The landscaping and construction equipment category — which goes by many names, including mini skid steers, compact utility loaders (CULs) and compact tool carriers (CTCs) — has experienced a massive expansion in machine sizing and performance in recent years. Today, if you’re looking to add a mini skid steer to your fleet, there are many more models to choose from.
So, where do you start your search? And how should you prioritize all the machine specifications and performance-enhancing features?
When Trever Koolmees, sales manager for Vermeer environmental equipment, gets asked this question, he advises people to start with evaluating machine size, then think about operating capacities and look at specific qualities.
“Since mini skid steers are used in so many different types of applications, from landscaping, tree care, utility and farming to more general contracting and construction work,” he said, “there are several variables that need to be considered, depending on how the machine will be used. That’s why manufacturers, including Vermeer, offer so many different models.”
Mini skid steer sizing
Koolmees recommends that you start by determining the right size of loader for your needs, because if a machine doesn’t fit in the space, all its other specifications don’t matter.
“One of the main reasons the mini skid steer product category was created was that people were looking for ways to replace manual labor in areas where larger skid steer loaders and compact track loaders were too big to fit in. So, manufacturers have placed a lot of attention on designing machines that can fit through 42-inch (106.7-cm) openings — a standard backyard gate size,” said Koolmees. “Buyers need to know the width of their working area and how much access space they have when transferring the machine to the jobsite. Of course, if space isn’t usually an issue for someone’s work, they will have a wider range of models to choose from.”
Mini skid steer operating capacity
After the machine’s physical dimensions are determined, it’s time to turn your attention to its performance.
Since the most common tasks of mini skid steers involve lifting and hauling material, operating capacity is the first place to start. In today’s mini skid steer product category, operating capacities range from 500 to 3,000 lbs (226.8 to 1,360.8 kg). Koolmees recommends that contractors focus their attention on finding equipment that optimizes the balance between the physical size of the machine and its lifting performance.
“If the type of work a contractor performs doesn’t involve lifting heavy material, they may want to consider looking at smaller units that excel in other ways that are important to them,” said Koolmees. “Those lifting heavy material frequently should look at units that lift and carry the most without limiting access to spaces they need to go.”
On the topic of lifting performance, a mini skid steer’s lift path may be important in your type of work. Many manufacturers, including Vermeer, offer mini skid steer models with a radial or vertical lift path.
Units with a radial lift path are a more economical choice. But, if the type of work you’re doing involves loading, unloading, dumping material into the back of a truck or feeding wood onto a brush chipper infeed table, you may want to think about a mini skid steer with a vertical lift path.
Auxiliary hydraulics for attachments
If all you ever use on your mini skid steer is a bucket, machine auxiliary hydraulics capacity may not factor into your decision. But, if the type of work you do regularly involves using hydraulically driven attachments like trenchers, augers, soil cultivators, Harley rakes or similar attachments, you need to consider how well a mini skid steer can supply hydraulic pressure for optimal attachment performance.
Koolmees recommends reviewing each unit’s hydraulic system numbers when comparing performance. Hydraulic specifications listed by mini skid steer manufacturers usually include high-flow and low-flow auxiliary hydraulic capabilities, as well as tank capacities. If you’re running attachments that require high flow, you want to choose a mini skid steer with increased high-flow specifications and tank capacities. “It is important to choose a mini skid steer with optimized hydraulic systems designed to deliver the right flow to the attachment without sacrificing other machine functionality,” he said.
When you’re done comparing the specs, it’s always a good idea to talk with your equipment dealer about the mini skid steer you’re considering. You should also demo a few units to dial in the right machine for your needs.
During this stage of the process, pay attention to the machine build quality and the manufacturer’s attention to detail. You likely already know what brands have a good reputation based on conversations you’ve had with your peers, but make sure you visually see it for yourself. Look over the controls and service accessibility. Ask yourself which setup is the most straightforward to operate and service.
Also, ask your dealer about their service and parts offering to support you after your purchase.
Vermeer mini skid steer product line
Whatever qualities are most important to your company, there will likely be a Vermeer mini skid steer model for you. Here’s a quick overview of the five units Vermeer offers and what each model excels in:
- S450TX mini skid steer — Equipped with a 24.8-hp (18.2-kW) diesel engine and an operating capacity of 500 lbs (226.8 kg), this compact-sized machine is well suited for the rental industry and landscape contractors.
- CTX50 mini skid steer — This 25-hp (18.6-kW) gas-powered unit has a 600-lb (272.2-kg) operating capacity. With a width of 35.5 in (90.2 cm) without a bucket, this small, nimble mini skid steer should be considered when working space is limited.
- S925TX mini skid steer — This unit is available with a 24.5-hp (18.6-kW) diesel engine or a 40-hp (29.2-kW) gas engine, and it has an operating capacity of 925 lbs (419.6 kg). This equipment’s size and performance specifications make it an excellent option for many applications and a great fit for rental stores.
- CTX100 mini skid steer — This mini skid steer is designed for general construction work with a 1,035-lb (469.5-kg) operating capacity and a powerful 40-horsepower (30-kW) diesel engine.
- CTX160 mini skid steer — With an impressive 1,600-lb (725.7-kg) operating capacity and 40-hp (30-kW) diesel engine, this machine is made for professional contractors who need equipment that can perform in tough conditions.
As you search for the ideal mini skid steer to add to your fleet, be sure to stop by or call your local Vermeer dealer. They can help answer additional specification questions and help you find the right machine for your needs.
Vermeer Corporation reserves the right to make changes in engineering, design and specifications; add improvements; or discontinue manufacturing at any time without notice or obligation. Equipment shown is for illustrative purposes only and may display optional accessories or components specific to their global region. Mini skid steer attachments available from Vermeer dealers may be manufactured by Vermeer Corporation or other attachment manufacturers. Please contact your local Vermeer dealer for more information on machine specificationsand attachments.
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