Compact Equipment

JUN 2018

Compact Equipment is a magazine dedicated to equipment owners and operators of small, nimble, tool-carrying construction, landscape and ag equipment — such as skid steers, mini excavators, compact tractors, generators compressors and beyond.

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Page 12 of 47 13 B uckets and compact wheel loaders are made for each other. Literally. Yes, grapples and forks can be affixed to the front end of wheel loaders, but they smack of hood ornaments on a VW bug. A bucket is the money-maker for a wheel loader. So, the real question is, which bucket? The ready answer is a general-purpose bucket that is neither too deep, nor too shallow and is equipped with a bolt-on wear-resistant steel edge that can be turned around when the leading edge becomes dull. A good general pur- pose bucket either can be pinned to a machine's hydraulic arms or quick-attached with a coupler. It is ideal for rental fleets and will range in capacity from .5 cu yds on up. After the general purpose version of a bucket, howev- er, the choices become a little trickier. Going to dig into the ground? You need a bucket with teeth to engage the turf or rocky soil. Going to be scraping along a concrete surface to collect material or pushing the front edge of the bucket into mounded material to scoop out a load? A straight edge will do … but the shape of the bucket becomes a factor. Wacker Neuson has shaped a bucket, for example, that specifically addresses the challenge of loading commer- cial fertilizer such as urea and potash. Fertilizer suppli- ers mound various bulk fertilizers in separate bays and wheel loaders repeatedly scoop and dump loads into a mixer to meet the chemical requirements of a particu- lar customer. The problem comes in the slipperiness of the manufactured materials. "Fertilizer is like picking up water," says Brent Cof- fey, Wacker Neuson's product manager for loaders. "It sloshes around and goes everywhere." To contain it and minimize spill, Wacker Neuson designed a custom-built bucket. "Once it rolls back, the bucket's angled edge is perfectly parallel with the ground. It is designed for our kinematics and sits flat and contains the material like the load area of a truck." To create the bucket, Wacker Neuson engineers worked with a leading attachment company to optimize the design to the specific demands of the fertilizer market. Coffey says the company tries to cater to the market by performing in-depth voice-of- customer sessions to ensure that the final product per- forms as the market intends. Caterpillar actually patented its Performance Series wheel loader buckets, which feature flat floors, "open- throat" backs and rounded sides, all of which are designed to increase capacity and reduce spillage of materials. "This optimized shape is echoed across the general purpose, light material, sand and gravel and high-dump bucket families," says Amy Vincent, Cat work tools consultant. Vincent says all Cat buckets are designed in house. It should be noted that some bucket configurations are not especially relevant to smaller compact wheel loader applications. Massive spade nose buckets, for example, have toothy, protruding lower edges and reinforcement at critical points and usually are attached to 10-ton and larger loaders to dislodge heavy rock. Other buckets are specialized and infrequently attached to compact load- ers, such as tree-scoop buckets sometimes employed in nurseries and side-dump buckets that are jacked left or right to spill material from an angled bucket side plate. Compact loaders more often utilize buckets with espe- cially flat floors and straight edges at the rear to perform light grading or leveling tasks. Caterpillar incorporates the features into some of its general purpose buckets. So, there is no shortage of bucket variations for com- pact loaders. We haven't even mentioned grapple and clam-shell models for coarser material or snow removal buckets that sometimes have screened upper backs for visibility. Spilled snow is of little consequence, after all: The stuff eventually melts.

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