How to Operate a Backhoe Loader

Backhoe loader

Learning how to operate big machinery like a backhoe loader isn’t easy and will take time to learn. In this guide we will share the basics of operating a backhoe loader. As with anything different makes and models may be slightly different to operate but this guide will provide you with the basic knowledge on how to operate one.

The backhoe loader’s main purpose is to perform digging, however with various attachments and extra functions you have a wonderful machine that is perfect for performing multiple tasks on a job site. A backhoe loader is great for laying pipes, installing posts, demolishing, landscaping, and grading surfaces.

What are the basic controls?

Before you start operating a backhoe loader it is important to become familiar with the controls and ensure you know fully understand which each one does before you begin using the machinery.

•    Left-arm controls - The left-hand lever controls the boom. To lift the boom up in the air, draw the lever towards you and to lower it to the ground push it away from yourself. To move the boom sideways you tug the lever from left to right.

•    Right arm controls - The right-hand lever controls the stick, which is the rear arm, this is the part attached to the lever’s bucket. To bring the bucket and stick toward the cab, move the lever towards yourself and to move the bucket and stick away from the cab, move the lever away from yourself. If you want to pull or curl the bucket in your direction, move the right-hand lever to the left and to move the bucket in the opposite direction then move it to the right.

•    Stabilising Controls - These are in the centre of the right and left arm controls and they control the backhoe’s stabiliser. The left lever controls the left stabiliser and the right lever controls the right stabiliser. If you encounter difficult terrain, they can be controlled separately.

•    Boom Unlock - To keep the boom arm in position, you can lock it, and when you’re ready to dig you can unlock the boom. In most backhoes, the boom unlock is found in the form of a pedal on the floor.
•    Throttle Control - This adjusts the engine throttle’s revolutions per minute.

The basics of operating a Backhoe Loader

How to turn on a Backhoe’s Ignition?

1.    When entering the cab grab the entrance handle, turning all the way around as you enter.
2.    Close the door.
3.    Make sure to buckle your seatbelt.
4.    Turn the ignition a quarter.
5.    Step on the foot control (certain models only) after you hear a beep.
6.    Release the parking brake.
7.    Turn the ignition the rest of the way.

Digging with a Backhoe

When using a backhoe loader for digging it is important to park somewhere with enough clearance at its side and rear. If possible, angle the backhoe slightly to the right or the left so you can see behind the boom and stick while digging. 

When digging, start by lowering the stabilisers until the rear wheels are suspended, make sure to be in neutral to avoid tipping over. Once the rear wheels are suspended lower down the front bucket until you see the front wheels becoming suspended. Pull the left control towards yourself, until the boom has reached maximum height and then keep your foot on the boom unlocking pedal while pulling the left control simultaneously – this unlocks the boom.

Once the boom has been unlocked, move the boom and the stick simultaneously will provide maximum reach. To get the bucket to curl towards you, shift the right control towards the left. You will know then the bucket is completely loaded when you notice something solid hitting the backhoe. Once completely loaded pull the right arm for bringing up the boom and shift the left arm by moving it on the right or the left to swing the full bucket and boom towards your dumping spot. To dump the bucket, turn the right control and then use the left control to get the boom back to the trench. 

Backfilling with a Backhoe

Once you have finished the trenching, you may need to fill the hole again. If you do, you will need to use your backhoe’s front loader bucket to scrape all material back into the hole. Once the hole is filled drive the backhoe over the hole you filled to ensure the materials are tightly backed. You can make the area smooth by driving your backhoe in reverse and while positioning the front bucket downwards at an angle. 

Staying safe while operating a backhoe

Operating a backhoe is perfectly safe, as long as you are fully clued up on how to operate one. To stay safe, it is important to stay mindful of things that make cause injuries or fatalities, for example not travelling too fast on uneven surfaces, checking for power lines before completing work and making sure to keep your bucket low when moving to minimise chances of tipping over. It is also important to be regularly maintaining your machine and replacing broken or old parts. 

How we can help! 

At Interpart, we supply genuine alternative parts for your backhoe loader. Every part we supply has been rigorously trialled and tested to make sure our customers only receive high-quality, reliable parts.  We also ensure that all products are available for quick dispatch.

We have a handy parts finder tool which can help you find the parts you are looking for. If you know the part number, get a quick quote or search below to add products to your quote list. If you don't know your part number, click here to find your machine serial PIN number