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"Made It Myself" Ditch Witch Backhoe
When Aaron Marshall picked up a Ditch Witch at a junkyard for $750, he knew he got a good deal. Included in the price was a vibratory plow and a horizontal boring attachment. He decided to take advantage of the low-cost machine by building a backhoe attachment for it.
His first step was to fix the engine. "The existing Onan engine on the Ditch Witch was burning oil, and would have cost about $2,500 to replace it," says Marshall. "I have a couple of uncles who work at a factory where Kohler engines are tested, after which they can't be sold. They gave me a 25 hp model, which I installed in the Ditch Witch. All I had to do was put a 2-in. slab of oak under it and bolt it in place."
Marshall's dad Neil sketched a full-size backhoe out, and the two scaled it down to fit the small power unit. Marshall then proceeded to cut and weld steel to match fit the hitch on the Ditch Witch.
"I used everything from 3/16-in. to 1/2-in. steel," he recalls. "I bought 4 by 8-ft. sheets and cut them up. By the time I was finished, I had used up two 6-ft. tanks and gone through 20 to 25 lbs. of welding rods."
The entire project cost him about $4,500 in steel and hydraulics.
The arm has a stretch of 8 ft. and can dig to a depth of 6 ft. He built 8, 12 and 16-in. buckets for the unit using 3/16-in. steel. Cutting edges for the buckets are hardened steel cut from plow landsides.
"The hardest part was building the stabilizer legs," recalls Marshall, who is a landscape contractor. "I had seen backhoes, but never looked at the outriggers and how they worked. I broke the legs three times before I got them strong enough. We figured out that there is about 60,000 lbs. of pressure on the main pin when the bucket is digging."
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Aaron Marshall, R.R. 2, Box 17a, Bethany, Ill. 61914 (ph 217 665-3636).

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2005 - Volume #29, Issue #2