Picking a brush cutter for your mini excavator is more challenging than other machines. This blog is intended to provide information about some of the most popular options and guide your decision-making.
We will begin with some considerations to consider when comparing brush cutters, and we will finish by reviewing some of the best mini excavator brush cutters on the market.
Blue Diamond HD Mini Excavator Brush Cutter Review
Heavy Duty Mini-X Brush Cutter
HD Mini Excavator Brush Cutter by Blue Diamond
Blue Diamond's Heavy Duty model of mini excavator brush cutter is widely used around the country. This is primarily because of its excellent value and because it is offered in 7 models so that it will fit nearly any brand of mini excavator.
From the smallest model to the largest, the weight of these brush cutters range from 550 pounds to just over 900. This makes them a nice fit for mini excavators between 6,000 and 19,000 pounds. Likewise, the hydraulic flow ratings range from 13 to 33 gallons per minute.
Blue Diamond's heavy-duty models have a direct drive system powering a hydraulic geroler motor. This is a greaseable system that provides easy maintenance. The geroler motors are well known for their long service life when used correctly and are less prone to sudden failures seen in other designs.
One of the nice features the geroler motor offers on Blue Diamond's Heavy Duty brush cutter is bidirectional operation. Savvy owners will operate the brush cutter in one direction when cutting woody material and in the opposite direction for grasses. This keeps the grass side of your blades sharp for a clean finish.
The deck thickness of the heavy-duty model is 1/4", which keeps the brush cutter rigid and protects it against most bumps and bruises.
Blue Diamond Severe Duty Series 2 Mini Excavator Brush Cutter Review
Severe Duty Mini-X Brush Cutter
Severe Duty Mini Excavator Brush Cutter by Blue Diamond
If you want to take your brush cutting to the next level, it's time to look at the Severe Duty Series 2 brush cutter. This model offers upgrades in nearly all dimensions, from the hydraulic motor to the deck thickness and design and the cutting ability.
The minimum operating weight recommendation for this cutter is 10,000 pounds because it is beefier than the heavy-duty model and weighs over 700 pounds. With that said, the severe duty model is often a better choice if you have a larger mini excavator. This is because the cutter has a thicker 3/4" deck that is more resistant to bumps and bruises caused while cutting.
An additional upgrade is the cutout front of the brush cutter, which allows for more aggressive cutting. This cutout allows the material to enter the cutter easier and get hacked up and ejected quickly. This deck design allows you to cut 6" diameter brush and trees easily.
The hydraulic motor on the severe duty model is upgraded to a piston motor rather than a geroler motor and changes from a grease-filled direct drive system to an oil-filled direct drive system. The oil-filled system keeps bearings cooler and cleaner and allows for less maintenance.
Upgrading to a piston motor provides more torque and higher efficiency. Mini excavators have high hydraulic demand, to begin with, due to the amount of flow needed to move the tracks, rotate the cab, and extend the boom all at once. Being able to use what is left over efficiently is an important aspect.
What To Look For in a Mini Excavator Brush Cutter
You can quickly narrow your mini excavator brush cutter search by ruling out the models that won't work with your host machine. Here are a few ways to do that.
Start By Considering Weight and Hydraulic Flow
The weight of the brush cutter you use has to be appropriate for the size of the mini excavator you are using it with. This is to prevent tipping when the brush cutter extends out from the mini excavator's center of gravity. This becomes more important when working on uneven terrain.
Many mini excavator brush cutters weigh from 500 to 1200 pounds. As a general rule, the minimum operating weight recommendation would be 17,000 to 25,000 pounds for a 1,200-pound brush cutter and 7,000 pounds for a 500- pound brush cutter.
Next would be to consider the auxiliary hydraulic flow of your mini excavator. Mini excavator brush cutters will have a minimum auxiliary flow recommendation, and your excavator will have to be able to produce at least that.
Additionally, the maximum auxiliary flow recommendation should be respected. This will protect your hydraulic pump and ensure your warranty stays valid.
Consider the owner of a Bobcat E42 looking for a brush cutter attachment. The excavator weighs approximately 10,600 pounds and produces 20GPM of auxiliary hydraulic flow.
This would mean that a 400 to 800-pound brush cutter would be a good starting point for your search. This can be narrowed down further by ensuring the models selected a minimum hydraulic flow range below 20gpm and a maximum above 20gpm.
A good brush cutter for consideration would therefore be Blue Diamonds 42" Heavy Duty Brush Cutter with an 80cc hydraulic motor. This model will weigh 660 pounds (plus the coupler), and the hydraulic flow rating is 13 to 24 GPM.
Consider The Deck Thickness and Design
Open Front Vs. Closed Front
As with skid steer brush cutters, mini excavator models will come in either an open front or closed front designs. Although both designs are useful in most circumstances, the open-front designs are more aggressive and allow thick and heavy brush to enter the cutter easier. Closed front brush cutters will keep material inside the cutter longer, allowing for a nicer finish.
Since the coupler on a mini excavator brush cutter sits on top of the cutter, deck thickness is an important consideration. This is because it is not unlikely that, at some point, the mini excavator operator will either tip onto the brush cutter or push weight onto the deck. A heavy excavator can damage a brush cutter with a weak deck. A 1/4" deck thickness is usually a good starting point.
Hydraulic Motor and Blade Carrier
The hydraulic motors on any brush cutter are the heart of the whole system. The brush cutter will have a direct drive system that takes hydraulic oil from the mini excavator's auxiliary circuit and transforms it into cutting power at the blade carrier. The type of hydraulic motor used directly affects performance.
As with most brush cutters, some will be manufactured with geroler motors, and others will be manufactured with piston-type motors. Both types have unique characteristics such as:
- Lower purchase price
- More tolerant of poor maintenance
- Very widely used in attachments
- Higher Torque
- Higher hydraulic efficiency
- Operates smoothly among a wide range of hydraulic flows
Typically piston motors are used on "severe duty" models, while smaller mini excavator brush cutters will use a geroler motor.
The typical mini excavator brush cutter will have a blade carrier that is triangular in design with three blades.
The triangular design helps to reduce weight on a three-blade cutting system. The reduced weight keeps rotation speeds high and helps to allow the blade carrier to speed up again after pushing through the brush.
A built-in system that allows easy cutting blade changes and maintenance will save you time.
There is a lot to consider when looking for a mini excavator brush cutter, and understanding the options is the first step.
Give us a call today and let our team help you find the right cutter and coupler.