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Tools Used in Excavation

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A Geoprobe is a hydraulically-powered, percussion / probing machine designed specifically for use in the Environmental Industry. A Geoprobe relies on a relatively small amount of static (vehicle) weight combined with percussion as the energy for advancement of a tool string. Using a Geoprobe, you can drive tools to obtain continuous soil cores or discrete soil samples. You can drive samplers to obtain groundwater samples or vapor samples. You can insert permanent sampling implants and air sparging points. You can drive a conductivity sensor probe to map subsurface lithology. You can install small diameter monitoring wells. In fact, the Geoprobe has been used to perform many of these functions to depths of 100 feet (30m) or more where the geology and soil conditions are appropriate.



An excavator is a self-propelled crawler or wheeled machine with an upper structure capable of up to 360 degrees rotation, which excavates, elevates, swings and discharges material by the action of a bucket fitted to the boom or arm or telescoping boom, without moving the chassis or undercarriage during any part of the working cycle of the machine. There are a few different kinds of Excavators, there are Drott or wheel based excavators, track excavators, mini excavators, and crawler excavators.




A backhoe loader is an interesting invention because it is actually three pieces of construction equipment combined into one unit. A backhoe loader is: A tractor, a loader, and an excavator (backhoe). Each piece of equipment is suited towards a particular type of work. On a typical construction site, the backhoe operator usually uses all three components to get the job done.

The Tractor - The core structure of a backhoe loader is the tractor. Just like the tractors farmers use in their fields, the backhoe tractor is designed to move easily over all kinds of rough terrain. It has a powerful engine, large, rugged tires and a cab with basic steering controls (a steering wheel, brakes, etc.). Backhoe cabs are either completely enclosed or have an open canopy structure to give the operator protection.

The Loader - The loader is attached in the front of the tractor.  The loader can do several different things - in many applications, you'll use it like a big, powerful dustpan or coffee scoop. You usually don't dig with it; you mostly use it to pick up and carry large amounts of loose material. It's also used to smooth things over like a butter knife, or to push dirt like a plow. The operator controls the loader while driving the tractor.

The Backhoe - The backhoe is the main tool of the backhoe loader. It's used to dig up hard, compact material (usually dirt), or to lift heavy loads such as a sewer box. It can lift this material and drop it in a pile to the side of the hole, where the operator can then use the loader to move it further.


Trenchers -aka- Ditchwitch

Hydrostatic trenching units work by literally cutting a continuous slice through the ground like a chainsaw, in which you can lay all kinds of pipes or wires.   Various models offer high torque, excellent horsepower, deep digging depths and work-condition flexibility. Compact trenchers are a great choice for utility, electric, cable, landscape, plumbing and irrigation work. Some trencher models are walk behind and others are big enough to ride on, either way they have one function and that is to make a trench.


Vibratory Plow

Vibratory Plow

Vibratory plows are similar to trenchers, but produce a much more narrow cut with less 'destruction' to the surrounding soil. Whereas the teeth on a trencher grabs soil and moves it out of the trench they create, a vibratory plow actually crushes dirt out of the way, side to side.  The result is a clean (usually narrow) slit in the ground, with little or no dirt spewed all over the grass.  Most vibratory plows are even able to perform in muddy, greasy, soft and other adverse ground conditions, and can handle boulder-ridden terrain full of rocky soil or wet, sandy conditions.

Vibratory Plow
Plow Line

Rod Pushers

Rod pushers are simple, compact devices that thrust a string of push rods through the ground from a small, subsurface starting pit. These rod pushers are a proven way to achieve economical, long-distance guided bores for pipe and cable installations.

Rod Pusher



Augers are ideal tools for setting posts in the ground - for a fence, deck, pole barn, or any other structure.  If the resulting hole is too shallow and the strength of the entire structure is compromised, and if too deep... well, we've all seen what happens (Hey! Where'd the pole go!") Augers make it easy to dig one hole after another, quickly, with a lot less effort and frustration than manual methods. The large drill bits cut through the toughest soil and even remove rocks and stones that would stop any manual post-hole digger. Augers are a real time and backsaver on any job requiing digging multiple holes, and are perfect for digging holes for trees and shrubs, too.


Directional Bores

Directional Bores are ideal for the underground installation of gas, electric, water, telecommunication or soil remediation lines without excavation or trenching. Horizontal directional drilling ensures minimal or no environmental disruption and is an excellent choice for installations in diverse rock and soil conditions. Directional underground drilling can be used for many different types of jobs, including road, landscape and river crossings.

Directional Bore


Bobcats and Skid Steers

These mini-loaders are indispensable when operating in extremely tight areas. The typical unit can pass through an opening less than a meter wide by 2 meters high, wherever bigger machines do not fit. They are extremely nimble and can turn completely around in-place.  You'll find a lot of these used for jobs inside buildings, mucking out and sweeping stables, and picking up loose piles of dirt.

Skid Steer

Tree Spade

The tree spade is used, obviously, to remove trees.  It inserts four blades into the soil around the tree's root ball, and lifts it vertically from the ground. The tree can then be set to the side, or loaded onto a truck for replanting elsewhere.

Tree Spade Tree Spade

Vacuum Excavator

Vacuum Excavator

A key to today's trenchless technology is the use of the vacuum excavator and the Slot excavation method. Since the Slot technique requires far less soil and pavement to be moved than traditional excavation, a project can be completed with greater cost-effectiveness, efficiency, safety, time savings and less disruption of traffic. The typical vacuum technique consists of using an air knife (a highly concentrated blast of air) to loosen / blow apart the soil... at which time the vacuum simply sucks it up and out of the way.

Core Driller

The Core Drilling machine is the most widely recognized and adaptable tool in the concrete sawing and drilling industry. Special-made machines will regularly drill holes 52" in diameter and larger, both above ground or underwater.

Core Drill

Stump Grinder

Stump Grinders

The stump grinder - a machine with a powerful, fast-spinning, metal-toothed wheel that, when applied to a tree stump, will shred it down to wood chips until it is below the ground's surface. Grinders typically come in two sizes - either a hand-held model or a larger type, which is pushed on wheels (you can usually attach this to a towing hitch and pull it behind your car for transport, fit it in the bed of a truck, or have it delivered). The maximum stump diameter for the handheld model is usually 12 inches (30 centimeters), and the grinding wheel should go no more than 4 inches (10 centimeters) underground. The larger model can usually handle stumps up to 32 inches (81 centimeters) wide and go 6 inches (15 centimeters) underground.

Log Skidder

The Log Skidder is a machine used to drag logs that are cut down. Normally you wouldn't think of this as a tool used in excavation, however most models of these machines have either poles or bases that rest on the ground... and when dragged, they will cause the ground to be dug up. Repeat this procedure over and over, such as on a logging trail, and eventually you'll remove enough soil to potentially hit an existing utility line / pipe.

Log Skidder

Road Grader

Grade All / Road Grader

Six wheels with a tandem rear drive is very typical of all graders, and has been almost a standard way of making a grader since the 1930's. The tandem drive reduces the amount of blade movement as a result of a tire 'running over something'. Beyond the fact most (but not all) graders have 6 tires there are a lot of subtle differences. In most instances, for example the rear wheels will be powered from a single drive axle, by roller chains running in an oil bath 'chain box', which also serves as the walking beam. However, there is a great variance as to what the front wheels do. Some graders have a mechanical front wheel drive, some a hydraulic drive, and probably the majority, no front wheel drive at all. Most will have a front wheel, 'wheel lean' allowing you to lean into your work a bit and compensate for the side torque caused by the blade. These Machines are used mainly to level out unpaved roads, and to get rid of potholes that occur over time.