Applications that require the extra horsepower, such as dozing work, are also a good fit for large skid-steer loaders. "Basically, the large-frame skid steers are going to do the heavy lifting for a contractor," says Zupancic. "When they need a big machine to do the hard work on a big site, but they still need maximum manueverablity and versatility, they'll turn to a large skid steer."
Horsepower: A unit's power capability that equals raising 550-foot-pounds per second, or 33,000-foot-pounds per minute. A machine's horsepower identifies the maximum power amount it's able to sustain. It is the most common reading for engine types, including skid steers. Certain manufacturers may choose also to include engine power, though the definition is operationally identical.
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."
No mechanical transmission: A premium hydraulic motor powers each side of a skid steer loader. These two motors each connect to a partner sprocket, and each of these sprockets then connects through industrial chains to the wheels. This simple yet streamlined system allows for the power generated by the motors to evenly distribute to the wheels, as well as reduce gear wear and increase wheel torque capabilities. The no-mechanical transmission design is as timeless as technology gets.
Bobcat Company invented the world’s first skid-steer loader. Bobcat has celebrated a 50-year history of quality, performance and reliability. It’s no wonder they’re the world’s best selling skid-steer loader. When paired with a genuine Bobcat® attachment, each skid-steer model is a force to be reckoned with on your jobsite. And with more than a dozen models to choose from, you’ll find the right machine for any size job.
High-flow auxiliary hydraulics package. Upgrading a skid steer to a high-flow auxiliary hydraulics package means enhanced attachment options, run times and productivity. While they still operate under the same standard pressurization — 3,000-3,500 psi, they increase the pressure flow rate up to 38-40 gpm. High-flow systems can be added on to new skid steers purchased directly from a manufacturer or built into used steers. They're necessary when project attachments require high-flow rates in order to work, such as rock saws or landscaping mulchers and shredders.
Buckets: What is a skid steer without its bucket? The two go hand-in-hand across the most basic of skid-steer applications — and through the most complex. Engineered buckets attach seamlessly to their skid steers and aid in digging, loading and transferring of carried materials. Buckets can also come with a range of specialized teeth, heights, widths and bucket capacities to further compound their digging and transportation abilities, made to handle various materials like snow, rock, grapple buckets and combinations.
One size does not fit all when it comes to skid steers. Bigger is not universally better, while smaller units come with their own limitations and maintenance details a savvy purchaser shouldn't overlook. It's important to consult skid-steer size charts to take into account three major variables: A unit's engine model, its horsepower and its rated operating capacity (ROC).
Extended two-year warranty: The quality inspections, coverage and care that comes with skid steer warranties is hard to beat. Caterpillar's twenty-four-month or 2,000-hours warranty offers twice the coverage on compact machines like skid steers, protecting against unexpected repairs or maintenance. What's more, Cat Financial Services bolsters warranties with a complete suite of Equipment Protection Plans (EPP), customizable when starting at 36 months, as well as Customer Support Agreements and Engine Warranty Registration.
Usage: Consider all the details of your project and what you expect to use the skid steer for, from loading and hauling to drilling, boring or excavation. How many hours a day will the steer be used, and what are the operating load weights or capacities you'll need to match expected workloads? Does your desired unit have an engine model and horsepower fitting your projected use?
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.