“The main thing is that the cab is comfortable. It’s nice and spacious —there is nothing worse than sitting in a cramped position all day — and you can quite clearly see what you are doing. Everything is within easy reach and it is all signed properly,” he says.
Getting in and out of the cab is easy. The door is wide and there are no obstructions. As a safety feature the engine won’t start until the left-hand console is pulled down into place. The tester makes himself comfortable on the adjustable, high-back suspension seat.
The 328 is the long-armed version of Bobcat’s 325 excavator. Its longer dipper gives a maximum ground reach of 4.52m and a maximum dump height of 3.05m. So if you specialise in excavating work, ditching or trenching, or need to load into skips and trailers, this machine is definitely worth a second look. You could find that less repositioning is needed when working with this machine. Maximum dig depth is 2.86cm.
The tester starts the engine. It fires first time and soon he is moving soil and levelling the ground in preparation for the turfing team to complete the lawns of the new multimillion-pound property.
“I haven’t driven a Bobcat since 1997. In that time they have definitely improved. This is a good three-tonner, and well worth buying,” he says.
So what impresses him the most? “All excavators are going to dig or level out, so the cab makes all the difference. This one is good. The blade is nice and high, control is great and the throttle is right by your side, where you want it, and it doesn’t catch on your legs. I also like the foot pedal so when going forwards you don’t have to hold the levers all the time. And I should add that the cab is warm,” he says.
The heater is on the right-hand side of the cab, rather than at the back, and there is nothing to obstruct the warm air coming out. Visibility from the cab is also first class — the windows double as ventilation and the front one opens completely upwards and out of the way into the cab roof.
The tester finds the excavator easy to operate. The positioning of the consoles and controls is comfortable and intended to reduce wrist ache. Movement of the machine, the arm and bucket are precise.
The 328 has two-speed tracking. It’s very quick on the second – a maximum speed of 3.1km/h to get you moving and reduce unproductive transport time. The 328 is very manoeuvrable — the unit can turn within its own compact dimensions. With 32cm-wide tracks and 1.4m-wide blade we had no problems with stability when tracking or working.
The swing speed is an impressive 9.2rpm and the boom moves 90° left and 50° right. Operating weight, with the cab, is 3,058kg on rubber tracks and 3,124kg on steel tracks. Ground pressure is 29.1kPa.
A lot of thought has gone into the servicing and maintenance. The door at the rear of the excavator also serves as the counterweight for the machine. Open it and all the daily-check items are in front of you. Engine oil dipstick, engine oil filter, radiator, air filter, hydraulic-oil tank — you can’t miss them — they are all easy to access. There is even a pipe so when it comes to changing oil it can be drained straight into a container.
With excavators, it’s not so much the size of the engine that is all important — it’s the hydraulics. On the 328, access to the spools and filters is on the side. Again, there is no need to strip half the machine away to get at the components — simply open the cover and everything is there in front of you. The 328 is clean to service and should put a smile on the face of the grumpiest mechanic.
With plant security of such importance these days, the 328 has the option of keyless ignition. It’s like a touch-screen computer – each authorised driver taps in his pin number to start the engine. This means that managers can choose who they want to drive the digger, and who they don’t. The computer also holds relevant information about working hours — latest and total — and engine rpm.
In addition to a range of sizes for buckets and blades, the Bobcat 328 can power augers, breakers, stump grinder or flail mower. Changing from one tool to another looks simple with the Bobcat X-Change mounting system and it would extend the use of this machine.
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