REVIEW: Bobcat E45 excavator
If you’re in the market for a new mini excavator, the Bobcat brand is well worth considering. Tim Dittmer takes a closer look at the latest E45 to see what’s on offer.
For an excavator this size, the cab has ample room to get comfortable in, the floor is uncluttered as the swing boom and auxiliary hydraulic pedals have been swapped for proportionally-variable thumb-operated rocker switches on the top of the two joysticks, and both travel pedals fold in half to give added space on the floor.
The suspended seat absorbs the bumps well and is surrounded by plenty of vents for heaps of air flow. The right-side cab window also slides open for those who like to work in the elements, however, the front pillars could do with a bit of a slim down to increase visibility out the left and right corners.
A four-cylinder Kubota engine, producing 41.8hp, is coupled to a variable displacement load-sensing piston pump delivering up to 99.1L/min and a maximum of 256 bar of hydraulic pressure.
Bobcat's design team has put plenty of effort into building a machine that is well laid out and easy to maintain. By simply unwinding a knob, the coolers tilt forward to allow easy access for a compressed air gun to get between them for cleaning. For a compact machine, there is certainly enough room to gain access to all the service points, and even components such as the starter motor and alternator are easily reached.
The hydraulic hoses have straight fittings connecting them to the control valve, reducing friction and allowing more room to change them in the future. In fact, it looks quite easy to remove any and all of them, due to the excellent layout of the hoses.
The E45 has useful features that make operating it more efficient and simple and include auto idle, auto shift between high and low travel, cushioned cylinders, and thumb-controlled proportional auxiliary hydraulics.
Bobcat is made in the USA and this model comes factory standard with air conditioning and thumb mounts on the dipper arm and a hydraulically-angling blade and telescopic dipper arm can be spec'd.
The boom offset ram is mounted on the left side of the boom foot under the cab, giving added protection, but more importantly it stays flush with the side of the digger, even when angled fully to each side to allow a trench to be dug alongside a wall or other obstacle. The boom can be swung up to 75 degrees to the left and 50 degrees to the right.
I thought the Bobcat was great little machine with amazing tracking power and a well-shaped blade that rolls the material forward rather than building up and spilling over the back of the blade. In fact, it pushed so well I made it push up the stockpile to see how it coped. There was no hesitation cutting into the sticky soil and pushing an impressive amount up the heap. The E45's weight distribution gets the power to the ground and maintains good traction throughout the push.
For those who can't operate a blade properly, there is a float function. Activated by pushing the blade lever right forward, it lets the blade follow the ground. This lever is also fitted with the high/low button for the track motors which is the most convenient place for it, especially when tracking back and forward using the blade. Low mode offers 2.4kph while high will see you out to 4.2kph.
The Bobcat's performs hydraulic system delivers oil to all the functions at once, giving excellent combined movements and fast cycle times. The bucket keenly assisted to help pull the machine up a steep slope after traction gave in to gravity but, with the arm pulling too, it easily clambered up.
A 9rpm slew speed gives quick movements but tended to unsteady the excavator when a full bucket was swung at speed while reached out. Considering it is fitted with a long dipper arm and had a tilting wide bucket heaped with damp soil, it wasn't too bad. Keeping the bucket closer retained the stability, though an additional counterweight can be factory spec'd.
The controls are smooth and respond well to all manner of movements, giving precise, predictable placement of the bucket. Proportionally-adjustable thumb rocker switches allow seamless control of the swing boom and auxiliary hydraulic line that was running the tilt bucket.
The E45 features a three-stage switch offering a maximum of 75.7L/min for attachments requiring high flow and dropping to 26.2 and 21L/min for the less ravenous tools, like the tilt bucket, where precision beats speed.
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