Skid loader

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(Redirected from Skid-steer loader)

A skid loader, also called a skid steer, is a compact, low capacity machine used for pushing or lifting material and for digging. It is typically used for earth moving during construction and landscaping in limited spaces but is also used to move loose materials in farming and industry.

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A Bobcat brand skid loader.

A 'Bobcat' brand skid loader.

It is a front loader, that uses differential 'skid' steering and typically has the engine and a counter weight behind the operator. This design makes it smaller, lighter and more maneuverable than a conventional tractor based front loader with similar load capacity. Most have four wheels but some have a pair of permanently mounted tracks. (Although they have skid steering, conventional tractor based front loaders with tracks are usually not called skid loaders if they have the engine in front.)

Mini skid loaders are even smaller and include 'walk behind' cable or radio controled skid loaders and the slightly larger platform skid loaders.

Platform skid loaders have a small platform on the back instead of a seat for the operator to stand on.

It is a type of front loader because it is typically equipped with a wide tilting bucket on the front that can move up and down. Unlike a conventional front loader the lift arms lay alongside the driver with the major pivot points behind the driver's shoulders.

Because of the operator's proximity to moving booms and buckets early skid loaders were not as safe as conventional front loaders, particularly during entry and exit of the operator. Modern skid loaders have fully enclosed cabs and other safety features to protect the operator from injury.

Like other front loaders it can scrape material from one location to another, carry material in its bucket or load material into a truck or trailer.

It can sometimes be used in place of a large excavator by digging a hole from the inside. The skid loader first digs a ramp leading to the edge of the desired excavation. The skid loader uses the ramp to carry material out of the hole. The skid loader reshapes the ramp making it steeper and longer as the excavation deepens. This method is particularly useful for digging under an overhead structure where overhead clearance does not allow for the boom of a large excavator, e.g. digging a basement under an existing house.

The conventional bucket of many skid loaders can be replaced with a variety specialized buckets or attachments, many powered by the loader's hydraulic system. E.g. backhoe, breaker, concrete pump.

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Skid loader with bucket replaced by snowplow attachment

Skid loader with bucket replaced by snowplow attachment
Skid loader with bucket replaced by backhoe attachment
Skid loader with bucket replaced by backhoe attachment

The very first skid loader invented by brothers, Cyril and Louis Keller (manufacturer) for farm use. It had two drive wheels in the front and a single wheel on a swivel in the back. The engine was behind the driver above the rear wheel. Later versions used the brand name "Bobcat" and this name is sometimes used as a generic term for skid steer loaders.

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