Case Backhoes

by Aaron Freed
Here is probably more information than you could conceivably have ever wanted pertaining to your question “What can you tell me about the other models of the Case 580?”….

Case is one of the most popular backhoes in the United States. Case manufactured one of the first commercially available purpose-built backhoes (as opposed to a standard farm tractor with a backhoe bolted on) that was covered by a single warranty. This was the model 530, and it came on the market in, I believe, about 1962. The model was improved and modified somewhat, though fundamentally still the same. It was offered as the 580 in, I believe, in the mid 1960s.

The following is conjecture, as I am going only on photos and drawings — I haven’t found a whole lot on history, but here goes:

The original Case 580 was offered with a backhoe boom that had a partially enclosed lift cylinder located (oddly enough), below the boom. Thus, extending the cylinder would lift the boom, and contracting it would lower the boom. As somewhat less surface-area on the piston-head is involved in compressing the cylinder due to the influx of hydraulic fluid into the cylinder on the shaft-side of the piston head, I should imagine that this design did not offer as much power in “pulling” the boom down as it would in pushing it up.

Anyway, evidently, for one reason or another, this design was replaced with same design that appears on all Case 580-series backhoes until the E series, namely a boom constructed of, essentially a square or rectangular section box-beam with two lift cylinders, one on either side of the boom. (The smaller 480 series used the same design of the boom, but only had one lift cylinder, I believe, on the left side as one faces the back of the machine from the operator’s platform.

In the early 1970′s, the 580 B series came out, with various improvements, primarily in power, a more integrated tractor/loader/backhoe design, and, in most cases, a ROPS or cab, rather than the open farm-tractor style seat offered in the previous model.

This model, I believe, was the first to offer Case’s unique, patented “over-center” storage position for the backhoe, where, when fully raised and stowed, the boom of the backhoe actually leans slightly forward (about 5 to 10 degrees) over the cab, rather than leaning backward as is the case with almost all competing machines. This feature is worthy of note in that it moves the weight of the backhoe forward, thereby imparting less of a bouncing, rocking motion to the unit when it is travelling or when the front loader is in use. A heavy weight hanging off the back of a loader, especially when it is powering into a pile tends to make the front end bounce upward, reducing the machine’s stability, traction, control and comfort.

Alas, evidently, the 580B suffered from various design flaws such as undersized pivot-pins that wore very quickly even when lubricated frequently.

The successor to the 580B is the 580C, which, I believe, appeared around 1972 or so. This was the first model that really seems to have been truly designed from the ground up as a backhoe loader, rather than a general purpose tractor with a backhoe tacked on to it. It was also the first to feature a paint-scheme other than Construction Yellow, namely orange with a black cab and black trim.

In the mid to late 1970′s, the Case 580D was released. It was similar to the 580C, though somewhat more streamlined. It featured more glass in the cab, a somewhat more powerful engine and various design changes that improved performance and reliability.

The 580 E series appeared in the early 1980′s, and looked almost exactly like the 580D. Probably the most notable difference was the inclusion of a 4 cylinder Cummins Diesel engine to replace the older, presumably less reliable engine in previous models. The paint scheme was changed to a slightly more dusky orange with brown trim instead of black. Evidently, this was a well-recieved model because it was not until about 1985 or 1986 that Case released the next model in the 580 line, namely the Case 580 K.

The 580 K featured a completely new look with rounded rear side-panels in the cab and a split rear window of which the bottom or top halves could be raised out of the way. The 580K also featured small integrated tool boxes at each side, in front of the rear wheels. These doubled as fuel tank on the right and oil tank on the left (I could be wrong about this–probably am). Later models included larger fuel tanks and integrated tool boxes.

The most notable feature of the loader on this model is probably that the loader arms have almost straight “knees” (the bend about half-way between the bucket and the loader arm attachment point to the backhoe frame. Unlile previous models, the loader arm piston was positioned higher on the frame, so that it actually slants downward to the knee when the loader bucket is in the dig position, while on earlier models, it tilted upward to the knee.

The most significant feature of this backhoe loader is probably in the boom. Gone was the welded box-beam construction and exposed lift-cylinders on each side. The new boom was cast of a single piece of ductile iron, and formed a U-shaped cross-section, with the open side pointing upward. The single huge (almost 5 inch diameter!) lift cylinder is on top of the boom, and completely enclosed within it when it is fully raised, fitting neatly into the narrow U-shaped cross-section. The dipper cylinder is located inside the boom, its attachment point below (deeper within the boom’s cross-section) the lift cylinder. The dipper cylinder remains completely enclosed at all times, proteced on the top by the lift cylinder, and on the sides and bottom by the cast-iron boom, itself.

Aside from the considerably stronger structure of the boom, the lack of two side-mounted lift cylinders enables the boom to be far narrower than in previous models, allowing the operator a much clearer, less obstructed view into the trench.

In the early 90′s, newer versions of the K, the “super K” appeared, which featured incremental improvements, the most notable of which would probably be the larger tool boxes and slightly different paint-scheme.

In the mid 90′s, Case introduced the Super L. This featured another change in the paint-scheme, namely orange and slate grey, rather than orange and brown. It featured more glass in the cab, better controls (I believe it was this model that offered either standard backhoe levers or excavator-style controls), much larger fuel capacity and a number of other “creature comfort” and performance-related features. The version of this model that lacked the extendahoe had a minor redesign of the boom arm, that seems to be somewhat slimmer and lighter weight than the original ductile cast-iron boom.

Finally, in 2001, Case released the Case 580M, the current, state-of-the-art product. This model has a completely redesigned cab with something like 23% (according to the literature) more glass than previous models. In addition to the usual door on the left side of the cab, a right-side entrance is offerd as an option. Further, the two-part back window is now split into three parts, any one, two or all of which can be raised overhead to afford an open view of the backhoe and the trench. The 580 M features the same orange and grey paint-scheme as the previous L series. The loader arms have a sharper bend at the knee and the lift cylinder once again forms an upward angle to the knee when the bucket is down in the dig position.

This model features vastly improved noise-reduction (about 65 decibels in the cab) as well as positive flow air-filtering, “shuttle-shift” transmission, a feature that allows the backhoe to divert drive power to the loader bucket to improve lift-capacity. It also features “Ride Control”, a feature that, from what I understand, uses back-pressure from the hydraulic system to provide shock-absorb “dampening” features to the backhoe’s ride as it travels. Essentially, think of this as “Steady-cam” for your backhoe. Aside from all that, there are the usual performance enhancements, including a redesigned extendahoe feature, minor, but significant changes to the backhoe bucket design, and so on.

Jason MacKenzie That was some good info on that case backhoe history. I do know a lot about the backhoes myself. I know the years of production per model by heart. I can give you a quick run down on the introduction years, of course this is for the United States Machines.1968 580CK “Construction King”
1973 580B yellow models
1975 580B Orange & Black Models
1977 580C
1981 580D & 580 Super D, first ever 4wheel Drive
1984 580E & 580 Super E, Power Tan & Brown
1987 580K Total Redesigned machine
1990 580 Super K & 580K Turbo
1992 590 Turbo (slightly larger machine)
other model sizes eliminated, 480,680,780
The K series was the longest running series
1995 580L, 580L Turbo, 580SL, 590SL introduced.
1997 580 L series II Introduced
2001 580M, 580M Turbo, 580 Super M, 590 Super M introduced. Hope that helps. Case is by far my favorite backhoe. When it comes to case backhoes I am just like Rain Man!
John Hi Aaron,
I was just reading through some old posts on the SSB Tractor board and came across your treatise on the history of the Case 580. It was very interesting and explained a few things that had confused me. I have a 580 K from 1988, so there are a few points that I think I can give you a little more information. Aaron said: “The 580 K featured a completely new look with rounded rear side-panels in the cab and a split rear window of which the bottom or top halves could be raised out of the way.”

On my machine, the backhoe window is made up of three pieces of glass. The lowest piece is on the innermost track and the top piece slides on the outermost track. This means that the top two pieces can be slid down almost behind the bottom piece to give the operator a view of the trench unobstructed by dirty glass (or, in my machine, scratched plexi replacement). I’m pretty sure that the bottom two pieces could also be slid up, but I’m not sure about this because I have never needed such a configuration.

The 580K also featured small integrated tool boxes at each side, in front of the rear wheels. These doubled as fuel tank on the right and oil tank on the left (I could be wrong about this–probably am).

I’m not sure what you mean that these (the toolboxes) doubled as fuel and oil tanks. On my machine, the step going out the left (facing the loader) side of the machine is a toolbox. The step going out the right side of the machine is the battery box. The fuel tank is effectively the left cowl between the cab and the main hood that tilts up and forward to expose the engine. This tank goes all the way down through the left “frame rail” as it were. The oil tank is mounted similarly on the right side.

Finally, in 2001, Case released the Case 580M, the current, state-of-the-art product. This model has a completely redesigned cab with something like 23% (according to the literature) more glass than previous models. In addition to the usual door on the left side of the cab, a right-side entrance is offered as an option.

I don’t understand this comment about the right door. My machine is equipped with both a right and left door. The shift lever for the transaxle is positioned such that it is rather less convenient to enter from the right, but I do use it on occasion.

Overall, your post was very informative and I hope my small additions don’t suggest that it was inaccurate.

Jason MacKenzie I also forgot to mention the Case 580C was the first backhoe introduced with a Unitized main frame. Meaning the whole frame was made into one solid piece. The 580CK and 580B models had split frames, where the rear of the machine frame extended onto the front hood section, and was bolted in place. The 580C was a drastic improvement, because everything just sat on that one main frame. The 580C was also a 55HP Engine, with a loader that had a 4200lb lift capacity. And Had a total loader lift height of 13’4″. This really was a beautiful machine in it’s day. Also the 580C Loader was the first Case loader not to have that 3rd hydraulic lift cylinder that regulated hoist control over the bucket. (so when you raised the bucket to full height the bucket would be self leveling and things wouldn’t fall over the mould board of the bucket and kill the operator.


  1. Robert Heinrich:

    I am on the Board of a Domestic Water Improvement Distric. The District has a Case Construction King 580 Backhoe Loader with a diesel engine. It does not have a cab or attachement fittings for a cab. It does have out riggers. Can you tell me the approximate period in which this backhoe was built?

    Bob Heinrich

  2. mike:

    Hello, I would like to know if a 580c back bucket will fit on a 580k machine ?

  3. Jon Hook:

    Interesting post. I have a 1996 Super L and I have 3 pieces of glass on the back. They can all be put down behind each other. Could likely put them all up too but I never tried it, I always put them down. I also have 2 doors in the cab.

    I know that a front bucket off a 580K will fit on my L. Will a bucket off of an M also fit on my L, does anybody know?

  4. Emily:

    hi there to whoever owns this website, Can you give me more info on this? i sometimes look at other peoples websites that are made for people like me.

  5. Philip Kusseler:

    Hi, got a 580 G in South Africa, trying to do my own services and maintenance, can’t find much on the “G”. Do you know any damaging differences to the other cab fitted 580TLBs? Thank you

  6. bobby:

    Hi guys hope someone can put a smile back on my face. I have a 580g case 4×4 tractor and in desperate need of crownwheel and pinion, please someone put me out of my misery. I am in desperate need

  7. john pullia:

    hi, ihaved case 580 most of timed in construction fron 1968 to present time ok went to other makes but one thing is that in my opinion no one can beat case for backhoe

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