Review: Sumitomo SH330 LC excavator

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  • Earthmovers & Exacavators

Ron Horner jumps on board a Sumitomo SH330 LC excavator with Rammer 4099 hammer attached.

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The beauty of surviving many years of contracting and heading into early retirement is being able to travel without the confines of outside influences controlling your day-to-day life.

Catching up with a few old mates and making new ones is all part of my life these days but it always seems to be the blokes who are in the earthmoving game who I seem to attract or get mixed up with.

As I mentioned in my Cat D8R dozer review, a trip down to the Granite Belt region of south-east Queensland just happened to be on the cards so I packed the van, invited the Nurse, and away we went.

It proved to be a fruitful trip. After forming a friendship with Applethorpe’s Adrian and Maree Johanson and reviewing their D8R, Adrian also took me to a ridge overlooking the valley, where he had quite a bit of gear working on the clearing of a large granite rock-strewn paddock in preparation for a new strawberry farm.

What immediately caught my eye was a red and white excavator tap, tap, tapping away with a big rock-breaker hanging off the dipper.

Now, there are not many excavators that leave the factory painted red and white, so I asked Adrian what the go was.

He said that his dad started with Sumitomo excavators and, after having such a brilliant run with them for many decades, they decided to stay with the bright colour scheme of the original 1970s machines.

The colours are so bright you can see the machines in the distinctive colour scheme for many kilometres.

Sumitomo SH330LC
The Sumitomo SH330 LC excavator with its Rammer 4099 hammer


In the cab

The first thing I noticed when stepping up into the cabin of the 330 was a heavy, steel, floor-mounted pedestal with a large pressure gauge sitting atop, located on the right-hand side of the cabin and between the monitor and the control panel.

This threw me a bit, but Adrian explained that it was installed by the previous owner as he had specced the machine up a bit to the equivalent of a 35-tonner and was running a pile-driving attachment on it prior to Adrian’s purchase.

With that out of the way it was time to sit and familiarise myself with the cabin layout.

As with all Japanese-built machines, the dash and cabin layout are all pretty predictable, with a few minor changes here and there depending on the model and make.

They are all very good and operator-friendly, and all the information needed to run this girl was right at my fingertips.

Auto-decelerate, turbo timer and a good-sized monitor with easy-to-sort functions are just some of the points worthy of note.

However, it wasn’t the factory-supplied options that got me, it was the aftermarket additions made by Adrian that made the difference.

The compulsory two-way radio is the norm, but the two electric fans are definitely old-school items you never see in machines anymore. In the ‘80s they were the ‘in thing’ if you had a fan in the cab … now that was cool.

You see, in this climate one would not require to run the air-con all day, and once you have the cab to a set temperature just flick the fans on and circulate the air. The positioning of the rotating fans is the key, right behind the operators head – just perfect. 

But another addition struck me as well, and that was the full perspex sheeting that runs the full length and width of the cabin’s front window, minimising any damage from the flyrock off the Rammer 4099 hammer – but also the rubber conveyor belt affixed to the front of the hammer, which additionally reduces the amount and speed of rock flying off the moil-point.

There is nothing worse than having to operate in the freezing temperatures after breaking the front glass in the machine, but Adrian has taken positive steps to minimise any damage in this area.

Vison is excellent but the rear cameras do come in handy due to the height of the engine cowling at the back of the cabin.


On the job

Now, you are not going to get too much action when the machine you are attempting to demonstrate is stuck in a long pile of unforgiving granite rocks. The best you can do is persevere with the long grind and keep the hammer point cool enough so as not to melt it and take the edge off it.

Patience is the key to successful production when hammering, and it is a well-known fact that many a long-term hammering job has sent a lot of good men to the "looney bin".

The big twin variable displacement axial piston hydraulic pumps deliver plenty of flow to run the big Rammer hammer. The Sumitomo SH330 handles it with ease and is quite well balanced when put to the test and, with the big 350-litre hydraulic tank, ensures there is enough oil to keep everything nice and cool.

The pump is fed by the big 198kW Isuzu turbo-diesel engine and, with a fuel tank of almost 600 litres, has enough to get you through the longest of shifts.

Access to the engine bay is a simple step up off the tracks and onto the tapered tank steps and into the safety zone of the fully enclosed handrails which surround the engine cowling, fuel and hydraulic tanks.

The engine is easy to access and the dip stick is placed perfectly for easy reading during pre-start checking. The heat shield over the turbo is a good thing for protecting the operator when accessing the engine bay for any other issues.

The hydraulics are also easy to access via the rear off-side door, which sits at a very reasonable height, ensuring fuel filters, water trap and hydraulic pump is at eye level and very accessible.

The long undercarriage is compulsory due to the weight of the Rammer 4099 hammer (3.75 tonnes) and helps take the bounce out of the operation of the machine while repositioning and travelling.

On a long, hard day of simple perseverance and patience with the hammer, it is difficult to assess the full capabilities of the Sumitomo LC 330. There was no opportunity to dig any materials with a bucket due to the amount of unforgiving granite taking its toll on operator and machine.

A full day’s rock hammering in these conditions would take about an hour to excavate and load out – it was tough going.

The Rammer 4099 hammer is able to handle extreme conditions and working environments with the sealed housing structure (preventing dust and dirt ingress), the top cover plate with its sealed apertures for hoses, and features a sealed hose connection for grease, air and water. The sturdy housing design and resistant wear plates make it perfect for horizontal working duties in applications such as tunnelling.

Pushing out 400-700bpm (beats per minute) and 150-230 bar with 250/350 litres per minute of oil flow, the 4099 has got some reasonable punch and a reputation to go with it.

It is suitable for machines such as the Sumitomo SH330 LC operating at weights of 34-55 tonnes.


The bottom line

The big Sumitomo SH330 LC digger has all the comforts equal to any of the competitors in the similar class.

Seating and vision, well balanced, powerful, operator comfort and precise controls are some of the things that make the ‘Sumi’ a good choice, but the thought and aftermarket additions by Adrian and Maree Johanson are the factors that just  make the difference for the machine of choice in this application. 

Overall, and the harsh rocky conditions and work environment aside, this Sumitomo SH330 LC excavator and the Rammer 4099 hammer get a big thumbs up from me.



Operating weight: 34.5 tonnes

Engine: Isuzu AL-6HK1X

Net power: 198kW

Dig depth: 6730mm

Dump height: 7140mm


Sumitomo SH330 LC excavator Adrian Johanson with ‘B1 and B2 – aka the terrible Brendan twins Sumitomo SH330 LC excavator
Sumitomo SH330LC excavator hydraulics There is easy access to filters and hydraulics Sumitomo SH330LC excavator hydraulics
Sumitomo SH330 LC excavator engine bay B2 checking the oil Sumitomo SH330 LC excavator engine bay

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