Fordson JCB MK1 Excavator at Cromford 08 - P8030349 edited

A JCB MK1 Backhoe excavator mounted on a Fordson Major tractor

Jcb 1 cph

A JCB 1 (Grave Digger)

A backhoe, commonly called a back actorin the UK, is a piece of excavating equipment consisting of a digging bucket on the end of an articulated arm (also called a stick or dipper). Modern backhoes are powered by hydraulics. They are typically mounted on the back of a tractor or front loader. The term is often used to describe the whole machine when it was originally just the Digging arm.

Origins Edit

Dinkum Digger on a Ferguson - Duncombe Park 2010 - IMG 5316

Whitlock Dinkum Digger mounted on a Ferguson tractor

Whitlock Backhoe

A Restored Whitlock digger

The term "Back Hoe Loader" in the UK was first associated with the Whitlock built Dinkum Digger, which pre-dated the JCB machine by a couple of years.[1] The Orginal Dinkum digger being a Backhoe attachment invented by a scot and built by Whitlock Bros. in the UK.[2] The HY-MAC company later bought out Whitlock Bros. and produced backhoe loaders as the Hymac 370 series.



The British company JCB is usually credited with manufacturing the first backhoes, but this was disclaimed by Joe Bamford who said he got the idea in Norway, were he saw a hydraulic excavator and bought one and shipped it back to the UK.[3] Their first tractor equipped with both a backhoe and a front mounted loading bucket was completed in 1953 and set the standard pattern for there future designs of backhoe loaders. At the same time various American firms also built machines with a loader and Backhoe mounted on a tractor as the power unit.

Various other companies marketed backhoe attachments for mounting on the back of tractors, either semi-permanently or via the Three point hitch system for occasional use.

Because of the long-time predominance of the (JCB) marque in the United Kingdom and Ireland, it has become a genericized trademark there, and all backhoe-equipped diggers are commonly called JCBs, while the actual term "backhoe" is almost unknown to the general public. Joe Bamford the founder of the "JCB" company holds the honour of being the only non-American in the US construction industry's Hall of Fame.

In early 1957 AmTrac, brand built by American Tractor Corp. based in Churubusco, Ind., moved to acquire the Case company. With the acquisition, Case retained it's name for market share purposes. AmTrac a successful small firm that was developing a hydraulically powered backhoe to attach to its crawler units. American Tractor had started making crawlers in 1949 and developed numerous innovations including a three-point hitch and torque converter transmission.[4]

In 1959, Case in the USA introduced their first diesel-powered loader/backhoe, the Case 420.

Case then introduced a hydraulic telescoping (extendable) backhoe in 1967.[citation (source) needed]

There was a backhoe attachment to go on a Thwaites Dumper Chassis in the 1970s Caterpillar, Massey Ferguson and John Deere also offered them in various specs (most being combined with a loader at the front), at various times during the companies history.

Similar attachments for skid loaders are still called backhoes even though they are mounted on the front. This is because the name refers to the action of the shovel, not its location on the vehicle: a backhoe digs by drawing earth backwards, rather than lifting it with a forward motion like a bulldozer or Front Loader.


A restored JCB 3D on display at the SED construction machinery show

A backhoe loader is a tractor-like vehicle with an arm and bucket mounted on the back and a front loader mounted on the front. This type of vehicle is often known colloquially as a JCB in Europe, as they are the biggest selling brand.[citation (source) needed]

Hydraiulic-off set Backhoe or Back Actor system and the Hydraulic Knuckle Joint allowing the dipper to move off set from the Boom were both designed and Patented by HYMAC LIMITED.[citation (source) needed]

With the advent of hydraulic powered attachments such as; tiltrotator, hydraulic breaker, a grapple or an auger, the backhoe is frequently used in many applications other than just excavation and with the tiltrotator attachment, actually serves as an effective tool carrier. Many backhoes feature quick-attach mounting systems for simplified attachment mounting, dramatically increasing the machine's utilization on the construction site.

Backhoe manufacturers Edit

Demountable Tractor Accessories;

Former manufacturersEdit

See alsoEdit


  • Wikipedia - based on but as some facts were wrong has been amended for UK audience as had a US bias.
  • Power Farming Magazine
  1. Construction News article of February 2000, by Andrew Gaved
  2. Australian article on Dinkum Digger
  3. JCB - Fifty Golden years, Published by JCB/Construction News, page 62
  4. Time CNN article AmTrac/Case Take over

External linksEdit

Smallwikipedialogo This page uses some content from Wikipedia. The original article was at Backhoe. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with Tractor & Construction Plant Wiki, the text of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons by Attribution License and/or GNU Free Documentation License. Please check page history for when the original article was copied to Wikia

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.