Looking Back: Hydraulic Excavators

Mon February 10, 2020 - National Edition #4
Construction Equipment Guide


Take a look back at some of the original hydraulic excavators, which began as a variation on the steam shovel and progressed into the the excavators we know today.

The originl Kilgore Direct acting shovel was a 2.5-yd. capacity model on railroad wheels, introduced in 1897.
(Kilgore Manufacturing Company brochure, Donald W. Frantz Collection, HCEA Archives)
The originl Kilgore Direct acting shovel was a 2.5-yd. capacity model on railroad wheels, introduced in 1897. (Kilgore Manufacturing Company brochure, Donald W. Frantz Collection, HCEA Archives)

The Kilgore Direct acting shovel is on cleated traction wheels for use off the rails.
(Kilgore Manufacturing Company brochure, Donald W. Frantz Collection, HCEA Archives)
The Kilgore Direct acting shovel is on cleated traction wheels for use off the rails. (Kilgore Manufacturing Company brochure, Donald W. Frantz Collection, HCEA Archives)

One of the first Gradalls built dates from the early 1940s. Hydraulics for construction machinery were in their infancy, and were rather bulky and inefficient. The carrier is a Linn half-track.
(Keith Haddock, HCEA Archives photo)
One of the first Gradalls built dates from the early 1940s. Hydraulics for construction machinery were in their infancy, and were rather bulky and inefficient. The carrier is a Linn half-track. (Keith Haddock, HCEA Archives photo)

The tractor-operated backhoe is a 1951 Hopto (Hydraulically Operated Power Take Off), built by Badger Machine Company and is being run from a John Deere B tractor. These were the first known American true hydraulic excavators.
(Keith Haddock, HCEA Archives photo)
The tractor-operated backhoe is a 1951 Hopto (Hydraulically Operated Power Take Off), built by Badger Machine Company and is being run from a John Deere B tractor. These were the first known American true hydraulic excavators. (Keith Haddock, HCEA Archives photo)

The 1951 Poclain TU, while tractor-powered like the early Hopto, has an on-board  operator’s station that controls only the backhoe; he has to go to the tractor to operate it.
(Keith Haddock, HCEA Archives photo)
The 1951 Poclain TU, while tractor-powered like the early Hopto, has an on-board operator’s station that controls only the backhoe; he has to go to the tractor to operate it. (Keith Haddock, HCEA Archives photo)

The Poclain TL, introduced in 1957, is set up as a primitive hydraulic shovel with a latch-operated, gravity-dump bucket and a pantograph-operated bucket leveling system.
(Keith Haddock, HCEA Archives photo)
The Poclain TL, introduced in 1957, is set up as a primitive hydraulic shovel with a latch-operated, gravity-dump bucket and a pantograph-operated bucket leveling system. (Keith Haddock, HCEA Archives photo)

This Cat 225 is one of the first built, in 1972.
(Keith Haddock, HCEA Archives photo)
This Cat 225 is one of the first built, in 1972. (Keith Haddock, HCEA Archives photo)




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