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It's the rare jobsite that doesn't require serious preparation before a build can begin. Removing rock and concrete obstructions is a common task, and the tool most commonly used to complete it is a skid steer hammer/breaker attachment.
Thanks to dozens of possible attachments, skid steer loaders may be the most versatile type of heavy equipment available. Go from breaking up rocks with your breaker attachment to dozing and grading, precise digging with your auger, mixing and pouring cement, and much more. It's a highly effective way to increase productivity and rein in costs – two important items for any project.
You have three power options for your breaker attachment: nitrogen gas, straight hydraulic, and a gas-hydraulic hybrid.
Gas breakers work well on soft to medium rock, relying completely on head power, since gas-powered breakers concentrate their power in the head and piston. Hydraulic breakers rely on having a strong carrier pump, since that dictates their power. However, the most common type today is the gas-hydraulic hybrid breaker, which gives you the best of both worlds.
Hybrid breakers have been common since the 1970s. The piston rises via hydraulic pressure, simultaneously compressing the nitrogen. The piston reaches its apex, releasing the hydraulic pressure. Finally, the expanding nitrogen forces down the hammer.
Blows per minute (bpm) are determined by the oil, measured in gpm (gallons per minute).
It's vital that the size and weight of your hammer attachment match that of your carrier. Hybrid breakers take power from both the loader's hydraulics and the piston's nitrogen charge. When your skid steer's psi is too low, the attachment fails to attain its full power. The same is true if the piston's gpm is too low. For example, a breaker rated at 1,000 bpm may need a 24 gpm piston to achieve that bpm level. So, if the carrier offers only 18 gpm, you won't reach the blows per minute rate you expect from your hammer attachment.
You typically find lighter duty attachments used in building renovation, landscaping, light demolition, and road construction. Medium-duty is suitable for building renovation, demolition, quarrying, road construction, and rock excavation. Heavier duty applications include building renovation, industrial demolition, mining, road construction, and rock excavation.
You chose the attachment that best suits both your skid steer and your project requirements, you follow maintenance protocol, and have fitted the breaker correctly. From there, it's up to your operators to use the right technique to get the most out of your equipment.
- Use a 90-degree approach: For maximum power, the breaker should strike the object at a perpendicular angle (90 degrees). This is true whether the item has a horizontal or vertical position compared to the ground.
- Adapt your technique to suit the conditions: Attack larger, more massive objects gradually, starting near an edge. When breaking reinforced concrete, moil typically beats chisel. Understand the material to determine the best tools and techniques to complete the job.
- Don't just keep hammering away: If the breaker fails to make progress (no cracks, dust, or fissures), either move to a more narrow area, such as the edge, or switch to a larger hammer. Give it 30 seconds, max, to show progress.
- No dry firing: When the piston fires while in the air, it doesn't meet the resistance it was design to and may cause significant damage. Avoid this by applying down pressure before firing the hammer.
More power nearly always means more money. But, more power also usually means higher productivity, which in turn leads to higher profit margins. It's a tradeoff most contractors willingly make.
Breaker attachment costs vary widely, from around $5,500 to around $17,000 on average. The main factors that determine price include weight, size, manufacturer, vendor, and impact class, but lube systems and add-ons also play a role.
- Construction Attachments 450B-SS Hydraulic Breaker, 450ft/lb impact energy class, 450-800 blows per minute, price range: $7,000 to $7, 500.
- Spartan Equipment FX65 Breaker Attachment, 1000 ft/lb impact energy class, 600-1500 blows per minute, price range: $16,500 to $17,000.
- Paladins Brands Strike Force SFB500 hammer/breaker, 680 ft/lbs impact energy class, 640-1470 blows per minute, price range: $5,600 to $6,000
- International Construction Machinery IB 300 SL Type hammer/breaker, 701 ft/lb impact energy class, 600-1000 blows per minute, price range: $6,000 to $6,500.
- Stanley MBF5 hydraulic breaker attachment, 550 impact energy class, 650-1,550 blows per minute, price range: $6,300 to $6,800.
Since hydraulic hammers are often only a periodic need for a contractor, you may also rent these attachments. The average daily rental runs around $175, weekly around $650, and monthly around $1,850.
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