Buying and Maintaining a Skid Steer/Track Loader Backhoe Attachment (2022)

By Keith Gribbins September 28, 2015 View Profile

Digging a big hole doesn’t necessarily mean getting buried in big expenses — especially when dig operations are occasional and precise. Buying, owning and operating a dedicated digging machine like a mini excavator or backhoe loader will add tens of thousands of dollars to your balance sheet every year, but what about a hard-working, easily transportable, mini digger for $3,000 to $12,000 used for digging smaller projects like pipe trenches, footings, basements and drainage ditches? We suggest you consider a hydraulic-powered backhoe attachment for a skid steer or track loader, which can take your tool carrier to new levels of excavation operations.

“Due to the increasing popularity of mini excavators, we have seen a decrease in the number of backhoe attachments, but contractors who own a skid steer or track loader can very easily add a backhoe to their fleet of attachments,” says Stephen Kingsley, PLA marketing manager with Paladin Attachments (one of the biggest attachment makers in the United States). “It is a great addition to their toolbox for a modest investment compared to a dedicated digging machine. Depending upon the needs of the operator, a selection of buckets with varying widths are good options. Thumb assemblies and auger mounts are also practical additions that extend the versatility of this attachment.”

Backhoe attachments for skid steers and track loaders come in two main configurations today. They can be operated either inside or outside of the cab and/or incorporate the loader’s controls or have their own dedicated controls. Although boom-control backhoes (those operated with the skid steer’s levers) leave something to be desired in the way of their approximate arm reach and breakout force, the single-cylinder design to operate the bucket curl takes it easy on the hydraulic system and only requires between 11 and 22 gpm. They are also easy on the wallet, generally starting around $2,500 with an 8-in. bucket and then going up in cost depending on options.

(Video) 7 Things I Wish I Knew Before Buying a Skid Loader + Basic Maintenance

Check out this mini backhoe with a 12-in. bucket from Manitou’s Edge brand. Without swing, it’s roughly $3,000, and with swing it’s roughly $5,300.

“We have a mini backhoe, and it’s offered with or without swing,” says Ron Peters, product manager at Edge, the attachments brand of Manitou. “The swing option allows the equipment operator to operate the backhoe with in-cab controls to move the backhoe left and right, rather than physically moving the machine. The mini backhoe with a 12-in. bucket without swing is roughly $3,000 and a mini backhoe with swing is roughly $5,300. When it comes to operation, we recommend running the machine at the quarter throttle position to achieve a smoother operation of the backhoe.”

Taking backhoe versatility one step further, some backhoe attachments come with their own set of controls that can be used in your machine’s cab or by sitting outside the cab. Patterned in either ISO or SAE operating patterns, this style of backhoe attachment can rival the specifications of a small, dedicated compact excavator. However, the increased versatility makes more demands on your loader and wallet — costing around $12,000 to purchase.

For skid steers or track loaders with out-of-the-cab controlled backhoe attachments, the operator will need to exit the cab and saddle up onto the seat provided by the backhoe attachment. Perched atop of the attachment, the operator has excavator-style controls to manipulate the attachment, with dig depths up to around 11 ft. Vertical stabilizers and stabilizer pads, buckets ranging from 8 to 40 in. and boom attachments like thumbs can also be considered. Of course, that all depends on the manufacturer.

(Video) Cat® BH130 Backhoe Attachment Operating Tips

“We offer a variety of bucket widths with standard teeth,” explains Kingsley. “They are basic heavy-duty buckets. We do have three bucket linkage options that will position the bucket so it can open further and extend bucket reach, facilitate maximum curl or apply maximum breakout force. The boom style varies depending upon the model selected. Our largest models have standard thumb brackets to accommodate both hydraulic and fixed thumbs. We also offer quick-couplers and compatible buckets for quick bucket change capabilities.”

The beauty of the backhoe attachment is when you’re finished excavating for product installations, the attachment can be exchanged for a compactor to pack the trench, a bucket to prepare the area for reseeding or a sod roller to lay grass. A loader can even be turned into a high-performance grading machine with a laser-guided system for precision grade control. The role of a skid steer or track loader is to adapt. At widths as narrow as 36 in., these loaders can go through typical residential, commercial or municipal gates and entries where larger equipment won’t fit. On the other end of the loader spectrum, high-flow hydraulics, rated operating capacities that approach 4,000 lbs and lift arms that raise to heights of 12 ft provide the contracting industry with powerful digging and lifting capacities. A backhoe attachment is perfect for these versatile machines.

“When considering a backhoe attachment, consider safety and durability as your most important considerations,” says Kingsley. “Make sure the manufacturer stands by its backhoe and offers at least a one-year warranty. Also insist it provides detailed instructions regarding the safe use of the backhoe and make sure you familiarize yourself with the operational details before you take it on the job.”

While sales of backhoe attachments on skid steers have decreased, they are still very popular attachments for utility and compact tractors.

(Video) Buying and fixing an abandoned skid steer backhoe attachment. Bobcat 907

Backhoe Attachment Maintenance

A skid steer/track loader backhoe attachment can save you money over a dedicated machine but only if you take care of it. For instance, backhoe attachments have several pivot points — swing, boom, dipper, bucket, etc. — that all need lubrication on a regular basis to ensure smooth and efficient operation. Smart folks like Peters recommend lubricating all parts provided with grease fittings daily or every eight hours, whichever comes first, with SAE multi-purpose lubricant or an equivalent SAE multi-purpose grease.

“When you fail to grease the backhoe attachment, dirt and sand are allowed to enter the pivot pins and bushings, and of course, this allows faster wear of the pins and the bushings,” explains Peters. “It’s similar to sandpaper rubbing on a surface constantly. Because it is not a minor repair to replace the pivot pins and bushings, your machine will be down for an extended period of time resulting in loss of productivity. To repair and replace the pivot pins, depending on the number of pins to be replaced, and bushings, it could cost anywhere from $500 to $1,000. To avoid costly repairs, we recommend following the recommended maintenance schedule in the owner/operator manual provided with the attachment.”

In contrast, be sure to avoid excessive greasing. Dirt collects on exposed grease and greatly increases wear, so wipe off excess grease from all fittings after greasing to reduce this wear. In fact, clean your entire machine each time you do a daily walk-around inspection, checking for problems that can be made worse if not attended to.

(Video) Caterpillar's Smart Backhoe Attachment Gives Skid Steers a Full-Featured 8-ft Dig Depth.

Here are some items to look for:

  • Check to see that all pins are secured with a bolt or snap.
  • Inspect all cylinders to be sure there is no oil seepage around the hoses, valves or filling tube entrance.
  • Make sure the hose routing is not rubbing or being pinched when the backhoe is being transported or operated and while in a folded or fully extended position.
  • Look for dirt that may be caught between the stabilizer arms and cylinders, and make sure no rocks or dirt are damaging the pivot areas.
  • Check the mounting system to make sure there are no loose nuts or bolts.
  • Examine bucket teeth for wear and replace and tighten where necessary.
  • Inspect the bucket and entire attachment to make sure there are no cracks.

Because backhoe attachments utilize a number of moving parts, checking the hydraulic oil level on your loader at least once every 40 hours of operation is crucial. It is also very important to check the oil levels when switching between attachments because different attachments may require different oil levels. AND REMEMBER: Hydraulic oil is under pressure and may be hot. Escaping hydraulic fluid under pressure can penetrate your skin, causing serious injury. Stop your skid steer or track loader engine and relieve pressure before connecting or disconnecting lines and consult your manufacturer’s backhoe operation manual for additional safety precautions before proceeding.

“The oil supply for the attachment backhoe is supplied by the loaders hydraulic system,” explains Kingsley. “When first installing the backhoe on the loader, you will need to completely extend and retract all cylinders on the backhoe several times. This will fill the cylinders with oil. Once this is done, place the backhoe in transport position, and check the oil level on the loaders hydraulic reservoir. You will most likely need to fill the reservoir to the full line. Check the oil level on a regular basis.”
Failure to maintain your loader’s hydraulic oil supply can cause serious problems with your backhoe attachment. The operation manual also commonly includes troubleshooting tips in case problems occur. Contact your local dealer or manufacturer with any questions to make sure you get the best performance possible out of your backhoe attachment.

Keith Gribbins is associate publisher of Compact Equipment.

Tags: Edge Attachments, home, Manitou, Paladin Attachments, September 2015 Print Issue

(Video) Bobcat Attachments and Maintenance #landclearing #trackloader #skidsteer


Can you put a backhoe on a skid steer? ›

Backhoe attachments for skid steers and track loaders come in two main configurations today. They can be operated either inside or outside of the cab and/or incorporate the loader's controls or have their own dedicated controls.

How long do Skidsteers last? ›

Some experts say the average lifespan of a skid steer is 5,000 hours. Keep in mind that how long your skid steer lasts depends on several different things, including: Whether you purchased the equipment in new or used condition. The type and difficulty of the work you are using the skid steer for.

Can you put a backhoe attachment on a Bobcat? ›

Turn your Bobcat® loader into a powerful excavator with the digging force of the backhoe attachment. With a full line of backhoe models for all sizes of Bobcat loaders, the backhoe is a part-time attachment that can handle full-time excavating jobs.

What are the most reliable skid steers? ›

If you are thinking of buying a skid steer loader, here is a list of the top 10 best skid steer loaders for your farm.
  • Bobcat S70 Skid-Steer Loader. ...
  • Caterpillar 226D3 Skid Steer Loader. ...
  • Kubota SSV65. ...
  • John Deere 316GR. ...
  • New Holland L313. ...
  • CASE SR160B Skid Steer Loader. ...
  • Wacker SW16-Radial Lift Skid Steer Loader. ...
  • Mustang 1050R.
31 May 2022

How much does a skid steer with backhoe attachment cost? ›

Pricing for these items ranges from around $2,000 to around $7,000.

Is a backhoe a good investment? ›

It may seem like a good investment to buy your own backhoe, but when factoring in all the initial costs to get started, it's often not the most financially ideal situation for small businesses and independent contractors.

Is 1000 hours a lot for a skid steer? ›

If a 2-year old skid steer has 1,500 hours on it, it hasn't been worked full-time. necessary. As a rule of thumb, an 80 hp machine won't require an engine overhaul until its passed 8,000 hours; a 40 hp machine, on the other hand, will likely require an overhaul after about 4,000 hours.

What is the number one selling skid steer? ›

Caterpillar has a top-selling skid steer that keeps on selling — its 262D. “Its rated operating capacity makes it capable of lifting most pallet loads,” Brown says.

Is buying a skid steer a good investment? ›

It may seem like more of a financial commitment than renting, but if it allows you to work more efficiently and avoid repetitive rental fees, you can get a great return on your investment over time. Plus, skid steers generally have lower initial costs and ongoing costs than other similar types of compact equipment.

What should you not do with a backhoe? ›

Working too close to an edge and operating on steep or uneven ground are the two leading causes of accidents for backhoes and backhoe operators.
Potential Hazards for Backhoe Operation
  1. Raising the bucket too high. ...
  2. Operating on a steep slope. ...
  3. Not wearing a seatbelt. ...
  4. Hitting an object. ...
  5. A falling load.
14 Nov 2022

How deep can a skid steer backhoe dig? ›

Dig deep with the Utility Digging Backhoe. This skid steer digger backhoe reaches 6 feet deep with a single arm and hydraulically controlled bucket. Use it for trenching or other productive digging work.

Can a backhoe remove tree stumps? ›

Both John Deere utility tractors and compact utility tractors have powerful backhoe attachments that you can add-on to remove large tree stumps. The backhoe can't do it all for you — you'll still need a shovel, an ax, and a chainsaw — but you'll save hours digging around that stump if you let the tractor do the work.

Who makes the toughest skid steer? ›

Providing some of the heaviest models on the market, John Deere skid steers are built tough. Reaching engine powers of 100hp, an operating capacity of 3,600 lbs, and weights of 10,000 lbs, these machines are built to deliver the power and performance that customers have come to expect from any John Deere equipment.

How much money can you make owning a skid steer? ›

The average annual wage for a skid steer operator is ​$48,683​, according to the job site Indeed in 2021. For purposes of comparison, Simply Hired reports average annual earnings of ​$38,308​. Salary Expert reports that skid loader operators average ​$37,828​ per year.

What brand sells the most skid steers? ›

Production started in 1958. The North Dakota-based company has a line of skid steers with rated operating capacities (ROC) ranging from 760 to 2,000 pounds. Bobcat accounts for about 40% of the global market for skid steers, making it the industry leader.

What should I charge for backhoe work? ›

Backhoe Rates per Hour

In most cases, hourly rates for backhoe rentals range from $30 to $100 depending on equipment size, location and whether you need an operator.

Are skid steer prices going up? ›

Overall, FMV for skid steer loaders rose 1.3% year-over-year and FLV rose 19.2%. When looking at values for just specific ages of assets, however, we see much larger jumps in values. FMV for 6-year-old assets rose 10.6% and FLV for 9-year-old assets rose 43.1%.

How much does a skid steer cost per month? ›

The cost to rent a skid steer depends on multiple factors and can vary widely from one project to the next, but a general estimate can help during the early stages of the planning process. In most cases, rental prices range from $200 to $500 per day, $600 to $1,500 per week and $1,200 to $4,000 per month.

What is the lifespan of a backhoe? ›

Backhoe Loader

Typically, by 8,500 hours, 50% of the components in a backhoe loader have reached their end and fail within 3,500 hours.

What are the disadvantages of backhoe? ›

Cons of Backhoe Attachments

Purchasing or renting attachments may involve hunting down products by a specific manufacturer ensuring a correct fit. If a backhoe attachment is unsuitable for your skid steer or excavator, you run the risk of damaging company equipment or causing an accident on site.

Are backhoe attachments worth it? ›

Backhoe attachment is an efficient tool for performing various heavy lifting and excavation tasks. Backhoes attached to your tractor PTO are a widely used modality, and that says a lot about its worth as a tool.

How long do skidsteer tracks last? ›

Depending on how well you take care of your tracks, they could last anywhere between 400 hours and 2,000 hours. The average life span ranges from 1,200 hours to 1,600 hours.

How long does a skid steer undercarriage last? ›

The majority of CTL manufacturers offer steel-embedded undercarriages made mostly of steel components. Steel-embedded rubber tracks average a 1,000-hour lifespan, but can reach 2,000 hours in the right conditions and if well maintained.

Do skid steers hold their value? ›

You'll also want to consider the maintenance of a used skid steer as those tend to increase as the machine ages. Skid steer can hold their value well, so you should think about if this is a machine you are going to keep around for a while.

What is the best skid steer track? ›

To provide your skid steer with optimal traction on slippery or soft surfaces covered with snow or ice, consider using a TDF multibar track or a terrapin track. Rather than deep lugs, these tracks have more linear edges. In other words, they have a greater area of linear tread edges that grip the snow and ice.

Which skid steer is better Kubota or bobcat? ›

If you're comparing the Bobcat T66 to the Kubota SVL75-2 loader, here are the top things to know: You'll get 150 pounds more rated operating capacity (ROC) from the Bobcat T66 vs. the Kubota loader. The Bobcat T66 has a faster single speed and Two-Speed than the Kubota SVL75-2.

Who sells the most skid steers in the US? ›

The most popular manufacturers of skid steers
  1. 1 BOBCAT SKID STEERS. It should not be a big shock that the Bobcat Company is the number 1 skid steer brand on the market today. ...

Should I buy a skid steer and rent it out? ›

While you'll pay a premium, renting a skid steer offers increased flexibility and lower financial risk. “If you're doing the same thing over and over again, you're probably going to want to own,” says Leppo.

Is it better to rent or buy a skid steer? ›

When deciding whether to buy a skid steer, consider how much use you will get out of it. Consider renting a skid steer for an extended period of time to get a better feel for how often you will use it. You should consider purchasing a skid steer if it becomes a staple piece of equipment on the job.

Are skid steers hard to work on? ›

Skid steers are multipurpose workhorses suitable for both commercial job sites and DIY home projects. While they're fairly easy to operate, it does take some practice. If you're looking to learn how to operate a skid steer, follow these step-by-step instructions to get started.

How often should a backhoe be greased? ›

Tip #4: Grease Crucial Points

A backhoe has several moving parts, making grease an important, daily PM point. Areas like the front axle, trunnion bearings, and swing system pins and bearings should be checked daily and greased if required.

How much diesel does a backhoe use per hour? ›

The 310 SJ has a range of between 1.4 and 2.2 gallons per hour depending on how hard the engine is working, Tyler says. When you're craning a manhole cover or carefully digging around utilities, you're not using as much fuel as when you're truck-loading at full rpm.

How much can a backhoe dig in a day? ›

For example, an excavator with a 1 cubic yard capacity (which is typical) operated by an experienced operator who can perform 120 cycles per hour (2 per minute) and perform 6 hours of actual work per day (in an 8-hour shift), could dig approximately 720 cubic yards of dirt per day.

How fast can you trench with a skid steer? ›

Generally, a good ground speed is 1 to 3 mph. Trenching with a skid steer or track loader is done in reverse. Make certain that the area is free of obstacles and that by-standers are not in harms way. Selecting the proper chain to match your conditions is important.

Do skid steers tip easily? ›

Tip-overs: A skid steer carrying an unbalanced load has a greater chance of tipping over forward or backward. It can even tip over sideways if being operated on a slope. Runovers: The skid steer operator or someone nearby can get run over by this piece of machinery.

Will a skid steer push up stumps? ›

As a reliable piece of equipment, a skid steer can in fact remove a stump from your job site – it just takes a little more work to get the job done.

Is it cheaper to grind or remove a stump? ›

Grinding a stump is usually cheaper than removing it. The reason is that complete removal is a much more labor-intensive and time-consuming process and requires heavy-duty machines with greater power demands.

How did settlers remove tree stumps? ›

A grub ax, 4 to 8 inches wide and flat on one side, was used to dig around stumps and to cut off small roots. A pick axe was used to cut off larger roots. A double-bit or pickaxe had two sides. It was used to break hardened or rocky soils, to chop out roots while loosening the soil, and to remove or break rocks.

What is the most reliable track loader? ›

Kubota. One of the most popular construction engine brands in the world, Kubota also has become one of the most reliable compact track loader brands as well. With their three SVL models, Kubota compact track loaders are great for any landscaping or construction project.

What is a Tier 4 skid steer? ›

The EPA originally implemented the Tier 4 system in order to create a standard by which to regulate the emissions for “non-road diesel engines”. These include industrial equipment like skid steer loaders, mini excavators and even stationary equipment like generators.

How steep of a grade can a skid steer climb? ›

According to Steger, this is generally limited to 30°, or slightly steeper than a 2:1 slope. “Traveling across a slope should be eliminated, if possible; but when necessary, you must follow the procedures outlined in the operator's manual,” he states.

What businesses can you start with a skid steer? ›

What could be better than running your own heavy equipment and getting paid directly for your hard work? One path for getting started in the grading and excavation business is to start off by building your own skid steer service and working jobs in residential construction, commercial construction, and landscaping.

How much does a skid steer work per hour? ›

As of Nov 11, 2022, the average annual pay for a Skid Steer Operator in California is $36,524 a year. Just in case you need a simple salary calculator, that works out to be approximately $17.56 an hour. This is the equivalent of $702/week or $3,043/month.

What is the most used hydraulic system in a skid steer? ›

The most common system is the standard-flow auxiliary hydraulics package. Although flow rates differ by manufacturer and skid steer model, the flow rate of a standard-flow system ranges from 17.5 to 24.2 gallons per minute (gpm)[1].

What is a Tier 4 Bobcat? ›

Bobcat Company has introduced its first Tier 4 loaders that include a non-diesel particulate filter (DPF) engine solution. The seven medium-sized machines each feature the Tier 4 technology with the non-DPF solution, which was achieved by designing an ultra-low particulate combustion (ULPC) engine.

Will a Bobcat backhoe fit a CAT skid steer? ›

You can easily convert Bobcat brand attachments to run on any skid steer loader including Caterpillar, John Deere, New Holland, Kubota, Gehl, Mustang, Takeuchi and others.

Are mini excavators stronger than backhoes? ›

For deep digging or heavy-duty projects, a backhoe loader typically has more power than a mini excavator. Backhoes are also a better fit for projects that require a lot of hauling or transportation across the work site.

What's better to have a skid steer or tractor? ›

Not only is the tractor the more budget-friendly option off the bat, you'll also enjoy cheaper and easier maintenance and lower operating costs with a tractor. While more lightweight and fuel-efficient, tractors are also capable of handling heavier, bulkier loads than skid steers.

What is considered high hours on a backhoe? ›

Backhoe Loader

After about 6,000 hours, 20% of engines in 14-15-foot loaders required a major repair or replacement. Typically, by 8,500 hours, 50% of the components in a backhoe loader have reached their end and fail within 3,500 hours.

Which is better Kubota or Bobcat? ›

In terms of working speed, the Bobcat T66 puts the Kubota SVL75-2 to shame. Kubota boasts that two-speed is standard on its loaders (vs. optional on Bobcat models), but Bobcat's single speed is actually faster than Kubota's – an energetic 7.2 mph vs. a sluggish 4.9 mph on the Kubota SVL75-2.

Are tracks or wheels better on a Bobcat? ›

Track-equipped compact loaders are the unrivaled champions when it comes to tackling difficult terrain. These skid steers are so successful in rugged or muddy conditions because the tracks distribute their weight over a larger surface area. This makes them significantly more stable than their wheeled counterparts.

What size truck do I need to haul a skid steer? ›

Skid steer loaders get towed frequently as a way of transportation. Fortunately, many skid steer loaders can be moved using a half-ton or three-quarter-ton truck and appropriate trailer.

What's better a skid steer or mini excavator? ›

Skid steers are perfect for small construction lift and carry. They also excel at residential construction jobs especially for concrete work, retaining work, pavers, etc. Mini excavators are versatile but are much better at what their name specifies—excavating. You can dig larger holes faster.

Who makes the best quality skid steer? ›

  • Bobcat. Credited with creating the world's first skid steer more than 60 years ago, Bobcat is almost synonymous with skid steer in construction and landscaping. ...
  • Caterpillar. One of the most well-known brands in construction, Caterpillar's skid steer loaders do not disappoint. ...
  • GEHL. ...
  • CASE. ...
  • JCB. ...
  • John Deere. ...
  • Manitou. ...
  • New Holland.
4 Oct 2022


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