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A skid steer backhoe is a combination of a skid steer with a backhoe attachment added in place of the more common bucket. There are definite advantages in using a skid steer backhoe for smaller jobs, which are most commonly in tight and difficult-to-access areas. The skid steer is a machine that does not have turning steer tires. Instead, it maneuvers much like a tracked vehicle in that it turns by locking, slowing or reversing one side of each axle while powering the other side of the vehicle, which skids the locked tires while completing the turn. While many manufacturers market skid steer-type equipment, many people know the machine by the moniker Bobcat®.
By creating many attachments to adorn the common skid steer tractor, a versatile machine was created for jobs that are too intensive for hand-operated implements, yet are not involved enough to warrant full-size machinery. The skid steer backhoe is one such machine that can access very tight confines while packing the power to work through most earth-moving obstacles. A skilled operator can drive a skid steer backhoe into very tight areas without damaging the landscaping surrounding the work area.
A typical backhoe is mounted on the back of a full-sized tractor and is equipped with hydraulic outriggers that can be extended down and out to actually lift the tractor off the ground. The backhoe then operates from a position that has the tractor resting on the outriggers in the front and the bucket in the rear. A skid steer backhoe is not equipped with the outrigger system, so it is not as stable as a full-sized unit when digging. This somewhat limits the skid steer backhoe to smaller and less-taxing digging tasks.
One advantage the smaller skid steer unit has over the full-sized unit is that a full-size backhoe needs to raise its outriggers and raise the bucket, and the operator must turn the seat around in order to move the unit to a new digging position. The smaller skid steer backhoe is simply driven to a new position and resumes digging without the required manipulation the full-size unit requires. This actually makes for an expedited digging procedure with a skid steer backhoe and saves not only fuel and the expense of taking the larger equipment to the job site, but also the money on labor by making the overall job faster.