How to Choose the Proper Wheel Loader Bucket
A bucket is a bucket, right? Well, yes and no. Sure, size matters, but that’s not the only feature that differentiates one wheel loader bucket from another. So how do you choose the right tool for your job? Here are some tips that will help you make the most efficient choice.
The bucket is your wheel loader’s “money pot”
The wheels enable your loader to move around, but it’s the bucket that carries the payload whether you’re scooping and loading, transporting, or stockpiling material. Every machine has a specified tipping load and lifting capacity. Ideally, you want to carry as much as you can per load, to complete jobs faster. But materials vary significantly. So, the reality of that capacity depends on material density. For example, dry soil or sand weighs less than mud or wet sand. And washed aggregate can weigh less than base fill.
Calculating average density is your starting point to determine the best bucket. It’s not unusual for wheel loaders to work with multiple types of materials, and if that’s the case for you, use the heaviest material as your gauge.
There are four different styles of wheel loader buckets
- General purpose
This is the most commonly used style, designed for maximum filling and retention of material. It is a good day-to-day workhorse for material handling, especially if you’re working with a wide range of densities such as municipal or construction applications, feedlot cleaning, recycling yard sorting, etc.
- Light material
This style is larger, designed to hold a greater volume of lighter-density material such as snow or mulch. If you don’t need to move higher-density materials, this bucket style will be your most cost-effective choice. Most light material buckets can be configured with either a hydraulic or pin-on quick-coupler, and many can be outfitted with a bolt-on cutting edge for added digging capability.
This style is designed for jobs that require stronger digging and more efficient load-carry-dump operation. This bucket is a great choice if you’re working with granular material or oddly shaped objects, and for dozing, spreading, or leveling fill or soil. If you choose a multipurpose bucket, consider one that has a reinforced mounting plate, for greater durability and longer life.
- Rock bucket
This style is designed for the toughest applications where high-density materials are the norm — quarries, mining, and large earth-moving work such as site development and road construction. A spade-nose rock bucket is a good choice for highly abrasive materials. This variation is usually constructed with weld-on teeth and uses only a pin-on coupler.
Options that enhance productivity and prolong life
The working edge of the bucket – the part that engages the ground – also determines bucket capability and efficiency. Bolt-on teeth come in a wide range of designs and can be used interchangeably with general purpose, multipurpose, and light material buckets. For heavier-duty buckets, weld-on teeth will last longer. You may also want to consider replaceable cutting edges or optional bucket guards that provide additional protection for the attachment.
Since time is money on every jobsite, the ability to change buckets quickly can boost uptime and profitability. You can accomplish that with a quick-change mechanism, which can be used with general purpose, light material, and multipurpose buckets as well as other attachments. A hydraulic quick-coupler is even more efficient because the operator can make the change without having to leave the cab. You can even find couplers that require no greasing, saving operator time and the cost of replacement parts.
Save money and make more money with the right bucket
Using the wrong bucket can cause premature wear and tear on your wheel loader, reducing its performance and shortening its life. By following these tips, you can choose the bucket that will optimize wheel loader performance without over-working it, to assure maximum return on your investment.
You don’t have to figure it out for yourself, though. We can help you calculate size and volume as well as material density, then choose the best bucket for your needs.