Skid Loader – An Essential Construction Equipment

skid loaderThe skid loader is a rigid frame, engine powered machine with lift arms that are used to attach a wide variety of labor saving tools or attachments. Skid loaders are normally four wheel drive with  left side drive wheels that are independent of right side drive wheels.  With each side being independent to the other, the wheel speed and direction of rotation of the wheels will determine which direction the loader turns.

Skid loaders are capable of turning in their own tracks, which makes them very maneuverable and  valuable for jobs that require the use of compact, agile loader.

Unlike conventional front loaders, the lift arms lay beside the driver with the major pivot points located behind the shoulders of the operator.  Due to the operator being in close proximity to moving booms and buckets, earlier models of skid loaders weren’t as safe as conventional front loaders, particularly during entering and exiting.

Skid loaders today have fully enclosed cabs and other safety features that will protect the operator from injury.  Just like other front loaders,  the skid steer can scrape material from one  location to another, carry material in a bucket, or load material on a truck or a trailer.

Skid Loader Operation

A skid loader can sometimes take the place of a large excavator by digging a hole out from the inside.  The skid loader will first dig a ramp that leads to the edge of the hole.  Then, the loader will use the ramp to carry material out of the hole.

The skid loader will then reshape the ramp by making it steeper and longer as the excavation gets deeper.  This method is very useful for
digging under an overhead structure where the overhead clearance doesn’t allow for the boom of a large excavator, such as those situations where you are digging a basement under a house.

The bucket of most types of skid loaders can be replaced with several specialized buckets or attachments, many of which are powered by the  hydraulic system of the loader.

History of Skid Loader

The first 3 wheeled front end loader was invented by two brothers, Cyril and Louis Keller in their machinist shop in Minnesota back in 1957. The Kellers built the loader to help a nearby farmer clean turkey manure from his two story barn. The light and compact loader, with the rear caster wheel, was able to turn around within the length of itself, while performing the very same tasks as conventional front end loaders.

Down the road, the Melroe manufacturing company in Gwinner ND, purchased the rights to the Keller loader in 1958 and hired the brothers to continue their loader invention. Resulting from the partnership, the M-200 self propelled loader was introduced at the end of 1958.

The loader featured two independent front drive wheels and a rear caster wheel, a 12.9 engine and a 750 lb lift capacity. Two years later, they ended up replacing the caster wheel with a rear axle and introduced the M-400 loader, which wasthe first four wheel skid steer loader in the world.

In 1962, the Bobcat name was added to describe the key features of the machine – touch, agile, and quick. The M-440 was powered by a 15.5 HP engine and offered a 1100 lb rated operating capacity. In the mid 1960s, the skid steer loader progressed with the introduction of the M600 loader.

Years later, the Bobcat skid steer loader experienced quite a few changes, including the development of a hydrostatic drive system, enforced cab structures, radius and vertical lift arm configurations, deluxe instrumentation, and even heating and air conditioning.

In addition to the rubber tire skid loaders of today, there are now all-wheel steer loaders and even compact track loaders. Compact track loads offer less ground disturbance and feature better traction and control in soft, muddy, wet, and even sandy ground conditions.