The Story Behind Joe, the Man who Excavated his Basement Using Only R/C Scale Models


We don't know what's more astounding; the fact that for the past seven years, someone had the patience and the know-how to dig his basement using only radio controlled scale models, or that his feat went by unnoticed by the viewing masses for such a long time.

Whatever the case, we were surely amazed by Joe, who prefers to be known by his first name only, and his devotion to his favorite hobby.

After we published the story last week, Joe, who is from Saskatchewan, Canada, came into contact with Carscoop to give us an insight on his incredible hobby and how it became to be.

Here's hoping that after reading his story that follows below, some readers will rethink their assumptions about Joe and his work.

"First, I would like to make a correction as I have not been digging the basement for 15 years as reported but rather for the past 7 years, as I began hauling dirt in June of 2005. However, I have been into the radio controlled heavy commercial hobby from 1996, and I acquired my first R/C construction model kit in the summer of 2001.

Every year, I excavate about 2 to 3 cubic yards of material. I mine it from the walls during the winter, put it through the crusher, screen it, and then haul it out during a summer’s worth of Sundays.

The equipment stays in the basement. People constantly give me a hard time of how dirty/dusty my equip is, but there is a lot of dust floating around from time to time down there and with electric hydraulics - occasional oil leaks as well... they get dirty!

I would also like to note that the machine you see is not a rock crusher but a dirt lump crusher. This dry clay can be hard as rock, but it will crush to pea size so the dirt is easier to handle. Earlier videos on YouTube show "unloading into a conveyer", for a few years while I was mining down the east wall, which was how I transported the dirt out. The conveyer angle was quite steep, the finer the dirt was, the less dirt that rolled back.

Once the east wall and part of the south wall were cribbed and back filled, I built a spiral ramp around 2.5 walls to rise 6 feet to get to the window opening to truck it out. Because the conveyer was too quick and efficient, I pulled it out in the summer of 2010 so I had more RC (Radio Controlled models) activity to do. Moreover, I was also growing tired of ducking under and stepping over the conveyer to get to the other side of the basement.

From reading the comments on your site, as well as others, the common misconception here is that the RC's are not here to excavate my basement, but rather the basement excavation project is here for the RC's.

What a better place to have an all-weather playground than under your house? It's just a few steps away when I have time for it, it’s a comfy place to be when it’s –30C [-22 Fahrenheit] outside. I am in no hurry to finish.

I'm a cattle and grain farmer... or rather I used to have cattle as I sold the 150-head herd a few months ago; getting too old and brittle for that cowboy crap anymore. Now I just spend 7 months of the year cropping 3,400 acres and haul out the crop through the winter.

There are weeks on end throughout the growing season with 16-hour workdays and then there are weeks on end during the winter when I have very little to do, but couldn’t travel far with cows to feed everyday all winter long.

This hobby has been as challenging as it has been entertaining. Some of the techniques that I have learned in electronics, welding and machining for this hobby has come in handy for making complicated repairs and improvements in my farming operation too.

I enjoy building these models; it’s been a great escape from every day realities and stress in life. Good times!"





Keep On Truckin' said... »February 14, 2012

Joe, I can only imagine what you would accomplish with a fleet of remote controlled Bobcats! Anyway, enjoyed the videos and appreciate the discipline needed to keep at it.

zRoX101 said... »February 14, 2012

Wow truly a great story.

Having these out of reality moments is great especially from work.

Why don't you team up with those RC drifters and build a crazy course.
Well thanks for sharing your pass time and good luck on future projects.

Oz said... »February 15, 2012

Dear Joe.
You have alot Respect Here

I wish you keep on enjoying your Project
All the best

Smallenpik said... »February 15, 2012

A bit crazy, of the good kind, and whole lot of dedication.
Joe Thank you very much. I just love reading story's like this.

AutoPersonality said... »February 15, 2012

Thanks for a follow-up, as a fan of RC i can associate more with this guy than the dude who built that "pimped out" Peterbilt.

Worth the read and I hope he keeps at it, maybe even take on a project such as building a dog house with RC Equipment :D

0000000001 said... »February 15, 2012

respect,I would not have so much patience...

Doug said... »February 15, 2012

where do you get these rcs

John Dotson said... »February 16, 2012

Pretty Cool

John Dotson said... »February 16, 2012

Very Cool

Jacob Carlson said... »February 16, 2012

This is incredible.  I wanted ( and still want) an RC bulldozer to clean up the kids toys with.

M&M said... »February 16, 2012

Now that's a great story and enjoyment in doing something you love.

M&M said... »February 16, 2012

Great story about a hobby taken that extra step up in dedication. Fantastic!

Robert Tyler said... »February 16, 2012

Wow this guy has way to much time on his hands , But it's really Kool !

Dee2007 said... »February 17, 2012

Good on you Joe, an impressive setup and a great hobby. Wish I was a neighbour and could pop over for a few drinks and to help with a shift!

Mbs1mike said... »February 17, 2012

Very cool, Now to build a mine haul railroad to take the larger amounts of dirt stored up to a far off part of your property for another RC operation Joe

Waika said... »February 17, 2012

What an amazing hobby; one that really deserves it's own website! I'd love to see a map of the excavation for example, and it would be fun to be able to remote 'team' drive through the web on something like this and help out. Not for everyone I'm sure but I know Fans of scale projects and modeling are going to be least as impressed as I am about this one when they bump in to it!

NOBOZOS said... »February 17, 2012

Look's like he's better with TOY'S than some I've known using the Real Equipment!

Colleen from Regina said... »February 17, 2012

Where in Saskatchewan is Joe from?

your_god_is_killing_people said... »February 17, 2012

Throw in some arduino and 3d cad and make all those beautiful machines work 24/7 without human operator, on this scale ... god i wish i had more time :)

Ralph Pickering said... »February 17, 2012

Radio controlled pickaxe in slide 15... I think the RC models may have had some assistance from Gulliver.

Jqpublic said... »February 17, 2012

This guy needs some pussy.  Like 6 years ago.

Alyce Rishel said... »February 17, 2012

That's a great way to pass the time while the crops grow or the cold winds blow.  I might do what someone else posted about.  I could use a bulldozer for the kids' toys, as well.  :-)

Thank you, Joe, for having the patience to grow our food and to impress us with your R/C know-how. 

RUDYLEE1958 said... »February 18, 2012


Miketravaline said... »February 19, 2012

 Would like to know the cost for batteries & increase in electric costs if using rechargeable ones? Have to admit sure beats building model railways & maybe more entertaining with some tangible results in the end.

redeuxx said... »February 22, 2012

Awesome! Do you have a goal on what the space would look like in the end? ... or is it going to look like a reclaimed open pit mine?

Dodge D said... »February 23, 2012

Please somebody make these into drones!

Kieran Mullen said... »February 23, 2012

What a waste of time!

Gray said... »February 26, 2012

 As Joe told his buddies at the "Scale 4x4" forum, he had to loosen the very hard clay of the walls with a pickaxe, but the rest of the work was done with the R/C models. But nowadays he owns a much bigger and more powerful model of the Deere 850 excavator, and this "Lil Giant" is able to dig directly from the walls. Handmade tooths for the hydraulic arm help with the harder spots. Watch the videos, it's amazing!

Gray said... »February 26, 2012

Oh, yeah, a total waste of time. Like, say, art, music, literature, movies, or love. You aparently are a very serious person and certainly don't engage in those huge time wasters, neither.  Well, to each his own.

Herbert Tgornton said... »February 29, 2012

Insects do the same sort of thing on a much smaller scale and without using tools.     Think for example,  of termite mounds.

TC who loves RC said... »March 01, 2012

Thanks for the inspiration Joe.  Could you do us all a big favor, provide your address and a sign-up sheet to take volunteers to help out.  Some of us would take a vacation to trek to your farm with batteries in hand so we could man a shift.  All the land you have (with no cows) could support tents in the summer.

Collin Howell said... »May 25, 2012

Where do you buy the remote control construction equipment at?

Lil Giants said... »June 13, 2012


Vario Earthmovers (the most powerful excavator to be bought as a kit. you want power, you'll have to scratchbuild it yourself)

Fumotec (dump trks & front end loaders)

Spektrum (Radio gear)

Robot Marketplace (batteries & other electronic goodies)

Lil Giants said... »June 13, 2012

It'll be just the green wooden walls, like what you see in some of the pictures and I'll probably take a foot of the dirt out of the floor, then pour a cement floor.

Lil Giants said... »June 13, 2012

very kind of you to say.

Thank you and you're welcome. lol

Lil Giants said... »June 13, 2012

That JD850 hoe carved out close to 8 cubic yard this winter! Great fun!

Now to trk it all out... dirt piles all over the basement.

Probably be later Fall before I build the last ten feet of wooden crib wall & then back fill it.

impatient said... »July 28, 2012

 It's not the destination, but the journey.  And your journey is brilliant!  You have my admiration!

Jonas Andersen said... »July 29, 2012

Joe, you are an ispiration. I wish I had hardened clay and not granite in my basement.

Henrik said... »July 29, 2012


Brant Martin said... »August 05, 2012

Are the trucks autonomously controlled by a computer or something? How can he run all those at once?

LC Freiderici said... »August 14, 2012

I love this!  Enjoy!

LC Freiderici said... »August 14, 2012

I love this story.  I never thought these little trucks could do much until now.  Enjoy!

Post a Comment