A Hydrostatic loader, also called a Hydrostatic front loader, hydrostatic front end loader or Hydrostatic shovel, is a type of hydrostatic tractor, usually wheeled, that uses a wide square tilting bucket on the end of movable arms to lift and move material.
The loader assembly may be a removable attachment or permanently mounted. Often the bucket can be replaced with other devices or tools. The bucket can also be augmented with devices like a bale grappler for handling large bales of hay or straw.
Large hydrostatic loaders, such as the Caterpillar hydrostatic 950G or Caterpillar hydrostatic 966G, usually have only a front bucket and are called Hydrostatic Front Loaders, whereas small loader tractors are often also equipped with a small backhoe and are called Hydrostatic backhoe loaders or Hydrostatic loader backhoes.
Hydrostatic Loaders are used mainly for uploading sand, dirt and mud into trucks, clearing rubble and digging, though a loader is not the most efficient machine for digging as it cannot dig very deep below the level of its wheels, like a backhoe can. Their deep bucket can store about 3-5 cubic meters (exact number varies with the model) of earth. The front loader's bucket capacity is much bigger than a bucket capacity of a backhoe loader.
In construction areas, mainly when fixing a road in a middle of a city, loaders are also used to transport building materials - such as bricks, metal bars and digging tools - over short distances.
Unlike Hydrostatic bulldozers, most loaders are wheeled and not tracked. Wheels provide better mobility (and speed) and do not damage paved roads.
Unlike hydrostatic backhoes or standard hydrostatic tractors fitted with a front bucket, many large hydrostatic loaders do not use automotive steering mechanisms; Instead, they steer by a hydraulically actuated pivot point set exactly between the front and rear axles. This allows the front axle to be solid, allowing it to carry a heavier weight. Most designs actually have the front axle rigidly attached to the same frame that carries the bucket and lift arms; This keeps the cutting edge of the bucket parallel to the axle. The rear axle is articulated to allow travel over rough terrain.