Buying Advice Ford 550 loader backhoe questions

   / Ford 550 loader backhoe questions #1  


Jul 27, 2012
Harford, Maryland
Ford 550 TLB
Hello everyone.

I have decided that the old 4500 TLB needs too much work to repair.

I am looking at a Ford 550 TLB. Anything I should check or is a common problem?

The 550 has 4000 hrs, shuttle shift, decent tires, enclosed cab with heat one cracked window little, decent brakes, good power, no big leaks anywhere.

I noticed the king pins are a little loose, the swing pivot for the hoe has a little play, and the loader bucket is a little worn. Maybe a new edge on the bucket is needed.

A few of the hoses were replaced and the swing cylinders were recently repacked.

It started up good, no smoke or noises. Ran for 45 minutes, shifted ok, I drove it around his yard. The controls seem good, a little slop in the hoe levers but it looked like it was all in the linkage which I fixed on the 4500 before.

After the engine ran at 1000 rpm for an hour I heard what sounded like a small valve tap but other wise engine was quiet.

The whole unit looks well maintained and seems to work good.

I am using it on a small tree farm to remove brush, clear roads, dig stumps etc.

Does $6000 sound like a decent price?
When were the 550s made?
Anything to check before I make the deal?

Thanks for the input.
   / Ford 550 loader backhoe questions #2  
is it a 3 cylinder? or 4 cylinder engine? does it have 4wd?

are the hydraulics good? as in after running it at high RPMs for say 30 minutes to an hour to warm everything up. and working both FEL and backhoe (raising and lowering everything multi times to work in warm oil into everything). lift FEL all the way up and backhoe all the way up turn off tractor. and wait 30 minutes to an hour. did any fall back down to the ground? or slowly fall back down to the ground? gives you some sort of idea about seals, and gaskets and 0-rings.

the transmission. is it 4 gear, or hi/low 4 gear (for total of 8 gears)?

you may not really notice much with transmission, till ya run it hard, at high RPMs, and then try to use too high of a gear to move. and get the transmission to start slipping.

tires can be expensive to replace.

look at air filter. there is an outer filter and inner filter, check how dirty they are.

you should be able to use an "oil wrench" to pull off cover for hyd oil filter. see how that filter looks.

check hyd oil after you been running it, does hyd oil still look like oil? or other? is it a different color that what you started out with?

goto and look at TLB and look at half dozen other backhoes in same HP range / cost range. even if it takes a day out of work. and run some other TLBs for sale. that way you have some sort of way to compare to. granted you have the old 4500 TLB to compare to. but ya not able to compare it to much other.

$6000 seems cheap, and more likely 9,000 to 15,000 if it has a cab. and in good working order. and windows for most part all the way in, and only a couple broke out.

granted i am not nocking the ford 555C i have. awesome machine, just buying used. it can be a very ugly mix of things out there.
   / Ford 550 loader backhoe questions
  • Thread Starter

It is a 3 cyl / 4 speed shuttle / 2wd. Mostly we will use it in 1st or 2nd gear only, sloow speeds in the woods.

I did run it to get evrything hot, used the hoe and loader, maxing them both out a couple of times. I waited 30 minutes with everything up nad no noticable drop. It restarted well also.

The hyd cyliners looked dry for external leaks, but not really clean like it was just washed. The seller had the oil changed, the hyd filter changed and the air filter changed last week so all that looked good. It also looks as though he lubed most grease fittings every time he used it, a lot of grease and little play in any joint.

I am mostly concerned with the engine and trans durability, most of the other things we can fix pretty cheap. I have a hyd shop close by that will reseal a cylinder for $100.00 including the seals and fab hoses depending on length for $20 -$30.

I have been looking at a few other hoes, mostly Case or JCB. I do not like the JCB due to parts availability and most of the other I looked at seemed much more worn, loose or squeaking joints, leaks, weld repairs etc.

He told me he wants to buy a new machine, has one in mind and just wants the money quick.

PS. In this area, a pair of clean, enclosed Case 580SLs just sold fo $15,000 each, I think the construction business has slowed and some are getting out of the business.
   / Ford 550 loader backhoe questions #4  
The 550 was the replacement of the 4500 you have. The 4500 as well as the 550 were both good machines.

I could be wrong with the following information, just going off memory, which isnt always right so take it for what its worth.

I think the 550 was made from 75-83. (The 4500 was discontinued in 75).
I think the backhoe units themselves are the SAME and even interchangable.
So with the 550, the only real difference is the more modern stuff on the "tractor" side.

So with 4000 hours, and already some slop in the hoe and controls, I have to ask what is wrong with the 4500 that you are wanting to sell it and get one only a few years newer. Cause unless your 4500 has something MAJOR wrong (like motor or trans), I think you will be in the same boat in a few years with this 550.

All that said, $6k isnt too bad.
   / Ford 550 loader backhoe questions
  • Thread Starter
I got the 4500 from a friend, the engine is shot, the rear was run without oil for a year or so, the loader has been welded at least 10 times, the hoe 3 or 4. The steering is so loose that you need to turn the steering wheel 1/2 a turn before the tires move. The 4500 is just very worn out. I am sure it would cost more than the $6000 to fix the 4500 plus time and headaches.

I like the enclosed cab for snow removal in the winter on the 550, since the 4500 did last so long with little to no maintenance, I thought that the 550 would last for a long time with service.

Thanks for the hoe info, the 4500 has some new parts on the hoe so I may keep it around for parts.
   / Ford 550 loader backhoe questions #6  
Thanks for the hoe info, the 4500 has some new parts on the hoe so I may keep it around for parts.

That sounds like a good idea. Because if it is in the condition you describe, with a bum engine, soon to fail rear end, and cobbled loader, youd be lucky to get $2k out of it.
   / Ford 550 loader backhoe questions #7  
Clay how did you make out with your machine. I just bought one and am curious what stuff you ran into. I need to repleace the block heater... but not sure which one to buy or from where... I looked online at some sites but none of them show the heating element in the drawings.
   / Ford 550 loader backhoe questions #8  
86590140 is the New Holland part number for the 600 watt core plug style block heater. Replaces the rearmost frostplug on the right hand side of the block, between the fuel filter & starter. Should be about $40 and comes with instructions.
   / Ford 550 loader backhoe questions
  • Thread Starter
Check with Messicks, they have a great parts catalog on their web site. Shipping is always quick for me. I ran into the usual stuff: Burst two hoses on day 3, changed fluids etc, had some electrical issues with cab heater and lights. Most of the problems have been from previous owner botched repairs. Someone put the thermostat in backwards!! I would not have noticed but I changed the coolant and thermostat just to be safe. I hate when something breaks down in the midle of a job. good luck with the machine.
   / Ford 550 loader backhoe questions #10  
Clay how about rebuilding the pistons.. have you tried doing that yet?
Thanks Rick!

Only problem is I gotta get her started and raise the boom to get to it.... Too cold wont start =o(