Review: Kubota KX040-4 mini excavator

By: Ron Horner

Presented by
  • Earthmovers & Exacavators

Kubota diggers have never let Ron Horner down over the years, and he has a good feeling about the new 4.2-tonne KX040-4 mini excavator as well

Kubota -KX040-4-mini -excavator

 

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  • 29kW Kubota engine

  • Load-sensing 92.4lpm hydraulics

  • Offsettable boom

If you ever had the chance to get involved in purchasing either one or several items of equipment in your life, you are sure to have a favourite where one or several will always bring a smile to your face and a warm fuzzy feeling in your guts.

The degree of sentimentality attached to a certain machine depends on many things: the difficulty of jobs you were engaged in whilst owning the particular piece of gear, the people you met while on a certain job or jobs, the money you earned while it was in your possession, or the unbelievable good run you had with the machine during that period of your life.

For me, I have several favourites depending on the era from the ’70s to today.

Kato gave me the opportunity to get involved in the industry way back in the 70s but it was Kubota that helped me get back on my feet after being brought back to earth by what turned out to be one of several divorces.

The minimal repair bill, the low running costs and the consistent reliability pushed out by the little Kubota ensured every dollar earned was one that was saved. A great period of my life was that little five-tonne Kubota.

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Needless to say, when I walked onto a job recently and saw a new Kubota KX040-4 excavator with a hydraulic rock grab attached engaged in building a rock wall … as curiosity hasn’t killed this cat just yet, I just had to ask!

Ben Preece is a Nerang-based (SEQ) rock wall builder who has owned four Kubota excavators previously. When asked why buy another, his answer was similar to my first experience with a Kubota.

"They just don’t break or break down, Ron," was his answer. "Parts availability, service, low running costs and reliability are the reason I could ill afford to go anywhere else."

Ben says that other than a few hoses, all of his previous Kubotas were trouble-free and the first issue he had to overcome was succumbing to contaminated fuel; he was pressured to buy non-genuine filters and caused an injector issue. However, that was quickly sorted and had nothing to do with the Kubota itself.

This little KX040-4 comes with a factory-fitted hydraulic rock grab which can be locked and left fixed to the machine. It is the newest of the Kubota four-tonne range of excavators and is proving to be extremely popular with sales throughout Australia, pushing it to market leader in this range of excavators.

Kubota -KX040-4-mini -excavator

Walkaround

You can’t be anything other than impressed when first viewing this little beauty.

You won’t need a trained eye to pick up the positives so easily noticeable here. The excellent shape, great vision from the open cab, the good design of the out-front blade, good track frame design, easy access to the engine bay , hydraulics and filters are just a few that stick out to me.

But if you want to stop and have a good look over it, you will notice the domed shape on the off side enabling better vision and continuing a nice shape that enhances the look of the digger, the out-front articulated boom which gives better side-degree digging angles, and the enhanced cast-side bump protection strips.

All this was going through my mind before I had even gotten in the seat!

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In the cab

As has been the case for many years now, Kubota has the ideal mini excavator cab design with excellent vision to all areas, a monitor positioned so as to minimise glare and reflection to the operator, a great all-weather fully adjustable seat, and heavy-duty floor mat.

The control positions are all perfectly placed and easy to access for any-sized operator. Blade control is handy on the right side of the dashboard console, and, irrespective of the slew position, the operator has good visuals on the blade.

When you have an open cab, keeping the design waterproof and simple is the key. Relevant gauges, light switches, travel speed controls and hydraulic attachments controls are located either on the side dashboard, floor (as in pedal control) or on the hand lever controls.

Kubota has hit the nail on the head with the cab layout being simple yet effective, waterproof and hardy. But what I like most is that there is ample room for a bigger-framed operator – and that is very important.

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Under the hood

The Kubota KX040-4 is a gem of a machine to work on ... if it ever breaks down, that is.

Running a beautiful and well-balanced Kubota D1803-CR-TE4 3-cylinder diesel engine, it pushes out 29kW of power from its 1826cc engine and weighs in at 4.2 tonnes. Hitting a top speed of about 5km/h, the little digger is pushed along by the auxiliary hydraulic pump delivering 92L/min.

Swinging the rear hood upwards exposes the engine bay. Once again Kubota has provided excellent access to the service filters, engine, air filter, alternator and the radiator filler bottle.

It’s just as easy when it comes to checking the hydraulics. Flip the side bonnet upwards and all of the hydraulics are sitting there perfectly positioned for easy access and inspection. The radiator, oil cooler and battery are also located here.

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On the job

This particular machine is used predominantly for rock wall construction, hence the hydraulic rock grab attachment fitted to the dipper arm.

With a quick hitch fitted for easy bucket changes, the hydraulic rock grab arm pivot point has had to be adjusted to suit the distance between the bucket and link arm fixed point. However, this means that it can be kept on the machine and not require dismantling and removal.

When the arm is retracted and not in use, the link arm forms a protective steel shield over the exposed ram, ensuring no damage is done if it inadvertently was to be struck whilst in use.

The beauty of having the bucket and rock grab on is that the ground can be levelled by using the bucket prior to placement of the rock in the construction of the rock wall.

When the rocks to be used in the construction of the wall have been placed close to the work area the excavator uses the rock grab to roll and place them in position.

Sometimes the rocks need an extra push from the side and this is where the well-designed rugged blade is utilised to push them into a firm, tight position.

Further enhancement of the finished area is achieved due to the fact that the Kubota is fitted with rubber tracks and leaves no visual or physical damage to the road or work zone.

Kubota has always had an excellent and proactive design team on board and it is yet to disappoint with the current blade design.  From the operators’ perspective, they can see the blade at all slew angles and can have confidence in the strength of the H-frame blade frame not to crack under pressure.

The machine is very well balanced as, even when the boom swing angle of both 70/55-degree angles are utilised in the rock wall construction, it sits nice and level on the ground.

The 64-litre fuel tank provides enough fuel for a hard day’s yakka of 12 hours or more, and the multiple auxiliary hydraulic lines affixed to the dipper allow for several hydraulic attachments to be fitted without adjusting the oil flows from the valve bank.

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The bottom line

Having owned a couple of Kubota mini excavators in my time, I must say that I have a soft spot for them and my liking is fully warranted.

I bought my first Kubota way back in 1986 and during that time – and ensuing years – made me a considerable sum, which I can honestly put down to minimal downtime.  

I had a hammer attached to them for many years and, as we all know, they do eventually take a toll, but to Kubota’s credit they took everything I could throw at them.

Kubota is a leader in the market with some of the best dealers who provide Kubota owners excellent service and spare parts availability, and can offer in-house finance with very competitive interest rates.

Having these added attributes just makes the whole Kubota experience one that, if you ever get the chance, you should take it. You won’t be disappointed.

 

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