published on Pluck, Happy News and many other Web sites.