Backhoe loaders are one of the most common and productive pieces of construction equipment. While most backhoes are not considered to be compact equipment, a lot of them still have the ability to quickly hook up attachments on the front or back end to increase productivity. One such attachment, that many contractors would like to be able to put on their backhoe loader, is a snowblower.
While a snow blower is a common attachment for compact equipment, like Bobcat skid steer loaders and compact track loaders, it is not often that you see one on a backhoe loader. Why would this be the case? Well, the answer is twofold, but it has to do with the drive system on a backhoe and its hydraulic system.
First, we’ll tackle the question of hydraulics. Just like on bobcat skid steers or compact track loaders, a backhoe needs a minimum amount of hydraulic output in order to be able to perform well on a blower and throw the snow far enough. As a base rule of thumb, we’d like to see 15 gpm flow and 3000 psi line pressure. While most backhoes exceed this output when running near full throttle (i.e. high engine RPMs), some do not while idling. What does this have to do with snowblower performance?
The answer lies in the second critical spec. What is the backhoe’s drive system? Most on the market are a hydrostatic drive system where the operator pushes a foot pedal to drive the backhoe forward and reverse. And like an automatic transmission in a car, the RPM and forward speed are not independent of each other. Meaning you push the foot pedal and the machine’s transmission shifts and controls the RPMs accordingly. In contrast, a skid steer bobcat or compact track loader in which the engine RPM and forward travel speed are in fact independent of each other. Meaning you can run your machine full throttle and then just creep along.
The key is in knowing that the machines hydraulic output is directly tied to the engine RPM. Very few backhoes out there and virtually no skid steers, run max hydraulic output when the machine is idling. Instead, the machine needs to be at full throttle to realize the stated max hydraulic output specs. Therein lies the problem of the backhoe with an automatic transmission (of sorts) and rigging a backhoe snowblower. In order for a backhoe to be at high enough engine RPM to realize its max hydraulic output, it has to be going at a very high travel speed, usually in excess of 7 mph. And blowing snow with a hydraulic blower is not a fast-paced event. Rather, most skid steer snow blowers operate at 3-5 mph and sometimes even less than that.
At Skid Pro Attachments, we have in fact put snow blowers on backhoe loaders, but it is usually a rare occurrence and only done after much technical research and hydraulic flow meter checking. It is usually only possible when a backhoe loader has a “creeper” gear that allows full engine RPM with very minimal forward speed, thus allowing the backhoe to reach its max hydraulic output at 5 mph or less.
So if you are thinking about getting a backhoe snowblower, make sure you do your research thoroughly and talk to your machine manufacturer’s certified technician so you understand exactly the situation and if the snowthrower will perform well for you. If you don’t do this, you are likely to be very frustrated with your backhoe snowblower, not to mention have a lot of plugged snowblower chutes that you’ll be cleaning out frequently.
Go to our skid steer snow blower page to see the wide variety of snow blower options we have to offer. Or Call us direct at 877-378-4642 to speak to a specialist.