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What Are the Different Types of Excavator Equipment?

By Lori Kilchermann
Updated May 17, 2024
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Excavator equipment is available in a vast array of configurations, from bulldozers to scrapers. End-loaders, dump trucks and backhoes are all commonly found machines on any earth-moving job site. Another common type of excavator equipment is the excavator, or track hoe, as it also called. This large-boomed machine is used to dig deep holes and trenches. Other forms of earth-moving equipment commonly seen on a job site are graders, compactors and wheeled bulldozers. Many of the different types of excavator equipment are equipped with spiked steel wheels. These pieces of equipment are often duplicates of rubber-tired versions, however, the spiked wheels provide superior traction in soft ground.

When many people think about excavator equipment, the first machine that usually comes to mind is a bulldozer. The tracked machine with a large blade is well-equipped to push a lot of material out of the way. The excavator, a tracked machine with a bucket or scoop attached to the end of a long hinged arm, is able to dig trenches like a backhoe, but on a much larger scale. The excavator is also used to load materials such as dirt, debris and chunks of stone and concrete into dump trucks. With a mechanical thumb attachment, the excavator can even load and unload pipes, poles and other large materials.

The Fresno Scraper, or scraper, as it is often called, is a large piece of excavator equipment that drags part of the machine across the ground, scraping down the high spots. It then deposits the earth in the low spots of the site. Often requiring the assistance of another scraper or a bulldozer to push it through the high spot as it loads, the scraper is a common piece of excavator equipment on most large sites, especially on new roads. Dump trucks in many sizes are also commonly-used excavator equipment and are invaluable in moving large quantities of material off of an excavation site.

Large end loaders, or wheel loaders, as they are sometimes called, use an articulated steering system to turn sharply when loading dump trucks. By pivoting in the center with the aid of hydraulic cylinders, the articulated steering system makes use of two very strong drive axles with no weak steering elements to be used. This enables the loader to carry enormous loads in the bucket without worry of breaking a steering knuckle. In some types of terrain, excavator equipment with spiked-steel wheels are used instead of rubber tires to produce increased traction. This excavator equipment requires special transportation to and from the work site since it cannot operate on any public roads.

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