What is a trencher?

trencher hire

Trenchers are like an excavator as they serve the same purpose of breaking soil and rock and removing it from the ground. However, unlike excavators trenchers can remove the soil in a continuous movement. Often used to dig trenches for pipes or cutting through rocks there are various sizes of trenches, allowing them to accommodate many different project requirements.

Edwin “Ed” Malzahn invented the first compact trenching machine in 1949. From then there are two different types of trenchers: wheel trenchers - also referred to as a rock wheel trencher - and a chain belt trencher - also known as a ladder trencher. There is also the choice between a walk-behind or a ride-on trencher.

Trenching is a method of digging that is conducted in a long line, especially with deep hole depth, and narrow width. It is most commonly used for the installation of permanent utility cables and pipes, especially for laying water and sewerage pipes, electrical cables and for installing drainage. However, there are many sizes of trenching machinery and equipment which can be used to accommodate different project requirements. Trenching can also be used for cutting pavements, creating drainage, shovelling and digging for electrical wires and snipping roots. Trenching tools are very effective because they are designed to replace the minimum of soil required to establish a trench to the necessary depth.

Trenchers (also known as Compact Utility Loaders) are construction machines used for a variety of small to large projects, where their compact models have proven extremely useful in narrow and restrictive environments. Trenchers are very similar to excavators as both types of machinery are able to break and remove soil and rock from the ground. Unlike excavators, trenchers have the ability to remove soil in a continuous movement. These machines are often used to dig trenches for pipes and cables. There are type common types of trencher; the heavy wheel trenchers (also known as rock wheel trenches) and chain belt trenchers (also known as ladder trenchers). Trenchers should not be used to remove tree roots, as larger roots may cause trouble with the cut and cause damage to machinery. 

Trenchers (also known as Compact Utility Loaders) are construction machines used for a variety of small to large projects, where their compact models have proven extremely useful in narrow and restrictive environments. Trenchers are very similar to excavators as both types of machinery are able to break and remove soil and rock from the ground. Unlike excavators, trenchers have the ability to remove soil in a continuous movement. These machines are often used to dig trenches for pipes and cables. There are type common types of trencher; the heavy wheel trenchers (also known as rock wheel trenches) and chain belt trenchers (also known as ladder trenchers). Trenchers should not be used to remove tree roots, as larger roots may cause trouble with the cut and cause damage to machinery.

What are the types of trenchers? 

Rock wheel trenchers have a wheel and several buckets sitting on crawler tracks. As the wheel approaches the ground, it rotates, and the bucket digs the dirt from the trench. These buckets move like a ferris wheel, and as each bucket reaches the high point, the dirt is dumped out into a conveyor belt. Rock wheel trenchers, such as the Ditch Witch 8020, are large trenchers that use toothed metal wheels for digging, particularly deep depths. Wheel trenchers are typically used for cutting through road surfaces and pavements for road works and utility maintenance. 

Track trenchers work in a similar way to wheel trenchers, however, look like a giant chainsaw as the buckets are attached to a chain (the “ladder”), which collected dirt into buckets and mean it can dig deeper trenches. Tracked trenchers, such as the Vermeer T955 and the Ditch Witch RT115, are large tracked machines typically used on large civil and mining projects that involve earthmoving. As the name suggests, track trenchers utilise continuous tracks instead of wheels. Tracks allow the trencher to operate across a variety of difficult terrains including mud, bog, sand, dirt, and snow. 

Ride-on trenchers can be used for road maintenance and for cutting pavements. These small trenches minimally disturb the surroundings, while the walk-behind or portable trenchers are lighter and easier to manoeuvre and are often used for landscaping jobs like installing irrigation lines and edging. Ride-on trenchers, such as the Toro TX1000 and the Ditch Witch RT95, are small to medium-sized machines equipped with an array of attachments, making them a versatile and useful machine for a variety of small to medium projects and backyard jobs. 

Walk behind trenchers such as the Red Roo HT912 and the Toro TD4, are smaller trenching machines that are used by an operator who stands behind the machine and walks with the machine as it is used. Walking trenchers are a popular option for backyard projects and weekend warriors. 

How do trenchers work? 

In the case of heavy wheel trenchers, as the wheel approaches the ground it rotates, and the bucket digs the dirt from the trench. These buckets move like a Ferris wheel, and as each bucket reaches the high-point, the dirt is dumped out into a conveyor belt for removal. Heavy chain belt trenchers are able to dig deeper trenches, though can cost a little more to hire since they have more moving parts and are generally more costly to buy.  

On the other hand, chain belt trenches work in a similar way to heavy wheel trenches, however, a chain belt trenchers bucket is attached to a chain (the “ladder”) which descends to collect dirt into buckets. This machinery is the most powerful trenching machinery available and is suitable for working with hard rock and large scale projects. Chain belt trenches are commonly used for jobs like digging pipelines and laying telecommunications. 

For small sized jobs, ride-on trenchers are frequently used for road maintenance and cutting pavements as they minimally disturb surroundings and can be controlled remotely or by radio. The walk behind trencher (also known as a portable trencher) is another option for smaller jobs, as they are even lighter than ride-on trenchers and easier to manoeuvre. Walk behind trenchers are often used for landscaping jobs such as installing irrigation lines and edging.

Why Hire a Trencher?

Trenchers are used for many different jobs and the right machine will depend on the conditions of the ground you’ll be working with and the size of your project. There are various sizes of trenchers, allowing them to accommodate many different project requirements, from small, portable trenchers that are often used in landscaping, to the chain belt or heavy wheel, which is used to excavate deep, wide trenches. No matter how big or small your next job is there is a range of rock wheel trenches, track trenchers and portable trenchers to choose from.

If you need help narrowing down your options, the iSeekplant database has a wide range of trenching hire suppliers throughout the country and we’re available to provide expert advice. Additionally, if you are looking to undertake a DIY trenching project, check out our iSeekplant companion trenching guide here. 

To hire one of these trenchers or if you’re not sure which type of trencher is the best choice for your job, get in touch with the iSeekplant on 1300 691 912, or browse through our trencher hire listings now. Our directory offers a variety of trenching and trencher hire services from suppliers throughout all major cities including Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth, Canberra, Hobart, and Darwin, along with hundreds of regional centres throughout Australia, with both wet and dry hire options available. These suppliers offer a diverse catalogue of trenching solutions to suit a variety of projects and operations across the nation. 

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