Front end Loader, Excavator

3, 560 posts, read 4, 369, 632 times

Reputation: 4425

I'm a curious layperson who always likes to pick the brains of experts and pros. So.
...what's the difference between:

- a skid steer
- back hoe
- excavator
- and other heavy equipment whose names I may not know

Correct me if I'm wrong but from I know that BOBCAT is a BRAND NAME that's commonly used as the name of a small to mid-sized piece of construction equipment that can perform several duties depending on the front attachment and job that needs to be done.

But technically using the term "Bobcat" doesn't say much about the job that;s being done - whether demolition or digging for example.

Location: The Triad (nc)

20, 133 posts, read 44, 361, 524 times

Reputation: 18357

I don't need the equipment. I was looking for a pro's detailed explanation of the difference between the pieces of equipment.

For example why would a person choose a Bobcat for the job versus a skid steer? Tight space to work in? The nature of the work to be done? For example, is it because a Bobcat is versatile, with the various attachments it can do many things on one job? Is a skid steer bigger? Does an excavator or back how only do one thing?

Also when a person says BACK HOE, is that the VEHICLE - or the attachment on it for a particular job - and the person is just using the term back hoe to refer to the entire vehicle but technically it's not.

As a new home owner DECADES ago. When I heard the term 'Bobcat' I that it was a specific vehicle - Come to find out it's a company that makes all kinds of vehicles - so all the equipment it makes are technically 'bobcats.'

That's like saying I'm going to get a 'Catepillar.' Well that's a brand name that really doesn't say anything about the particular piece of heavy equipment you'll be using for the job.

What exactly IS a skid steer, or back hoe, or excavator? Plus there are other pieces of heavy construction equipment that I can't recall.

Status: "Retired over 3 years" (set 2 days ago)

Location: Alaska

5, 322 posts, read 13, 980, 720 times

Reputation: 3886

So... would you say back hoe is a vehicle - and Bobcat would be the brand name of that equipment. SO. "Bobcat" makes back hoes. And not all Bobcats are back hoes.

'The 'bobcats' I've seen were always small to mid-sized.So sometimes I think people say bobcat when they mean the smaller vehicle...and back hoe when they mean a bigger one. In general, that is. I've seen people say "back hoe" and lo and behold a smaller vehicle others call a 'bobcat' comes around the corner.

I'm thinking back hoe is the vehicle (which can be fitted with various front attachments, and comes in VARIOUS sizes.) - and that "Bobcat" makes back hoes. And not all Bobcats are back hoes. So using the term "bobcat" tells nothing about the actual piece of equipment being used. All the pieces of various equipment on a job could be a 'Bobcat" regardless of size or job being done.

Then add the other factor of people also say 'excavator' when they mean back hoe and vice versa.Is the VEHICLE the excavator -and the ATTACHMENT the back hoe .or the other way around?

482 posts, read 884, 505 times

Reputation: 337

You're putting way too much thought into it.

Here's what I think of when I hear those terms:




The backhoe pictured is technically a tractor with a backhoe attachment. But nobody says they want a "tractor with backhoe attachment". For light to medium-duty work, that's what they're talking about when they say "backhoe". Without the backhoe attachment, that tractor shown could also be called a front-end loader.

Yes, Bobcat is a tractor company, but it's like using "Band-Aid" or "Kleenex". The brand name is synonymous with their most popular product. If you say you want to rent a Bobcat, everyone immediately thinks of that little skid-steer machine.

3, 560 posts, read 4, 369, 632 times

And the key factor in what makes a Bobcat brand excavator / front end loader /telescopic platform so versatile that it has become a generic way to describe the whole class is their "skid steering" which makes it easy to "spin in place" for true "zero radius access" into tight spaces like the inside of buildings, narrow urban lots, or the unstable temporary excavataed areas...

Technically the "Bobcat" pictured above is a "wheeled skid steer front loader"... They also make power equipment that competes with platforms from Cushman and John Deere's "Gator" that have steerable front wheels that they call "ToolCats"...

3, 560 posts, read 4, 369, 632 times

Thanks. I like knowing what contractors are talking about. It's one of those professions that has it's own language.

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