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Tool Talk Discussion Forum

3 pt Backhoe - are they worth owning?

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Quebec Bob

06-14-2006 13:41:38

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I keep thinking about buying a backhoe. My old man had one on a JD bulldozer and I remember how handy it was. The real ones that aren't torn up are pretty expensive. (And I've been through all the numbers and know you are better to hire a pro, etc.) But I keep looking at 3 pt backhoes and wondering whether they are real or just toys. I know they do trenching, etc. The question is what is their capacity? I would mount it on a full-size 55hp 4WD Kubota with a FEL. How big a rock will one lift, assuming a decent sized backhoe? Will it ruin my hitch? Should it have a plate bolted to the frame? I'd appreciate the experinence of others who have made this leap. I want to clean ditches, remove maple stumps and generally clean up all around the farm.

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Billy NY

06-17-2006 08:04:43

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 Re: 3 pt Backhoe - are they worth owning? in reply to Quebec Bob, 06-14-2006 13:41:38  
I'll agree with the others, good advice. My 850 Ford had one on it, I never saw it on, but I still have the mount besides the 3 pt hitch. The loader on this tractor is a 4 cylinder wagner, seperate pump and suprisingly strong, but the back end of the loader frame is combined with the backhoe mount, and at the flange connection and the first foot of frame towards the front, is where the frame was cracked and stressed, I repaired it until the day comes I pull the loader and really do a first class job of cutting out the bad sections and replace with new material, although the repair has held for years under my usage.

You could tell either the previous operators/owners were hard on the tractor or the hoe was tough on it, I think the operators were not easy on it. Depending on the work you want to do, there is a limitation and the fact you need to take er easy, rocks, stumps, hard soil will take it's toll. As far as your model, you may want to do some research and see if any information turns up from the MFR. for a hoe attachment, if the rear housing is brittle as mentioned, and or the tractor itself is questionable to mount one on along the lines of what was mentioned, it's your call, but it does not sound good to me. This old ford rear and trans case seems stout enough to handle one, and many were fitted with them, even though they were just ag tractors not industrial ones, many still around. You do want to be careful with the mounting arrangment.

Now on the flip side, it's a handy thing to have, and up to it's limitations, you could get a lot of work done with one, I've considered one for myself on a late model challenger tractor and or my old ford, but know it certainly is not the same as a backhoe. You'll see older backhoes available, just might have to wait until one in the right condition for the money you want to invest turns up.

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Tim B from MA

06-16-2006 08:37:15

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 Re: 3 pt Backhoe - are they worth owning? in reply to Quebec Bob, 06-14-2006 13:41:38  
I've been doing some earthwork in the yard - scraping topsoil, stumping and shallow fill over about 4500 square feet. (If it ever stops raining every other day, I might even finish sometime in this life!)

My brother has a Kubota 3030 with a backhoe that I have been using quite a bit. It is on a 4-point hitch (made just for the hoe, does not use the 3 pt). It is an impressive little unit, I'd love to have one all the time - but it does have it's limitations just because of the size. I think with a 55 hp unit, a proper mount, and some care to not beat the hell out of your machine, you would be very happy.

But if you are going to buy new, you may want to weight that price against the price of buying a used machine made to be a backhoe (or small excavator).

While I was doing the heavier stumping and filling I borrowed a well used, mid 1990s Cat 416 backhoe from a friend who is a dealer. The articulation was loose as a goose, but other than that it ran just fine. As to speed of operation, I don't think it was that much faster than my brother's little kubota. Of course it could do alot more, and I could have bought it for about the same price that my brother bought his Kubota new (ca $28K) If it were me, I would have went for a used backhoe instead of the new tractor with a backhoe on it.

If you decide to go for the 3pt, I'd love to here how it turns out. I and half thinking of a 3pt for my Ford 841, especially if I could find one used.

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06-15-2006 21:41:53

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 Re: 3 pt Backhoe - are they worth owning? in reply to Quebec Bob, 06-14-2006 13:41:38  
Beats a shovel, cheaper than a 'real' one, and always nearby unlike hiring someone.

So, it's a good compromise. I have access to one that goes 8' deep and put it on a 85hp cat 2 tractor, seems to work well. Your tractor sounds like a good match for a 7' at most perhaps? Frame mount is better for tractors with weaker middle sections - how strong is your tranny area? That's what gets the stress.


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06-15-2006 14:47:16

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 Re: 3 pt Backhoe - are they worth owning? in reply to Quebec Bob, 06-14-2006 13:41:38  
I got a 3-point backhoe with its own hydraulic pump via PTO shaft, BushHog brand. OK to dig dirt, gravel, some small rocks. Good for things like septic tank holes, drainfield trenches, water pipe ditches, footings for out buildings, and other trenches. Would not recommend for things like stumps/trees - - asking for big trouble. Regarding the comment below about having to move the tractor so often. I can sit in the backhoe seat, reach behind me, raise the front bucket up a bit off the ground, raise the outriggers, use the hoe to push the tractor forward, reset the front bucket, reset the outriggers and keep digging, without having to get off the backhoe and on the tractor seat. Tom

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06-15-2006 05:46:31

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 Re: 3 pt Backhoe - are they worth owning? in reply to Quebec Bob, 06-14-2006 13:41:38  
They work well on the right tractor. I have seen a backhoe mounted to the rear of a 2 cylinder gas 60 john deere that did an awsome job. Even with the 2 cylinder jd motor the hydraulics were constantly smooth, and were strong, the gentlemen spent hundreds of hours designing this. I would be very cautious to put one on any kubota tractor. I know there will be hundreds of people who will say they have seen it done and no problems but I have seen many kubota rear ends cracked and broke. The metal they made the rear end housings out of is very brittle and very hard to weld. Once broke it never really is right again. The L3130 models and the like were the worst of these. Running them on a box blade with teeth or a pulvirizer would tear them all to heck and crack them all over. Even knew of somone who just ran a belly mower on his and cracked it.

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06-14-2006 21:11:56

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 Re: 3 pt Backhoe - are they worth owning? in reply to Quebec Bob, 06-14-2006 13:41:38  
A subframe model like the 10A and bolt it to the drawbar frame and the loader frame. This will spread the stress some. Of course if you are horsing it then some people can break an anvil with a rubber hammer. Three point hitch units are best used for digging up or planting shrubs in flower gardens.

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06-14-2006 19:31:52

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 Re: 3 pt Backhoe - are they worth owning? in reply to Quebec Bob, 06-14-2006 13:41:38  
I've got a John Deere 5510 tractor with a 10A backhoe. I've had it for about 6 years and have always wished that I had spent the money on a used backhoe or rubber tracked hoe rather than on the 10A. The 10A has rails that spread the stress out to the tractor frame rather than just the three point, but that makes it more time consuming to hook it onto the tractor. If I had the money for the 10A back I wouldn't buy it again. It's too awkward to hook up, it's too time consuming when digging a long trench to switch between the tractor seat and the backhoe seat, and the breakout force doesn't seem all that impressive. Just my opinion.

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Chuck MI

06-14-2006 18:31:40

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 NO in reply to Quebec Bob, 06-14-2006 13:41:38  
I worked at a nursury that had one, we used it on a 100ish HP Allis. It would yank that tractor around, and was extremely hard on the hitch. The kicker was we were on pure sand. I can't imagine it doing much on any real ground.

You ask if it's worth owning, I'll ask what's your tractor worth.

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Mike M

06-14-2006 18:31:33

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 Re: 3 pt Backhoe - are they worth owning? in reply to Quebec Bob, 06-14-2006 13:41:38  
Get one with a sub frame mount.

I had a small one (woods model) on a 20 hp compact tractor and it was really impressive what it would do. I had no problem digging footers,dug out some small black walnut trees about 1 ft across was the biggest. No problem just dig all around it then it will come out.

I have ran full sized hoes too. I have a Ford 555B right now. I got it for some really big heavy lifting jobs with the loader I had to do. I plan on selling it and maybe getting a smaller unit but bigger than the 20 hp I had before.

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George in Biloxi

06-15-2006 06:42:46

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 Re: 3 pt Backhoe - are they worth owning? in reply to Mike M, 06-14-2006 18:31:33  
How much are you looking to get for it? What time frame?


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Mike M

06-15-2006 07:00:46

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 Re: 3 pt Backhoe - are they worth owning? in reply to George in Biloxi, 06-15-2006 06:42:46  
I have it listed in the classifieds over at todays tractors. It's a 1988 with only 3480 hrs. I'm asking $12,000

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George in Biloxi

06-16-2006 09:26:57

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 Re: 3 pt Backhoe - are they worth owning? in reply to Mike M, 06-15-2006 07:00:46  
Hi Mike,
Any pictures?

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Mike M

06-16-2006 10:57:30

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 Re: 3 pt Backhoe - are they worth owning? in reply to George in Biloxi, 06-16-2006 09:26:57  
I'll send you one when I get home. It still looks real good for original paint,just the decals are somewhat gone.

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06-14-2006 18:29:17

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 Re: 3 pt Backhoe - are they worth owning? in reply to Quebec Bob, 06-14-2006 13:41:38  
Put on a few at the dealership I worked for. Have seen a lot of rearend and clutch housings busted due to the stress. Some had sub-frame rails but still wears on everything else.

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Stan in Oly, WA

06-14-2006 15:37:48

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 Re: 3 pt Backhoe - are they worth owning? in reply to Quebec Bob, 06-14-2006 13:41:38  
Hi Bob.

On the subject of removing maple stumps, did you ever hear of saturating the stump with potassium nitrate, then burning it out like a slow fuse? You drill holes into it as deep as you're able, pour the maximum concentration of potassium nitrate in water into the holes, cover and wait for the solution to be absorbed. Then you build a hot fire on it and the stump burns like a cigarette, all the way to the tips of the roots. I thought it sounded dangerous and unlikely, but I'd be willing to give it a try just to see if it would work, IF I had a tree stump in a concrete container, say the size of a swimming pool. I know nothing about backhoes.

All the best, Stan

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Cliff Neubauer

06-14-2006 15:32:59

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 Re: 3 pt Backhoe - are they worth owning? in reply to Quebec Bob, 06-14-2006 13:41:38  
I've been around a couple of 3pt backhoes and they are better than a shovel but they aren't a replacement for a real backhoe. The 3pt models just don't have enough breakout power to do any real digging in hard ground and even in good going they are pretty slow. The one I used the most was on a 4020 and you could watch the whole tractor flex as you dug with the hoe, with the hoe 8-10' behind the tractor it puts alot of stress on the tractor that it wasn't made for.

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