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Do You Know How Backhoes Got Their Name?

Backhoes are everywhere and range in size from small toy-like machines to huge monsters, but have you wondered how they got their name? Let’s have a look and see if there are any clues.

The most common backhoe in use today is a backhoe loader. These machines have a large wide loading scoop at the front and a smaller digging bucket at the rear. These vehicles can perform various roles with the front scoop predominantly used to move material such as sand, earth, and gravel. The digging bucket at the back (also called a hoe – now is that a clue?) is used to dig holes, traditionally trenches.

There are other types in use as well. The skid loader is a very small version of a front-end loader. However, the front scoop can be removed and a backhoe attachment fitted. The backhoes attachment works in exactly the same manner as a traditional backhoe.

Now, hang on – a backhoe goes at the back of the machine, doesn’t it? That is why it is called a backhoe. That is the popular misconception. A backhoe is not called a backhoe because the bucket is at the ‘back’ of the machine. The answer is just as straightforward, however.

If you think about the front loader or a bulldozer, they move earth and dig by scooping the dirt forward, away from the machine. Backhoes dig by moving the earth towards the machine. In other words, it moves dirt backwards rather than forwards. So, that is where the backhoe derived its name.

It is perhaps a useless piece of information unless you’re looking to work as a backhoe operator. However, you would be surprised at how many people would not have known. It would be an interesting question to put to all new students before they commenced their backhoe training – I am sure we could catch a lot of them out – unless of course, they have read this post.

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