If you are in the market for a new skid loader – also known as a skid steer – then it can be difficult to know where to start. Some prospective buyers start by thinking about what weight of skid loader they need. But how can you tell?
Don’t worry! Read this quick article to get an idea of the basics of skid loaders. We also include some key terminology that you need to get to grips with to get the most out of your new equipment.
Skid Loader Weight
A skid loader or skid-steer loader is a small machine that has arms that attach to a range of different tools. Skid loaders are generally four-wheeled vehicles that differ from more conventional front loaders as the arms lift alongside the driver and pivot behind their upper back.
There is a variety of weights for skid loaders, depending on what type of skid loader and what brand you opt for. You can expect a skid loader to weigh anywhere between 1,500lb and 12,000lb (680kg and 5,443kg). On average, a full-size skid loader weighs around 7,500lb (just over 3,400kg).
The most important definitions that you need to understand for a skid loader are the operating capacity, operating weight, and tipping load. Even the most seasoned skid steer buyer may have some questions about these terms as there are some differences from brand to brand.
The Rated Operating Capacity (ROC) is the term used to describe the maximum weight that the loader arms can safely carry. This term is sometimes confused with the ‘tipping load’ – see below – but these definitions are different and not interchangeable.
Keep in mind that if you want to use a jib boom or pallet fork attachment with your skid loader then the operating weight will be lowered. This is because the weight of what is being carried by the machine is further away, altering its center of gravity.
If in doubt, seek guidance from the manufacturer. Several factors may or may not have an impact on your skid loader, depending on the type and brand of your machine. It is always best to exercise caution.
On the whole, you can expect the operating weight to be almost universal amongst skid loaders – there really is very little difference.
The operating weight tends to include the machine itself, any fluids, the operator, and a standard bucket. Keep in mind that any counterweights or added attachments will change this value.
The operating weight is a handy little statistic to have to hand if you plan on towing your skid loader for different jobs.
The tipping load is the maximum weight that the skid loader will handle on level, paved ground with the arms fully extended. Load up with anything over the tipping load and you will probably find that the machine falls flat on its face.
Manufacturers tend to find the rated operating capacity (ROC) of their skid loaders by taking this tipping load value and dividing it by two.
To give you an idea of what maximum capacities you can expect from your skid loader, check out these examples from some of the most popular brands. You may find that the most popular skid loaders all have very similar statistics.
Model: SVL 75
ROC: 3,278lb (1,690kg)
Operating weight: 9,039lb (4,100kg)
Tipping load: 6,556lb (2,975kg)
Brand: John Deere
ROC: 3,600lb (1,633kg)
Operating weight: 10,000lb (4,535kg)
Tipping load: 7,200lb (3,265kg)
ROC: 2,300lb (1,043kg)
Operating weight: 6974lb (3163kg)
Tipping load: 4,600lb (2,087kg)
The heaviest skid loader available to buy is the Gehl V420. This machine tips the scales at a whopping 11,665lb (5,291kg), wheel base width 82″ (2019mm), and has an operating capacity of a colossal 4,200lb (1,905kg).
Mini Skid Loaders
If you only need a fairly light load moved, it may make more financial sense to invest in a mini skid loader.
Mini skid loaders are roughly a third of the total weight of a standard skid loader. This puts mini skid loaders between 1,500lb and 4,000lb (680kg and 1,814kg). The most widely available size of mini skid loader is 3,300 lb (just shy of 1,500kg).
Brands including Bobcat, Dingo, Ditchwitch, Ramrod, Toro, and Vermeer are famed for their mini skid loader ranges. Each of these manufacturers has a variety of models available for purchase so do be sure to go through all of the specs to find the perfect mini skip loader for you!
Why Are Skid Loaders So Heavy?
Given that the average car only weighs in at 4,000lb (1,814kg), you may be asking why skid loaders are so hefty.
Most of the weight in a skid loader comes from the counterweights on the machine. These counterweights are essential to the functionality of a skid loader – without them, you would not be able to do an awful lot.
The weights act as a stabilizer, helping the skid loader balance when it is lifting heavy loads. Without these weights, your skid loader is likely to fall over.
If you intend to lift towards the top end of the tipping load or the operating capacity, it may be an idea to invest in some additional counterweights. These additional weights will make sure that the skid loader does not topple over when lifting and guarantees stability.
The average weight of a skid loader is 1,500lb and 12,000lb (680kg and 5,443kg). On average, a full-size skid loader weighs around 7,500lb (just over 3,400kg).
For safety and to protect the longevity of your skid loader, you need to be aware of its tipping load, operating capacity, and operating weight. You must keep below these values for your skid loader to work properly.
If you are lifting particularly heavy loads then consider purchasing additional counterweights. These will create additional stability and keep your operation as safe as possible.