Operating a backhoe on a farm is not extremely complex, but you do need to know exactly what you are doing before you set out with this heavy and potentially dangerous piece of machinery. No matter where you need to operate a backhoe, the principles of operation are the same. In this article, we review backhoe driving basics. Read on to learn more on how to operate a backhoe as well as how to drive a backhoe.
What You'll Learn Today
- What Can You Do With A Backhoe?
- How To Use The Backhoe-Loader Control Levers
- 7 Steps To Follow To Safely Fire Up Your Backhoe
- 15 Steps For Safe Digging With A Backhoe
- 3 Steps For Safe Backfilling With A Backhoe
- 4 Important Safe Backhoe Operation Guidelines
What Can You Do With A Backhoe?
When you know how to operate a backhoe correctly, you will be able to perform a large number of tasks around the farm or job site (and potentially make some money), including:
- Post installation
- Grading surfaces
- Digging trenches
- Pipe laying
How To Use The Backhoe-Loader Control Levers
The left arm control lever is the one you will use to control the boom. This is the first section of the rear arm of the backhoe. It is located closest to the cab.
- When you want to lift the boom up, you should pull this lever toward you.
- When you want to lower the boom, push this lever away from you.
- When you want to swing the boom from one side to the other, you should move this lever from side to side.
You’ll use the right arm control lever to control the stick. This is the second part of the rear arm of the backhoe. It is attached to the bucket. This lever also controls the bucket.
- To draw the stick and the bucket toward you, pull the lever toward you.
- To push the stick and the bucket away, push the lever away.
- To use the bucket for digging (aka: curl) move this lever left.
- To dump the contents of the bucket, move this lever right.
The two small stabilizer backhoe controls can be found between the arm control levers. These two small levers can move independently from one another to operate more safely on uneven terrain.
- Use the left control to manage the left backhoe stabilizer.
- Use the right control to manage the right backhoe stabilizer.
The throttle control is a knob that is used to adjust the revs per minute (RPM) of engine throttle. You will lower RPMs for smaller jobs. Additionally, you will need to adjust RPMs for various backhoe attachments.
The boom unlock is a floor pedal that is used to keep the boom arm from moving until you release it for digging.
7 Steps To Follow To Safely Fire Up Your Backhoe
- Mount the steps and get a secure hold on the entrance handle. Turn around completely when entering the cab.
- Secure the cab door.
- Remember to fasten your seat belt.
- Turn the ignition ¼ turn. You will hear a beep.
- Depress the foot control.
- Release the parking brake.
- Turn the ignition fully.
15 Steps For Safe Digging With A Backhoe
- Be sure the area where you park has ample clearance to the sides and rear.
- Set your backhoe at a slight angle (left or right) to give you a clear field of vision while you are digging.
- Carefully lower your stabilizers until you have suspended the rear wheels.
- Double check to be sure the backhoe is in neutral. This will help prevent tipping.
- Lower your front bucket completely to suspend the front wheels.
- Draw your left arm control to you, causing the boom to attain maximum height.
- Depress the unlocking mechanism while simultaneously drawing the left arm control to you. Now the boom is unlocked.
- Push the left arm control away to lower the boom.
- Push the right arm control away to push out the stick.
- To curl the bucket, push the right arm control leftward.
- Maintain pressure on the lever until it feels as if the backhoe has encountered something solid. This means that the bucket is full.
- Draw the right arm to you to raise the boom.
- Use the left arm control to swing the boom right or left to the location where you will dump the load.
- Dump the bucket by pushing the right arm control in a rightward direction.
- Direct the boom back to the work area by using the left arm control.
Repeat until the task is complete.
3 Steps For Safe Backfilling With A Backhoe
When you have finished a digging project, you may need to re-fill the area you have just excavated. For example, if you were laying pipe, you’ll need to cover the pipe. Here’s how:
- Use the front loader bucket to push the dirt back into the hole.
- Once you’ve filled the hole, pack the material down tightly by running back and forth over it several times.
- Smooth the surface by dragging the front bucket over it at a slight angle.
4 Important Safe Backhoe Operation Guidelines
A backhoe is a large and potentially dangerous piece of machinery. Improper operation can lead to damage, injury and even death. This is why safe backhoe operation must be taken seriously.
To help with this, the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) has issued a backhoe safety manual providing important guidelines and facts. You should familiarize yourself with this manual.
The entire book is important, but there are several items to which you should pay very close attention:
- Never travel rapidly over uneven or sloping ground. Doing so can easily cause you to tip over.
- Always keep a full bucket very near to the ground. Carrying a full bucket too high can cause you to tip over.
- Always check all fluids before starting up your backhoe. Operating at low or empty fluid levels can damage or destroy your hydraulic system.
- Be aware of your surroundings. Locate utility lines, fences, buildings, etc. that could be damaged or destroyed or cause accidents while you are operating your backhoe.
In addition to operating your backhoe at work sites, you may also need to drive it on the open road occasionally to get it from one site to another.
This short video provides concise instruction and tips on safely driving a backhoe on the public roadways.