The backhoe is mounted on the back of wheel type tractor or crawler. The front of the tractor, crawler will generally have a front end loader, not only for loading but as a counter balance to keep the front end on the ground. The loader is used to do some rough digging or grading, but mostly used to load dump trucks or trailers and move material around the work site.
The backhoe is a excavating arm that is hydraulically driven. The hydraulic pump is powered by the tractor engine. The hydraulic oil is routed to control valves. When the valves are operated, it extends or retracts hydraulic cylinders that operate the arm. The first operation should be to put the stabilizers down. One on the left and right. They do two operations, one stabilize the tractor when operating the backhoe, two is to hold the tractor in position when digging. If you have been to the beach building sand castles or digging down in the snow with your arm, that is what the backhoe is modeled from.The bucket is the hand which will be used to dig and scoop the material.
The wrist is a pivot point that can be curled in to scoop material, then out to dump material. Next is the elbow that when pulled closer, fills the bucket, second pivot point also known as the stick or crowd on the lever. Once the bucket is full it needs to be picked up out of the ditch, this part being the shoulder, the third pivot point called the boom. Your shoulder can move to the front and back this is the next action called the swing. This moves the whole arm left or right to allow the full bucket to be dumped on either side of the ditch or hole being dug.
A backhoe has two basic functions, loading and digging. But now days there are several attachments available for each end. The loader can have forks attached to it and be a
forklift to move pallets, lift shingles to the roof and carry logs for fire wood. Other options for the front bucket is a clam shell bucket. For the backhoe are many sizes of bucket widths for each specific job, add a thumb and pick up rocks and logs. But for the main use of each end, it can dig a pond with the backhoe and carry away the excess dirt to fill holes in the yard or a raised flower bed.
The backhoe is available in many sizes. The smallest and least expensive is a portable, that can be tow behind a car backhoe. They cannot be driven, but using the arm are able to push or pull the unit around, for a longer ditch or to the next spot in the yard.
Next in size is the three point hitch Backhoe. They are sized to fit a 25 hp compact tractor being the smallest and up to 95 hp tractor. With the three pint hitch type there are two seats, one to operate the tractor and the second to operate the backhoe.
The industrial backhoe, being the largest, can weight at least 14,000 lbs and do a ton of work, the operator only has to turn the seat around to operate the backhoe.
Newer compact tractors have backhoe attachments that will use the same seat for the driving and backhoe operation.