What are the backhoe attachments? The backhoe attachment is the yin to the loader’s yang on a compact utility tractor. A tiny tractor is already a helpful tool for a wide range of people, from residential construction builders to landscapers to hobby farmers. The front-end loader makes quick work of a range of tasks around the job site or yard. The addition of a backhoe at the back expands the operator’s options. Once a backhoe is attached to a tractor, few chores are out of reach. A tractor without a backhoe, in fact, appears to be naked. CE consulted with some of the main manufacturers of compact utility tractors and backhoe attachments to get the lowdown on getting the hoe down to help compact tractor owners get the most out of their machines.
It goes without saying that, as with all tractor attachments, the owner must take into account the host machine as well as the size of the implement. When mounting a backhoe, for example, Bryan Zent, marketing manager for Bobcat Co., points out that any Bobcat compact tractor must be fitted with a front-end loader (due to a balance issue). According to Zent, the loader serves as a ballast or counter-weight for the backhoe. It’s also worth noting that some tractors require a rear hydraulic valve in order to operate the backhoe.
Backhoe options tend to expand as tractors become more powerful. “On our smaller compact utility tractors, there will only be one backhoe choice, but on our larger tractors, there will be a handful of options,” explains Sean Sundberg, John Deere’s strategic marketing manager.
When shopping for the proper backhoe attachment, buyers must make a number of selections. With its 6TB backhoe attachment (77-in. dig depth) compatible with all of Bobcat’s compact tractor models, the company keeps things simple. Kioti, founded in North Carolina, specializes in compact tractors and offers a number of backhoe attachment models with varied dig depths and force readings. The KB2365 (76.4-inch dig depth) is the smallest model, while the KB2395 is the largest (10-ft, 1-in. dig depth). Six different backhoe models are available from John Deere, ranging in digging depth from slightly over 6 feet to nearly 9 feet.
Several third-party companies make backhoe attachments and sell them under their own brand or as OEM suppliers to tractor manufacturers. Some of the more well-known third-party/OEM backhoe attachment manufacturers include Paladin, CE Attachments, and Woods Equipment Co. CE’s yearly Attachment Buyer’s Guide, as well as the website https://buyyourequipment.com/, have a full list.
“The type of machine and attachments you’ll need will be determined by the work,” Sundberg explains. As is customary when purchasing new equipment, the buyer must carefully consider the type of work that the machine will perform. Backhoe attachments can be used for a variety of tasks. Sundberg continues, “There are a lot of different things you can accomplish with a backhoe.” “Of course, nearly all of them entail digging.”
Understand Yourself Before Seeking the Wisdom of Others
Contractors may turn their tiny chore tractor into a digging machine with a backhoe attachment, which can dig for everything from electricity lines to plumbing. Because most utilities are located 5 feet below ground level, a backhoe attachment is ideal for the job.
On a landscaping job, compact tractors really shine. “The tiny utility tractor truly excels in landscaping applications,” Sundberg says. “For example, you can trench with a backhoe, rapidly remove it, then level over the top with a box blade attached to the back.”
The buyer is ready to locate a dealer once he or she has given some thought to how the equipment will be used. Arrive prepared with a list of questions; however, the finest salespeople will not only be prepared to answer queries, but will also ask the customer a series of questions.
Sundberg notes, “The top dealers will ask the questions to guide you to the appropriate attachment.” Everything from the depth of the excavation to the frequency of use will be considered.
The buyer should be able to navigate through the attachment process with the help of the dealer. Backhoes from Bobcat and Kioti attach to the frame through a bolted subframe. Smaller John Deere models attach similarly, while bigger models use a quick-attach mechanism to attach directly to the tractor’s rear rockshaft. This is a three- to five-minute procedure.
“Buy a backhoe specifically tailored for your tractor from the manufacturer for piece of mind guarantee that your backhoe will be compatible with your tractor,” Zent advises. Buyers should also try drive a couple backhoes to acquire a feel for the controls, according to Zent.
Backhoes, as previously stated, may usually accept a variety of bucket sizes. Bucket sizes typically range from 9 to 36 inches, with the 24-inch bucket being the most popular. According to Sundberg, the largest size is the most prevalent. When picking the right backhoe attachment, it’s crucial to know how big the bucket will be. Larger buckets not only weigh more when empty, but also take more force to drive into the ground. Not only that, but an unexpected surprise in the form of a hidden rock may appear in the middle of a dig. If a routine digging job fills the backhoe to capacity, it may not be able to tackle unforeseen problems.
Only John Deere had a model, the 110TLB, that could add a thumb to the bucket of the firms CE contacted (see February CE for more on the enhanced utility of a bucket-and-thumb combo). Optional rear hydraulics allow the John Deere compact tractor to power hammers and augers as well as thumbs from the tractor’s rear.
A typical backhoe attachment will cost between $3,500 and $8,000, but the increased utility will quickly pay for itself.
You Become Wiser After Falling Into a Ditch
While mistakes can teach us valuable lessons, it’s essential to plan ahead and avoid mishaps when working with machinery. Before starting up a backhoe attachment for the first time, Zent recommends that all new and experienced operators check the operator’s manual.
Sundberg suggests certain safety and maintenance precautions to keep in mind. The tractor and its attachments will last much longer if they are properly maintained. Before operating, make sure all moving parts are properly greased, and don’t over-blast the machine to risk compromising seals and lubrication. Keep equipment as clean as possible – issue spots are simpler to identify on a clean machine — but remember that these are machines that are meant to get dirty, so they don’t have to be spotless. To maintain the tractor and attachments clean, a good hosing off will suffice.
To get a feel for the controls, new operators should use the machine well away from anything that could be damaged. Additionally, start with lower RPMs until you’ve become used to the settings. For inexperienced operators, higher RPMs indicate jerkier movements.
Sundberg emphasizes the importance of operating the backhoe with the rear stabilizers down. “Also, while utilizing the backhoe, lower the loader on the front end,” he adds. “Imagine a three-point posture, with the loader and stabilizers taking the bulk of the stress while the backhoe operates.”
Verify the location of utility lines in the work area and mark them. Backhoe fade — a telecom industry phrase for when a backhoe cuts a line — may sound amusing, but pulling a buried power or water line in a residential area is a terrifying possibility.
Finding the proper backhoe attachment for a compact tractor begins with asking the right questions. Any first-time buyer will be well equipped to obtain the greatest attachment the first time by asking and answering the correct questions. It’s only a matter of hitching up and getting to work from there.
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