Why do they call it a skid steer? What jobs can they do? What are the other names for a skid steer?

The term ‘skid steer’ conjures up all sorts of images and questions, and yet many people use skid steers in their day-to-day life. A skid steer has a great many uses and benefits, and yet with a name like that, it can be tough to take it seriously unless you yourself know precisely what it is and what you can do with it.

For those not in the know, or if you have caught yourself wondering why these pieces of equipment have such a distinctive name, this article is for you…

What is a skid steer?

So the first question is, what exactly is a skid steer? A skid steer is a piece of heavy machinery that tends to be used for jobs like digging and grading. Skid steers have 4 wheels and lift arms, which can be attached to various types of construction equipment and similar tools.

They tend to have two wheels at the front and the back on both sides. These wheels are mechanically linked, which means that the wheels on the left turn together and those on the right do as well. 

Why do they call it a skid steer?

Now, why do they call it a skid steer? Well, it gets its name from the way it turns. Since the wheels typically lack a steering mechanism of their own much like the back two wheels on a car, they cannot move independently. Instead, they sit on a fixed straight line. You can then steer by moving the left pair or right pair of wheels together.

When this happens, the machine drags, or skids, the other wheels making it turn. Since these machines are so heavy, especially for their size, the force required to make this turn is contained. It does, however, still create a characteristic skidding motion, hence the name, skid steer

Since the wheels are locked in line with the body of the machine, you cannot simply turn them like you would the front wheels of a car, in order to turn the car itself. Instead, you basically speed up one set of wheels, either the left or the right, which then creates the motion needed to turn.

The term has been around since the second generation of these machines came out in the 1960s, and it remains a popular name to this day. So, considering how strange the term may sound at first, it really is quite simple. Skid steers get their name from the way they seem to skid as they turn on wheels that are mounted in line with the rest of the machine.

Skid-steer loaders are sometimes equipped with tracks instead of the wheels

What jobs can you do with a skid steer?

Originally invented in the 1950s by the Keller brothers, Cyril and Louis, the skid steer historically started out as a piece of equipment used to clear poultry manure from their barn. It was such a success due to its ability to turn so sharply more or less within its own area, so it can be used in tight spaces like barns and garages. 

Skid steers are now used across many different industries, and are the ideal tool for so many different jobs. You can order a variety of attachments to add to the arms to accomplish the tasks that you need, when you need to. These attachments can make the skid steer an incredibly versatile piece of equipment for you to use.

Some of the more common tasks you may accomplish with a skid steer include:

  • Digging, excavation and trench work – one of the nicknames for a skid steer is an Earthmover, and it is easy to see why. These machines are ideal for shifting large amounts of earth, especially in a tight space.
  • Demolition – you can use your skid steer for both interior and exterior demolition. The right attachment can help you to bring down all kinds of materials including concrete, drywall, flooring and pretty much anything else you need it to do.
  • Debris removal – another incredibly useful attachment is the bucket, which allows you to easily remove debris that is in your way including snow, if the weather calls for it. There are also attachments that are specifically there for snow removal if you need.
  • Road works – there are so many tasks associated with road works that you can accomplish with your skid steer including demolition, paving and patching.
  • Landscaping – again, you would be amazed (if you don’t already use a skid steer) about all the ways that this machine can help with landscaping. You can grind down stumps, chip wood, till soil and transport any materials that you need.
  • Agricultural work – much like with landscaping, you can till on a larger scale, as well as using the bucket to clear out debris much like the machine’s original inventors did in 1957. You can also transport goods and materials such as bales of hay.

If you were working various landscaping or construction jobs, you would likely need a skid steer and have to transport it with you. The best way to do this is with an aluminium trailer designed for skid steers which is specially made to help you get your skid steer where you need as efficiently and easily as possible.

What other names are skid steers known by?

Skid steers are also known by several other names, and indeed can be more commonly called some than others. These include names like:

  • Skid loaders
  • Compact tracked loaders
  • Compact loaders
  • Bobcats
  • Front-end loaders
  • Bulls
  • Bucket loaders
  • Earthmovers
  • Landscapers
  • Bulldozers and more.

Final thoughts

Skid steers have been an important part of many industries including construction, farming and landscaping for decades now, and yet the name still gives a lot of people pause. Now you know where it gets its name from, and a little more about what this useful and fantastic piece of machinery can do for you.

If you are looking to transport your skid steer, make sure you use only the best and most specialised trailers and ramps to get it where you need to go.

Related posts

What is acupuncture? How many types of acupuncture? Does acupuncture actually work?

Acupuncture, a traditional Chinese medical practice dating back thousands of years, continues to…
Read more

How Much Does Freight Cost in Australia? How Do You Calculate Freight Costs?

Do you ever find yourself staring blankly at a freight quote, wondering how on earth they came up…
Read more
BusinessConstructionHome & Living

How much does it cost to get house plans drawn up in Australia? How much should you budget for an architect?

Jumping into a building project is a big deal, whether you’re dreaming up a new pad, giving…
Read more
Become a Trendsetter
Sign up for Davenport’s Daily Digest and get the best of Davenport, tailored for you.