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Digger Man Blog

by Nick Drew  |  Wed 14 Oct 2020

On the Case with Terraform

Kym Pearce like many others in our industry started out as a youngster in the agricultural sector, driving tractors, performing grass work and baling, the firm he was working for later had a couple of Ford 550 backhoe loaders which he spent some time on, before in the time honoured way, he naturally progressed onto the 360 degree excavators, which in those days included examples from O&K and NEI-Hymac, that business was also one of the first to take delivery of a Daewoo excavator from Kellands Plant Sales.

On the Case with Terraform

Around 10 years ago Kym decided to leave a partnership he had been in with another business and set up on his own. He opted to call his new firm Terraform, which if you look it up in a dictionary, means to transform a planet, so as to resemble the earth. Terraform is another family run business working predominantly in the South West from their base at Woodland Head near Crediton in the beautiful surroundings of rural Mid Devon.

Having initially started out as a one man, one machine outfit in more recent years Kym has been joined in the business by his son Ethan, who had trod a similar path to his father, having left school and gone on to work on some local farms, he now spends much of his time operating the machines and on the day of our visit was running the new Case 695ST.

Another family member who works on the firm is daughter Ellen, who is also a fully qualified operator. Both were introduced to machine operating from a very early age, as Kym used to let them loose on the machines on a regular basis, which is as we’ve said many times before, the best way to learn. Kym’s wife Trudy deals with all the admin and paperwork side of things.

Kym’s very first machine for his Terraform business was a Case 695SR model a machine which appears to have had a long-term presence in the business.

Kym describes the Case 695 as the comparable soul mate to the JCB 4CX, a very capable 4-wheel drive, all-wheel steer beast with limited slip diffs all round front and rear.

Talking about his reasoning behind opting for the large wheeled backhoe loaders Kym said, “Some years ago I had been out to Malaga with Caterpillar and while I was out there I got to try out their 444 model of which I was very impressed with how it performed, so much so that it got me thinking about them on my return home.

Sometime later TH. White a dealer up in Marlborough, Wiltshire had a Case 695SR for sale which was a former owner/operated low houred 2008 model which was in immaculate condition, so I went up for a look and bought it as our first machine”.

Kym continued, “A few years later I was invited up to a demonstration day up at another Case dealers, Warwick Ward, in the Midlands, and they had 3 of the 695SR models available in their yard for sale, Matt Ward said to me if you want one pick one out simple as that, I asked him about putting on the additional service lines and he said yeah no problem, so it was a done deal”.

“A while later we were working on a new school job in Okehampton and a guy from South Devon called Matt Irish approached me and asked if the machine was for sale, to which I replied, well yeah if you want it I’ll sell it to you, we thrashed out a deal and that one was gone, I then ordered this new 695ST model from our local Case dealers M & M Plant Sales and it was delivered in September last year”.

“They are a great machine there’s no getting away from it, plenty of power, capability and capacity, you can certainly turn out a lot of work with them” Kym concludes.

Additional machines on the Terraform fleet includes 6 and 8-tonne Korean built Hyundai midi excavators and an 18-tonne class Daewoo Solar 175LCV which despite its fading paintwork is according to Kym a great old tool and one which has given many years of reliable service. In support of these machines they also run a Fendt tractor with a variety of trailers to suit specific tasks.

The company continues to invest in attachments for its excavators and the backhoe which currently includes a Scandinavian style hydraulic tilt bucket and a tree shear. Kym commented that he is very tempted to go down the tiltrotator route, but is a bit put off by the costs involved, having said that he can clearly see the benefits of less movements of the base machine and being able to do more from one position, so he’s not ruling one out in the future.

The big Case is undoubtably the star of the Terraform business, but what makes it tick. Power for the 695ST comes from the well proven FPT (Fiat Power Train) F5C - F5BFL413A, 3.4 litre, high pressure common rail, 4-cylinder diesel engine, which is Stage IV/Tier 4 Final emissions compliant. This is the same engine that is fitted to the other models in the backhoe loader range, notably the 580ST and 590ST, but in this application it has a power output rating of 110hp (82kw) @2200rpm.

The engine features then manufacturers SCR (Selective Catalytic Reduction) technology, a simple system that achieves its emissions requirements by the addition of DEF (Diesel Exhaust Fluid) for which there is a 13.2-litre tank fitted on the nearside of the machine alongside the 131-litre diesel tank. The filler caps are colour coded, blue and black to avoid any confusion when topping up.

The 695ST is well shod, sitting on a set of the renowned Michelin XMCL 24"/ 28'' tyres. A 4WD – 4WS powershift transmission from Carraro is fitted providing 4-forward and 4-reverse gears.

The back end features the so called, Case DNA extending backhoe with the built-in quick coupler design, which I’m sure appeals to the old Case faithful. The outer sliding frame protects the inner part from any ingress of dirt and potential damage. Integrated gripper teeth engineered into the outer dipper provides grip when grabbing tree trunks or large rocks.

This example has been modified so it has 3 additional services on the back end, hammer circuit, and 2 x low flow circuits for the tilting bucket, and tree shear attachments. It also features the very handy hydraulic “powerslide” function for the boom offset.

Hydraulic safety check valves are fitted to the front loader arm and bucket cylinders and on the rear end digging equipment and street pads are fitted on the jacklegs to prevent damage to paved areas. The front 4 in 1 bucket is also fitted with pallet forks.

The fully air-conditioned cab is well appointed with a luxury heated air suspension seat from Grammer and all the other creature comforts we have come to expect from a modern digger. Maybe not for the backhoe purists, but this machine features the pilot control joysticks for operating the backhoe.

As you might expect, visibility is excellent all around the cab and with the exhaust on the right-hand side hidden by the cab pillar visibility to the fore is even better. Talking about the exhaust, Kym did point out that he was not happy with the rust that had appeared very quickly on the protective surround indication poor quality metal and paintwork on that part. 


Maximum reach of the extending backhoe at ground level is 6965mm, while the maximum digging depth is 5881mm

On the day of our visit. Among other things going on, the family team were busy excavating trenches to install underground heating pipes which will eventually heat the customers farm house property near Crediton.

It seems incredible, but apparently if you dig down below 1.3 metres in the ground the ambient temperature remains the same all year round. The owners of the property expect to make significant savings on their heating bills in the long run and see it as a valuable investment.

Ethan was at the controls of the big Case on the day and appeared to be delighted with the new machine, summarizing Kym said, “We have had great service from our previous Case machines, I expect this one to be no different, its good kit, and while I do like to have a look around at what else is out there, at the moment I see no reason to be wanting to change brands in the foreseeable future”.

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