Compact Equipment: Compact backhoes

When space is limited, and gaining the maximum reach and dig depth is not a primary concern, consider using a compact backhoe. Offered in two basic types – dedicated units and machines where the backhoe end can be removed to make use of a 3-point hitch – these units have several points in their favor:

It’s a multi-task machine. While skid steers and compact excavators can excel in production loading and digging applications, a compact backhoe can do both functions well. That’s why it’s a favorite among several types of contractors, including utility contractors, plumbers, irrigation companies and landscapers, most who don’t usually dig deeper than 6 feet. And using one machine eliminates the need for an additional operator.

Attachments and implements make it even more versatile. Popular attachments such as four-in-one buckets, pallet forks, breakers and post-hole diggers add to the compact backhoe’s attractiveness. Three-point hitch models can use implements such as flail mowers and box scrapers. And some models are compatible with skid-steer loader attachments on the loader end and compact excavator attachments on the backhoe. (Be sure to check the auxiliary hydraulic flow and pressure requirements of any attachments you plan on using with your compact backhoe.)

It’s less expensive. An initial purchase price of between $15,000 to $55,000 (depending on the size) will put you in a machine that can do many of the functions of a skid steer or compact excavator, yet not cost the price of both machines combined.

It’s easy to use. Since many of these machines go to the rental market – involving everyone from the inexperienced homeowner to the seasoned professional – they’re designed for instinctual operation. And the old days of having to climb all over the machine to gain access to the backhoe end are over – simply reposition the seat with a lever.

… and easy to transport. Most machines in this size class can be transported on a 14- or 16-foot tandem-axle trailer by a 3/4-ton or heavier pickup truck – an arrangement that usually offers reserve capacity for such things as attachments and implements. And no CDL is required to drive it down the road.

You can pick from a variety of sizes. Compact backhoes range from 6-foot to 11-foot dig depth. While the larger compacts have more of the features and creature comforts offered in full-size backhoes, there is a trade off in maneuverability in tight spaces. Smaller compacts are capable of doing more surgical-type work.

They’re turf friendly. Full-size backhoes can be too heavy for backyard jobs. Compact backhoes usually range from 2,700 to 8,500 pounds operating weight, and can typically fit under trees without breaking branches off.

Kubota L45
Powered by a 45-gross-horsepower Kubota diesel, the Kubota L45 has a lifting capacity of 2,200 pounds and 9-foot 6-inch lifting height. The 10-foot-dig-depth machine has a HST-Plus transmission and offers a standard hydraulic thumb bracket and inching valve. The quick-attach backhoe can be taken off to expose a Category 1 3-point hitch. The right-hand-side IntelliPanel gives the operator system, caution and maintenance information in an easy-to-view digital format.

Terramite T5C
Powered by a 20-horsepower Kohler engine, Terramite’s T5C has an 8-foot 4-inch dig depth. Compact enough to fit into many areas accessible to larger machines, the TC5 has a 13-foot transport length and a 4-foot transport width.

Allmand Bros. TLB-425 ESL
Featuring a servo-controlled hydrostatic transmission, the Allmand TLB-425 ESL allows the operator infinite control as well as reduced pedal effort in both forward and reverse. The machine’s ESL backhoe design has oversized polished pins with replaceable composite bearings and urethane lip seals in all working seals – a design that extends service intervals by eliminating metal-to-metal contact, retaining grease levels and keeping out debris.

John Deere 110 TLB
With a 2,727-pound maximum lift capacity front end loader, the 110 TLB has the ability to lift and move a variety of materials. The “creep to reposition” feature allows operators to move the machine from the backhoe seat. The backhoe detaches quickly, allowing the use of implements requiring a 3-point hitch and rear power take off.

Yanmar CBL40
This machine uses a multiple variable displacement piston pump hydraulic system similar to the one used on the company’s compact excavator. The CBL40’s hydro mechanical transmission blends hydrostatic and mechanical transmission components through a planetary gear set for fuel efficient operation. The unit offers a loader bucket breakout force of 4,850 pounds, a 37.2-horsepower Yanmar diesel engine and a Category 1 3-point hitch.

Waldon Digmaster
With a choice of either a gas or diesel engine, the Digmaster has a canopy, fingertip steering and joystick controls for both the loader and backhoe. The machine has a backhoe digging depth of 8 feet and a reach of 11 feet, combined with a loader lifting capacity of 1,500 pounds.