The conventional bucket of many skid loaders can be replaced with a variety of specialized buckets or attachments, many powered by the loader's hydraulic system. These include backhoe, hydraulic breaker, pallet forks, angle broom, sweeper, auger, mower, snow blower, stump grinder, tree spade, trencher, dumping hopper, pavement miller, ripper, tillers, grapple, tilt, roller, snow blade, wheel saw, cement mixer, and wood chipper machine.
SSL (skid steer loader) refers to the standard wheeled machine. CTL (compact track loader) and MTL (multi-terrain loader) refer to different undercarriage designs. CTLs feature a steel embedded track and steel undercarriage components for maximum life in many applications. MTLs have a rubber track undercarriage that delivers lower ground pressure compared to an SSL and CTL so they don’t tear up the ground as badly.
Zupancic says it's all about the size of the site and the use the skid steer is put to. "These construction and jobsite applications require a little more power and bucket size, but are still in a confined enough space that contractors cannot bring in the big machines," he explains. "Sometimes the operator doesn't need the extra muscle of a larger skid-steer loader and finds it more economical to have a 50- to 70-hp machine."
A skid-steer loader can sometimes be used in place of a large excavator by digging a hole from the inside. The skid loader first digs a ramp leading to the edge of the desired excavation. It then uses the ramp to carry material out of the hole. The skid loader reshapes the ramp making it steeper and longer as the excavation deepens. This method is particularly useful for digging under a structure where overhead clearance does not allow for the boom of a large excavator, such as digging a basement under an existing house. Several companies make backhoe attachments for skid-steers. These are more effective for digging in a small area than the method above and can work in the same environments. Other applications may consist of transporting raw material around a job site, or assisting in the rough grading process.
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For example, a homeowner or contractor working on an established lawn might be best served with a tracked machine that will cause less damage - and less rework - to the lawn, saving time and money. Or, much like the small skid-steer loaders, a mini track loader is an excellent way to access narrow or tight areas, such as through a backyard gate or in between buildings built closely together.
Visit our Cat Compact Loader Maintenance page on Cat.com. Take advantage of special offers on Cat Parts, shop for parts online, access maintenance schedules and get info on both tires and tracks. Also available for download is our latest Parts Reference Guide - listing out all part numbers required for the first 2,000+ hours of your Cat Skid Steer, Compact Track and Multi Terrain Loaders.
The Melroe brothers, of Melroe Manufacturing Company in Gwinner, North Dakota, purchased the rights to the Keller loader in 1958 and hired the Kellers to continue refining their invention. As a result of this partnership, the M-200 Melroe self-propelled loader was introduced at the end of 1958. It featured two independent front-drive wheels and a rear caster wheel, a 12.9 hp (9.6 kW) engine and a 750-pound (340 kg) lift capacity. Two years later they replaced the caster wheel with a rear axle and introduced the M-400, the first four-wheel, true skid-steer loader. The M-440 was powered by a 15.5 hp (11.6 kW) engine and had an 1,100-pound (500 kg) rated operating capacity. Skid-steer development continued into the mid-1960s with the M600 loader.