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How to Operate a Kubota Excavator

Updated July 20, 2017

Excavators are machines that use hydraulics for digging. They are often used on construction sites for soil excavation and to load dump trucks. However, if you need to dig or move a lot of soil in a smaller location there are more-compact models available. One manufacturer that specialises in small-model excavators is Kubota. It produces an excellent line of excavators that are the perfect size for home landscaping projects.

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  1. Turn on the Kubota excavator. To turn the machine on, you have to be seated with the left armrest in the raised position. To raise it, pull up on the red lever ahead of the left armrest. In this position, the hydraulics are locked and an accidental bump of the joysticks will not move the machine. Set the throttle to low and turn the key in the ignition. The throttle knob is just ahead of the ignition to the right of the seat.

  2. Lower the left armrest. To unlock and use the hydraulics, the left armrest must be in the lowered position. Firmly grab the handle ahead of the left joystick and push it down until it locks.

  3. Increase the throttle. To add power to the machine when working, you will want to have the throttle set to approximately 3/4 speed. If you are working with an unusually heavy load you may want to use full throttle.

  4. Move forward and backward. The travel of the machine is controlled by two foot pedals. Each pedal lets you control one track. To move straight forward or backward, press both pedals with equal force. To turn, press one pedal more than the other. Because the cab spins relative to the tracks, pressing forward on the pedals may actually cause you to move backwards depending on your orientation. Always apply a small amount of force to the pedals when beginning to move to ensure that you know which way you will travel.

  5. Raise and lower the main boom. The main boom is the first section of the "arm" of the excavator that is attached directly to the machine. To raise it, pull back on the right joystick. To lower the main boom, push the right joystick forward.

  6. Move your stick boom. The stick boom, also known as the crowd or secondary boom, is the second part of the "arm" of the machine that is between the main boom and the bucket. To move the stick boom closer to yourself, pull back on the left joystick. To move it away from yourself, push the left joystick forward.

  7. Curl your bucket. When you curl your bucket you are rotating it in a scooping fashion. This is the action that you use to fill the bucket with soil. To curl, pull your right joystick to the left. To uncurl or dump your bucket, push your right joystick to the right.

  8. Spin the excavator. To move the bucket of your Kubota excavator to the right or left, you have to spin the entire machine. To spin the right, pull the left joystick to the right. To spin the left, push the left joystick to the left.

  9. Control the plough. The plough, also known as the blade, is controlled with a lever to the right of the seat, just ahead of the throttle control. To move the blade up, pull back on the lever. To push the blade down, push forward on the lever.

  10. Tip

    To prevent your excavator from rocking while you dig, lower your plough blade to the ground. If your excavator is equipped with a thumb, the control is usually a rocker switch located on the top of the right joystick. You can control the tracks of the Kubota with your hands by moving the levers that rise from the foot pedals. Your hands may be able to produce finer control over the travel of the excavator.


    Always seek proper training before attempting to use any heavy equipment. Never walk under the boom of an excavator. Always lock the hydraulics before leaving the cab of the excavator. The back end of the excavator may swing beyond the width of the tracks. Make sure that you have ample clearance before spinning the machine.

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Things You'll Need

  • Kubota excavator

About the Author

Logan Jeffreys has been writing professionally since 2008. His areas of expertise include education, environmental biology and construction. Jeffreys holds a Bachelor of Science in biology from Lakehead University as well as a Graduate Diploma from Griffith University.

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