Your browser will redirect to your requested content shortly. A skid loader, skid-steer loader, or skidsteer, is a small, rigid-frame, engine-powered machine with lift arms used to attach a wide variety of labor-saving tools or attachments. Small skid steer-steer loaders are typically four-wheel vehicles with the wheels mechanically locked in synchronization on each side, and where the left-side drive wheels can be driven independently of the right-side drive wheels. The wheels typically have no separate steering mechanism and hold a fixed straight alignment on the body of the machine.
Unlike in a conventional front loader, the lift arms in these machines are alongside the driver with the pivot points behind the driver’s shoulders. Because of the operator’s proximity to moving booms, early skid loaders were not as safe as conventional front loaders, particularly during entry and exit of the operator. Modern skid loaders have fully enclosed cabs and other features to protect the operator. The first three-wheeled, front-end loader was invented by brothers Cyril and Louis Keller in Rothsay, Minnesota, in 1957. 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.
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. Some models of skid steer now also have an automatic attachment changer mechanism. This allows a driver to change between a variety of terrain handling, shaping, and leveling tools without having to leave the machine, by using a hydraulic control mechanism to latch onto the attachments. Hydraulic supply lines to powered attachments may be routed so that the couplings are located near the cab, and the driver does not need to leave the machine to connect or disconnect those supply lines. The original skid-steer loader arms were designed using a hinge at the rear of the machine to pivot the loader arm up into the air in an arc that swings up over the top of the operator. This design tends to limit the usable height to how long the loader arm is and the height of that pivot point.
An extended reach design uses multiple hinges and parallel lifting bars on the loader arm, with the main pivot points towards the center or front of the machine. This allows the loader arm to have much greater operating height while retaining a compact design, and allows the vertical movement to be less of an arc and more straight-up vertical, to keep the bucket forward of the operator’s cab, allowing safe dumping into tall containers or vehicles. 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.