Connecting Attachments to a Skid-Steer Loader

Whether they're used as the base package or with a wide selection of attachments, skid-steer loaders provide power performance for everyone, from contractors and utilities workers to farmers and construction teams. Skid-steer attachments give loaders added flexibility as well as the capacity to respond to many different applications; attachments may fasten to a skid-steer loader through a standard coupler or a quick coupler. 

Standard Quick Couplers

A standard skid-steer loader quick coupler relies on the use of high leverage handles to manually engage and disengage the attachment; as such, the use of a standard quick coupler requires careful attention to safety procedures. Without proper locking of the locking levers, an attachment may become unfastened during use or with the lifting arms raised. Either type of accident can cause damage to the loader or injury to the operator or surrounding workers.

Attachments that rely on hydraulics should use a standard quick coupler: change-out occurs through a standard set of flat faced couplers connected to the auxiliary hydraulics. Changing a hydraulic-based attachment requires releasing the pressure from the hydraulic system. Because trapped hydraulic line pressure can make change-out more difficult, the use of a connect-under-pressure coupler relieves trapped pressure and releases the hydraulic oil through a return line back into the machine.

Depending on the task, a change of attachments may occur several times during a work day. Each attachment change presents an opportunity to check that all hydraulic connections remain free of any contaminants or debris. In addition, check connectors on the skid steer loader coupling and the attachment for any signs of wear, and ensure that all connectors are properly lubricated. To safely secure an attachment using a standard quick coupler, shut down the loader and correctly exit from the machine; then, carefully secure the locking lever.

Powered Quick Couplers

Powered quick coupler systems allow operators to change non-hydraulic skid steer loader attachments without exiting the cab. Operators use a cab-mounted switch to activate hydraulics that raise and lower the locking levers; then, the operator positions the skid-steer loader so that the attachment connects securely to the levers.

Skid-Steer Loader Attachments

Manufacturers of skid-steer loaders offer more than fifty different types of attachments, ranging from variations on buckets, blades, sweepers, breakers, forks, grapples, backhoes, and trenchers; selections also include compactor, auger, brush cutter, and mower attachments. Without locking levers solidly locked in place, an attachment can break free and roll back down the loader, damaging the machine and potentially injuring the operator or bystanders. Other safety precautions for all attachments involve checking the hydraulic systems and ensuring that bystanders stay safely outside the work perimeter.

Bucket attachments mount easily to the loader for the movement of dirt and debris. When equipped with a six-way dozer blade, a skid-steer loader can move, push, and cut soil, sod, and gravel. Other blades work for rough grading and landscaping. Industrial forks pick up palletized or bagged material. Sweepers quickly move dirt and debris for site clean-up. 

Hydraulic breakers make the job of breaking concrete apart less difficult, while grapples make handling brush, scrap metal, and lumber easier. Trenchers rely on powerful hydraulic motors to accurately dig trenches for wiring or plumbing. Backhoe attachments add excavation capabilities in a compact package.