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The Different Types of Skid Steers

The Different Types of Skid Steers and Skid Loaders

The Different Types of Skid Steers and Skid Loaders

If you’re in the landscaping or construction industries, you know there is more to material handling than just moving pallets in a warehouse. When you need a machine that can haul dirt and gravel, you need a skid steer. These machines primarily excel at moving and leveling heaps of loose material. Yet, there’s more to these multi-talented workhorses than meets the eye. Read on to learn about the different kinds of skid steers and their applications.

Skid Steer Frame Size Options

Skid steers are generally categorized by frame size. Frame size is determined by the model’s rated operating capacity and horsepower. There are 3 general frame sizes.

  • Small frame. These skid steers have an operational capacity of up to 1,750 lbs and typically between 40 to 60 horsepower. For example, the GEHL R105 qualifies as a small-frame skid steer.
  • Medium frame. These models have operating capacities of 1,750 to 2,200 lbs and engines that provide 50 to 70 horsepower. The GEHL R190 Gen 2 is an example of this frame size.
  • Large frame. These are the most powerful skid steers. They have a rated operating capacity of 2,200 lbs or more. Likewise, their power exceeds 70 horsepower, with models like the GEHL R260.

Job Site Matters

Consider your job site when picking the best skid steer frame size for your application. If there are any narrow areas your skid steer will have to negotiate, a smaller frame size may be required. For example, the GEHL R105 has an overall width of 54 inches with the bucket or 49 inches without. These compact dimensions allow it to fit through most gates.

However, your job site may not have restrictions on space. In that case, a large frame size might offer you the power to get more work done with each load. Consider our GEHL skid steer rentals if you work at various job sites with variable needs. By renting, you always have the model best suited to your site.

Skid Steer Lift Type Options

There are two main lift types with skid steers: radial and vertical. Radial lifts have fewer internal parts and thus require less maintenance. However, vertical lifts typically offer more lifting power. To that end, a vertical lift skid steer might be the best choice if your job requires repetitive heavy loads or frequent lifting. For lighter lifting or digging, the reliability of radial lifting is hard to beat.

Wheels vs Tracks

Skid steers come in two varieties: wheel loaders and track loaders. Wheel loaders use wheels, while track loaders run on rubber tracks. There are pros and cons to each. However, ultimately, the decision is usually based on terrain.

Wheel Loaders

The wheels of a wheel loader drive best on smooth, hard surfaces. These surfaces provide the best traction but also won't be damaged by a fully laden vehicle. Due to their smaller surface area, wheel loader tires are less expensive to maintain than tracks.

Track Loaders

Tracks provide more ground contact for track loaders than wheel loaders. This spreads the weight of their loads over a larger area, making them less likely to damage soft or landscaped grounds. Likewise, they excel over uneven and rough terrain due to this improved traction and stability. However, tracks are more expensive to maintain as their greater surface area also introduces more wear and tear. Due to their versatility, track loaders have become the more popular of the skid steer varieties.

Attachment Options

Skid steers can do more than just material handling. Each can be fitted with a variety of attachments, allowing them to meet the needs of nearly any job site. In fact, attachments are so vital that we suggest choosing your attachments before you select a skid steer. Our experts can conduct a site visit to determine which attachments are best suited for your application. Then, we’ll help you select the right machine for those attachments. This ensures you get a skid steer capable of handling all your site needs. 

The following are popular skid steer attachments:

  • Brush cutter
  • Mulcher
  • Forestry mulcher
  • Tree puller
  • Tiller
  • Stump grinder
  • Grapple bucket
  • Trencher
  • Concrete mixer

With the right combination of attachments, your skid steer is a powerful multi-tool, capable of serving many functions on a single job site.

The Right Equipment for the Right Job

The versatility and range of skid steers make them a valuable tool on many job sites. However, finding the perfect model can be a challenge without expert guidance. We have skid steers for sale or rent here at The Lilly Company. Our team is here to help you find the ideal skid steer construction equipment for your application. Our experts will assess your needs and recommend the best GEHL skid steer for your company's individual requirements. To learn more about skid steers, contact us online or visit one of our Mid-South locations:

Arkansas - Jonesboro
Alabama - Birmingham, Dothan, Irondale, Madison, Mobile, and Montgomery
Mississippi - Tupelo and Richland
Tennessee - Jackson, Memphis, Knoxville, and Kingsport

Further Reading
What Are Rough Terrain Forklifts?
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