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Equipment focus: Cat 301.8C and 301.7D excavators

Cat 301-series mini excavators are proving to be game-changers for two small construction companies who are running their own machines instead of relying on third-party contractors.

The first of the two, who are both WesTrac customers, is owner-operator Andrew Evans from Hadrian’s Walls in Bateau Bay, NSW. He builds retaining walls on both commercial and domestic projects — specialising in difficult sites — and uses a Cat 301.8C excavator.

“When we first started 10 years ago we were hiring machines and we realised quickly that the quality wasn’t there,” Evans says. “So we thought we would have a crack at it ourselves.

“When we did the sums and looked at the business opportunities if we owned one of these mini excavators we just bought the Cat.”

“When we talked with Caterpillar Finance through WesTrac my repayments would have been $1000 a month,” he says. “From a financial point of view, even when you add in all the costs, after two full days’ hire you are in front on the third day each month.”

Evans says the size of the 301.8C excavator, which weighs in at 1.68 tonnes (1.79 tonnes with cab), is perfect for his use.

“If I had a larger three tonne machine without reducible tracks it would only get into 60 to 70 percent of the places that I can work,” he says. “It may take a little bit longer to do the job but it means I am not digging out clay by hand or humping soil in a barrow.”

It also means he doesn’t have to worry about getting a bigger machine into tight places.

“I can go down garden pathways and I have even climbed stairs,” Evans says, adding: “Compared with a bigger machine the spare parts are cheaper, the fuel is cheaper, the insurance is cheaper and the tracks are cheaper.”

Evans says his Cat 301.8C is pushed to the limit all the time.

“I ask it to lift heavy things and it’s very rare that the machine won’t do it,” he says.” It takes the place of four or five men and the scope of work it does is vast and varied.”

The second contractor is East Gosford, NSW-based Brett McGrath of Brett McGrath Excavations.

With a background in heavy industry and mining, driving big Cat dozers and trucks, he is now in the construction industry and specialising in narrow access jobs. For this, he runs a Cat 301.7D excavator.

“There are a lot of places the big guys can’t get so that’s why we have the Cat 301.7D with the tradie bundle,” McGrath says. “I test drove just about every machine and they all had pluses and minuses but the Cat felt just right. WesTrac bundled everything we needed including the trailer and attachments.

“It’s only a little machine but it still surprises me what it can do and the power available,” he adds. “It is such a compact machine but what it can tackle is quite incredible.”

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