Backhoe

Move projects forward with backhoes

A backhoe, sometimes called a "rear actor" or "back actor," is a piece of heavy construction equipment typically used for digging via its articulated arm piece and bucket. There are two main components to every backhoe: the boom, or the part of the arm linked to the vehicle, and the dipper or dipperstick, which is attached to the bucket. These components are connected to the vehicle through a pivot called a kingpost, and together these parts allow a backhoe arm to swing 200 degrees, allowing an operator to move material short distances. Backhoes are often employed by cities and construction companies involved in maintaining underground systems like sewers, water pipes or gas lines.

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Researching Backhoes

The most challenging part of owning a backhoe (or renting one, depending on the circumstances) or a backhoe loader is figuring out how to use it. First, it's important that an operator research the dig location: determine if there are any obstacles, such as gas lines or water pipes, that could present a problem. Obviously, it's also important that an operator know how the backhoe is constructed and how it functions. The best way to get started is to read the operator's manual.

Before getting started on a dig, it's useful to investigate which kinds of backhoes might be most useful for the job at hand. If it's a minor project, such as a private landscaping operation, then it might be best to consider a mini backhoe, which is easier to navigate in tighter spaces. A used backhoe can save the operator some money, too.

For those who might already own tractors, there's also the option of purchasing or renting a tractor backhoe. With a quick mount for attaching and detaching, a backhoe attachment is actually a lot easier to use than one would think.

Operating a Backhoe

Once you feel comfortable enough with your setup to get started, go ahead and start the machine. Always keep the bucket down on the ground while the machine is being started and leveled out. Once you've started digging, make sure you're firmly in the seat and don't move while the bucket is elevated. Be aware of lift load capacity as stated in the operator's manual—don't try lifting something that might push the machine's limits, as excessive loads could damage the bucket or other backhoe parts.