Blimey! The English are back with a secret weapon in the guise of this classy nine and a half thousand pound, zero tail-swing, compact mini excavator, the JCB 8040.
On yet another rainy day in Washington state - this time on a five acre residential lot in Ravensdale – I met with Stephen Hehr the owner of Pipe Construction LLC who was preparing a section of ground for a 56’x44’ shop with his newly purchased JCB 8040 mini excavator.
Hehr hasn’t felt a hint of buyer’s remorse in the six months since he purchased the excavator from Brim Tractor: “I really like the look of this machine and its power, and I liked the guy Nathan who sold it to me. He wasn’t pushy. He just showed me everything there was to know about this 8040.”
Buying locally and from a reputable company was essential to Hehr’s decision: “I wanted a local company that would stand behind their product, and Brim does that. They stock genuine JCB parts and also guaranteed that if my excavator was ever to break down they would replace it with a new one while mine is in the shop getting fixed.”
Several decades have passed since Brim Tractor first opened their doors, and they’ve proven themselves to be a solid company that has built its reputation on strong business ethics. Brim now operates eight stores throughout Washington and Oregon which gives them an excellent platform from which to develop and support the JCB line of excavators.
Of course it’s also true that a dealer is only as good as the support it gets from its supplier, and this is where the British manufacturer JCB excels with its 24/7 North American Parts Depot. And, although they are ranked as one of the top three construction equipment manufacturers in the world, they are still a family business.
Planning for a large government project forced Hehr to analyze the pros and cons of purchasing a new excavator versus renting one. Hehr figured rental fees would be around $25,000 which worked out to be more than half of the purchase price of a new excavator. He was also very confident that he could pay it off within two years. It was a no-brainer to buy, and the JCB 8040 has proven to be a wise purchase.
The JCB 8040 has an innovative body style that is sleek but not just for the “wow” or “cool” factor. The curved 3 mm thick pressed steel body panels give the operator excellent visibility and component protection, and from the digging position the offset boom and neatly confined hoses routed over the top of the boom give great visibility. The interior has sporty, fully adjustable seating, ergonomically designed joysticks, and aluminum foot pedals that fold up to give the operator ample foot room. The internal canopy height is around 5’ and very spacious, so someone like me at 5’ 10” and 230 lbs finds the entry and cabin space to be very comfortable.
Although Hehr’s machine has a canopy, I did get a chance to inspect the cab version down at Brim’s Pacific, WA location, and I was surprised by the generous size of the entry. I’ve found the door access on larger machines to be much tighter.
Flipping open the hood to the access points reveals a surprisingly clutter-free space. The18 gallon diesel tank is tucked in behind the hydraulic hoses, and the 45hp Perkins engine is placed off to the right hand side. A grease gun holder is also cleverly located there. Access to the color coded hydraulic hoses is easy, and if there is ever a hydraulic leak, the radiator is safe from potential contamination due to a barrier positioned between it and the hoses. That was a big plus for Hehr. And, the barrier protects the
hydraulic hoses from the radiator heat.
Power and simplicity is the name of the game with this machine. A single-load sensing variable piston pump automatically controls flow and pressure, saving more money by delivering hydraulic oil as needed. Whether switching, digging, curling or craning, the fluidity of controls and incredible power offered by this machine are impressive.
A changeover switch on the left hand joystick allows the operator to alternate from boom-swing to auxiliary service such as a thumb, which is controlled by the far right aluminum foot pedal turning the boom left 60° and right 65°. When the boom is in operation, the swing is controlled by tilting the pedal left or right, and when the thumb is in operation the left and right tilt opens and closes the thumb.
Using the thumb and bucket, Hehr easily ripped out Douglas Fir tree stumps and swung and fully extended the boom to deposit the stumps onto a burn pile without noticing any loss of power or experiencing machine tilt even though the boom was opposite to the blade.
The blade performs as designed. During the recent snowstorms, Hehr used the blade as a snowplow, very effectively curling the snow off to the side rather than gathering it up over the blade. Whether that seems like a noteworthy feature or not, it certainly was to Hehr.
Competing in today’s economy is challenging but the 8040’s agility, power and simplicity will make it stand out from the crowd. Seasoned and novice operators alike will warm to this machine the minute they take the controls.
Finally, considering how much rain we get in Washington, I asked Hehr why he didn’t go for the cab version. His answer would make any Scotsman proud: “For the additional 5k I’ll just buy myself a new coat.”
Brim Tractor can be contacted at 800-258-7181 or 888-863-9004