A backhoe, also called a rear actor or back actor, is a piece of excavating equipment or digger consisting of a digging bucket on the end of a two-part articulated arm. They are typically mounted on the back of a tractor or front loader, the later forming a 'backhoe loader'. The section of the arm closest to the vehicle is known as the boom, and the section which carries the bucket is known as the dipper or dipper-stick (the terms "boom" and "dipper" having been used previously on steam shovels). The name "backhoe" refers to the action of the shovel, not its location on the vehicle: a backhoe digs by drawing earth backwards, rather than lifting it with a forward motion like a man shovelling, a steam shovel or a bulldozer. Confusingly, the buckets on some backhoes may be reconfigured facing forward, making them "hoes". However they are not as effective in that orientation, since the dimensions of the various components are optimized for backhoeing. Most backhoes are at their strongest curling the bucket, with the dipper arm next most powerful, and boom movements the least powerful.
available dig depths
There are not great differences in size from one backhoe to the next. Of all heavy machinery, backhoes vary the least in size from one model to the next. While there are front-end loaders and excavators -- even skidsteers -- that are monstrous in relation to other machines in the same class, there are not incredibly large backhoes nor mini-backhoes.
Renting a backhoe is a good option if a person has a variety of jobs on a site to accomplish, but a limited number of machines. An operator can dig a trench for pipe (sewer, water or gas), for utilities or an operator can dig trench for a drainage system or irrigation. An operator can also use the bucket on the back to dig a foundation or a basement. The bucket on the front end can quickly scoop up spoils and put them in a pile or load them in the back of a dump truck or end or side dump tandem. The front bucket is also ideal for flattening or forming an area within a jobsite. A backhoe can do anything a loader or excavator can do, but on a smaller scale.