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.

Grohsmeyer notes that seemingly minor design features such as proper openings, steps and handles for operator ingress and egress have become more common. Other items include wear resistant punched steel skid plates and an overall increase in cab space. A major safety advancement in recent years as machine speeds of 25 mph are now common, Grohsmeyer notes, is more powerful braking systems such as commonly available power boost brakes.

These machines’ high versatility and dual functionality have led manufacturers to focus a great deal upon maneuverability in tight spaces. Bargellini says that the best indicator of maneuverability is expressed as turning radius or “curb turning circle,” the maximum diameter of the tire path at the track, or center, of the tire. Manufacturers have published turning circles with and without brakes applied, he notes.

Four wheel drive is a key tool in machine maneuverability because it provides access to work areas that a two wheel drive machine would have difficulty negotiating. It also improves loader performance by providing additional loading effort going into the pile. Another key maneuverability enhancing feature is all wheel steer, which gives larger loaders comparable performance to small front end loaders in this area. Many manufacturers have addressed machine length, notes Grohsmeyer. For example, he says, many have reduced machine length by pulling the rear boom tighter to the machine body to provide better stability when the front bucket is used.

Increasingly, contractors have viewed their machines as financial assets as much as workhorses. Keeping them moving dirt is a key to company profitability, so uptime is at a premium and manufacturers have responded to this demand by minimizing the need for maintenance of some components and making other required maintenance more efficient.