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Kubota's U48-5 heading to Tractor Time with Tim

This machine here is headed out to the Tractor Time with Tim. You may have seen Tim around YouTube before. Man is a publisher of tractor and equipment videos for the last several years now, and he and I are, say, cut from the same cloth. We've always gotten along very, very well. This U48 is headed out to Tim. We're going to show you around the machine a little bit, tell you a little bit about the U48 itself, and show you a very special Easter egg that I've hidden in the cab for Tim, that I am naturally excited about.

 

Easter Egg

Before boring you with all the machine details, this is my Easter egg that I'm leaving for Tim. This little electronic circuit board is out of an electronic greeting card, one where you open up the card and it plays some kind of tune. This one though, I can load custom audio onto, and I've loaded the Messick's jingle, the one that plays at the beginning of my YouTube videos, onto this little board. It's powered off of 5 volt USB. I've got a place here, a USB cord that I soldered onto it to be able to plug it in, and I shorted out the button. The end result of that will be is that every time this machine is started up and this board is powered, the Messick's jingle will play. We're going to tuck this down here, hide it back here under the seat where hopefully, Tim is never going to be able to find it unless he watches this video, and we'll get a little chuckle of every time he turns the key.

 

Model Number

If you have seen Kubota excavators around, you probably haven't seen too many out of the U series. There are some things about this machine that make it unique compared to the rest of Kubota's product line. We can always learn things from Kubota's model numbers. This machine being a U48-5 tells us a couple of things. U are all zero tail swing machines. When you spin this machine in a circle, the house, the upper part of the machine here in its counterweight will never hang beyond the side of the tracks. The 48 is going to tell us the weight of the machine. This is a 4.8 metric ton machine. If we multiply 4.8 by 2.2, it tells us that this machine's going to come in right about 11,000 pounds and change. That varies a little bit depending on the configuration. If you've got a cab or an open station or an angle or a straight blade is going to impact the weight of the machine, which you can ballpark your hauling capacities just by looking at the model number. The -5 tells us that this is the iteration of this unit. This is the latest generation of Kubota's excavators, has a nice modern amenities inside the cab here that we'll take a look at shortly.

 

Blade Options

Every customer's needs are a little different and we stock configurations of these machines for particular tasks. This particular U48 is loaded. It's got all the options on it and it's going to start down here with the blade. Now, this blade that's in the front of the machine can be either a straight blade or an angling blade. This is the angling variant. It's going to allow you to be able to turn it sideways and backfill a trench with the excavator, potentially removing the need for another machine to do that kind of work. The angle blade also sticks out a little further in front of the machine than what the straight blade does. Depending on your task that may be desirable or not, being that it sticks out a little bit further, it does move your hinge point. If you're pinning down the backside of the machine, it moves your hinge point further away from the tracks and helps you plant the rear end a little bit better, but it can impact your visibility down into a trench.

 

Cab or Open Station Machines

If you're sitting up here in this seat, looking down to where you're digging, having the blade a little bit further away makes it harder to see. There are some pros and cons to that selection. These are also available with either cabs or open stations. For us here in the Northeast, we predominantly sell nearly all cab machines when it's an option. That cab also has air conditioning in it that keeps it comfortable to run during this particularly hot summertime

 

Boom and Hydraulics

The boom itself has no options. You can't get long arms or extendable arms. There is only one arm option, but there are options on the booms for the hydraulics, where you're getting one or two service ports. Those service ports have adjustable flows and they can be used for running different attachments out on the boom, and knowing who our customer is here, Tractor Time with Tim, more than likely you're going to see Tim putting all kinds of stuff out here on the boom that are going to use those extra hydraulic circuits.

 

 

Serviceability

 

Anytime I'm looking at an excavator, I will always flip up the side panels and take a look around the inside of the machine. On these, it's particularly beautiful. You can really see the care and the engineering and thoughtfulness that goes into routing hydraulic hoses. It is a work of art inside. From the serviceability side, that's really why you're down here, not to admire it. This is equipment that tends to be run a lot of hours. When you're on a job site and these things or doing production-type work, they can be run four to eight hours a day, and so you hit service intervals fairly often. It's always a good idea to flip up the side panels and see where the important bits of the machine are. Starting around the front here, you'll see the battery sits right in the front. It's very easily exposed if it needs to be jumped. The hoses and the routing of all of your hydraulics and your pilots in here are gorgeous. If a machine is 15, or 20 years old and you need to replace the leak, your dry rotting hose, you can see how easy that is here. This is your hydraulic oil reservoir on top of the valve stack, and then all of your radiators here for your hydraulic engine radiator, air conditioning condenser are all in a cooling pack right here on the side. There's easy levers here to flip these radiators out. If they get really plugged up with a lot of debris, you can swing them out to make cleaning them easier. Working around to the engine in the back, all of the filters and fuel points are pulled up out of the inside of the machine and brought here to the back. You'll see things like your radiator fill, your oil filter sitting right here at the rear. Your dipsticks are easily accessible. Your fuel filter and the fuel bowl are off here on the left-hand side, so it's easy to see if you've got water or some kind of debris or algae in your diesel fuel. All of those daily checkpoints are really easy to catch just by walking around and taking a quick look at the back of the machine.

 

 

Controls

When you climb up here in the cab, things feel very modern and that's a big departure from the older -4 series. Kubota's been a little slow to update some of the things that you touch up here in the cab and this is now the latest and greatest. It's been a little slow coming, but what's here is great. It's one thing I would always say about this company—they're usually not the first to anything, but when they do it, they've done it really well. I would echo that about the control layouts. Everything up here is the same, whether you have an open station or a cab version of this machine, including the screen. Even the open station is going to have a small screen up here in the front. This is about a 7-inch screen and it's going to give you the information that you need to dial in the machine and make adjustments and get a little bit of diagnostic information off of it. It's not really required so much for the basic digging operations that you're going to be doing, but it's a more modern way of, say, displaying that diagnostic info that you would often get from a bunch of blinky lights. There's always concerns and we see screens in machines about their right to repair concerns and that kind of thing. One thing I really like about the implementation of Kubota's screens is that they just don't spit error messages at you, they actually give you information. If something goes wrong on the machine, you're going to get meaningful information that comes out here on the screen, not just an error code. That can help both you and us get to a quicker diagnostic resolution of that machine in order to getting it fixed and running again. When I look around the controls here, so we've got our screen for information here in the front, the button panels and everything here are updated and these new panels are nice, big rubberized buttons. If you happen to be wearing gloves or something while you're working, these buttons are all really easy to hit and they're nice and large. All of your air conditioning controls and everything are right around here on the right-hand side. There is a pocket here in the back for a radio. Unlike the SVL75 that we covered here earlier, that's got a radio built into the screen, this one does not. It is not the same screen system that's in the SVL. If you want a radio in here, it does need to be added into the radio pocket here behind you.

 

 

 

Screen Usage

There's some basic functionality here in the screen and a couple of menus to step through. This is not a touch screen. This is done by the jog control here on the right-hand side. I hate when too much information is put in these screens. If you've got to go into, say, a screen in your SUV to adjust your air conditioning, that is annoying. There is none of that stuff done here. If you click through here, you're simply going to have something that's going to give you maintenance reminders, that's going to tell you what needs to be done, as those maintenance intervals come up. You have a calendar that's going to log your operating hours day by day. I know a lot of contractors who like that function by billing machine hours onto a job. It's very easy to use that as a job log. If you need to make adjustments to your auxiliary hydraulics, that's done here on the AUX setting screen, and that's really the only adjustment that you're going to make on this. I like seeing this done in a screen as opposed to what I've seen in some other versions of other excavators before. Sometimes, say on some of Kubota's older machines, you had to go through and make these adjustments by looking at a tiny little LCD screen, and it was hard to know what you were doing. This is very easy. You can go through and select the mode, whether you're running these bi-directional or unidirectional, if you have a hammer or a thumb, for example. You can go down here and dial your flow up and down very easily from the screen. If you have a thumb on and you want to slow its action so it doesn't move so quickly, you can simply pop here through the screens and then turn that flow back to make it more controllable. At the end of your dipper is a bucket, coupler, and thumb, usually referred to as the working group.

 

Buckets, Quick Coupler, Thumb

There's a couple of things that you should know down here that make Kubota's a little unique from the other machines that you sometimes will bump into, and that's the way that this coupler works. When you look at the spec sheet for the excavator, the specifications are usually put together in, call, a best-case scenario. Most excavators can be sold with a pin-on bucket or a quick coupler bucket. Basically, nobody ever buys pin-on buckets. You're buying a machine like this, you're going to need to change your buckets. Most quick coupler systems are going to add some space between these pivot points right here and where the buckets are. When you go to that quick coupler system, you are going to give up capacity in most cases. Most coupler systems, be them a pin grabber or the various wedge couplers that are out there, add space in here and take away from your digging power. The Kubota coupler, though, does not. The rotational geometry down here at the end is the same if you use a pin-on bucket or a quick coupler bucket, so you know that you can trust the specifications on that sheet. You're going to notice that this machine's going out with no buckets on it. I believe we're going to see a tour of a bucket factory here from Tim in not too long. You're going to see some other buckets end up down here on the end that are going to be compatible with this coupler.

 

Tim's Decision

Neil: It's a pleasure to have you. Pleasure to see you.

Tim: Great to be here, Neil.

Neil: Tell us a little bit-- the U48, why this model? What led you into making this purchase? Because when we first started talking, I tried to sell you a different machine. Why is that?

Tim: Great salesperson here. He tried to sell me one thing, he immediately heard that I was interested in something else, and you shifted on a dime. You're like, "Oh, okay. That's fine"

Neil: It's always easier to sell the customer what they ask for. We do steer a little bit sometimes, and you stood up for yourself. Anyway, why are we standing in front of the U48?

Tim: Maybe we should start with the brand first. Why am I talking to you instead of some other construction brand or something like that?

For me, I was intimidated, quite frankly, every time I go into one of these construction-centric brands like a CAT or one of-- they're so used to working with big construction customers that seeing a consumer and an end consumer like me come in, they're like, "Hold up. What are you doing here?" Or at least I feel that way. They may not be thinking that way at all, but I feel uncomfortable going to their [unintelligible 00:12:10] I'm so much more comfortable dealing with the agriculture brands. I'm used to dealing with tractors. I'm used to understanding and so it just felt more comfortable coming to visit you and a Kubota dealer than what I did.

Neil: That intimidation factor is real.

Tim: It's real.

Neil: It is. We talk about it ourselves sometimes, just when somebody walks in the door to buy even a big farm tractor. A lot of hobby guys will use a big farm tractor. There is a comfort level that you develop over time with your dealer and the type of equipment and stuff that you use that makes that easy. Why the U48 then? What makes this the right machine for you? I tried to talk you into a machine with a tail. That didn't seem to be the right choice.

Tim: Yes. Well, it was a math issue for me. I'm trying to stay right under the CDL limit and get the biggest machine that I can, and stay under this 26,000-pound limit. Now, there's a lot of differences state by state on what you can haul on your trailers. Indiana has a rule that, as long as I'm staying in state, I can use this machine for business purposes as long as I'm at or below 26,000 pounds, a combination truck and trailer, both the rating on the trailer and the truck as well as the actual load.
I wanted to get right up against that but not over it. That was one thing. Probably what pushed me over more than anything else was the -5 cab, the newer cab. It's bigger. I think they said the pillars here are smaller, better visibility, air conditioning works a little better, I think.

Neil: All those things, yes. It's just every generation of cab that comes out is just a little bit more, say, meeting our expectations. When you're spending money on equipment like this, you want it to feel like your car or your truck, and this definitely is a much closer step towards that.

Tim: I wasn't really after zero tail swing. I would've preferred probably to have a little bit of tail swing to have to have had some more rear ballast back there. They didn't offer the 40 yet in a -5.

Neil: Right. The next step to the 57 just gets too heavy.

Tim: I'm not even sure that a 40-5-- this might be as capable-- hopefully, it's as capable as a 40-4 or more.

Neil: And then some.

Tim: That's kind of the thought process here. I wanted the biggest I could get on my trailer and yet I wanted the newest cab. Oftentimes, there's a timing aspect. Next year, at this time, I don't know, one year, two years, the 40, you'll have a -5 and then it would be a different conversation.

 

 

Tim's Usage

Neil: You're a tractor guy adding an excavator. Why? What do you have in mind? What are you going to do with it?

Tim: If Christie weren't back there listening, I could tell you-- no.

[laughter]

Neil: She's shaking her head.

Tim: If I ever quit the YouTube game, I've always wanted to have an excavator. It's just something I've always wanted to have. This is just one of those wants that I'm able to fulfill now and thank the lord I'm able to be able to do it. A backhoe, which is we have a couple of backhoes, and you just-- there's negatives. They're less expensive and you can do a lot with a backhoe. I certainly wouldn't encourage people to avoid them, but with this, I can get my spoils so much further away. That's one of the challenges I have with those little backhoes is you dig a hole here and your pile is right here, so it limits what you can do. We're working on this pond project I'd love you to check out on our channel. We weren't able to get it with a backhoe. That was my near term.

Neil: The reach to be able to get into the pond and do the clean-out work.

Tim: Then get the muck way out behind me to dump it. Better reach as well as being able to put the spoils on the other side.

Neil: The productivity gap between a three-point mounted backhoe and an excavator, even a small excavator, is huge. Do you think you're going to do some paid work with it then? Is that in your future?

Tim: Well, we do a little paid work anyway. We do some charity work and we do some paid work. It's probably about 5% of our overall business. It's not a huge amount, but we do some, just for some variety. I'd love to eventually try a mulching head on this thing. You keep encouraging me not to but I'd love to try it. As you've learned, I don't pay much attention when you make a suggestion. [crosstalk]

Neil: You're going to find the limits of what most of all this stuff can do. [laughter] It's important for people to know that when equipment is, say, sponsored by the manufacturer, or when it's not. Tim is buying this machine and is free to say what you want to say.

Tim: I would, anyway.

Neil: You and I both know that's not the case with a lot of the equipment that you see on YouTube.

Tim: That's right.

Neil: The level of honesty, I think, is sometimes questionable. At least here, you're completely free from that. I think that's important to know. That's a little bit on the U48. 

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