Cover story: Diggalink's Yuchai YC135-9 excavator

By: Editor, Photography by: Editor

BIGWINS The Yuchai YC135-9 weighs in at 13.8 tonnes BIGWINS
engine The Yuchai YC135-9 engine
easy access Easy access is a key design feature easy access

Diggalink has recently launched the latest Yuchai YC135-9 excavator, so the Deals on Wheels went along for a look

Yuchai is a brand most Deals on Wheels readers should be familiar with, as it has been regularly featured across the magazine’s pages.

The excavators are especially popular in Canterbury and the central North Island where Yuchai distributor Diggalink has bases, but they are increasingly also being seen in other areas across New Zealand.

The story behind Diggalink is interesting. Business owner John Giltrap is a drainage contractor turned machinery distributor. This snippet of information tells one that when the people behind the equipment know what operators on the front line face each working day, then there are high chances they will also understand what equipment is fit for purpose.

An advantage of having a distributor with hands-on industry experience is the operator feedback Diggalink has been able to feed directly back to the manufacturer, allowing them to incorporate it into designs for local use.

One result of this dialogue is the Kiwi-ised YC135-9 that is a considerable departure from the previous dash-8 model.

The machine


Weighing in at 13.8 tonnes, the YC135-9 excavator has quite a nice stance to it. Probably the most notable thing to the untrained eye is the large operator cabin and wide expanse of glass. Diggalink sales manager, Paul Millar, says the cab has 105% more space than the previous model. I’ll describe in a bit more detail later.

The YC135-9, with standard arm fitted, has a maximum reach at ground of just under eight metres (7933mm) and a topped out digging height of 8.3 metres (8335mm). The machine is supplied fitted with a hydraulic quick-coupler.

An inspection behind the locker doors reveals well-thought-out positioning of items that require servicing and should result in less bruised knuckles. An example of this are the easily accessible fuel and air filters, refrigerant injection port, and radiator drain tap.


Power to the 13-plus tonne machine is via a Cummins QSF3.8 engine, which outputs 86kW(115hp)@2200rpm.

According to Cummins, the engine is fitted with a Tier 4 Euro III emissions system.

The undercarriage


Paul tells me the Yuchai brand is popular with logging contractors due to the strong undercarriages the brand is known for. Although a little small for logging work, 

Paul says the YC135-9 also carries the family gene, having a monolithic idler housing.

This refers to the lower part of the housing structure, which is formed from one piece of steel instead of two separate parts.

The benefit of this would be prevention of the idler housing structure spreading apart from excess strain.

Also pointed out to me are the mud-release chutes on the drive sprockets, which are small depressions positioned at regular intervals around the circumference of the sprocket.

It is the first time I have been made aware of such a design and am a little unsure of how they work. I assume the chutes provide less resistance to mud build-up around the edges of the sprocket and enable it to flow out, allowing the rest of the mud to fall away from the side of the sprocket.

The design looks to be ingenious in its simplicity, however, with the operating conditions of the day I was not able to see it in action.

Strong arm

Yuchai says the top and bottom plates of the dipper arm on the YC135-9 are made from whole pieces of steel plate for added strength.

Going along with this is the heavier steel plate thickness where the double hydraulic lifting rams connect to dipper arm and the cast steel frame where the boom connects.

The cab


As I mentioned previously, the interior of the cab is larger than the dash-8 model; substantially bigger at 105% as Yuchai proudly claims. Achieving this has meant
a complete redesign and the cab contains all the comforts an operator expects from new machines these days.

OPS and FOPS come as standard, as does air-conditioning along with a pretty decent sound system. Monitoring of functions is via an LCD screen positioned to the right of the operator.

The size of the cab is plainly evident when sitting in the machine and my semi-substantial six-foot frame almost feels a little lost. Legroom would have to be rated as business class if we were flying; such so that when operating the machine, I had to move the seat forward to get to the foot controls.

That is something I never do, and if anything, have always had to push a seat back to try and get more legroom on other brand machines of the same size.

One thing that also gives the inside of Yuchai 135-9 cab a sense of space is the large windows. I can’t recall seeing a bigger right-hand window in recent times on a machine of this size, and as a consequence, visibility, on the whole, is near excellent.

At work


An area at the rear of Diggalink’s Christchurch yard, soon to be a fuel stop, proves to be the ideal location for a bit of digging and the YC135-9 is quickly put to work.

In operation, the 13.8-tonne excavator makes quick work of punching into what was once probably an old riverbed. The controls of the machine are smooth, and the response from the hydraulic system is quick and faultless, resulting in a hole big enough to bury a small car in no time at all.

Filling the hole in is a different use for the hydraulics, as there is reliance on precise control techniques, especially when it comes to topping the hole off and cleaning up the surrounding area.

Here again, the YC135-9 performs well doing everything asked of it when required and leaving almost no trace of having been there once the ground has had a light rake over and was track rolled.


At a price of $135,000 plus GST for the model inspected, my opinion is the Yuchai YC135-9 is a well-built machine that represents good buying, especially with the knowledge that New Zealand operating conditions have been factored into its construction.

It could easily operate as a front line tool in any contractor’s fleet and keep not only the customer but also the company accountant and, more importantly, the operator happy. I think they call it that a win-win-win.

Check out the video

To see the Yuchai YC135-9 in action, click here

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