Skid Steer Loader Training in Edmonton A skid-steer loader is an engine powered machine that has a small and rigid frame. It is equipped with lift arms which are used to attach to a large variety of labor saving attachments and tools. Typically, skid-steer loaders are four-wheel drive vehicles that have the left-hand side wheels operating independent of the right-hand side wheels, although some models are equipped with tracks instead. On the four-wheel models, having each side independent of each other allows the wheel speed and rotation direction of the wheels to determine which direction the loader will turn. These machines are capable of "pirouette" or zero-radius turning. This feature makes skid-steer loaders exceptionally valuable and maneuverable for applications which require an agile and compact loader. On a skid-steer loader, the lift arms are alongside the driver with pivot points behind the driver's shoulders. This makes them different than a conventional front loader. Due to the operator's proximity to moving booms, early skid loaders were not as safe as traditional front loaders, especially during the operator's entry and exit. Today's' modern skid-steer loaders have numerous features to protect the driver including fully-enclosed cabs. Similar to other front loaders, the skid-steer model can push materials from one location to another, is capable of loading material into a trailer or a truck and can carry material in its bucket. Many times a skid-steer loader is able to be used on a jobsite in place of a large excavator by digging a hole from the inside. First, the skid-steer loader digs a ramp leading to the edge of the desired excavation, and then it uses the ramp to excavate material out of the hole. As the excavation deepens, the machine reshapes the ramp making it steeper and longer. This is a particularly useful method for digging under a structure where there is not enough overhead clearance for the boom of a large excavator. For example, this is a common scenario when digging a basement underneath an existing building or home. There is much flexibility in the attachments that the skid steer loaders are capable of. For example, the conventional bucket of many of these loaders can be replaced with numerous attachments that are powered by the loader's hydraulic system, including pallet forks, backhoes, tree spades, sweepers, mowers, snow blades and cement mixers. Some other popular specialized buckets and attachments include angle brooms, dumping hoppers, wood chipper machines, grapples, tillers, stump grinders rippers, wheel saws, snow blades, and trenchers. In 1957, the first 3-wheeled, front-end loader was invented in Rothsay, Minnesota by brothers Cyril and Louis Keller. The brothers invented the loader in order to help a farmer mechanize the process of cleaning turkey manure from his barn. This machine was compact and light and had a rear caster wheel which enabled it to maneuver and turn around within its own length, allowing it to perform the same tasks as a conventional front-end loader. In 1958, the Melroe brothers of Melroe Manufacturing Company in Gwinner, N.D. purchased the rights to the Keller loader. They hired the Keller brothers to continue refining their loader invention. The M-200 Melroe was the result of this partnership. This model was a self-propelled loader which was introduced to the market in 1958. The M-200 Melroe featured a 12.9 HP engine, a 750 lb lift capacity, two independent front drive wheels and a rear caster wheel. By 1960, they replaced the caster wheel with a rear axle and introduced the first 4 wheel skid steer loader which was called the M-400. The M-400 soon became the Melroe Bobcat. Often the term "Bobcat" is used as a generic term for skid-steer loaders. The M-440 had an 1100 lb rated operating capacity and was powered by a 15.5 HP engine. The company continued the skid-steer development into the mid 1960s and introduced the M600 loader. Numerous manufacturers have their own models of the skid steer loader which is simply referred to as a Skidsteer within the construction industry. John Deere, JLG, New Holland, Gehl Company, LiuGong, ASV, Hyundai, JCB, Caterpillar, Bobcat, Komatsu and Mustang are a few for example, among others.
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