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Our most rented machines: the John Deere 160C excavator

One of our earliest blog articles was on the John Deere 200D excavator.  That is a big tough machines for serious jobs.  If you don’t need something that serious, but a backhoe isn’t going to get the job done, then the C-series from John Deere is right for you.  Despite being small they are very productive and have that “big machine feel.”
The C-series comes with the PowerTech engines, heavy-duty cooling systems, reinforced booms, and user-friendly (and comfortable!) operator stations.  Today I’m going to focus on those engines and cooling systems as well as the operator stations.  As someone renting from us those are probably your primary concerns, as we will take care of all the maintenance for you, and you probably already know the legendary reliability of John Deere, even if you haven’t experienced it for yourself.
john deere 160c monticello rental center
Engines
Inside the 160C is John Deere’s exclusive Powerwize II engine.  Its hydraulic management system balances hydraulic pressure and flow.  This helps to save fuel, maximize engine output, and enable multi-function operation with no hiccups.
The engine itself is charge-air cooled which improves fuel economy and engine durability while being “green” by reducing emissions.  How exactly, ask my construction junkies.  Fair enough.  There’s wide fin spacing in the cooling system which allows trash to pass through the cores.  But there’s also a removable trash screen to eliminate plugging.  The top and bottom tanks of the heavy duty cooling system are heavy wall extrusions that are TIG welded to the core so they will be long lasting and durable.
Did we mention the hybrid steel-and-plastic fan?  It has an airfoil-blade design which leads to better cooling performance using less horsepower.  It also runs quieter, which is never a bad thing when you’re out on a project.
Operator Stations
Inside the cab you will see a diagnostic display unit which allows techs to read diagnostic codes (fuel pressure, coolant temperature, manifold temperature) so there is no mystery if something does go wrong.
The operator station itself sits on six silicon fluid-filled elastic mounts.  These take the shock out of the cab and allow the operator to sit back and relax.  While doing so you realize that there’s adjustable lumbar support!  My car doesn’t even have that!  Look up and you’ll see a smoke-tinted sunroof hatch that allows you to have an eye on the sky during your jobs and there’s a retractable shade for when the glare gets too bad.  Charge your phone with our 12-volt phone jack, put your drink in our oversized cup holder, and keep the next beverage in our beverage cooler.
There’s a lot of glass surrounding the operator, which makes for great sight lines in almost every direction (it’s described by many as “panoramic visibility”).  If it gets muddy the wiper blade cleans 25 percent more of your viewing area before tucking out of sight.  There are also adjustable vents everywhere which makes the “blend air” climate control system a dream to operate.
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DIY Patio or Deck? Part I: Decision

Our last two articles were about swimming pools which are, admittedly, a very big DIY decision.  One type of DIY project that some people have been known to knock out over a weekend (depending on the amount of help from friends and bribery necessary to get that help) is the building of a pool/deck.  You can preorder the materials, get them delivered to your house, and do whatever preparatory work you need to before the big weekend.  Before you announce said big weekend we need to think about which structure to build: deck or patio?

Broadly speaking, patios and decks are the same in that they are both outdoor spaces which allow you and your guests to enjoy each other’s company and conversation while experiencing the joy of the great outdoors.  Both can give you the sense of that outdoor “room” that’s just another part of your your house.  Both, depending on your municipality, may require permits and an identification and flagging of buried water, gas, and electric lines.  But that’s where the similarities end.  One can make an argument for one being cheaper than the other, but the price difference is not significant enough to be the deciding factor.  Hence, we’ll talk about construction a bit more first.

Decks

rental center monticello deck

Of course “deck” refers to ships and how they were constructed.  And home decks, like ship decks, have been traditionally made of wood.  But as technology has pushed us forward we’ve found that composite materials can still deliver the look and feel of a traditional deck, while delivering a longer-lasting structure (doesn’t need to be powerwashed and resealed) and being “green” (many of those composites are made of recycled plastics).  What’s the catch, you’re asking?  Well, those materials are often cost double their wood cousins.  Whether you choose composite or wood, you’ll need concrete footings to stabliize the structure.

That being said, you have to keep in mind that you are “limited” to standard lengths.  If you start looking at or ordering non-standard lengths for your deck, the price starts to move up pretty quickly.

Patios

rental center monticello patio

Decks have the sense of “elevation” about them – even when you talk about them.  Patios are always imagined as flat structures built on the ground that can be made of differing types of materials – from paving stones to brick.  There is no “sealing” or “resealing” but you can count the grass and weeds that you have to be vigilant about as its own type of “sealing.”  You also have the luxury of having a fire pit, if you’d like (not a deck possibility).

Unlike decks, if you ever decide to change the look and feel of your paving stones, you can simply pull up your old ones and reuse your existing leveled base with new paving stones or bricks.  You also have the freedom to make it as large as you want as you are only limited by the “standard length” issue we discussed with decking.

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Think about the sort of social events that you have and enjoy.  Do they involve a fire pit (patio is best)?  Do you have an inherent love of wood?  What materials make up your home?  What kind of maintenance do you want to do/are prepared to do?  Once you’ve sketched out some ideas, price out possibilities so you know what you are getting into.

Whether you decide to build a patio or deck, remember that at the Rental Center of Monticello we are always here to help counsel with advice;  we can also rent you things like an excavator that can either help give a different shape and structure to the deck you want to build or help you to level and flatten an area you want to use for a patio.

Should I build a swimming pool in my backyard? Part II: Construction

So, interestingly enough, there are two schools of thought on this.  Let’s start the the assumption that if you’re one of our customers or you’re the sort of person to frequent an equipment rental place, like ours in Monticello, that this is a DIY project, which changes the price from $25,000+, which is what a professional contractor might charge, to something between $5000-$15,000.  Now the reason for this variance is because you can choose to build natural or artificial.

Natural pools

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natural_pool_one_rental_center_monticello

These kinds of pools have been the vogue in Europe for some time but are only now starting to catch on here in the United States.  The idea stems from a number or principles:

1.  Having a more “natural” look in which water and stone blend in with your existing landscape rather than a strange, alien structure.

2.  Having plants and some bacteria do the cleaning for you instead of expensive (and possibly harmful) chemicals.

3.  Being more environmentally oriented while saving money.

Some things to keep in mind – you can have the plants take up a segment of your pool on one side, or you can have them surround the pool on all sides.  Just keep in mind that 50% of the surface area of the pool has to be dedicated to the plant areas and these are not places you should swim.  yes, the plants are pretty to look at, but you also need to keep in mind that they need to be left in peace to do the work of keeping your water clean.  And it’s not 100% maintenance free, either.  Remember, it’s a pool, not a pond, and so you will need to make sure the water is properly oxygenated, which can be done by installing a pump and some PVC pipe.  We aren’t trying to make this sound simple – it’s not easy, but it can be easily done – and certainly as easily done, if not more so, than an artificial pool.

Artificial pools

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This is a scene that some Americans are familiar (and comfortable) with.  Plants are on the outside of the pool – but not too far away, and while the pool is clearly artificial it still beautifully fits in with this backyard (you could argue that it creates the backyard, but that’s another story).

So, whether you’ve decided on an artificial or a natural pool, you’ll still have to dig.  We’ve written about some of our most rented excavators on our blog before.  If you want a huge pool, perhaps you might get the John Deere 200D. If you have a smaller space or want a smaller pool, you could rent our Yanmar SV08.  You’ll want to maintain a 3:1 ratio – 3 feet down for every 1 foot wide.  You can make your pool as deep as you want – just remember you have to keep digging to get there!

This may seem rather obvious, but also make sure you’re doing this work during a time of the year where there is little to no rain.  Oddly enough you’re eventually going to fill this hole with water, but water falling into your giant hole in the ground before it’s ready can lead to a lot of mud on the bottom of your pool (which will have to be removed) and a series of collapses along your carefully created wall/side of the pool (which may have to be redug or you might have to change your product scope.

One last thing we want to talk about in today’s post is the different types of artificial pools you can have.  This is what you’ll be concerned with after you’ve dug that hole in ground.

You can get a concrete/gunite pool, a vinyl liner pool, or a fiberglass pool.

We’ll start with the last one first, as it’s the easiest by far.  These are preconstructed and are brought to your place ready to install in one piece.  They are also the “low maintenance” option (around $50 per month) because fiberglass will not rip, tear, crack, chip, or leak.  Because it’s a non-porous surface, fiberglass is algae-resistant and this makes cleaning an maintenance a breeze.  You also never have to drain it for maintenance.

The vinyl liner pool is very popular these days.  It is the “middle” option between the cost of a fiberglass pool (cheaper) and a concrete/gunite pool (most expensive).  It does have some drawbacks.  The liner is subject to algae and tearing, which can lead to you having to replace it.  Maintenance is still going to be around $100 per month but sometimes the upfront cost (less than concrete/gunite) and the particular situation (we won’t have sharp things in the pool and promise to maintain the liner!) might lead one to go this route.

The concrete/gunite pool is the traditional type and has been around for a long time.  It’s most frequently used for public and commercial projects these days.  A framework of steel rods and mesh is sprayed over by concrete and gunite, then coated with plaster.  The plaster can chip or crack easily and because it’s a porous surface, algae can find a home to grow.  The maintenance on this type of pool will be at least $100 per month and will also require an annual draining and an every other year acid wash or re-plastering.

Whatever option you end up going with, remember that you are building something that should last many years.  When doing your calculations, make sure you include maintenance as part of your cost consideration.  As time goes on the savings may be large enough to affect your final decision on what to do.

We hope there’s some water near you this weekend where you can swim without having to worry about building a pool!

Should I build a swimming pool in my backyard? Part I: Decision

It’s getting towards the dog days of summer and as it gets hotter people might be looking into their backyard, considering just how much better life might be if they had a pool back there.  We’re a rental company so when we get the initial phone call for an excavator for someone who wants to possibly work on (at least part of) a project like this, we ask the originating question: why do you want to build a pool in your backyard?

Reasons to build:

1.  It’s a cool, relaxing feature.  Yes, this isn’t really disputable, is it?  When you see a pool in a backyard you automatically reach for a cold beverage and wonder if there are any lawn chairs.  Whether you are single or have kids a pool is always an option for a day off and when you have one in your backyard it’s just that much easier to get to.  You can add waterfalls to get that zen feeling or to have an added feature to play with in the pool.

2.  I love swimming and the water.  If you want to swim for exercise you can configure your pool in such a way that you can do that well.  You can also build it for floating and relaxation.  And, as we said above, during the dog days of summer, something cool is the best remedy for the heat.  Whether you’re splashing around or just building your tan, a pool is a great answer to the question of “what to do on a free day?”

3.  It’s great for entertaining.  Who doesn’t love pools?  People can bring kids, people can swim themselves, you can add a cookout, and very often visiting a home that has a pool is a treat for those who don’t have one.  You get to be Santa!

backyard_swimming_pool_monticello_rental_center

Things to consider:

1.  Owning a pool is not cheap to build or to maintain.  Should you get concrete or vinyl?  Aboveground or inground?  What kind of chemicals should you use?  Should you use a heater?  Yes, you can do the maintenance yourself if you make sure that you know everything about your pool – but make sure you do!  Add up the costs over a year and divide it up over 12 months so you can get an immediate sense of what it will add to your monthly bills.  Also keep in mind that depending on where you live, having a pool might make a home more difficult to sell.  On the flipside, if you live someplace like Florida (much warmer than Monticello, year-round) having a pool might be a “must” for homebuyers.

2.  The flipside of entertainment is liability.  Many people don’t know that having a pool immediately increases your homeowner’s insurance.  Want to add a diving board or a slide?  Get ready to increase it even more.  What happens if someone gets hurt?  What are the safeguards you are taking to protect your guests, in particular, small children?  Don’t let these questions scare you off: just make sure you have good answers for them.

3.  You will give up a portion of your yard that you cannot reclaim easily should you change your mind.  If you are going to go to the trouble of excavating, leveling, pouring concrete, landscaping, etc., keep in mind that this is a semi-permanent decision.  It’s going to cost you almost as much to get rid of a pool as it cost you to build one.  Keep in mind that you will also want to add landscaping, rock, etc. to make the pool “fit” the rest of your yard.

You’d be surprised, but we go through variation of these questions and answers with each of our potential clients who calls in to build a pool.  This week we wanted to stir these ideas through your mind so that next week (see what we did there – hooked you for our next blog article!) we can talk about the nitty-gritty of excavation and maintenance.

Stay cool as we head into July, whether it’s indoors or poolside!

Three Key Equipment Maintenance Times

We have several responsibilities to our customers here at The Rental Center of Monticello.  We rent equipment to customers – and that equipment is well-maintained and well-functioning.  But we also service that equipment, and as such we often have casual (and serious) advice that we pass on to our customers for self-maintenance.

Maintenance – that thing we often neglect because modern machines well enough that we forget that we have to maintain them!  So as temperatures start to rise as we slowly amble towards summer – at least here in Monticello – we wanted to share some important tips for maintaining your equipment whether it’s as basic as a mower or as complicated as a backhoe.  We wanted to arrange these by the “Times” of maintenance.

Daily

Certain things have to be done every day.  If you’re the type who forgets things, a checklist is best (In fact, even if you have an excellent memory, a checklist still provides a method and fall back to this part of your duties).  Some things to watch on a daily basis:

When doing a visual inspection

  • Look for worn parts

  • Look for signs of oil or coolant leakage

  • Check oil/coolant/hydraulics levels and fill as necessary

  • Lubricate parts that need daily grease

  • Check air filter

  • Check tire pressure

  • Check chains and belts for slack

  • Clean dirt and debris out of the machine (you don’t have to do a deep cleaning) and make sure caps are sealed

  • Make sure safety equipment and signage is properly displayed and that exterior lighting is functioning

  • If there’s trash or other debris in the cab – take it out.  While you’re in there, check on the seat belts.

Quarterly

The prevailing wisdom is that 500 service hours is when you should have some additional maintenance done outside of the suggestions we bulleted above.  The oil filter, hydraulic oil filter, and the oil itself need to be changed.  Some argue this should be done every three months regardless of usage and there definitely is some merit to that school of thought but each individual operator can make a decision on when is best – as long as they understand the principle of periodic maintenance beyond the above-mentioned daily tasks.

End of Season

It’s time to put things away at the end of the season.  Don’t forget to:

  • Change the hydraulic oil and transmission fluid

  • Check the antifreeze to make sure it’s ready for winter

  • Check belts and hoses

  • Make sure that you have arctic or blended fuel in the tank.  If you do end up needing your equipment you don’t want the fuel line clogged with summer-weight fuel that you forgot to drain

  • Wash the entire vehicle.  Make sure the undercarriage and engine get special attention.  Check the air conditioning and interior lighting – replace bulbs as necessary.

  • If the tires need changing – better to do them now than during the season so you minimize  your down time.

Heavy equipment, like all machinery, has a useful life and a strong justification for purchase will be the commitment to the maintenance.  Some of us remember begging our mom to let us take the puppy home and heard her remind us that we had to clean it and take it to the bathroom and feed it and take care of it and we nodded our heads earnestly.  Your excavator isn’t likely to lick your feet with a wagging backhoe to remind you to take care of it.  As we said above – the quality of the machinery can lull us into a false sense of security that the machinery works “because it works.”

As we’ve said other times on this blog, a big part of why people people might choose to rent first instead of buy is because it provides them with an opportunity to try before buying.  They can see if the equipment does what they need it to do and then return it without having to do any maintenance at all.  We take care of that for you before and after the rental.  You can also have conversations with us either before, during, or after your rental as you figure out what option makes the most sense for you and your project or ongoing work.

As always, we are here to answer any and all questions about equipment rental, and after today’s post, we hope you see that we can hopefully answer some of your maintenance questions as well.

As this article goes to press we are on the verge of Memorial Day weekend.  We here at the Rental Center of Monticello are grateful for the service our veterans have given to our country and we hope that you take some time to remember them throughout this weekend and on Monday especially.

Three Reasons we deal in STIHL

stihl-corporate

Different companies carry different brands for all kinds of reasons.  In our particular industry if our products don’t work there are major consequences: deadlines aren’t met, events don’t come together, and projects don’t get finished.

A big part of renting heavy equipment is making sure that you’re renting from someone who keeps his/her inventory in good repair.  But even more important than that is renting equipment from a brand which is high quality in the first place.  There is a lot of truth to the old adage, “you get what you pay for.”  That class, that quality, is how we feel about STIHL and we would like to take a few minutes today to tell you why we are proud to sell, repair, and rent out their equipment (and have been from the first day we opened our doors for business).

1.  We service what we sell.  As is the case with all STIHL dealers, if you buy from us, you can get service from us.  And we stock many parts (or can get them for you) if you want to service or maintain your equipment yourself.  You don’t have to worry about finding and developing a repair relationship apart from the place where you bought your equipment to start.  STIHL doesn’t just offer their products to anyone.  Each firm who wants to sell STIHL has to go through a screening process.  You can have the confidence that whether you come to the Rental Center of Monticello or any other STIHL dealer, you’re going to get the convenience of service at the point of sale.

2.  We are technical experts and are there to give you face-to-face customer service.  We know that not every customer who comes to us is an expert on a particular machine or even heavy equipment in general.  We can help everyone – from the novice to the expert – pick out the right equipment for his/her needs – be it for a long-term purchase a or a short-term rental.  STIHL ensures that its dealers deliver this level of service and expertise.  We won’t talk down to you or expect you to buy from us just because we’re talking.  We love what we do and are happy to talk about our products and what they can do for you.  Our most important value is listening to what you have to say so we can help you get the tool/equipment that will accomplish your task.

3.  We stand behind our products through a tradition of providing the best.  STIHL has been around since 1974 and while we can’t claim to have been around that long (we’ve been in business roughly half that time) we bring the same philosophy to work every day: offer the best products with competent and professional customer service so that people can TRUST in our products (and service).  We know that this philosophy will keep people coming back and instead of getting a customer for a day we can develop a client for life.

We’re proud to be your STIHL dealer in Monticello, NY, and look forward to helping you with any sales, service, or rental needs you might have!

Our most rented machines: the Yanmar SV08

This month we’ve looked at a couple fairly large pieces of equipment.  We thought we would end the in-between (as Spring struggles to defeat Winter) month of April by talking about a very popular compact excavator, the Yanmar SV08.  Here in Monticello we’ve been hoping for the breakout to 70 degrees and that didn’t happen very often in April but in May we are looking forward to blue skies.  Great weather often means people are excited about doing great projects and we want to help you understand the possibilities you have available to you.


The “SV” in Yanmar’s designation means “ultra-tight turning.”  This means the front and rear turning radius is very minimal.  Why would this matter to you?  You might have a tight work site and hence not a lot of room to maneuver.  This can include indoor renovation, pipe laying, landscaping, and housing foundations.  You could also possibly have to move through some tight spaces to get to your work site (you can narrow to 2’ 3” to get through a space and widen to 2’ 9” for more stability as you work).

The SV08 isn’t just adjustable in track width.  It can also adapt to different inclines.  The variable undercarriage allows for the right and left tracks to lower and raise independently so as to correct the SV08’s angle on steps or slopes.

It’s not just compact in size and operation, it’s also “compact” in the demands it makes on the operator.    It has a great seat with a retractable seat belt, a footrest, lever controls that respond well, and uncomplicated levers.  There’s a 2-way controller pattern so that the operator can easily change the lever pattern (from backhoe to excavator functionality) to what he/she prefers for efficiency.

As with all Yanmar products, the hydraulic hoses and Boom cylinder are covered for protection, but additionally, the hoses are housed under the cylinders as well.

We know that some of our readers are very much into “just the facts,” so we will share a few of those as well.  It has a water cooled 2-cylinder diesel engine with a 10.3HP output.  It’s got a digging force of 2360 lb for the bucket, 1390 lb on the arm.  It’s not a speedster at 1.1 mph traveling speed, but given the purpose of use for a compact work site, you won’t be in a hurry anyway!  It has a swing speed of 9 rpm and fuel tank capacity of 2.6 gallons.  At an overall weight of 2,348 lbs, it probably isn’t heavier than your car.

This is the smallest compact excavator in Yanmar’s line and if you have any questions about the SV08 or about any Yanmar products, please feel free to give us a call (so we can share some (always free) advice!