A trencher is a piece construction equipment used for digging trenches. Trenches can be used for installing cables, laying pipes, drainage or for preparing trench warfare. They come in different sizes some can dig deeper than others. They are often used in landscaping endeavors and large construction projects. But how deep can they actually dig?
|Trencher Type||Digging Depth||Hole Width||Perfect For|
|Walk-Behind||12"-48"||3"-16"||Landscapers, Contractors, Property Developers|
|Industrial||72"||134"||Large Commercial Projects|
A Brief History of Trenchers
Trenches have been used for decades in a variety of scenarios. During WWII, trenches were dug by hand, but in the early 1800s, machines were introduced. Earlier trenchers were very bulky and difficult to use. However, thanks to technological advancements, they have become much easier to operate.
Trenchers became bigger as larger construction projects increased throughout the U.S. One manufacturer, Charles Machine Works, decided to think outside the box, and create a more portable machine that allowed everyday consumers to dig trenches. This machine, also known as a Ditch Witch, allowed the user to operate from behind the wheel. The idea was to provide a smaller trencher that was home applicable and not just for big projects.
5 Main Types of Trenchers
By Ysahintr – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=40638158
Different excavations require different types of trenchers. In general, trenchers are categorized into two: home-based trenchers and construction-based trenches.
These trenchers look like big chainsaws. They use chain saws that cover metal frames when driving the machine. The boom of the trencher is customized to meet the required depth and cut of your trench. Due to their flexibility, they are used for narrow and deep channels like those used by utility companies.
Like the name, wheel trenchers are mounted on rubber wheels to access trenches for utilities on roads. Their toothed metal is used for digging soft rocks and hard soil, and these qualities allow wheel trenches to have different cutting depths.
The width of these trenches is as little as 1-5 inches since they are used to make precise cuts and narrow trenches for laying small cables or piping. Since they are small in size, some micro trenchers are radio-controlled to ensure precision.
In special cases, landscapers may use a portable trencher to edge plants or install irrigation lines. These tend to weigh about 200 lbs. and are easier to navigate in comparison to similar trenchers. The blade is identical to a lawnmower blade and moves in a vertical motion.
This device is just as it sounds. It is mounted to the front of a gear tractor and digs the hole slowly as the tractor moves forward. It is also closely identified with the chain trencher.
Why Should You Use a Trencher?
By Ky MacPherson – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1004168
Production benefit: A large trencher can substitute up to 14 excavators, Trenchers reduces the required ditch width, which reduces the cubic meters dug for each linear meter of production. This minimizes the excavation space by at least 25 %.
Cost advantage: The workforce required for digging a trench is significantly higher when using human labor than buying a trencher. It also takes longer to dig the trench when completing it by hand. In addition, the digging cost per linear meter is about 50% more than using a trencher.
Work efficiency and quality: Working with a trencher ensures that your trenches are dug according to the measurements given, while trenches dug by hand are prone to errors.
So, if you weigh the benefits of working with a trencher to working with human labor, you will find that trenchers are more cost, time, and labor efficient.
What Size Trencher Do You Need?
By Ditch Witch, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=12097803
The size of the channel you are digging plays a big role in the type of trencher you should use. The walk-behind trenchers are effective in projects that are short-term since they are limited in terms of efficiency and power. Ride-on trenchers have strong diesel engines with quicker shifting transmissions. Hence, they can dig deeper and provide more power. You should consider using a ride-on if your project meets the following criteria:
- The jobsite is on dense soil or even concrete
- The trench is deeper than 48 inches
- You are digging more than one trench in a single area
- The trench is wider than 8 inches or longer than 250 feet
Keep in mind however that larger machines could do more harm than good. Bigger trenchers are often less precise and can cause unnecessary clean-up.
How to Use a Trencher
- Check to make sure that you have enough gas and oil before turning on the equipment
- Read the instructions printed on the machine thoroughly
- Turn on the machine using the key. If you haven’t operate the machine before, give it a choke before turning it on
- Move the throttle level to your desired position
- Once you are ready to start digging, move the lever on the side in downward direction and lower the blade into the ground.
- As you are digging, start slowly walking backwards and put the trencher in reverse.
- Stop once in a while to measure the ditch and make sure it is the length and width that works for you
- When you are finished, use the lever to pull the blade up and away from the ground
- Turn the machine off and remove the key
Caution: Never stand in front of the equipment while operating because it will throw dirt and rocks forward. Stand behind and wear safety goggles at all times. Check with your local guidelines to verify where and when you should be digging, and how deep you are allowed to dig.
Can a Trencher Dig Through Rocks?
An ordinary-sized rental trencher will have cutting teeth like a chainsaw. These teeth are held on with two jolts. Hitting rocks will knock off the teeth and damage the blade. If you are going to use a trencher, avoid hitting rocks at all costs.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Will a trencher dig through roots?
Trenchers are designed to cut through soil, and some blades are made to cut through roots and other underground objects, depending on the type of you use. Trenchers are fitted with round fixed blades to create smaller trenches for laying pipes, buried wires, or cables.
Can you use trenchers on wet ground?
Digging through wet soil, especially wet clay soil, is not easy on trenchers since the ground is heavier. Digging through wet clay is time-consuming, but trenchers get the job done. Consider renting a motorized trencher if time is an issue.
Can you rent a trencher?
Yes, you can rent a trencher, visit your nearest depot tool rental center. Trencher rental prices vary according to size and time. You can rent one for as low as $200.
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