How Caterpillar Backhoe Loaders Work

You've probably seen backhoes in construction sites, and maybe even right in your neighbor's back yard! They are used for digging ditches, small-to-medium sized holes (such as ponds), septic systems, and more. Find out what their features are and how they work.

Caterpillar backhoe loaders are more commonly known as "backhoes." You've probably seen backhoes in construction sites, and maybe even right in your neighbor's back yard! They are used for digging ditches, small-to-medium sized holes (such as ponds), septic systems, and more! They are also used to scoop up dirt and other materials, and move them around in most any area.

A backhoe can perform all of these tasks because, unlike a bulldozer or a crane, it's genuinely a tractor, a loader, and a backhoe - three pieces of heavy equipment- all manufactured into one complete machine. Their versatility is probably the reason why the Caterpillar company alone has sold over one hundred thousand of their backhoes since nineteen eighty-five.

In order to understand how a backhoe loader works, you must know how it is manufactured. If you stripped a Caterpillar backhoe down, you would see the tractor part of it more clearly. The base of the backhoe has its characteristic, large-sized, deeply treaded, rubber balloon tires, protective steel cab, and roaring diesel engine. Bulldozers, cranes, and other heavy equipment that have tracks on them to move around with, instead of rubber tires, cannot be driven on a public roadway like a backhoe can. It, of course, also has a steering wheel, brakes, throttle, gear control, and other features that a tractor has.



Attached to the front of a backhoe is the loader part of it. The loader bucket is similar to a bulldozer bucket in that it can move and scoop up dirt and other materials. Just like its counterpart, the bucket of the loader can also grade and level out piles of gravel, dirt, et cetera.

And finally, the actual backhoe part is attached to the rear of this piece of versatile equipment. The bucket of the backhoe is much smaller in comparison to the loader bucket. It's attached to the machine, and is controlled by, an arm-like, hydraulic boom.

To work a Caterpillar backhoe loader, the operator sits on the seat, and he or she either faces forward or backwards. If the operator wants to use the loader part, he or she faces forward and uses levers to raise the loader bucket up and down. The bucket can also be tilted at different angles so it can dump its contents. In order to work the backhoe part of the machine, the operator must move the swivel seat around so they are now facing the back end. Before he or she starts working the backhoe bucket, the machine must be parked on solid ground. The out riggers, or stabilizer bars, are then lowered by operating another lever. They are attached to the backhoe just behind the two rear tires. These arm-like devices actually stabilize the machine while the operator is using the backhoe bucket to dig.

After the out riggers are lowered and are in place, the operator uses a series of additional levers to move the bucket of the backhoe. While the loader bucket can only move up and down, the backhoe bucket can move up or down, and to the left or the right. This is due to its arm-like, hydraulic boom.

Finally, the buckets and the boom on a Caterpillar backhoe are able to move the ways that they do by hydraulics. Hydraulic hoses and valves are run from a fluid pump to the loader bucket, the backhoe bucket, and to the out riggers. Basically, when the machine is running, and the levers are moved, the pump constantly pushes hydraulic fluid through the hoses and into cylinder pistons. These pistons, in turn, pushes on larger pistons, causing them to move. The pistons are what actually operate the buckets.

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