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Skid steer loaders overview: We walk you
through the purchase process to help you get the Skid
Steer Loader you need.
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Skid steer loaders helped launch the compact equipment explosion when they were first introduced by Bobcat. Their value comes from an unbeatable combination of power, size, and versatility: no other machine can bring as many different types of tools to bear in so many tight spaces.
Often, a skid steer purchase is driven by size limitations: people want them to be able to fit through specific narrow spaces, or to be maneuverable on small suburban lots. In these cases, the physical dimensions and turning radius are two of the most important specs to look at.
Some skid steers are used as single-tool machines: they use the bucket they were delivered with for dumping, scraping, lifting, and carrying, and they can easily be worth the investment. However, most skid steer buyers take advantage of their ability to use dozens of different attachments.
- Mowers – for finish mowing or rough cuts, available in many widths and styles.
- Buckets – all kinds of sizes and styles, including 4 in 1 buckets that open and close.
- Hydraulic hammers – crushing power for demolition work.
- Pallet forks – let your skid steer loader work like a forklift.
You can also find powered brooms, backhoes, trenchers, snow blowers, rototillers, and more. The variety is remarkable: there's a skid steer attachment for almost any job on a construction, demolition, landscaping, or utility job.
One reason they're so popular is the universal quick coupler, the quick attach bracket. Not only does a quick attach make replacing the attachment relatively straightforward, it provides a standard that makes it easy to interchange attachments between different models and brands of skid steers. Some manufacturers refer to the attachment as a tool carrier instead – similar concept, different name.
Of course, there's not 100% compatibility between skid steer brands and attachments. Some larger attachments require more than just the quick attach as a connector to the machine. Make sure you double check that any attachment you purchase will work with your skid steer model.
By and large, you should be able to swap attachments without missing a beat. You can even find conversion systems that turn your skid steer into a track loader. These are either 'over the wheel' track systems that slip on over your existing tires, or complete new suspensions that replace the wheels with bulldozer tracks. These systems are fairly expensive, but some ways give you two machines in one.
Skid steer loader or Bobcat?
This is a naming problem: lots of us say "Bobcat" when we really mean, "a skid steer loader." Bobcat is a well known-brand of skid steer, but so are Caterpillar, Volvo, and John Deere. Getting into the habit of using the correct, generic term will help avoid confusion, as helping you avoid annoying dealers you speak with that don't carry the Bobcat brand.