The backhoe is one of the most commonly seen pieces of equipment wherever there is construction going on. Whether it be house building, industrial buildings, road construction, drainage digging, the normally bright yellow backhoe will usually be seen there.
It has relatives large and small from machines that work in narrow spaces between houses, or in cramped back gardens, to bulldozers, and crawler tractors which look like a cross between a bulldozer and a tank, that move earth by digging ripping and blading, moving on moving tank type tracks rather than tyres, like the excavator which can wield a much larger bucket than the backhoe, because of its tracked mobility.
The whole range has grown from the original concept of the back hoe, to utilise hydraulics and machine balance to achieve articulated tool use.
From the mid 19th century, a variety of steam shovels and lifters, either in fixed positions or on railway type tracks were employed in industries such as excavation and mining.
The dipper shovel had a boom, or lifting arm from which a beam, or, dipper stick pivoted out with a bucket attachment for digging, all with a basic mobility.
This was the forerunner of the backhoe, in a similar way that the flyer at Kitty Hawk in 1903 was the forerunner of the Boing 747, times change.
With the advent of the internal combustion engine, agricultural machinery, particularly tractors, became a vital part of farming and beyond.
From the ‘30s to the ‘50s, various “bolt-on” adaptations to tractors were tried and adapted for various tasks, but none was designated or purpose built.
In the early 1950’s major innovations from Joseph Cyril Bamford in the UK, which led to the JCB company, and Elton Long, a retired engineer from the Case Corporation in the USA, led to the first of the modern backhoe designs.
The machine combines a backhoe digger on one end, and loader on the other. The term “backhoe” is the action of the digging bucket which reaches forward and digs backwards towards the machine.
The weight of each tool, the bucket on one end and the loader on the other are used to counter balance each other when in use. Stability is and the centre of gravity is established by two hydraulic stabilisers which transfer much of the weight down onto the ground.
By the mid ‘60s the machine became a major on construction sites with its easy adaptations from excavations, digging house footing and backfilling too lifting and loading.
Gradual improvement and innovation over thirty years saw the backhoe and its derivatives able to provide many, many designated tasks per vehicle’
In 1995 Case added the L series, with six models of loader/backhoes. See the current construction equipment range at John Hanlon & Co Ltd. State of the art hydraulics, improved road performance and innovations in operator comfort set the standards at the close of the millennium.