Specifying Backhoes For Maximum Versatility

Back To The Basics
By Don Talend, Contributing Editor | November 2009 Vol. 64 No. 11
Manufacturers now provide an increasing selection of backhoe attachments that give handling capabilities like grappling.

Contractors can get greater digging depth with the extendable stick and this feature also provides greater horizontal reach, Grohsmeyer notes. This greater reach allows digging a longer trench in fewer machine redeployments and after the final pass, the operator can backfill by reaching across the spoil pile. Cowan adds that some advancements have addressed machine stability, such as wider footprints, lower profiles and lower centers of gravity.

Determining the appropriate machine configuration for typical jobs is also important, Stout says. The contractor should consider specifying an extendable stick and perhaps a multi purpose bucket for the front of the machine, depending on need. Determining what the machine’s carrying capacity is, as well as the size of buckets and their possible compatibility with specialty buckets such as clam style 4 in 1s, side dumpers and logging buckets equipped with grapples on the front aid in matching the backhoe to the typical project.

The machine’s physical and operating dimensions are an important consideration, according to Bargellini. The dimensions are important relative to typical working area footprints and nearby obstructions. These dimensions include overall length, overall width, ground clearance, operating height, bucket rotation, dump height, wheelbase, overall and bucket width, operating weight, cycle times (raise, lower, dump) and front and rear axle load rating (static and dynamic).

Recently, fuel costs have become a major concern for contractors. Bargellini cautions that fuel efficiency varies greatly in backhoes because it depends on how the machine is operated and how it is equipped. For example, it might be used mostly in excavation work, loading work or driven for long distances. Closed center, load sensing systems with variable displacement piston pumps in their backhoes now are being used versus open center systems with fixed displacement gear pumps. The former configuration is usually more fuel efficient, Bargellini points out, because it supplies oil only “on demand,” meaning when the load sensing system on the pump detects that oil flow is not required, the system reduces pump flow and horsepower to conserve fuel.