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Learning how to run a backhoe....

Discussion in 'Heavy Equipment' started by 416Cat, May 26, 2003.

  1. 416Cat

    416Cat Junior Member
    Messages: 3

    I work for a large construction company here in Maine. I have been working here for 3 years now and am ready to ditch this laborer stuff and move up to an operator. Last Friday the guy who was running a 416 Cat on my crew quit so now there is an opening. I can run the front bucket with no problem. I have never run a hoe before. Looks like it could be easy after lots of practice. I know how to operate the wrist and extenda hoe but for the boom, dipper and bucket I am pretty much lost. Is there anything out there that might be able to help me learn. I need to convince my foreman to let me try and would like to put on a good first showing. I have heard people talking about simulators that help a lot but have yet to see one. Any help would be good. Thanks guys.
     
  2. GeoffD

    GeoffD PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 2,266

    The key to learning any machine that uses a combination of 2 levers to move one object is to keep the rpms low till you get conforable with the controlls.

    The good news for you is if it one of the newer cat machines it used the same controll pattern as the cat exevators.


    My advice like i said keep the rpms low and dig slowly at first to you learn the combination of what does what, and when to start curling the bucket as you raise the boom and dipper.

    The bad news it takes is practice time on the machine, the more time you spend the better you get.

    Geoff
     
  3. Pelican

    Pelican 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,075

    Practice, practice and more practice. It's the only way you're going to learn. If you're going to interview on a Cat, make sure that's what you learn on, a different control pattern can make an experienced operator look like a rookie.

    The good news is that if you are a natural operator, you'll get proficient quickly.
     
  4. DYNA PLOW

    DYNA PLOW Senior Member
    Messages: 295

    here's a trick i have used, go to your local used equipment dealer and start looking at a backhoe ...check it over good before the salesman shows ...meaning....know where the controls are, throttle, ignition key, bucket control, backhoe control and how the seat spins around to operate the hoe. then when the salesman asks if you'd like to try it out you have some confidence behind you.
    or if your lucky, there is a used equip. dealer by me that leaves the keys in and i just start it up and play / practice.
    good luck,
    dan
     
  5. Pelican

    Pelican 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,075

    You'd end up behind bars or worse if you tried that in my neck of the woods...
     
  6. Arc Burn

    Arc Burn PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,138

    LOL,I took a hot lap in a JD skid steer one day at the dealers,they weren't impressed:( ,turns out it wasn't even theirs,they had just fixed it for a customer and it sat out front with the keys in it:nono: :D
     
  7. paul soccodato

    paul soccodato Senior Member
    Messages: 430

    i agree with pelican,

    operating a backhoe is very simple, all it takes is practice.
     
  8. cat320

    cat320 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,223

    I agree with Geoff pratice and time If your hands on you should pick it up with in and hour good enough to satify your forman to let you have the postion.At least that's the way it is with me i can pick it up pretty quick.My first time running a hoe was one of those tow behind ones and with in half hour i had mastered the controls every one is different .But like they said low rpm's and just go slow untill your familar with the patern layout.
     
  9. 416Cat

    416Cat Junior Member
    Messages: 3

    Wow, thanks for the replys. Keep em comming. Hopefully he will give me a chance to try her out. Being 19 and a computer cam addict, I should be able to pick up the controls fairly easily. Supposed to have a few rainy days this week, maybe those will be my days to shine!! Thanks again.
     
  10. digger242j

    digger242j Senior Member
    Messages: 672

    I learned how to operate on a Case backhoe--three levers and swing pedals. Later when I learned how to run different types (JD pattern, excavator pattern), I practiced by playing with rocks and stuff. You need to get to the point that your hands know what to do without having to consult your brain. If you think about it that's not a whole lot different than what goes on when you're driving a car. They say when you're driving you're making something like 30 decisions per minute, and 98% of them are subconcious.

    Learning to handle the controls is only half the battle though. The other half is knowing what to do with the machine and the material. That's where experience plays a big role. If you've been a laborer then hopefully you've been paying attention to how a good operator handles those things. One principle to keep in mind that sets the good operators apart from the average ones--''No wasted motion". (Good principle to keep in mind as a snowplow operator too...)

    If you don't get the position this time at least the boss will know you're ambitious enough to ask for it. And if they hire someone with more experience do pay attention. There's lots to learn.

    Good luck, and welcome to PlowSite!
     
  11. CT18fireman

    CT18fireman Banned
    Messages: 2,133

    I agree with practice. There are many dealers around that have areas to let you "try" new equipment. Another option would be to find someone to let you "play" on a weekend or something. Just moving materials or digging.
     
  12. digger242j

    digger242j Senior Member
    Messages: 672

    I thought I'd better add this....


    That's true, but if all you know is how to manipulate the controls well enough to make a hole in the ground you can do LOTS of damage real quick. (As far as that goes even if you know what you're doing you can do lots af damage real quick, not that *I've* ever done that....) :rolleyes:
     
  13. Pelican

    Pelican 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,075

    What's that cloud coming out of the hole?:eek:
     
  14. John DiMartino

    John DiMartino PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 2,154

    Like others have said,practice,practice. Pelican said it best,if your a natural,the boss willl know in a few days. I have guys that no matter how much they run a hoe,they scare me.They jerk the bucket,and cannot operate it smoothly or efficiently.Even after days of running it. I guess I m lucky,I can usually get the feel of the levers,and hydros in under 10 minutes,and adjust quickly. I know many of you guys may frown on this,but I transplanted a few trees at my house last fall,my then 7 yr old daughter ran our woods 750 hoe for about 45 minutes.She is a natural,BTW,takes after her Dad,She was loading into my truck within 5 minutes of getting on,she never hit the bed of the truck,or even spilled any soil. I got a pic of her running it somewhere if i find it Ill post it. What amazed me is how smooth she is with it,she jerked the bucket for about 45 seconds,then it looked like she had run it for yrs. The guys who worked for me,none of them could hold a candle to my 7 yr old girl ,so I believe to a point,you either have it in you or you dont.The boss will know real quick if your the guy for the job.
     
    Last edited: May 27, 2003
  15. GeoffD

    GeoffD PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 2,266

    Why look down on letting a 7 year old run the equipment. How many of you at 7 were running stuff? I know I was, can't speak against something you were doing.

    Geoff
     
  16. phillyplowking1

    phillyplowking1 Senior Member
    Messages: 412

    Yea I was running heavy equipment at like 6 or 7.
     
  17. Rob

    Rob PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 306

    and if I was in your position, I know I would let my daughter do the same !!
     
  18. sschario

    sschario Member
    Messages: 44

    Just a thought, but you might look into renting one for a few hours? Find something to do around the yard (or a friend's and they might be willing to offset the cost). I just rented a Takeuchi mini-excavator for a day to dig a trench and level a site for a pool. Cost me $225 @ Nationsrent and I had a ball. Not exactly heavy equipment, but I had never run anything like this and I was able to make it do what I wanted in about a half hour.

    Steve
     
  19. Chuck Smith

    Chuck Smith 2000 Club Member
    from NJ
    Messages: 2,317

    I learned on an old Case 580 myself, with the foot pedals for swing. I felt like an idiot when I got on a newer CAT and asked where the foot pedals were! Running the Case allowed me to learn, and it allowed me to become even better, becasue all the pins were worn on the hoe, and it jerked a lot. You had to compensate for the play, especially when swinging the boom. I used to run it close to building digging trenches for brick ledges.

    Getting on the CAT, which was about 5 years later, my brain still was programmed for the Case, and I caught myself many times going the "wrong" way. Case and CAT controls are different. Then I got used to the CAT controls, and it was cake. Then the company bought another CAT, but the controls were set up like Case and Deere, and I felt like an idiot again, because my brain took a while to get used to it again.

    Like the guys said, keep the RPM's down, and don't jerk the hydraulics. Nothing will make it look more like you don't know what you are doing than jerking the boom all over the place.

    I had the chance to spend 2 days running a CAT excavator before I got on the hoe. The excavator was so smooth to run. When i got on the howe, the controls were the same as the excavator, so it was second nature. Do you have an excavator you can practice on first? A good way to practice is to find a good size rock, and practice moving it around on the ground with the hoe. Practice picking it up and moving it around too.

    ~Chuck
     
  20. cat320

    cat320 2000 Club Member
    Messages: 2,223

    I had a new cat 420D here last summer and the controls could be set both ways with just a 1 min change.loosen one bolt and switch the controls .