Review: OzDiggers OD-130T mini skid steer loader

By: Ron Horner

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OzDiggers mini skid steer loaders have hit the market. Ron Horner got his hands on the OD-130W and OD-130T to see how they performed

OzDiggers-OD-130T-mini-skid-steer-loader
Even with a heaped bucket this machine delivers the goods

The mini skid steer market in Australia has a new player.

The OzDiggers brand of skid steers is firmly making itself a reputation in Australia as being a competitively priced, rugged and well-designed range of little loaders suitable for farms, home, hire or construction works.   

I was fortunate to have the opportunity to meet the importer and part designer of the OzDiggers, Jamie Bella, on a recent visit to NSW and where I was most fortunate to get my hands on two brand new OzDiggers mini skid steers for a work out, and I was impressed.

Bella had purchased one some years back from the Chinese manufacturer and, although the machine he procured did the job, he could see that with a tweak here and another tweak there these little mini loaders could become a serious contender to be successfully imported into Australia.

Bella redesigned the product, sketching a few changes to enhance it, and arranged a meeting with the manufacturer.

Some people think that Chinese manufactured goods are a touch on the inferior side and that to successfully deal with them directly would be out of the question (especially if you are entering their domain with a list of modifications to their beloved pet project), but that’s exactly what Bella set out to do and succeeded in achieving.

Not only did the manufacturer sit down and listen to Bella’s ideas, it took all of them on board, including him in the redesigning process. Bella then successfully took on the Australian importation of the OzDiggers mini skid steer loaders.

OzDiggers-OD-130T-mini-skid-steer-loader
My choice

WHEELED AND TRACK MODELS

This story has a bit of a twist in it being that the local Central Western NSW distributor for the OzDiggers brand happens to be a good mate of mine from Lithgow.

Rod, Anne and Corey Gurney run R & A Chainsaw and Mower Supplies, a successful and long standing business in the lovely Blue Mountains town of Lithgow and have secured the distributorship  of OzDiggers skid steers for the region.        

Calling in for a quick cuppa on the way through to Sydney one day I noticed, amongst a throng of mowers lined up along the footpath, a little mini skid steer loader sitting in the display yard.

I immediately made a bee-line to it and asked all the relevant questions which eventually led me to securing this demonstration of these two little beauties.

OzDiggers-OD-130T-mini-skid-steer-loader
Perfect for the farm – even the horses like it

DEMO DAY

After finalising my business in Sydney and with limited time up my sleeve on the return trip I had requested the boys in the mountains arrange a demo on two of the OzDiggers loaders, namely the wheeled OD-130W and the tracked OD-130T.

Loaded up on the tilt tray and hastily hauled out to the Blue Hills Farm Retreat in the picturesque Hartley Valley, the two skid steers were ready for a full day in the sun (and to you non-believers, yes it does get sunny in Lithgow).

Looking over both machines, I soon realised that I was only going to have enough time to get a crack at one of them to do it justice, although a quick run around the other would be hard to pass up.

I decided on the tracked version OD-130T for the review, but not before we took a quick look over the wheeled version.

The OD-130W is a neat rig and runs a Briggs & Stratton Vanguard petrol engine pushing out 23hp (17kW) and is built very similar to the diesel version. Subtle differences in panelling, fuel tank sizing and engine covers are noticeable but parallels drawn between the tracked model is very strong.

OzDiggers-OD-130T-mini-skid-steer-loader
Good track configuration and length

WALKAROUND

The first thing I thought of when checking out the OD-130T mini skid steer loader is its rugged build: it is designed for compact construction work, ground maintenance services , home renovations, landscaping, farming and low space working areas.

The machine looked to be very well balanced with good length in the track frame, plenty of bottom rollers and a high-drive sprocket to keep the balance right and workings out of the mud.

The upright standing operator position would make this an ideal reno/landscaping machine for the DIY weekenders as you don’t need a licence to operate this machine and with its simplistic operator controls it would be perfect for most novices.

OzDiggers-OD-130T-mini-skid-steer-loader
The upright standing operator position would make this an ideal reno/landscaping machine for the DIY weekenders

IN THE CAB

Well there is no cab on this baby but there is a great working station for the day tripper to enjoy.

The dash layout is idiot proof no doubt and the vertically mounted dash ignition key complete with rubber cover is positioned so it is free from dust, dirt, grime and rain. That’s a winner to me.

The upright operator position at the rear of the machine houses a spring loaded operator platform capable of holding a good 130kg operator. The spring loaded platform is a godsend and with the long track frame and rubber tracks makes this machine run as smooth as one could ever wish for over the rough terrain. It’s a beauty!

A single joystick forward/reverse turn lever is a gem and cranked to the pre-set throttle control this baby gets up and moves with ease, whilst the simplistic dash layout is completely self-explanatory.

On the other side of the operator station (right side) is the other main component of operation, the joystick which operates the bucket lift, lower, crowd and dump and it is perfectly located and so smooth and easy to operate. On this particular model the auto leveller had not been fitted but would be prior to delivery to its next owner.

OzDiggers-OD-130T-mini-skid-steer-loader
The 4 in 1 bucket is only one of many attachments available

UNDER THE HOOD

Differing from the wheeled model this tracked version houses a tidy 30hp (22kW) Perkin three-cylinder diesel engine with a displacement of almost 1.5L.

Running at about 2,400rpm and as quiet as a mouse the Perkins is the ideal machine for Australian conditions as it is a tried and true performer with parts and filter availability at most supermarkets.

The fuel economy on these is hideously brilliant. The 40 litre fuel tank (40 litre hydraulic tank) will last you for about two days running and that equates to $$$ in the bank.

A bit of thought has gone into the positioning of the exhaust as it is located up high and to the right side of the machine, ensuring any risk of creating a fire from a spark is kept to an absolute minimum.

To get to the filters, oil, huge aluminium radiator and the engine the operator has to lift the very well designed engine bay covers, which are designed to minimise overspill of materials from the bucket falling into the engine bay. Once lifted and propped, access to the engine is quite easy.

OzDiggers-OD-130T-mini-skid-steer-loader
The OD-130T has heaps of dump height

ON THE JOB

The tracked model pushes, travels and loads quickly and with great precision. The operator station with its spring loaded operator stand takes all the stress out of the operator’s back, neck and legs when traversing the rougher areas of the work site and with the 4:1 bucket can lift and haul logs over long distances with ease and can reach speeds of up to 7km/h.

However, the lifting ability of this little rig is what I like as it’s fitted with extra counterweights to assist in the balance when lifting heavier loads.

Normally the tracked model can lift 400kg but with the side and rear mounted steel plate counterweights (and a 130kg operator) this machine then has the capability of lifting some 600kgs, and for a little machine that’s not to be sneezed at.

When it all boils down to why I like this tracked model OD-130T mini skid steer, it is because of its ease of operation and its relative comfort for the operator with its spring loaded operator stand and the joystick travel and bucket control operation levers. This is so smooth, precise and effective.

I love it.

OzDiggers-OD-130T-mini-skid-steer-loader
 

THE BOTTOM LINE

The OzDiggers mini skid steer loader range have had a huge Australian input into the design and quality control programmes during the build and eventual export to Australia.

China is pushing out some really well built and designed earthmoving gear at present and these OzDiggers skid steers are no different.

A good importer in Bella, a well-designed and rugged build to suit our conditions in Australia, good quality control from the overseas factory and the huge labour saving benefits being passed onto the eventual consumers all make for a bright start to the newest mini skid steer range to hit our shores.

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