Welcome to www.oilyhands.co.uk

Also known as www.diggers-dumpers-plant.co.uk and www.flamingskoda.com

Towable digger, excavator and backhoe website. Features Fleming Micron, Powerfab, Mantis, Benford, Roughneck, Gopher, Smalley, Tow-hoe, Standard Muscleman, Termite, Mitchell Cotts, Mini Gigant, Baromix, Euromach, Bronco, JPB, Digger 50, homemade and other small diggers. Links to current manufacturers such as Groupe-FCM and suppliers of plans for the Ground Hawg Homebuilt Backhoe and CDP Excavator. Includes other plant and mechanical information, Digger Bucket Page, Plant Photo Gallery, Dumper Restoration Project and useful links for Digger Spares and Repairs. Extra information and pictures to add to the site always appreciated. Also includes a section dedicated to preserving information about Johnson Machinery Limited.

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Tow-Hoe towable digger, Standard Muscleman excavator

The Tow-Hoe digger was made by Team Services Ltd in the UK who were based at Rothwell in Northants. There was another identical machine called a Standard Muscleman excavator built by the Westwood garden tractor people in Plymouth. They also built a 360 degree version which was known rather unimaginatively as the 360 Muscleman.

According to an article from Plant & Tool Hire July/August 1985, the Tow-Hoe was originally developed in the UK, then manufactured in America and then brought back to the UK. In America we think the machine was sold as the Trencherman. There was also a marketing name the Tow-Hoe Cricket used at some point during the machine's production life. By 1985 500 machines had been sold in the USA and Canada. We don't know how many Tow-Hoe and Standard Muscleman machines were sold in the UK. New price in 1985 was £2695.

Trencherman digger

If you look closely you can see that this digger says Trencherman on the arm

The Toe-Hoe has an excellent simple design. It lacks any sort of hydraulic leg to raise the digger while digging and relies on the large spade type anchors at the front and careful weight distribution behind the front legs to hold it steady while digging.


These pictures from the original marketing literature show a Tow-Hoe ready for the road attached to a 1982 Lancia Beta.


I think with this picture they were trying to show that it was easy to move about by hand.

Despite its simplicity, the Tow-Hoe is a fully fledged machine and was aimed at the usual small builder and hire shop market like the Powerfab, Fleming etc. It could apparently dig all day on 3 gallons of petrol.

Toe-Hoe Specifications

Standard Bucket width - 300mm. Extra buckets offered as option - 200mm, 330mm, 460mm and 910mm grading blade.

Normal Engine - Honda GX140QH 5 h.p.  Other engines offered as option - Robin, Briggs and Stratton, Villiers, Diesel and also Electric motor.

Hydraulic Pump - gear type rated at 2.72 litre per 1000 rpm. Controls 4 spool valve bank. Hydraulic Rams - 50mm bore, 280/330 mm stroke, working pressure 172.4 bar, Rods EN8 Chromed steel

Digging Specifictations - Depth 2.21 metres, Reach 1.55 metres, Load height 1.42 metres, Break out force 1.9 tonnes, Slew 130 degrees, minimum width for taking through a doorway 0.76 metres. Weight for towing on the road was quoted as 365kg.

Surviving Examples

Tow Hoe, Toe-Hoe digger

Toe-Hoe digger owned by Nigel. Nice improvised hydraulic reservoir!

Tow Hoe, Toe Hoe excavator

Front view of Nigel's Tow-Hoe

It's a pity that some parts of the digger were painted with that paint that just flakes off in great chunks.  Same stuff that Belle Cement Mixers were painted with for a while and which caused them to deteriorate rapidly.

Clives Tow Hoe digger

The yellow Tow Hoe is owned by Clive. He is in the process of modifying the front legs as he doesn't like the original ones.

Tow Hoe digger

Note how Clive's digger has 4 lever controls and Nigel's 2 lever.

This is a Standard Muscleman digger owned by Paul.  The Standard Muscleman was made by Westwood for a while after the Tow-Hoe went out of production.

Picture of Paul's Standard Muscleman digger controls and hydraulic fluid reservoir. .

Paul says his machine is in good condition which it does look in the picture.  He's not altogether happy with the way it tows on the road so is planning to make a different axle for it.

Technical Information & Original Literature

Pat who owns a Standard Muscleman says, "my unit is fitted with Parker hydraulic pump and return filter (10 micron) I managed to identify the element for this as Parker R8-PG01993.The hydraulic fluid recommended in the manual is Filtrate Achilles EP32 light hydraulic oil. Hope this information is useful".  Pat has also very kindly provided the Operators Manual and some interesting literature about the Westwood machine.

PDFView original sales brochure for Standard Muscleman Page 1, Page 2

PDFView original sales brochure for 360 Muscleman Page 1, Page 2

Pdf View the operators manual, parts list and exploded diagram for the Standard Muscleman

Pdf View the sales literature for the Standard Muscleman and Westwood Muck Truk

Pdf View the Operators Manual for the Tow-Hoe

Pdf View the sales literature for the Tow Hoe Cricket

Pdf View the Plant & Tool Hire July/August 1985 article

If you need a new hydraulic pump for your Standard Muscleman or Tow-Hoe this picture may help a supplier identify an equivalent. According to the manual the pump is rated at 2 gallons per minute at 3600 rpm

Flexible coupling

Bill has sourced a new flexible coupling for his digger from Flowfit

This Tow Hoe belongs to Ed from Logansport Indiana USA. He says, "I bought this tow hoe about a month ago. Dug a few holes, planning on digging a water line trench for my dad later in the year.  I love the easy to operate controls and simple to make repairs.  I painted it Caterpillar old yellow and put cat decals". The digger is seen here ready for towing.    

More towable digger information

Thanks to the people who have submitted pictures and information for this page.  Further Tow-Hoe or Standard Muscleman stuff always appreciated.