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How Caterpillar Backhoe Loaders Work
by Marshall Brain and Tom Harris


  
 › Introduction to How Caterpillar Backhoe Loaders Work
What is a Backhoe Loader?
Why Are Backhoe Loaders So Popular?
Hydraulic Power
Hydraulic Valves
Hydraulics in the Backhoe
Hydraulics in the Loader
Operating the Backhoe Loader
The Hydraulic Pump
Attaching Different Tools
› Inside a Backhoe Loader
Video Gallery
Lots More Information!
› What do you think?


Special thanks to Jeff Lind and the rest of the Caterpillar® team for their support in creating this article!
If you were to ask a large group of people what they could tell you about backhoe loaders, a lot of them wouldn't know what you were talking about. But if you showed them a picture of one, almost everybody would understand what you meant. We've all seen backhoe loaders, commonly called backhoes. They are used for a number of different jobs and are often the only piece of heavy equipment at a construction site. We pass them on the side of the road all the time.


Photo courtesy Caterpillar
A Caterpillar backhoe loader at work

But even somebody who has passed by dozens of backhoes may not know that much about them. What exactly do they do? Why are they used for so many different sorts of construction projects? How can they dig such big holes in such a short amount of time? How strong are they?

In this edition of HowStuffWorks, we'll look at what backhoes can do, examine the machinery that makes this work possible and show you how workers actually control a backhoe. The next time you pass a backhoe loader working alongside the freeway, you'll know exactly what it's doing!

Complete Backhoe Simulator!

Drive a complete 3-D Backhoe simulator -- with the keyboard or two joysticks!

The simulator runs in a browser using Shockwave 3-D (which you can download for free). You need to have a decent Pentium 3 or Pentium 4 machine for smooth animation, and a fast Internet connection is helpful (but not necessary) because the simulator file is about 2.5 megabytes when it first downloads.

This article includes streaming video, 3-D models, interactive animation and several other rich media file types. A broadband Internet connection (such as DSL or T1) is best for viewing these files. They may not run on all browsers and connection speeds. To view all of the files, you will need some free browser plug-ins and other programs. You can download the programs you need as you go through the article, or you can download them here.

Click on the program to download a free copy:

 
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Table of Contents:
› Introduction to How Caterpillar Backhoe Loaders Work
What is a Backhoe Loader?
Why Are Backhoe Loaders So Popular?
Hydraulic Power
Hydraulic Valves
Hydraulics in the Backhoe
Hydraulics in the Loader
Operating the Backhoe Loader
The Hydraulic Pump
Attaching Different Tools
› Inside a Backhoe Loader
Video Gallery
Lots More Information!
› What do you think?

 
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