Digging up the dirt on backhoes

Manufacturer innovations include smoother controls and transmissions

Allen Zeyher / April 03, 2001

The one-piece steel frame of the LB90 loader backhoe from New Holland Construction, Carol Stream, Ill

The one-piece steel frame of the LB90 loader backhoe from New Holland Construction, Carol Stream, Ill., provides the machine with strength and stability. The backhoe pivot point and the loader are both attached directly to the one-piece frame. The engine, transmission and cab are iso-mounted to insulate the operator from drive train noises and vibrations.

The 5-liter New Holland engine in the LB90 produces 98 hp. The machine, which was introduced in January, has a standard digging depth of 14 ft 5 in. and a weight of 14,840 lb. The hydraulic system has a pump capacity of 41 gal/min.

New Holland’s LB75 is an entry-level machine that shares many of the features of the LB90, including the one-piece steel frame. The LB75 has a 75-gross-hp engine and a digging depth of 14 ft 5 in.

The LB90 straight-arm loader features four-bar linkages and dual bucket cylinders, which combine to give it superior bucket rotation and breakout force, according to the company. The LB90 also has improved dump height and reach over previous models.

The LB90 features an open-center hydraulic system, which gives the operator easy-to-use, low-effort backhoe controls for precise digging. There are four control options: two-lever, two-lever excavator style, three-lever with footswing and four-lever. Each offers matched cycle times and feedback that lets the operator feel the operation through the control.

A single lever controls the loader through dig, load and dump functions. The operator simply pulls back to raise the bucket and pushes forward to lower it. The touch of a button disconnects the transmission and directs full power to the loader.

The cab of the LB90 features 360û visibility, with slim cab pillars, a sloping engine hood and narrow boom profile. The operator’s station features a fully adjustable seat, plenty of leg room and easy-to-find, easy-to-use controls and instrumentation.

Excavator-style controls

Pilot-operated joystick controls, similar to hydraulic excavator controls, are standard equipment on the 420D and 430D loader backhoes from Caterpillar Inc., Peoria, Ill. The pilot-operated controls and integrated tool carrier loader controls help ensure smooth, precise operation and reduce operator effort, according to the company. The backhoe controls also offer an optional pattern changer valve to select the control pattern.

Both backhoe loaders, introduced in January, use the Cat 3054T turbocharged, direct-injection, four-cylinder diesel engine, with a displacement of 4 liters. The standard Power-Shuttle transmission provides four speeds forward and four reverse. Full synchromesh in all gears permits on-the-go shifting, and the forward/reverse electric power shuttle provides instant direction changes through power hydraulic clutches.

The Auto-Shift transmission option operates as an automatic transmission with a manual override. A kickdown switch on the loader lever equips the machine to perform much like a wheel loader. The Auto-Shift option automatically shifts between second gear and the highest selected gear for ease of operation. Auto-Shift has five forward and three reverse speeds.

The 420D has 85 net hp and a backhoe digging depth of 14 ft 5 in. when equipped with a standard stick. The 430D has 94 net hp and a backhoe digging depth of 15 ft 3 in. with a standard stick. An optional extendable stick is available for either model.

Cat also has introduced the 416D backhoe loader with many of the same features as the 420D and 430D. The 416D has 74 net hp and a backhoe digging depth of 14 ft 5 in. with a standard stick and 18 ft 1 in. with an extendable stick. The machine has an operating weight of 15,257 to 21,389 lb and a bucket breakout force of 11,700 lb.

The 205? rotation of the backhoe bucket linkage on the 420D and 430D makes it easier to dig vertical walls and to clamp material for truck loading. Rotation is 40û more than Cat’s C Series backhoes.

Backhoe bucket breakout force for both models is more than 14,700 lb. Backhoe stick lift capability is 6,250 lb for the 420D and 6,610 lb for the 430D.

Both machines are available with integrated tool carriers for applications that benefit from a parallel-lift loader linkage and versatility of quick work tool changes through the use of the hydraulic quick coupler. Applications include pallet forks, material handling arms, brooms and a variety of buckets.

The Cat variable-flow, closed-center, load-sensing hydraulic system adjusts flow and pressure to meet work demand with increased pressure of 3,300 psi. The hydraulic system is tuned to work efficiently with the engine, according to the company, and it provides full hydraulic force to the work tool at any engine speed. The system reduces demands on the operator, cuts fuel consumption, reduces engine wear and allows quieter operation.

The operator station in D Series loader backhoes includes white-face gauges, a new hand throttle, new boom lock position and new pilot-operated stabilizer controls.

The D Series offers a choice of standard two-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, which can be engaged on-the-go, under load by a switch on the front console. The fully enclosed, oil-immersed hydraulic, multiple disc brakes work with a three-position brake mode switch.

The operator can select two-wheel drive and braking, two-wheel drive and all-wheel braking or all-wheel drive and braking.

Precise control

The new Pro Control System (PCS) provides the M Series of loader backhoes with precise control, according to Case Corp., Racine, Wis. With an anti-rebound feature that cushions quick stops, PCS eliminates over- and under-swing for faster cycle times and accurate bucket or attachment placement. Boom, dipper and stabilizer functions feature pilot-operated check valves that prevent drift.

The five models in the M Series¾
the 580M, 580M Turbo, 580 Super M, 580 Super M Wide Track and the 590 Super M¾
also have an improved and more comfortable cab and an optional Wide Track model for better stability. They range in horsepower from 73 to 99, with loader capacities from 6,182 to 7,327 lb.

The cab features 23% more glass area than previous Case loader backhoes. Redesigned side latches mean reduced sight restrictions. The rear posts were reset by more than 3 in. for a wider view through the three-section sliding rear window.

Access to the cab is improved, with a wider step and larger grab handles. Ergonomic controls are more comfortable and easier to operate, according to the company. The loader control lever features push-button activation of the differential lock and transmission de-clutch.

The 580M and 580M Turbo models have increased power. Loader lift capacity is up 17% to 6,182 lb, thanks to a larger 3 1/4-in. lift cylinder. Breakout force is also up 17% to 9,164 lb.

The M Series also has larger buckets. The teeth angles on the backhoe buckets were redesigned, and the easy-fill bucket design with tapered sides provides for clean dumping.

The backhoe hydraulic quick coupler on the M Series can be activated from inside the cab. The coupler makes for faster attachment changeover with almost no down time and no loss of breakout force.

For easier maintenance, the M Series uses a "lubed-for-life" drive shaft on four-wheel-drive models, a remote front axle lubrication point and a tilt-up hood that provides easy access to service points.

Boosted horsepower

According to Kubota Tractor Corp., Torrance, Calif., the L48 tractor has increased horsepower and enhanced performance compared with the company’s B21/L35 machines. Equipped as a tractor loader backhoe, the L48TLB has an overall weight of 7,760 lb, a length of 241 in., a width of 75 in. and a height of 113 in.

Power is supplied by Kubota’s E-TVCS 148.5-cu-in. liquid-cooled, four-cylinder diesel engine. The 48-gross-hp engine features dual internal balancers for smooth operation.

The L48TLB also is equipped with the HST Feather Step transmission in combination with a three-speed range selector. This combination optimizes power-to-speed ratios, overall performance and operator comfort, according to the company. The Feather Step servomechanism reduces the need for dramatic pedal pressure, enabling smooth forward-to-reverse directional changes with precise control. The drive train also includes a heavy-duty rear axle, planetary final drive with multiple wet disc brakes.

The L48TLB backhoe delivers a digging depth of 11 ft 1 in., a maximum dipperstick digging force of 3,968 lb and a maximum bucket digging force of 5,908 lb. The machine also features an independent boom pump for simultaneous operations. This feature and the feathering effect of Kubota’s inching spool provide smooth, controlled performance.

The B21 tractor loader backhoe is powered by a 21-hp engine. With the BT751 backhoe, it has a digging depth of 7 ft 6 in., a maximum digging force of 1,748 lb and a digging force bucket rate of 3,110 lb. The trunnion-type swing system with two hydraulic cylinders provides large boom swing force and enables a 180? swing arc and bucket rotation. Two joystick control levers operate all backhoe functions.

Redesigned for efficiency

Sweating the small stuff was the theme in redesigning the G Series backhoes from John Deere Construction Equipment Co., Moline, Ill. After incorporating a host of power features in its E Series, the company was ready to focus on such things as loader lever efforts, brake pedal effort and placement, cab layout, engine maintenance points and even beverage holders. The line consists of four machines: the 310G, the 310SG, the 315SG and the 410G.

The totally redesigned cab has 29% more tinted glass for a virtually unobstructed panoramic view. The ROPS posts and reshaped cab doors have been repositioned, eliminating the windshield door mullion found on previous Deere backhoes.

A 40,000 BTU/hr HVAC system with numerous directional automobile-type vents provides good ventilation and effective defrosting. The windows and doors seal tighter, which also helps keep the cab comfortable.

Little extras inside the cab include a hook for a jacket or a hardhat, overhead storage for a notebook or an operator’s manual, other compartments for loose change or pens and a 12-volt power outlet on each side console for a cell phone.

The walk-through operator station in the G Series is placed farther forward and has 14% more volume, floor area and leg room.

On the outside, the G Series has a forward-sloping hood that easily tilts forward for access to daily and periodic service points. The fuel tank is now located on the right side of the backhoe, the same side where other daily service tasks are performed. The battery box is on the opposite side and incorporates a lockable toolbox that is large enough for chains, tools and other items.

Deere also offers an optional lighting package for the G Series for nighttime work. Computer software helped determine the optimum light placement, according to the company. The new design increases the illumination area by 400% and greatly reduces glare from the exhaust stack, hood and backhoe boom.

The G Series retains many features of the E Series. The Power Curve backhoe boom allows smooth and consistent control throughout the digging arc. Control valves are tuned to each machine’s high-pressure hydraulic system for smooth and responsive multi-function control.

The closed-center, pressure-compensating, load-sensing hydraulic system in the 410G gives all functions equal priority. When a heavy load is encountered, the boom, dipperstick and bucket operations adjust proportionally.

Compact versatility

The Contractor TLB line from Allmand Bros. Inc., Holdrege, Neb., offers rugged construction and versatility in compact, heavy-duty loader backhoes, according to the company.

The Contractor TLB-20, for instance, maneuvers easily in tight areas and can be towed on a trailer behind a pickup truck. The 3,100-lb TLB-20 features an air-cooled gasoline engine that generates 20.5 hp. The machine has a digging depth of 7 ft 6 in., a maximum lift capacity of 1,700 lb and a breakout force of 2,600 lb. The loader has a maximum loading height of 90 in. and a bucket capacity of 1/3 cu yd.

Standard features include a heavy-duty front bumper that accepts traction weights; a rounded fiberglass hood; float control on the front-end loader bucket; and high-flotation, low ground pressure tires. Options include auxiliary hydraulics, various bucket sizes and a universal quick-attach that can accept various skid-steer attachments.

The Contractor TLB-25 features a choice of two 25-hp engines, either a Kohler air-cooled gasoline engine or a Kubota liquid-cooled diesel. The gasoline model has an overall weight of 3,460 lb, while the diesel model has an overall weight of 3,760 lb.

The TLB-25 has a digging depth of 8 ft 4 in., a maximum lifting capacity of 2,100 lb and a breakout force of 3,400 lb. The standard backhoe bucket size is 12 in. and is available in sizes ranging from 10 to 36 in. The loader has a maximum bucket pin height, with dual cylinders, of 90 in. and a bucket capacity of 1/2 cu yd.

Optional equipment includes four-wheel assist, a soft cab enclosure, auxiliary hydraulics and a heavy-duty front-end bumper that accepts traction weights. The soft cab enclosure allows for year-round use.

The machine is equipped with a hydraulic PTO, so it can directly power many machine-mounted or hand-held attachments, such as augers, tampers, breakers, drills and saws.

The Contractor TLB-35, with an overall weight of 4,570 lb, has a 33.3-hp engine and an optional two-speed hydrostatic four-wheel drive. The loader has a bucket capacity of 1/2 cu yd. The backhoe has a digging depth of 9 ft 8 in. and a breakout force of 5,248 lb. Using dual hydraulic swing cylinders, the backhoe has a full 180? hydraulic cushioned swing.

The TLB-35 is equipped with the same standard equipment as the other TLB models plus optional equipment such as a lighting package, various size buckets and a heavy-duty front bumper. Designed to accept standard tractor weights for increased front-end traction, the bumper allows for greater mobility when operating in snowy, icy or muddy conditions.

Entry level

The 214Se Series 4 is an entry-level, 14-ft-class loader backhoe with four-wheel drive, four-wheel steering and four equal-size tires. The 214Se Series 4 is the latest loader backhoe from JCB Inc., Pooler, Ga. The machine provides exceptional traction and maneuverability, according to the company, with special application to the rental industry, builders, landscapers and cemeteries.

The 214Se Series 4 is equipped with a JCB diesel turbo engine that generates 86 hp and SynchroShuttle transmission. It is based on the 214e Series 4, but with a revised frame for better visibility.

The loader half of the machine has a lifting force of 6,800 lb, a breakout force of 11,750 lb, a bucket size of 1.4 cu yd and a reach of 28 in. The backhoe half has a depth of 14 ft 4 in., a boom lift of 2,735 lb at 0 ft, a dipper lift of 4,945 lb at 8 ft and a bucket force of 11,470 lb.

Smart hydraulics

The technology that goes into the Komatsu Avance excavators is now also incorporated into two backhoe loaders from Komatsu Utility Corp., Vernon Hills, Ill. The HydrauMind system consists of a variable-flow hydraulic pump and an "intelligent" hydraulic circuit that allows the machine to react almost instantly to a specific operator control.

The operator controls and cab design of the two backhoes¾
the WB140-2 and the WB150-2¾
were refined through extensive testing in North America, according to Ken Nakamura, president of Komatsu Utility. The cab incorporates low-effort controls and additional glass at the top and sides of the cab to give the operator an unobstructed, all-around view.

The machines incorporate precision features such as a closed-center load sensing system, load-independent flow dividers, two working modes and speed-up. They also have power shuttle transmissions, power shift inverters and heavy-duty axles.

Komatsu Utility’s WB140PS-2 and WB150PS-2 backhoes feature a power shift transmission, electronic gear management (EGM) and an anti-theft mode. The new power shift transmission is electronically controlled with four forward and three reverse gears and gives the machine a top speed of 25 mph. The operator can switch driving direction and gears during operation without power interruption or disengaging the machine.

The transmission allows the operator to set the gear selection to automatic mode, manual mode or a mode in which first and second gear can be selected without using the gear controls. A microprocessor in the EGM system not only manages the commands sent to the transmission, but also offers other important functions, such as system self-diagnostics, automatic connection/disconnection of the four-wheel drive and activation of the anti-theft alarm using a code number.

The WB140-2 and WB140PS-2 weigh 16,600 lb, produce 86 hp and have a maximum digging depth of 14 ft 6 in. The WB150-2 and WB150PS-2 weigh 17,394 lb, produce 98 hp and have a maximum digging depth of 15 ft 6 in.

Dedicated loader/backhoe

The backhoe part of the 6000LBH from Ingersoll Equipment Co. Inc., Winneconne, Wis., is attached to the compact tractor via mounting arms connected to a counterweight for maximum digging performance. The backhoe features a 92-in. digging depth with joystick controls and offers a selection of buckets from 8 in. to 24 in.

The loader part of the 6000LBH is designed as an integral part of the tractor and frame with heavy lift arms and reinforced bucket for maximum strength with a single lever control. The loader bucket lift capacity is 750 lb at full height.

The tractor features an 18-hp engine, power steering and hydraulic drive through a two-speed transaxle controlled by a foot pedal. Options include a ROPS.

By popular demand

The most popular model in the line of compact loader backhoes from Terramite Corp., Charleston, W.V., is the T5C. The machine is equipped with a 20-hp engine and a hydrastatic transmission. It has a digging depth of 8 ft 4 in., a dipstick dig force of 2,800 lb, a bucket curl force of 3,100 lb and a backhoe lift force of 750 lb.

The hydraulic valves are made to withstand a pressure of 3,500 psi and a flow rate of 25 gal/min.

The tractor has an integral design made of steel plate 1/4 to 1 in. thick. All mounting plates brace the frame for added strength. In addition, there are only 58 grade 8 bolts in the entire machine.

Terramite hydraulic motors are rated for 40 hp. A unique high-pressure shaft seal eliminates the need for case drains, check valves and extra plumbing.

Giant killer

EarthForce America Inc., Summerville, S.C., calls its EF-6 EarthMaster loader backhoe a "giant killer." The machine sports an 83-hp Kubota turbo diesel engine with a four-speed Carraro syncroshuttle transmission.

Standard features on the EF-6 include selectable crab steer, four-wheel steer, 2-wheel drive and four-wheel drive with four equal-size tires and a 25-mph travel speed. ROPS/FOPS or climate-controlled cabins are available. The EF-6 also features 12- or 14-ft digging depths in either center mount or sideshift configuration.

The self-leveling 1.1-cu-yd front loader can lift 6,077 lb to full height and has a 9,422-lb breakout force. The backhoe features a bucket breakout force of 10,240 lb and a standard 22-in.-wide bucket.

The EF-5 Professional’s Choice features a 56-hp engine and a two-speed hydrostatic transmission and travels at 12.5 mph. The self-leveling loader bucket can lift 4,850 lb to full height and has a 9,370-lb breakout force. The backhoe features a digging depth in excess of 11 ft with a 7,495-lb bucket breakout force.

Multiple personality excavator/backhoe

The latest role to be taken on by the Orbiter from Flannegan Western, Emmetsburg, Iowa, is that of a mini excavator that looks like a backhoe except that the whole cab rotates a full 360û. The machine’s modular design, with front and rear attachment capabilities, allows it to transform from a loader to a forklift to a personnel lift¾
and now to a hybrid mini excavator/backhoe.

With a digging depth of 6 to 7 ft, the dipper-style excavator attachment is great for footings, utility work and general construction, according to the company. Dipper options that provide more reach also are available. The dipper attachment also can be removed quickly to convert the machine to another function.

The Orbiter will accept universal skid steer attachments and is available in several models, ranging from 18 to 47 hp, with a two-, three- or four-cylinder engine. The machine is available equipped with two- or four-wheel drive and with a gasoline or diesel engine.

The Orbiter has zero tail swing for use in confined areas. It has an overall weight between 1,800 lb and 3,000 lb and a travel speed up to 9 mph.

Don’t kick the bucket

Trying to use a backhoe without a bucket would be a little like trying to eat rice with one chopstick¾
futile. And since the bucket is where the earthmover meets the earth, the bucket needs to be sturdy.

Gannon excavator, backhoe and loader buckets, made by Woods Equipment Co., Rockford, Ill., are made of high-strength alloys and wear-resistant steels and come in a variety of shapes and sizes. They are available in general-service or special-purpose models.

The attachments are designed to fit most makes and models of drive units. The wide range of profiles and capacities allows a contractor to increase the versatility of its machines, according to the company.

Gannon backhoe buckets feature direct pin-on connections, high-strength T-1 cutting edges, full top-leg steel shanks, drag-reducing beveled and tapered side cutters and capacities from 3.3 to 17.1 cu ft.

A boom to the side

The sideboom from Kenco Corp., Ligonier, Pa., can be attached to the side of a backhoe with a kit or at Kenco’s factory. The boom allows for easy pipe installation in narrow trenches, according to the company, and is designed for today’s smaller, lightweight pipe. It tilts in and out hydraulically, has a winch, which is controlled electronically from the cab, and extends for various applications. The sideboom is available for various brands and sizes of backhoe loaders.

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