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It pretty much started with Bobcat back in the late 1950’s but now there is a huge choice of manufacturers of skid steer loaders – also known simply as ‘SSL’. But how do you know you need one rather than a larger, more traditional loader? The simple answer is, if the space on site is tight, then you need a loader than can turn around in its own width – that’s where the skid steer comes in. Of course, a skid steer can do much more than load – there are tonnes of attachments for them these days. Read on to find out about the main types of skid steer loaders – wheeled and tracked and ‘Radial Lift’ vs. ‘Vertical Lift’.
To operate one, you don’t need to know exactly how it works or when and how it was invented, but the loader’s weight is distributed unevenly meaning that one part is heavier than the other. The wheels on the heavier side of the loader counter rotate. This pivots the loader so that the two wheels on the other side ‘skid’ in the direction of the turn. If the machine has tracks, then it is often called a ‘compact tracked loader’ although the jobs they do are largely similar to a wheeled skid steer, they perform better on unstable surfaces and a more sure-footed in digging and slightly easier to manoeuvre through gaps. there are relatively few of these machines in the UK market so, at Plant Pages, we categorise them all in one place.
The vertical lift versions came over ten years after the first radial designs. Invented by New Holland in the 1970s, they have a higher reach and, whilst they won’t match a telehandler for performance, the vertical lift machines will reach higher than a radial machine which swings from a single pivot so the bucket follows an arc when raised. This means that if you are digging out, go for a radial machine, if you are lifting and loading then opt for the vertical system. The vertical machines can typically lift more than the radial machines and keep the load closer to the machine. You can usually tell the machines by a model number; the manufacturers often use the letter R or V to denote the type. Both the wheel and tracked SSL have options for vertical or radial lift.
If you are not sure, take advice, but it is likely that you will be opting for the radial version.
These machines are meant to be compact, so there is usually little difference in actual size between the models. You can usually specify a small, medium or large frame which will have capacities u to 750, 1000 and above 100kg respectively. If there are width restrictions to your work (domestic or landscaping works for example, then a small frame would suit best. The medium option is a solid all-rounder, whist a large frame version may best find itself at home in demo spec (demolition) with added protection against falling materials.
Take the smallest JCB the Radial 155 at 3.49 metres long as an example – the largest version (330 Vertical) is only 3.8 metres long with a difference in bucket capacity of 0.36m3 to 0.43m3. The difference is in the rated operating capacity (ROC) which starts at 703kg for the 155 and increases to more than twice this at 1495 for the 330 model. What is the ROC? It is 30-50% of the load it takes to tip the machine over. So the machines can lift more than the ORC but at your peril!
The engine power influences the rating of the machine – the larger the lifting requirement the more powerful the engine. Check out each of the manufacturer’s pages here at Plant Pages for more detail on what is available.
Does the machine you are looking at have standard or high flow hydraulics to run the various attachments you may need. Smaller machines will have a standard flow of around 70 litres per minute (lpm) with larger machines offering nearer 90. Higher flow machines will start at 100 (lpm). Higher flow machines are usually an extra cost option or an upgraded model and will have flows around 125 lpm.
Following the 2022 release of the Bobcat T7X, the world’s first all-electric compact track loader, Bobcat has now unveiled the world’s first all-electric skid-steer loader, the Bobcat S7X. “At Bobcat, we are always pushing the boundaries to explore the next leading advancements that help our customers accomplish more and propel the industry forward,” said Scott Park, Doosan Bobcat CEO and Vice Chairman. “As an organization, we are committed to innovating for our customers’ needs first and foremost, so that they can become more efficient, more productive and more successful.” About the S7X All-Electric Skid-Steer Loader Like the T7X, the S7X…>
Caterpillar announces new options for the Cat® Smart Grader Blade and Smart Dozer Blade. The new external control kit for GB120 and GB124 smart grader blades expands use of these blades to Cat D and D2 series SSL and CTL machines, enabling customers with previous model fleets to run smart blades. The new 3D grade control kit uses existing connections to easily add automatic blade control to the Cat Smart Dozer Blade. Smart grader blades Cat Smart Grader Blades were previously only made available for customers with newer Cat D3 series SSL and CTL machines. The new external control kit…>
To improve machine efficiency in nursery and landscape applications, Caterpillar has introduced new attachments for its range of Cat Skid Steer Loaders (SSL), Compact Track Loaders (CTL) and Compact Wheel Loaders (CWL). These purpose-built attachments cover multiple tasks, including the handling and scooping of trees, shrubs and bushes, removing and carrying stumps, and loading mulch. New Cat nursery fork, tree scoop bucket and 1 yd3 (0.76 m3) mulch bucket attachments improve machine utilization for Cat SSL, CTL and CWL models. The new Cat stump buckets and nursery grapples are specifically designed to efficiently work with Cat SSL and CTL machines.…>
Komatsu Europe has revealed an all -new range of EU Stage V emissions compliant skid steer loaders, the SK715-8, SK815-8 and SK820-8. The “dash 8”. “The new Komatsu skid steer loader family provide a powerful, efficient, and user-friendly environment while retaining their iconic uncompromising reliability and durability” says Alex Visentin, product manager for the new skid steer loader EU Stage V emissions compliance is only the start of the dash 8 Skid Steer Loader story. The company’s engineers have designed a spacious cabin that belies the ultra-compact size and extreme agility of the dash 8 range, an all-new monitor, high…>
Featuring for the first time at this year’s Bauma 2022 exhibition, the new S86 R-Series Skid-Steer Loader and T86 R-Series Compact Track Loader replace the previous 700 and 800 M-Series loaders and complete the current R-Series loader line-up. Delivering a higher engine and hydraulic output, the Bobcat S86 and T86 are the most powerful compact loaders the company has ever built. Both machines use a well-proven Stage V compliant 3.4 l Bobcat engine – producing 78 kW (105 HP) at 2600 RPM. One of the most exciting new aspects of the S86 and T86 is that both machines have for…>