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Another Bobcat Rant

Discussion in 'Heavy Equipment' started by DGODGR, Dec 15, 2009.


    DGODGR Senior Member
    from s/w co
    Messages: 641

    I have found another weakness with Bobcats (both mini exc. & skidd steer). I have recently broken (2) hydraulic cylinders on (2) seperate Bobcat machines. The first was on my 435 ZHS mini excavator. It was the cylinder that swings the boom (seperate from the house) left and right. The head blew out of the end of the barrel. Some would say that this is caused by "sweeping" the bucket to backfill or whatever. This was not so in my case. At the point of failure the bucket was in the air (loading broken comcrete into a dump truck). I was operating the circuit and the ram reached the end of the travel (extending), when it stripped the threads (on the head and barrel) and came apart. Huge mess. Huge hassle (ever try to replace that ram on a mini?). Huge expense. Due to schedule and not knowing the extent of the damage, I opted to buy a complete ram assembly. Cost including shipping was about $1500. I supplied the labor for R & R. Since then I have found that the thumb cylinder began to unscrew itself. I have tightened it back up and now inspect the heads as part of my PM. I would recommend the same to others. I must assume some blame here as I noticed the end of this ram leaking slightly but could not access it to tighten it. It didn't look like it had backed out much so I decided it would make it through the day (I could make repairs once I got it back to the yard). After thinking that this was an anomally, I was rudely reminded of my doubt as to the quality of the Bobcat brand. This came in the form of another similar breakdown (yesterday) during snow removal operations. This time it was one (of two) of the bucket curl cylinders on my A300. Neither of these cylinders (or any other on that unit) have shown signs of backing out. Again the bucket was in the air (at the time of failure). This time the operator was shaking snow out of the bucket. I was not in the machine so I can't say (with complete certainty) that the operator didn't do anything to cause damage, but I do feel that this operator is careful and is not one to abuse or damage my equipment. Obviously I have considered that it may not be bad quality (of the machine), but operator error instead. I am already suspect of the component quality (because of many bad experiences w/Bobcat so far), and my suspisions were confirmed by a nuetral third party. While discussing repairs with my local hydraulic repair shop (I will not use the dealer because they don't know what they are doing-again many bad experiences) they said that they have seen many Bocat cylinders fail in the same manner. They suspect that it's due to the unusually thin wall thickness of the Bobcat cylinders. After close inspection of the failed part, I notice that the end of the barrel had expanded at the time of the failure. In my opinion a thicker end section would have prevented this failure from happening. I decided to remove both cylinders so that they could repair the failed unit, and also weld a reinforcing collar at the end of both barrels. Total cost should be around $600-$700 for both.
    The point of this is tri-fold. First, I need to express my frustration (VENT!) at what I have experienced to be an inferior product (this is by no means the first issue I have had with my (2) Bobcats). Second, I am hoping that this thread may help others in some way. Third, I would like feedback on wether any one else has had this problem and what they have done about it. I know of another contractor in my area that has had repeated (similar) failures of his crowd ram on his 435.
    I know that I have probably stepped on many toes with this post (lots of loyal Bobcat owners out there-I'm sure), and for that I appologize. I do however feel that it is more important to share my experience (and the resulting opinion) so that others may benefit.
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2009
  2. Kramer

    Kramer Senior Member
    Messages: 386

    I'd venture to say that you don't have to apologize to anyone for reporting what seems to be a design flaw--and in multiple machines. Safety should come before company loyalty.

    It seems Bobcat should address this before an injury accident happens because of it. Have you been back to Bobcat on this? I don't know how old your machines are, but it seems they are fairly new.

    If the cylinder is flared out at the end, it doesn't seem like its able to take the pressure or cycling under vibration.

    In any case, it seems obvious that your operator isn't damaging the units. And to me, adjusting or tightening cylinder caps shouldn't be a routine maint issue. Who pays for the hydraulic spill on top of it all? Bobcat should be on top of this issue in general. I have a couple small skidsteers from them and they're great. Maybe it's the new stuff? I'd be surprised that other people went to the length you have to fix it on your own--welding extra collars on. It seems most people would go right to bobcat so if there's a flaw in design, bobcat should have a lot of complaints by now.

    DGODGR Senior Member
    from s/w co
    Messages: 641

    I have talked to my dealer and he says that this is not a problem on Bobcat machines. His response was that he has never seen this happen before. Mine are the only ones. This is what he says about everything I have ever asked him about. I know of at least one other individual who has had this happen to them, and the hydraulic repair shop says that they have seen this on numerous occasions before (and only on Bobcats).
    I am not going with the collars after all. The initial estimates (from the hydro repair shop) were way off. They want $750 per cylinder to weld on the collars. They gave me an alternate option. It was to build a new cylinder (from scratch) with thicker walls. It would be 4" OD (instead of 3.5") yet retain the same ID as the original. Cost would be about $620. Instead I opted to just buy a complete cylinder assembly (from Bobcat) for $600 plus freight. I would have liked to go with the heavier custom made cylinder (for about the same money) but I was afraid that it would not have fit. The cylinder is mounted very close to the loader arms (at the top). I would have liked to check this out but I need to get this machine repaired ASAP and did not have time to go check it out first hand. As you may suspect I am not happy with the way things are going. I would feel much better about the repairs if they would offer an improvement over the original component. I can only hope that it will not fail again. If it does I will do whatever it takes to fix it right or if I can't I guess I will repair and unload. That would be a shame as I really love the all wheel steer.
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2009
  4. jkiser96

    jkiser96 Senior Member
    Messages: 401

    I had a few issues with my door on the 430 & the local dealer knocked $500 off the price for a newer style door. I broke 3 one piece glasses in a year. I use my bucket to sweep with on a lot of jobs & have never had any problems. I have tried to check cylinders at least once a week. I told my dealer that I had a JCB mini sitting in the barn that they wanted me to buy & let me demo for a while, that is what helped me on the door negotiations. You may call Bobcat direct & let them know what is happening & the dealers responses. They may surprise you with a good response.
  5. Kraken

    Kraken Junior Member
    Messages: 1

    This is a problem on my used Bobcat, gonna cost me $650. So it seems you're not the only one this happened too.
  6. Hysert

    Hysert PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,709

    Sorry for your inconvenience guys.. wonder if it's a supplier issue?? As I'm not a Bobcat guy however feel they are great machines, but like most large manufacturers most parts are subbed out to overseas manufacturers or cheaper suppliers... just a thought??

    DGODGR Senior Member
    from s/w co
    Messages: 641

    I'm sorry to hear that you are having this problem as well. Since the time that I reported this issue I have not had another failure of this sort. What machine, and what cylinder, did this occur on?

    In my opinion, it doesn't matter where the components are sourced from. It is Bobcat's responsibility to ensure that they are using quality products on the machines that they sell.

    I've tried to deal with Bobcat directly (when I had a severe problem with my drive sprockets rubbing on the end of my axle shafts on my A300). I discovered the issue the week of a Con-Expo. I was slow so I decided to take a trip out to the show and talk, face to face, with some folks who could make a difference in the situation. I have had success with this before (with I/R and John Deere). Initially I thought that it was going to make a difference but ultimately the regional service rep did not want to talk to me directly and made me go through the dealer.
  8. John_DeereGreen

    John_DeereGreen PlowSite Veteran
    Messages: 3,266

    You guys do know this thread is over 6 years old right?