First, it’s best to use the word “correct” when asking or confirming that the customer or the salesman is “right” when describing the orientation of your machine. It’s a small change, but it can avoid a lot of confusion. A lot of parts are “side-specific”, meaning the same part on the left-hand side of your machine will not fit the right-hand side of the same. For example, engine side covers are cut differently to fit the left or the right side. You can likely imagine the way your machine tapers from the back to the front of the hood. The right-hand cover will not fit the left side unless your tractor is perfectly square.
Think about your automobile. If a tire is flat, and you needed to describe which one, you would use the words front, rear, driver’s side, and passenger side. As you well know, most heavy machinery and tractors are not passenger vehicles (unless you count a kid taking a ride on grandpa’s knee). In this case, you need to know which side is left and right.
The easiest way I’ve found over the years is to ask our customers to picture themselves in the operator’s seat driving the machine forward. I intentionally avoided saying “sitting in your seat”, because nearly all backhoe seats swivel or flip over, so the operator is facing the digging bucket.
With that in mind, imagine you’re in the seat AND driving forward. Your body AND your backhoe are now facing the same direction. Your right is the right-hand side of the machine, and your left is the left-hand side of the machine. This is the orientation that you need to use.
The answer is yes UNLESS you are operating an excavator or another machine that swivels on its frame. In this case, everything above the swing bearing is still oriented the same way your body is, BUT the frame and undercarriage may be the complete opposite if you are not facing the “front.” In this case, I will ask the customer to swing the machine so that the drive motor and gears are behind them.
In an excavator the “front” of your undercarriage is where the idler wheel and track tensioner are, the “rear” is where your final drives and sprockets are.