Digger Man

Digger Man Blog

by Nick Drew  |  Wed 16 Sep 2020

Downsize to Doosan for Self Sufficiency

Taking a look back at one of my articles previously published in Earthmovers Magazine, bringing it to life here on the internet, with alternative photos and video footage.

The last time we caught up with proud Cornishman, Ian Collick, was back in April 2017 when he had just purchased a brand-new New Holland B 110C backhoe loader. Ian had spent much of his formative years on backhoe loaders, working for Hayle based C.I.B Lello Plant Hire for 14 years. He went on to form his own business, IC Groundworks SW in 2015, before becoming a Ltd company some 12 months ago.

Downsize to Doosan for Self Sufficiency

From our report in the July 2017 edition of Earthmovers, one would have imagined that Ian would continue to be an ardent supporter of the venerable backhoe loader, which in certain parts of the country has seen something of a small resurgence over the past 12 months. It appears, however, that the call for them around his location in rural Cornwall has dwindled.

Towards the end of last year Ian noticed that calls for the backhoe loader had effectively dried up, apart from sporadic hire from local farmers for the odd days work. So, with that in mind he felt he could no longer justify keeping hold of it any longer and set about re-thinking his plant requirements.   

Ian takes up the story “I started looking at different options on going down the mini excavator route, in particular the largest one that I could legally tow around myself, so I could continue to be self-sufficient. One model that immediately sprang into my mind was Doosan’s DX27Z. I had heard that the old model was well liked and to be honest, I’d heard nothing but good reports about them”.

Ian was not a complete stranger to the Doosan product though, he had been working on a special job that was tight for space, but which required two micro diggers. He had started the job with his own Komatsu PC09 sub 1-tonne machine, but then needed the second machine for a couple of days. Ian hired in a virtually brand-new Doosan DX10 from local firm Acland Plant Hire, and to cut a long story short, he was so impressed with the machine, he got straight on to Kellands, the local Doosan dealer, and traded in his Komatsu for his own DX10!

Ian said “I just felt it was such a different machine compared to my old Komatsu, it has a very comfortable operating position with the levers on side mounted pods, and is just a great all-round value for the price”.

Ian set about doing his homework on the sub 3-tonne models on the market, but nothing else really compared in his opinion. In addition, having had such a positive experience with the DX10, in November 2019 Ian decided that he would trade in his New Holland BHL for the latest model DX27Z.

Talking about his decision Ian said “I did have a good look around and gave everyone a fair shot, but Kellands Plant Sales, in particular my local sales rep, Lee Sweet, was very helpful and really came up trumps with the price. The all new cab on this model seems to be even better than the previous model, so it was a bit of a no brainer to go for one in all honesty”.

So far it appears to be the best move he has ever made. The machines are always busy and yet he still has the scope to cope with all the jobs he might once have tackled with the backhoe loader. Ian still has his 6-tonne class New Holland E60C midi excavator for larger projects which supports the 1 and 2.7 tonne mini excavator models. 


“The 2.7 tonne is proving to be a very handy machine” comments Ian. “I’ve dug out a few driveways with it now, that I would have tackled with the backhoe previously, but the DX27Z has proven itself over and over again. It’s still big enough to load 4-wheel tippers on jobs where I’ve had to bring them in and on jobs where we don’t need to muckaway, we have our own Thwaites 3-tonne swivel skip dumper for moving material which is a perfect match with the digger”.

Having gone down the mini excavator route, Ian decided to invest in a 3.5 tonne Isuzu Grafter truck with a tipping body on it. This ensures he is totally self-sufficient and that he doesn’t have to rely on anyone else to transport his mini plant around, with the exception of the 6-tonner. The truck can also be used to bring materials to site and to take away small loads of muck if needed.

Once again Ian’s Thwaites dumper is well matched to his truck and trailer transport combination which further enhances his self-sufficiency. “Although marketed as a 3-tonne dumper it only actually weighs two-tonnes, so it is no problem for the Isuzu to move around. More often than not we get the machines on site, I get digging while my other member of staff goes off to pick up the dumper if we require it” said Ian.

Talking of staff, Ian has employed his brother in law Darren Waller for some time now, Darren who is in his late 20’s is fairly new to the groundworks industry but is learning fast. Initially starting off as a labourer he has since been brought on in the traditional way, learning to operate the machines as and when the chance for some serious stick time arises.

Talking about the importance of bringing on the young blood Ian said  “We have been on a few jobs now where I’m in the 6-tonner trenching for water pipes, so once we have laid the pipe, I then put Darren on the DX27Z coming along behind me backfilling the trench. This is an Ideal opportunity to learn the controls and more importantly how to do the job, out in a farmer’s field or a private location, without being under any scrutiny or pressure.  It’s an ideal scenario and he is coming on in leaps and bounds”. 

Darren also normally drives the truck which works well as he can be sent off to pick up materials leaving Ian free to crack on with the digger work.

Virtually all of Ian’s work is for private customers with the biggest jobs being for people doing self-build projects for which he does all the groundworks up to floor slab level.

“Most of our work involves digging out for small builders doing extension work, driveways and drainage, including installing new septic tanks, renewing soakaways, landscaping, stone walling etc. We like to keep it straight forward and simple and it works well for us” said Ian.

Ian continued “Having been trading for 5 years now we are right where we want to be as a company. We have all our own plant and small equipment, transport to get us around and a good circle of customers to keep the work rolling in, which is great”.

Ian’s Kubota 9.9hp powered DX10 was supplied with a manual quick coupler and a full set of digging buckets and a grader. He has also recently invested in a rake bucket, which he was using on the day of our visit, designed, fabricated and supplied by Keen Attachments who Ian deals with quite a lot.

Further expanding on his praise for the 1-tonne Doosan offering Ian said “I just love the servo lever set up on the machine, its just great.  I don’t go home of an evening with aching shoulders having been hunched over forward mounted levers that you see on some sub 1-tonne models. Performance wise, I just can’t fault it or the DX27Z for that matter. Both machines have proven to be very reliable and good machines”.

Ian continued “The expandable tracks on the DX10 can be retracted into 710mm making it very handy for accessing tight garden gateways and the like. Of course, once through the gate you can expand them out to 1100mm for working. It handles really well and is well-balanced throughout the working range. It also has an impressive reach for such a little machine with its standard dipper arm it’s about 3093mm. I’ve also recently invested in a breaker for it too, another tool in the arsenal!”

Weighing in at 2705 kgs the DX27Z is powered by an ever popular 3-cylinder Kubota engine, which offers a power output rating of 15.4kw (20.6hp) @2400rpm. The machine which in the UK is fitted with the long dipper arm configuration, has a maximum reach at ground level of 4931mm, and a maximum dig depth of 4814mm.

Ian’s example was supplied with a Geith fully automatic quick coupler, 1ft, 18” and 2ft digging buckets and grader/re-handling bucket. Ian has also had some chequered plate protection retro fitted on the dipper arms of both machines to protect them from damage. Ian said “I’m not really the polishing type, but I do like to keep them as tidy as possible”. The DX27Z also sports the iconic black and white Cornish flag as a backdrop to his sign writing which stood out so well on his old New Holland backhoe loader. A nice touch for another patriotic Cornishman.

Looking to the future, Ian is now planning on what to do when the time comes to change his New Holland 6-tonne midi. He said, “I test drove the Doosan 6-tonne offering at the Kellands Dig Day event at the new depot in Camelford last year and I was very impressed with that too. I suspect that when its time to change the E60C it will more than likely be traded in for another Doosan”. So, it would appear that for this business the future is definitely going to be orange!

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