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What Is a Hydraulic Backhoe?

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  • Written By: B. Turner
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 14 November 2016
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A hydraulic backhoe is a piece of heavy-duty equipment used for moving or loading materials. These machines serve as an alternate to traditional, non-hydraulic backhoes, which offered limited lifting capacity. The hydraulic backhoe relies on hydraulic fluid to generate lifting force and power. This allows the operator to move or load very large or heavy materials, which would not be possible with other types of equipment.

The standard hydraulic backhoe consists of an operator cab located above a set or wheels or tracks, which carry the machine across the ground. A long arm, or boom, extends out from the front of the cab. This boom is hinged so that it resembles the knuckles in a human finger. A bucket or claw-like device rests at the end of the boom. Using controls within the cab, the operator can draw the bucket towards the machine to dig, direct it out and away from the machine to lift or move an object.

Hydraulic systems can generate tremendous power because they utilize fluid, such as oil, which cannot be compressed. When pistons within the machine attempt to compress this oil, the oil simply transfers this force to other parts of the machine. In a hydraulic backhoe, this extra force helps to lift the boom of the machine, or to dig through dense materials. It also allows the machine to travel over rough terrain with ease, or perform other difficult tasks.

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Construction and earthwork are the most common tasks associated with the hydraulic backhoe. These machines may also be used for mining, forestry, and road work. They can be found in quarries or landfills, where they are used to sort and stack materials. By lifting the boom up off the earth, operators can also use a hydraulic backhoe to demolish a building without the use of explosives.

The primary appeal of the hydraulic backhoe is the amount of power and lifting force it is able to generate. This allows crews to lift heavier loads much more quickly than they could with other types of equipment. It also allows workers to dig through tough or rocky soil with relative ease.

Like other large types of construction equipment, the hydraulic backhoe is very large and often very expensive. The size of this machine may prohibit it from fitting on some construction sites, particularly in urban areas. These machines can also be very dangerous for operators and other nearby workers, even if proper training and safety precautions are taken.

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