AskDefine | Define backhoe

Dictionary Definition

backhoe n : an excavator whose shovel bucket is attached to a hinged boom and is drawn backward to move earth

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. A piece of excavating equipment consisting of a digging bucket on the end of an articulated arm; drawn backwards to move earth.
  2. In the context of "primarily|US": A multi-purpose tractor with a front-mounted loading bucket and a rear-mounted backhoe.


a piece of excavating equipment
a multi-purpose tractor


to backhoe
  1. to use such equipment

See also

Extensive Definition

A backhoe, also called a rear actor or back actor, is a piece of excavating equipment consisting of a digging bucket on the end of a two-part articulated arm. They are typically mounted on the back of a tractor or front loader. The section of the arm closest to the vehicle is known as the boom, and the section which carries the bucket is known as the dipper. The boom is attached to the vehicle through a pivot known as the kingpost, which allows the arm to slew left and right, usually through a total of around 200 degrees. Modern backhoes are powered by hydraulics.
Similar attachments for skid loaders are still called backhoes even though they are mounted on the front. This is because the name refers to the action of the shovel, not its location on the vehicle: a backhoe digs by drawing earth backwards, rather than lifting it with a forward motion like a bulldozer.
A backhoe loader is a tractor-like vehicle with an arm and bucket mounted on the back and a front loader mounted on the front. This type of vehicle is often known colloquially as a JCB in Europe.
With the advent of hydraulic powered attachments such as a tiltrotator, breaker, a grapple or an auger, the backhoe is frequently used in many applications other than excavation and with the tiltrotator attachment, actually serves as an effective tool carrier. Many backhoes feature quick-attach mounting systems for simplified attachment mounting, dramatically increasing the machine's utilization on the jobsite. Backhoes are usually employed together with loaders and bulldozers. Excavators that use a backhoe are sometimes called "trackhoes" by people who do not realize the name is due to the action of the bucket, not its location on a backhoe loader.


The British company JCB developed the early backhoes. Their first tractor equipped with both a backhoe and a front mounted loading bucket was completed in 1953 and set the standard pattern for future designs of backhoe loader. Because of the long-time predominance of this marque in the United Kingdom and Ireland, it has become a genericized trademark there, and all backhoe-equipped diggers are commonly called JCBs, while the term "backhoe" is almost unknown to the general public. The founder of the JCB company holds the honour of being the only non-American in the US construction industry's Hall of Fame.
In early 1957 Case moved to acquire Churubusco, Ind.-based American Tractor Corp., a successful small firm that was developing a hydraulically powered backhoe to attach to its crawler units. American Tractor had started making crawlers in 1949 and developed numerous innovations including a threepoint hitch and torque converter.
After the acquisition was complete, Case engineer Elton Long and his team brought in resources from throughout the company to finish development of an integrated loader/backhoe under a very tight deadline. By early spring, Case had successfully merged technologies to create the Case 320, the first fully integrated loader/backhoe made and warranted by one company.
The new machine was compact and easy to maneuver. Among its early keys to success was the ability to quickly do small jobs previously done by hand. Rubber tires gave it mobility to handle material and load out unused spoil from excavations. It could also work around obstructions and in tight areas. And attachments such as pallet forks and crane booms for the loader extended the machine's capabilities.
Before long, Case offered a full line of backhoe buckets up to 38 inches. Case offered a number of self-leveling loader buckets to meet the requirements of specialized tasks. Later innovations included a 180-degree swing mechanism, over-center backhoe for improved ride, enclosed boom box, the Case EXTENDAHOE, powerloader linkage and, most recently, the Pro Control System (PCS).
In 1959, Case introduced the first diesel-powered loader/backhoe, the Case 420. By 1963, Case had introduced the Model 530 Construction King, the first loader/backhoe with power loader linkage and two-cylinder, double-acting swing system with hydraulic cushion. Case added an exclusive return-to-dig feature in 1966 and a hydraulic telescoping extendable backhoe in 1967.
The industry's first patented over-center backhoe was introduced in 1971, making for a smoother ride and better maneuverability. In 1975, Case offered the first unitized mainframe and component-based powertrain. In 1988, Fortune magazine named Case loader/backhoes among the top 100 products America makes best.

Backhoe fade

Backhoe fade or JCB fade is a humorous term coined by the telecommunications industry, referring to the accidental severing of a cable by a backhoe or similar construction activity.
The term comes from the sudden and initially inexplicable loss of signal ("fading") experienced when a cable is accidentally dug up and damaged. Depending on the particular cable destroyed, service may be interrupted to just a few customers or, for a large fiber optic cable, millions of customers across an entire continent.


See also

backhoe in Bulgarian: Багер
backhoe in Japanese: バックホー
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