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Wed 13 Feb 2008 10:00 PM

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JCB model 3C

In a new series, we take a look at some of the great machines that have built the world today, starting with the famous ‘dancing' JCB.

In a new series, we take a look at some of the great machines that have built the world today, starting with the famous ‘dancing' JCB.

These days, no job would be complete without a backhoe loader scurrying around. In every corner of the globe - the Middle East being no exception you can find one of these versatile machines, made by scores of different companies.

However, before the 1950s most trenches and small excavations were built with shovels it wasn't until an inventor named Joseph Cyril Bamford and his crew of six built a machine capable of digging with a hydraulic arm as well as loading or ‘dozing with its front attachment. The first machine was built from war-surplus materials and put together using a cheap electric welder. People marveled at the novelty of a rear-mounted backhoe, though contrary to popular belief ‘backhoe' actually refers to the action of the arm rather than the location of the attachment on the vehicle. This was the first purpose-built backhoe loader anywhere.

Very quickly, Bamford realised that the potential of the machine, with strong overseas sales, particularly to America. Of course, competitors tried to muscle in on the territory, but Bamford realised that after-sales service were just as important as having a quality product. He tried to visit every customer personally, and a helicopter was bought in order that clients could come to the company's Midlands headquarters.

The company continued to innovate throughout the 1960s, with the various 3C models boasting such refinements as a fully functional in cab kettle. Gimmicks aside, the 3C was a huge success for the company, with customers loving the reliability and versatility of the machine. Great importance was placed in the vehicle's hydraulic systems, with stunts performed for TV, such as driving a car under a machine raised on its hydraulic arms, while Bamford also instigated the famous ‘Dancing Diggers' display, which is now famous throughout the world.

In 2007, the classic 3C model was voted the ‘World's Greatest Digger' by the Discovery channel.

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