Review: 2007 Komatsu PC18MR-2 excavator

By: Randolph Covich, Photography by: Randolph Covich

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The Komatsu PC18MR-2 has the ability to fit into small spaces and plenty of power for those smaller excavation jobs

  • Able to narrow its tracks and blade
  • Spacious operator room
  • Simple servicing from wide opening rear panel
  • Reach well over 3m
  • Good power and downward force

After 38 years in the aluminium joinery business, Bob McNeil pulled himself out of a short retirement in 2007 and, along with his sons Brian and Robert, set up Hiremate Ltd.

Their work revolves around mainly smaller jobs. As well as providing excavation and drilling services, they also build decks and building additions, calling in the third son, Jeff, with his building expertise as needed.

Rounding off their workload, they also offer truck hire, and cartage for aggregate and landscaping suppliers keep their small truck clocking up the kilometres all over Auckland.

Work around the city invariably means that smaller gear is needed to fit into the places that people like to shoehorn buildings on these days, so Hiremate's 1.8-tonne Komatsu PC18MR-2, bought new in 2007, is ideal for carrying out this type of work. As well as its near-zero tailswing, it can "transform" by narrowing its track and blade width to fit through those really tight squeezes.

The operator station

I was really surprised with the spaciousness allowed for the operator, and had no feeling of being cramped in. The simple instrument panel has an easy-to-read fuel gauge and hour clock, along with warning lights. Personally, I would like to have seen a temperature gauge here.

Placement of the joystick controls is good, with comfortable wrist rests helping to assist with more precise operating. It has the provision to change the control set-up between the two most common patterns. The travel levers have neat flip-down pedal extensions, enabling the operator to use his/her feet when moving the machine about a site.

Flip-up covers on the floor also protect the auxiliary controls from accidentally being activated, and Komatsu has put thought into being able to open these things with a big steel-capped work boot.

Engine and power

Like the bigger PC20MR-2, the PC18MR-2 runs a Komatsu 3D67E engine, which is rated at 11.2kW (15hp) at 2600rpm. This engine is still used in the latest PC18MR-3 model and has a good power range to suit all types of work. The 19-litre fuel tank should provide enough running for a couple of days of hard work.


Hiremate was about to tackle a small footpath removal, which necessitated a narrow machine of just under one metre to fit between house and hedge. No problem with that.

Using the blade to lift one end and the boom to lift the other end of the machine, I raised the tracks off the ground and hydraulically closed them in from their usual 1300mm down to the minimum 980mm. Not forgetting about the blade width, a pin was removed from each side and the ends folded inwards.

Trundling along, I noticed that the two-speed travel automatically adjusted according to the load.

Not going overboard with electronics, Komatsu has kept an old-school throttle cable. I'm not a big fan of having to call out a computer tech every time I need a machine repair, so this thinking definitely got the thumbs up from me.

With the revs at a nice level, I went about lifting the old pathway, and found the machine handled the job with ease. The power was good when pulling up the concrete and it had sufficient downward force when breaking pieces.

Reaching out well over three metres, the PC18MR-2 had a nice stretch to reach just a little bit further without upending itself.


Taking care of checks is easy, with a rear and side door allowing access to the main areas. For more detailed maintenance, the whole operator's compartment tilts forward to allow access around all of the main engine and hydraulic components.

The fuel tank is also accessed via the rear door, with the filler located well inside the confines of the machine.

The verdict

I loved the little Komatsu PC18MR-2. It has the ability to fit into small spaces and plenty of power for those smaller excavation jobs thanks to the Komatsu 3D67E engine, which is also used in the machine's latest incarnation.

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