Baby you can drive my bulldozer, and maybe I'll love you. Beep beep'm beep beep, yeah!
March 21, 2010 2:41 PM   Subscribe

Where can I pay to drive a bulldozer for fun in the San Francisco Bay area or the Mid-Atlantic region?

One of my life dreams is to drive a bulldozer. I have a motorcycle license and I figure bulldozing can't be any more difficult (but I could be wrong). I don't want to take a certification course for thousands of dollars because I don't have time nor thousands of dollars. Also, I only want to do this once, not make a career out of it. I thought about bribing people at construction sites but I'm afraid they won't let me and even if they do, I don't want them to get into trouble because of me.

I was considering Dig This but it is 3 hours from the Denver airport. On top of the cost of the flight, the shuttle to Steamboat Springs costs $85. The prices are $200/hour, $400/2+ hours, and $750/day. You can pick a bulldozer or an excavator and they give you a brief training first.

So, yeah, it's kind of expensive, but it's my life dream! I can die happy after this! But is there a cheaper, closer option? I realized this would be a good way to inaugurate my first Ask MetaFilter question.

To recap: I am looking to get trained in the bulldozing basics and then be allowed to push dirt around for some amount of time. Even just a half an hour would be enough! Anywhere in the San Francisco Bay area or the Mid-Atlantic region would be perfect. If no luck, I'll just start saving so I can achieve my dream in Colorado. Thanks for your help!
posted by CCCC to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (11 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Does it have to be a normal size bulldozer? You could rent a skid-steer ("bobcat") with a dozer blade for a few hours from an equipment rental store. Do you have a backyard? A friend with a backyard? Somewhere you can push your dirt around?

Another idea is calling a soil/rock/aggregate/sand company. They usually have huge lots full of piles of rock/dirt/etc. Maybe you could get somebody to come out on a Sunday afternoon to supervise you driving around for a little while.
posted by thylacine at 2:57 PM on March 21, 2010

I too was going to suggest renting a "bobcat". They're much smaller than a bulldozer, but a satisfying, versatile, and exciting drive nonetheless. Even if it doesn't satisfy your dream, it'll be good practice for when you do sit behind the controls of a full-sized earthmover.
posted by carsonb at 3:02 PM on March 21, 2010

They are apparently opening a new Dig This in Las Vegas this spring. Only a 10 hour drive from SF!
posted by cosmac at 3:49 PM on March 21, 2010

This guy doesn't give a lot of information on his website, but a WhoIs search indicates he might be in Pennsylvania.

You could also keep an eye out for local Dozer Day fundraising events. Most of them seem to be geared towards kids, but they appear to let the adults in on the fun too.
posted by Balonious Assault at 4:09 PM on March 21, 2010

Oh come on, a bobcat is not a bulldozer. Like, "My life's dream is to basejump off of the Empire State buiding!"

"Hrmm...I dunno, you should try jumping into the pool from your roof, it's pretty much the same thing."
posted by bam at 6:02 PM on March 21, 2010

It was certainly possible at one point — a year or two before I was born, my dad gave my mom a gift certificate for a few hours driving a backhoe. Mom was camera-averse, and in most photos I have of her has a "don't point that thing at me!" expression, but in the photos from that day she's grinning from ear to ear. She said it was the best Christmas present she ever got.

I'll be seeing my dad tomorrow, coincidentally, and will ask him how he set that up. If it's anything useful, I'll report back.
posted by Lexica at 7:38 PM on March 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

This is also my husband's dream! We have a big field of dirt in our back yard (North Bay Area!) and have seriously contemplated going the bobcat route. I'm going to keep watching this thread. Ezra Dyer wrote an article about making a rally race course on a big property and the highlight seemed to be the bobcat part of building the track, it's a good read! Automobile
posted by Swisstine at 8:12 PM on March 21, 2010

Okay, following up. When I asked my dad, he said, "I think I was just driving along when I saw somebody operating a backhoe, so I stopped and asked." Thanks, Dad. Not too generalizable, I'm afraid.

However, I emailed somebody I know who used to work for one of the major construction equipment rental companies to aske whether it would be possible to go through a rental company to rent a bulldozer. The response:
No license or certification required
Isn't america great!
In the uk you have to have a special license
So you might look into construction equipment rental companies in your area — it sounds like the most direct route.
posted by Lexica at 3:08 PM on March 31, 2010

A further email with slightly more info:
They can to any equipment rental store and rent it
They will expect to get a location to deliver it - because you can't drive it down the street
(Typos because they were typing on a cell phone.)
posted by Lexica at 3:57 PM on March 31, 2010

because you can't drive it down the street

well shit.
posted by bam at 4:56 PM on March 31, 2010

Alas! I gave up all hope and booked some time at Dig This! in July. I already paid for it and everything. I wonder how much it costs to rent. Thanks to everyone for the advice, especially Lexica.
posted by CCCC at 5:26 PM on April 26, 2010

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