How to Operate an Excavator | Heavy Equipment Operator (ep. 063)

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everyone Randy from extreme sandbox here

today we're gonna show you how to

operate an excavator yes we get a lot of

clients off the street that we get out

here just to kind of play and we teach

them how to do it so we thought it'd be

cool to put a how-to video together on

how to run one of these things now

disclaimer we are not experts at all but

we can show people and we teach people

daily how to do this so we're gonna show

you how to do it so let's check it out

so first thing three points contact any

time you get in or out of equipment now

we're today we're in a Komatsu PC 210

excavator on the controls I'm gonna go

over are going to be in the Komatsu

machine that most of them are pretty

standardized between the different

companies that make excavators but I'm

gonna go through kind of the controls on

this model whether you can run a two

thousand pound mini excavator all the

way up to a 60 tonne excavator generally

the controls are pretty standardized

there so first thing I do when I get in

put my seat belt on big thing on these

again I've shown this on other videos

there are always door locks on equipment

basically these a lot of these equipment

can be run with the door open typically

at the sandbox for safety reasons and

dust control we seal our cabs so there's

a lever right there on this basically

we'll lock that door open but we're

gonna swing it shut okay seatbelt is on

one click on these make sure my system

boots up no error messaging like that

I'll turn it on

I always let it idle up for a sec let it

run you know a couple minutes we were

running this thing earlier today now

we're gonna go over some of the controls

so first thing I'm going to slide my

seat there's always a lot of different

seat adjustments on these machines so

it's very important to be comfortable

where your eye can reach the joysticks

you're these two-track paddles are what

drive the tracks so on the machine you

know safety is always the number one

there is a safety lock lever over on the

left side that is this red lever over

here each different company has some

version this but basically when it down

nothing's gonna work in an excavator

when we flip that up that means

everything is live on the equipment okay

so in general you don't want to be you

know won't be ready to go before you

pull that back you shouldn't have anyone

on your tracks anywhere near you should

have your seatbelt on be ready to go

anytime that lock levers up again each

manufacturers a little bit different

there's some other different types but

usually it's always a lever that's gonna

block that doorway that's the big

indicator that everything is live on

there so to start with we're just gonna

go over some basic controls now the

first thing I want to tell you there are

two different types of control patterns

for excavators basically there is ISO

controls and SAE controls typically ISO

is the standard I historically have

heard people call them cat controls and

then John Deere controls not sure why

they get broken out that way but it's

also been called excavator backhoe

controls there's different types really

I'm gonna go over the controls with ISO

which is the most standard I think the

most important thing to know is pretty

much every excavator out there nowadays

the newer stuff has a simple valve that

you can change patterns whether or not

it's on the Komatsu it's actually right

behind us by the engine compartment

there's a valve you turn

I think caterpillar has something

underneath the floorboard you just turn

a valve and it basically changes it but

again these are ISO controls we were

going with that I'm going to show you

today so again you always want to be

close enough my feet are touching the

ground I got my throttle over here

climate control right there but

everything is set for me right now so if

I start with controls is to show you the

basics the right hand is your boom and

bucket okay so if I pull back in this

right hand you'll see this raises the

boom up

and I'm gonna go and throttle this thing

up too so there's a throttle now boy

well you'll see it run it at basically

idle but I'm gonna throttle this thing

up now this if you notice I turn the

throttle up but the engine you didn't

hear right away most of the newer

excavators have a auto idle so when the

machine's not working it'll bring it

down to idle so you'll see soon as I

touch this it'll go back now right hand

forward will bring that boom back down

now right hand to the right is going to

open your bucket right hand to the left

will close it so that's your right

joystick left joystick is your stick and

swing so with the left if I go forward

it's going to put the stick out

and if I pull back it's gonna bring it

back you'll notice hydraulics as hard as

I pull this that's how hard I go to be

let off quickly it stops quickly so

generally you want to be smooth with

hydraulics now our swing control so it's

left and right with this left joystick

if I go left spins left I go to the

right it spins right and I can do

literally a 360 here the machine will

not have a hard stop on this it'll just

keep spinning if you let it those are

those controls now typically we talk

about driving position for thus now our

driving position everyone's a little bit

different they also call it transport

mode ours is boom up stick with it

straight down bucket flat basically what

it looks like right here is how we drive

with them the other piece you notice is

your Square to your track so what you

don't generally want to do is be

sideways to your tracks at all because

it's very awkward when you're driving

now you can the machine will actually

operate but generally it's just a lot

less confusing if you are Square to your

tracks out there the other sometimes

transport mode you might see is when we

curl the bucket in and basically tuck it

all away now the machine is not going to

hit anything here they're designed they

have their stops in place so you can see

I can tuck this thing in really tight so

generally if an excavator is going in a

tight area you can see how I have

everything kind of compact and curled in

there so that this is the other

transport mode you might see in the wide

open though especially at our site we

generally just have these things

straight up and down

bucket flat the finally on the controls

here is these two track titles an I'm

going to go over that with driving in a

second each one of these controls one of

the track so the right one right there

and left one right there those are the

two track battles so those are all the

basic controls on the machine now let's

go into driving


so the next is driving now there are a

few different ways to drive an excavator

for our clients out here we usually

teach with hands but I'm gonna show you

probably the most popular way that

people do in the industry is with their

feet so in general you're either driving

or you're digging rarely you're you

should be doing both so it's either

operating these joysticks or those an

expert might obviously be doing multiple

things at the same time but again if

you're just starting out always keep it

simple do one at a time my feet are on

here so now and I can keep my hands on

my joysticks I normally would for this

video I'm gonna keep them off just to

show you I'm not touching that at all

right here again each one of those they

go both directions so I am going to push

on both ball and you see as hard as I

push that that is how fast the machine

will go and if I want to turn so if I

want to start turning the left I just

let off on this left one you'll see my

right one keeps going turning me

opposite way if I let off on my right it

turns me that way

now there are on pretty much every

excavator there's some level of a speed

limiter or controller on it so for the

Komatsu there's a little button on here

and you might not be able to see it on

here I'm on low-speed where they got a

medium and a high it doesn't really mean

you're going from probably three miles

an hour up to maybe eight excavators are

not designed to go really fast they're

designed just to move to the job

wherever they need to dig and then move

so I'm gonna put it back to low but each

manufacturer usually has some level of

peace they can change so I'm gonna drive

up here and again if I want to go

backwards until I push on my heels they

go both directions so you'll see these

things are connected so you can do it

just as easily with your hands now again

just to go while we're talking about

driving perfectly acceptable

I can drive so if you see right there it

doesn't change anything right here you

know I can still drive sideways it's

just really awkward because I can't see

my track so I don't really know what I'm

doing so generally you want to have

everything nice and square and a lot of

times I just tell people look out over

their feet I mean kind of see where your

feet where the glass their lines up at

the tracks now while we're talking about

driving forward reverse doesn't really

matter if I go the other direction I

just need to know I'm in Reverse so then

I'm actually pulling on these things

instead of pushing them

okay let's spin back around so ideally

I'm gonna drive forward the best way to

get positioned for digging is really to

be straight over your tracks this is

where the machine is the most stable

you've got that base spread out the

track width spread out so in general you

should be lined up Square to your tracks

to dig again I'll show you in a little

bit you can dig off the side the

machines it's not quite as stable so

we're gonna start off square to our

tracks okay so now we're gonna go over



okay so now to go over digging a lot of

times for a newbie I recommend taking

the feet off those controls just

otherwise you might not even know what

you might end up hitting that while

you're going the other indicators if you

hear that beeper that means you're

hitting a track battle so you might even

right here I'm barely touching it the

machines it's not powerful enough to

move it but I can hear the beeper that

means that my foots on there I like to

pull them off and I think for a new

operator it's best to do that

so now hands on joysticks we always

start extending the stick out you know

generally the further away from the

Machine the less trouble you're gonna

get in so it's always good for a new

operator to start further away so I'll

put the stick out bring it down and then

I usually stop foot or so this is where

we want to look at our teeth or on the

bucket now we have dirt buckets here

there are a lot of different types of

buckets or attachments on here some you

won't have teeth you'll just have a

smooth edge that's usually for digging a

foundation where it's not going to break

up the ground but it really the concepts

are all the same so if I always err on

the side of out a little bit you don't

want to go in you don't open your bucket

all the way right away because right now

you'll see I would actually hit that

joint that's connecting the bucket not

necessarily gonna hurt the machine

probably not great for those joints and

everything in there so you're gonna pull

a bunch of material right in there so in

general that's too far open the opposite

of that if I go in too far curled I'm

not gonna get much of a scoop because

the bucket snot is curled partly so

again there's a happy medium between

having them out just a little bit then I

push it down right there all you got to

do then is curl right hand left

now you'll see it kind of got stuck this

is where you start pulling back on your

boom at the same time and that'll raise

it while curling in so right now it's

curled you see it's stopped all the way

raise it up a few feet above the ground

then with my left hand is my swing

control obviously don't want to dump too

far from the pile in general you're

gonna be back filling that later so it's

got to be somewhat closed and then open

that bucket up now the key again when

you open it ideally just open it - the

material falls off a lot of new

operators as they're open they keep

going and you'll hear that that's the

hard stop the machine is designing it's

designed to stop on its own again not

great for the machine so in general just

opening it off where the material goes

out in tone and it's done that is the

first one I had so if we go to the same

spot generally you want to push down

hard enough now this machine it will

lift up the boom cylinder will lift up

this entire machine so if I keep pushing

right hand forward right now you're

gonna see my entire tracks look raised

off the ground in general you don't want

to do that you want to keep your tracks

flat on the ground so if you start you

want to get to that point where you

almost feel the tracks lifting but not

quite because that means you're putting

enough downward pressure to get you know

all that pressure is going on those

front on the front of the bucket to get

a full scoop now that I'm there again

curl it up it's gonna get stuck again

you don't if I just pull back in the

right hand right now here's what's gonna

happen it's gonna raise up my buckets

not curled all the way so I'm gonna lose

that material that's why it's important

to curl while I do it so if I do that


caryl stuck and I'm gonna pull back

slowly now depending on the size machine

you're running when you do that little

piece and start pulling back you might

feel the back of your excavator pick up

a little bit there are large counter

weights behind us there and that's also

why I'm digging straight up my tracks

I'm most stable obviously if you feel

your machines still starting to tip

maybe you got to open the bucket not be

quite as aggressive obviously safety is

key there our machines again we run come

on sue PC two tens roughly 26 tons these

machines are very stable on a flat

surface generally the larger the

excavator the safer it is just because

you've got a larger base so you know

most people think that a smaller mini

excavator is safer and I would actually

say the opposite is because it's a

smaller machine it doesn't have as big a

base on it so sometimes you get more

trouble on a smaller machine than a

bigger one raise that one up and again

dump it there now when we train again we

try and do one thing at a time to really

keep it simple but the other piece we

want to show is using the stick a lot of

people when they're digging whether

you're digging a trench or just moving

they want to go straight to the track

piles to back up to get dig closer

understand a lot of these machines they

have roughly a 20 to 30 foot reach to be

most efficient you don't want to have to

move the tracks every time you're trying

to go so that's where the stick comes in

but as you see as I pull the stick in it

also brings it down so this is where

you're using both joysticks I have to

raise the boom up stick in but then

again I can't go in right there I want

to go with the teeth straight down I'm

gonna extend it out so I can get into

that accursed hole I had

and then I curl that one in

same thing raising it up sometimes again

we teach our clients and curl it all the

way but as you can see some of that

material will actually fall over the

back of the bucket so for an operator

it's kind of a delicate balance here we

were just trying to keep as much

material in that bucket

so you see how that buckets a lot closer

now this bucket will I can curl it all

the way up here and get this thing right

in front of me you see how close that is

in general these buckets are not going

to hit you in the cab there are stops

built-in but two things first of all the

materials not secured in there so as you

notice that it kind of jumped out there

so depending if you had rocks or debris

that stuff can come up on your tracks

anything like that if there were some

accessories like thumb there might be

other things if there's not the standard

bucket but generally they're not gonna

hit it now with that said that's the cab

this thing can absolutely hit my tracks

so you see if I go off the corner here

you can absolutely hit the corner of

your track see I'm touching it right

there forever to uncurl I'd actually put

my corner of my track so that's also why

I said in the beginning distance is your

friend the further out you are away the

less trouble you're gonna get in because

this thing will absolutely hit your

tracks if you let it now

I'm gonna curl my bucket so if I just

extend it without curling my bucket

you'll see it'll start tough because I'm

not making adjustments gonna start

falling so I'm gonna curl it as well

and ideally you want to have one dirt

pile you don't or if you're doing a

trench it might be a roll of material so

the who's ever coming in to backfill

later has that clean area to fill so I'm

gonna dump there so those are basic

controls you know some of the more

expert I'd say for an opera it's been

doing this for a while they're doing

multiple so you can see I can do

multiple cylinders I can be spinning I

can do all these at the same time the

Machine capsule II do it and after

you've gotten a lot of stick time you'll

be able to get better at that so but I

always start peeling just do one motion

at a time figure out what each cylinder

does on this thing you know if you know

the different components you'll start be

able to pull those together so with this

one you know an expert is generally

pulling the boom in the stick in and

curling they're almost doing three kind

of scraping it up towards you so that

looks kind of like this so if I'm

pulling both my cylinders in and I'm

curling my bucket you'll see how I'm

getting a nice full and I'm kind of

scraping nice and smooth like that

instead of just doing one now I can do

the same thing going out and I can put

it right there

so that's where you really want to

practice and get proficient in doing

multiple motions on here so I can scrape

it pull it right in and this typically

is how someone trenching would do a

trench right out in front of them and

again depending on what grade they're

going to they would always start at max

reach get as close you know within a few

feet of their tracks

and then that would be the time where

they would back up because then they're

gonna start it all over again so I would

push back obviously I'm looking where

I'm going backwards you've got mirrors

on the machine and I can start that all

over again that is the basic dig

controls there so at any point if I were

to park it we generally just want to try

and put our buckets flat to the ground

we usually touch it if you leave the

bucket up in the air they can settle so

you want to have that and put block

lever down but that's everything with

digging so now let's talk about



okay so now we dug the trench dug the

hole now let's just go over backfilling

you know for backfilling obviously a

bulldozer is great for backfilling

that's generally what its gonna come in

and do it but it's not realistic devil

bulldoze are in every jobsite you know

you take the tool you've got out there

you know excavators can be used to fill

just as much so with that you know part

of it's just the opposite is you're just

taking scoops out of the pile now the

biggest thing people want to do it right

away is they want to use the side of the

bucket well couple reasons that's not

great so if I do this first of all

you're gonna realize really quickly

there's not a ton of lateral force on an

excavator you know in general that

lateral swing is just designed to move

the tool it's not designed to actually

do moving material so that's the first

piece the second it's not great for the

bucket you know there are the pins that

go in there if they're they're meant to

go this way straight through towards the

machine if you have that twisting force

on them it's not great for your machine

usually you only do that at the very end

and that's we're gonna kind of get a

great if there's this much material

which again is not much here I'm still

gonna try and just scoop through it

using my same thing I just did on the

first one I may try and you see how I

swing a little bit while I'm in it so I

can drag a little bit over but in

general I'm using the bucket curl

because that's gonna use the most

now here's really important run

basically trying to scrape up I don't

want to create a new hole so I'm trying

to move material without

going below the surface where I don't so

it's kind of a finesse thing we have to

pull the boom up and stick in at the

same time and try and swing over and

then I dump it out try one more out here

this is what really takes lots of stick

time to get really good and proficient

at doing both movements the stick and

the boom at the same time with some

bucket curl

you generally want to start out at the

farthest point you can because then I

can just back up to get the closer part

so you'll see some of the first spill I

can't reach so I'll actually drive

forward just a little bit so I can get

out beyond that little Ridgeline there

pull that in and start swinging now

there wasn't we didn't have a ton of

material here now to finish this off

this is where we transition now to using

that side because we're not actually

moving a ton of material I usually tell

people get the bucket the teeth flat to

the ground you want to try and use that

you don't want to go in like this

because you're not gonna you're just

gonna basically create a slope and you

don't want to have it curled all the way

because you're gonna see it's gonna

concave through and it's gonna create

kind of a circular so what you want to

do is get your teeth flat to the ground

so a lot of times I'll touch it make

sure it's good then you just raise it

off and then you can slowly start

swinging through if it goes great

sometimes you just have to pull back on

it I'm gonna go forward a little bit

more so I get that outside edge

like that and again if I overshoot that

a little bit pull that material in a

little bit and then I could just use

that stick to get close or distances


so you'll see I'm roughly getting in and

I want to be careful how close I get I'm

still in a good distance here and if it

were to stop I would just pick up in the

Boomer right now right now it's able to

move all this material and I'm just

shaving layers off here and then I can

back up

now once you get to the end here you saw

kind of how I was curling up towards me

the other thing you can do is use the

back and kind of rake it away from you

or so if you have material that's too

close you generally want to have your

bucket open like that you don't want to

go into this with your bucket curled all

the way because you'll see on the back

there it's that same joint there this is

not great for the machine because you're

gonna get all that sand material

whatever you're doing right into the

joint where that boom cylinder bucket

cylinder is so the ideal way I have that

bucket open all the way that way you're

just using the bottom of the bucket and

this so if I push it just straight down

you'll see it's not kinda sticks not

gonna go anymore that's where you have

to pull the boom back and then as it I

can push that boom and kind of push

material away from a little bit

these are the things they're a little

bit more advanced that guys have been

doing this for years there's a reason

they're so good as they do this and they

get the feel of it it's because it's

tough to keep that bucket nice and level

at the same time you're adjusting

multiple different components and then I

can come through and use the side of the

bucket and to try and finish it off if

there's material left

not perfect but for short amount of time

not bad so now again to park it usually

we park it with the bucket flat there's

a lot of different ways you can park the

machine the key though is being square

here tracks a lot of times I see new

operators might Park like this something

like that the big difference here and

you'll see it from the outside is to get

in and out of a machine generally

there's a step on the tracks if I open

the door right now you'll see them off

to the side and it's kind of awkward you

know a lot of times getting in and out

of machine it's usually where people

have dumb slip-and-falls that's really

get injured so that's why it's really

important you either want to be square

like this or for anything I hare the

opposite direction because that actually

opens up that step just a little bit

more for me but our machines are large

enough if I just goes square it's gonna

when I open the door I'm gonna have a

nice in and out of the machine and I

just set the bucket flat nice and flat

everything is stable in the machine from

there remember you always want to

deactivate that safety lock lever so

that's this red lever again whatever

machine you're in is gonna have some

parking brake lock lever on the side I

pull this up and now it's down

everything is safe in there okay then I

usually turn my throttle down and we let

our machines cool about a minute or two

is what Komatsu recommends you don't to

leave them idling very long or let it

run for a little bit and then we'll shut

it down

okay and then three points of contact

step-step can lever to release doors

right there Oh

hopefully you guys had fun watching this

episode of how to operate an excavator

please comment below if you're an

operator have a lot of stick time give

us any tips and tricks you might have

again we are not experts so thanks a lot

for watching

take care