"These types of buckets are becoming more common," says Moore. "Depending on the manufacturer, they can have slightly more capacity. And they lend better visibility to the cutting edge, so the operator can see it as he drives close to curbs, gutters and buildings."
While a low-profile bucket may enhance capacity, smaller buckets with a shorter lip and shorter bottom offer more breakout force than larger buckets with longer lips and deeper bottoms. "Think of it as a lever effort," says Laufenberg. "A shorter lever lets you put more force on the bucket to break through the dirt."
If you move to a smaller bucket to gain breakout force, make sure your bucket is slightly wider than the tires or tracks on the machine. "If you go too small, you will be operating within the track of the machine, so you won't be operating on a flat plane," Moore explains. "Also, if you overfill the bucket, the excess will spill over the edge and the tires will run over it, which changes the level of the machine."
Ideally, the bucket should be about an inch or two wider than the tires. "If you go too much wider, you can run into problems with machine overload because it will be easier to carry more than the machine is intended to," Moore points out. "It's best to consult with your dealer and the operator's manual to determine capacity. Then size the bucket accordingly."
Teeth and edges
Accessories such as weld-on or bolt-on teeth and bolt-on edges can also affect breakout force. "If the material to be moved is highly compacted with rocks, a bucket with teeth and a shorter floor length will increase the breakout force and make the skid steer more productive," says Jeff Freiburer, sales application specialist, Paladin.
"Teeth can also be a benefit in summer months when it's dry because they can break through the hardpan," adds Moore.
If teeth are not needed (or wanted), a bolt-on edge can save wear and tear on the bucket edge.
"The surface the bucket will be used on is important to determine if a bolt-on edge is necessary," says Freiburer. "The bolt-on edge is the leading cutting edge on the bucket. It can be replaced if worn out, and will not affect the edge welded in the bucket."
The corrosive nature of the material the bucket will encounter is also a consideration. "Thicker steel will mean longer bucket life in a corrosive environment," Freiburer states.
While dirt buckets are by far the most popular choice for skid steers, there are situations that dictate a different option.
"If the material to be moved is considered light material, you may want to consider a bucket with a higher capacity rating to move a higher volume of material in a shorter time frame," says Freiburer.
Light material buckets are deep with a high back to carry larger volumes of lighter material, such as mulch, wood chips, sawdust, bark, etc. In some cases, they do double duty as snow buckets, although dedicated snow buckets are available from some suppliers. Utility buckets can also be grouped into this category.
"These buckets are not intended for digging, but rather for moving lighter weight material," says Grimstad. "They typically have more capacity than a dirt bucket, but they don't have the strength. They are for loose materials or for backfilling around foundations."
Many manufacturers also offer specialty buckets, such as skeleton, brush and scrap grapple buckets. "A specialty bucket can be more cost-effective in the long run due to the fact the bucket is more efficient for the application," says Freiburer. "In some cases, a standard dirt bucket will not work for the job."
Skeleton and brush grapple buckets are essentially sifting buckets. They are a good choice for demolition or any task requiring you to separate dirt from the base material. "They let dirt fall out of the base material," says Grimstad. "It could be separating stone from dirt, brush from dirt, etc. - anything that is large enough to not fall through the cracks."
These buckets are also available with a grapple for handling and ripping out brush, small trees and shrubs.
Scrap grapple buckets are essentially buckets with open sides - they have a bottom lip and back with sides cut out, plus a pair of grapples. For construction applications, they are often used to handle brush. They may also be needed in a demolition-type application with grapples mounted to the top of the bucket, says Freiburer.