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Thread: OT: Gamble on a Backhoe?

  1. #1
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    Default OT: Gamble on a Backhoe?

    I've been thinking I need a backhoe for a couple of years now. I've got some landscaping I'd like to do and it might come in handy clearing my pavement when a Nor'easter hits. Plus it could help me load / unload machine tools.

    Do I need a backhoe? Of course not. But I want one. I cannot, however, justify buying anything decent. So I've found a Case 580B for sale near me. It's apparently been sitting in a field for years and does not run. One of the drive tires is flat. No one knows what's wrong with it or why it was parked, but the engine is believed to be seized as a result of sitting. This also means rodents have probably destroyed the electrical system. It's really not even a project machine at this point - by rights, it should be a parts machine.

    But if I could get it cheap enough... why that could be quite a fun project! (Or so I think - but of course it will likely become one of these multi-year projects that never really gets completed )

    What do you folks know about Case 580B backhoes? Doing some Googling, it appeared to be a pretty decent machine and is common enough that parts are available for it. What's more, it seems people are also eager to buy used parts for it - so if I threw in the towel I could perhaps recoup some of my initial investment by parting it out on fleabay or the like. I'm not sure what to do about the engine, but I do have a 350 from my old '89 pickup that only has about 30k miles on it. Maybe I could do a "monster garage" type thing and stuff a 350 in it!

    Is it worth taking a gamble on something like this? What would you guys pay for a highly suspect backhoe that's been rusting away in a field for years?

  2. #2
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    That could turn into an enormous project that sucks the life out of you, and never comes to fruition, or it could be an easy fix that just takes a weekend of tinkering to get it to go. All depends on your willingness to gamble. I've worked on a few of these projects. The first thing to look at on something that has been sitting is if the machine is complete. If someone has already started to pick a few small parts off of it then no, don't waste your time. The 580 was a decent machine in its day, and will do most everything on your to-do list. Do you know if it's a gas or diesel? A re-power might look good on paper, but there are some space constraints to consider. Engines on those types of machines are nestled in between the main support frame of the loader. Not much room to work, and not many options for moving things around. Your dealing with the backbone of the machines structural integrity. Plus there's the marrying of a different engine to the clutch and transmission housing. Those aren't the same as in an automobile. If it's too far gone then it would be better to hunt down an engine from another machine. Don't forget, the engines are not unique to the backhoe. They also show up in agricultural machines. The same basic block available in various horsepower configurations. Then, once you get past the engine there's the transmission and hydraulic system to contend with. Both of which are probably water logged, with all the issues h2o brings with it.

    If it looks like you could get the engine running without too much hassle, then it might be worth a chance that, as you say, can always be parted out. Any way you can post pictures of the machine?

  3. #3
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    Oct 2005
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    Everything Tom_d said!

    The 580 is a pretty decent machine but it can get expensive fast depending on what has happened since it was "stored".
    Has water entered the engine, fuel system, or hydraulics? Have kids dumped crap into any of these systems? Are the tires in need of replacement? How about the hydraulic hoses? What shape are the pins and bushings in on the machine?
    Anything with liquid in it will have to be drained and flushed of course even if it "looks" okay. The electrical systems on these machines are pretty basic so that at least usually won't get expensive.

    As Tom_d mentioned above it can get expensive very fast. The big question you have to ask yourself is, do you need a backhoe or a hobby?

    As with women, unless you're going to marry her, sometimes it's cheaper to rent.
    Home, down in the valley behind the Red Angus
    Bad Decisions Make Good Stories

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Willy View Post
    Everything Tom_d said!



    As with women, unless you're going to marry her, sometimes it's cheaper to rent.
    Hold up there Willy, Whoa boy. You have got that all wrong. Marrying a woman is definitely more expensive than renting! Especially if you want to unmarry her!!!!!
    How to become a millionaire: Start out with 10 million and take up machining as a hobby!

  5. #5
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    Dec 2007
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    SW Kansas
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    Every one needs a backhoe. I have had one around for 30 years. I worked at the John Deere construction dealer for years, got my first one cheap it was an old trade in.
    Years ago I think Case 580ís had the largest market share of any loader backhoe. Case wouldnít be my first choice, but thatís my preference. I never liked the 3 stick BH controls. Over all I think I think they are good machines.
    Some times its better to spend a little bit more and get something that is in running condition, at least you have a fighting chance of it working.
    I have always been a JD guy, its just what I learned on.
    My BH is pushing 30 years or more, its a bit slow but very powerful. Fills my needs perfect. I paid 14,000$ for it 10 years ago, it had first gear out in the trans axel.
    I think I could sell today for more than I got in it.


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by tom_d View Post
    If it looks like you could get the engine running without too much hassle, then it might be worth a chance that, as you say, can always be parted out. Any way you can post pictures of the machine?
    Well ... I expect this to be a hobby, not a "quick fix". See image below! I was thinking of offering the seller roughly scrap price. But I really don't need another hobby now... I suppose buying one that is in running condition is really a better bet. I just like fixing things and when a broke down old beast like this one is super cheap, it's hard to pass it up!


  7. #7
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
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    I look at a machine that is not running as a parts machine. Even if it is perfect except it needs a battery you don't know that. It could have a blown transmission, worn out engine, leaky hydraulics, and on and on. If a machine runs and you can see what works and what doesn't you can offer a fair value. Not running, parts machine, because you don't know. In your case all this applies, and check the cost off a tire.

  8. #8
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    Apr 2010
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    Ontario
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    Very few people park a working backhoe. They are the most used pieces of general construction equipment and are extremely easy to sell if they move.

    I would suggest getting a tractor with a bucket and looking for a working mini excavator. I think you would have better chances of getting something that isn't a massive black hole money pit.

  9. #9
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    Friend of mine bought a C model in similar shape,his the engine ran fine and the transmission and hydraulic systems just needed filters and flushing.The problem his machine had was a bad differential.That meant dropping the rear axle out and back for replcement of the diff.Luckily there is a good sized aftermarket parts availability for Case and the new diff only cost him $650ish.In the end he got a good running backhoe for a grand total of about $4k that with a coat of paint and decals would fetch twice that easily.Older machines that aren't contaminated with the latest electronic wizbangedry seem to be becoming more valuable.
    I just need one more tool,just one!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
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    I'm in the same boat and have been looking or the past year for an older machine I can play hot potato with and try to get a couple hundred more hours out of before I pass it on and try and avoid any major repairs. Machines get to a certain point and they don't depreciate much anymore unless something major breaks. I passed on a tempting 580b back in the fall that was just down the road, and last weekend passed on a JD400. Maybe I'm just being picky, or I'm getting smarter at choosing my battles, but neither machine left me with the warm fuzzy feeling that I wouldn't get stuck holding the bag when inside parts want outside. I don't really NEED one, but I WANT one lol.

    I really know nothing about any of the various models (aside from a google education) but one thing about the B that I remember reading is that any tranny/shuttle shift problems means the tractor has to be split. The one I looked at the guy mentioned the tranny slipped once in a while, and that plus all the other issue (poorly welded dipper, stabilizers welded up, wrong size tires rubbing on frame etc,) made me run away. I'm far from an expert, or even really that knowledgeable on these things, but the information on the internet, in forums, and on you tube is astounding. From all that I googled and read while looking at that B model, I determined I'd rather wait for a C.

    The guy with the 580b I was looking at was into his for $15,000 and counting, and STILL hadn't moved any dirt with it. He was trying to get out from under it at $6000, and even at that price I wasn't buying. That was back in October, and it's still sitting in his driveway (has been for 10 years). He spent all the right money on all the wrong parts. Tried to restore it with all new hoses and cylinders, and didn't pay attention to any of the major mechanical issues that plagued the machine. The proverbial lipstick on a pig. Don't do that, and you'll be fine

    Just be patient. I see machines come up ALL the time, but the good ones don't last long. Have a stack of cash ready to go, and be prepared to jump on it right away. A smart phone with a data plan can really be handy when out looking at it. If the owners says it needs something and "don't worry it's minor" you can google it, and find out it's a $900 part, and major labour to do it, instantly. Either use that to bargain with, or decide to walk away. Or you can find out that what the owner thinks is a major money problem is actually pretty minor, and not a big job at all (diff example above).

    Best of luck.

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