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How Much Does a Skid Steer Trencher Attachment Cost?

With the right attachment, your skid steer loader becomes a tree trimmer, a hole digger, a post driver, and, yes, a trencher. This type of versatility is why skid steers are popular on job sites for everything from landscaping to farming and from construction to underground utilities. Of course, finding the right skid steer trencher attachment for your job requires understanding the depth and width you need, the ground conditions, and the capabilities of your loader.

Trencher Attachments: The Basics

The trencher attaches to the front of your loader and resembles a large chainsaw bar, albeit one with misshapen, widely spaced teeth. The operator lowers the boom flat against the ground before engaging the chain. Once it begins rotating, the operator inserts the boom into the grown, slowly raising the trencher and pointing the nose into the trench.

With the boom in the ground and the angle set, the operator lowers the trencher until the skid shoe rests just above the ground. If the attachment includes a cleaner, it should operate freely.

For optimum performance, operate the trencher at an angle between 45 and 60 degrees while moving the loader backwards, very slowly to avoid stalling. Speed depends on soil conditions, carrier size, and the depth and width of the trench.

Although the essential product is the same, most manufacturers offer a range of trencher features designed to increase efficiency and productivity, as well as different options based on preference or work conditions.

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  • Direct drive versus chain reduction drive: You typically get more speed with direct drive but less torque and often less durability. Chain reduction drives are often more economical and dependable, maximizing the power of your unit, but at a slower speed.
  • Trench cleaners: Popular for installation of PVC tubing and water pipes, because they create a clean trench (hence the name).
  • Side shift: Great for trenching near buildings and walls, options include manual side shift (standard) and hydraulic side shift.

How to Choose the Right Size Trencher Attachment

Choosing the right size attachment ensures (1) that your trencher works at peak efficiency and (2) that it doesn't damage your loader.

A smaller skid steer can typically handle trenches as deep as 36" with widths up to 10". For depths up to 60" and widths to 12", you likely need a larger loader. This is because the trencher's power comes from your equipment's flow (GPM) and pressure (hydraulics). You need to look carefully at the attachment's requirements to ensure your skid steer's capabilities meets them. For example, smaller loaders typically max out at around 20 GPM and 3,000 psi, although those numbers may be lower for your skid steer. Don't buy an attachment that exceeds your unit's specs.

Finally, understand the soil conditions in your area to help choose the right type of digging chain. For best results:

  • Loose or damp soils: Standard chain
  • Hard or dry soils: Double anti-back flex chain
  • Frost or rocky soils: Full rock and frost chain
  • Hard or mixed rocky soils: Half rock and frost chain
  • Very hard or dry soils: Terminator or bullet chain

How Much Does a Trencher Attachment Cost?

As always, pricing varies according to specs, capabilities, manufacturer, and vendor, but not as widely as for some skid steer attachments. On average, you can expect to pay between $3,500 and $8,500 for a trencher attachment for your skid steer loader.

  • Bradco 625 Trencher skid steer loader attachment, digs 36" deep, 6" chain width, two position, center and slides to RH side to dig next to a curb, building, etc., requires 14-22 GPM, price range: $3,500 to $4,000
  • Spartan Equipment Model 625 Trencher skid steer attachment, requires 14-22 GPM, high torque hydraulic motor for maximum digging power, heavy duty boom & crumber, price range: $4,000 to $4,500
  • Lowe XR-21 trencher attachment, 48" by 6", 1,177 lbs./ft. of torque at 3,000 psi, trench depth 48", trench width  6", price range: $4,500 to $5,000
  • Bradco 48" Trencher model 640, planetary drive, 6" wide digging chain, cup tooth every station, 18-24 GPM, hoses and flat face couplers included, price range: $5,200 to $5,800
  • Bradco 60" Trencher model 640, planetary drive, 6" wide digging chain, cup tooth every station, 29-34 GPM or 36-44 GPM, hoses and flat face couplers included, price range: $7,000 to $7,500
  • Blue Diamond trencher skid steer attachment, 48", 12" rock chain & auger, self-adjusting crumber, requires 16-30 GPM, Eaton drive motor, price range: $8,000 to $8,500

Author: Angela Escobar

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