Multipurpose or 4-in-1 buckets have commonly been used in the Southeast, but are beginning to make more numerous appearances in other regions. As their name implies, these buckets can perform multiple functions because the bottom and sides can separate from the back.
"The combination bucket enables operators to do much more than dig," says Justin Odegaard, Bobcat attachment product representative. "Operators can dig, load, carry and dump material like a construction bucket, plus grip debris like a grapple, or grade and level dirt. Serrated grapple edges are good for moving logs, beams, concrete chunks or other bulky materials."
When closed, they operate like a standard bucket, but with an added advantage for dumping at maximum height. "You can roll it out like you would any other bucket. Dirt or other material will spill over the cutting edge of the bucket, which works 99% of the time," says Grimstad. "But if you're trying to reach into a dump truck that's at the limit of the lifting height capacity of your machine, you can't roll out a bucket enough to dump it because you will hit the sides of the truck. With the
4-in-1 bucket, you can simply open up the bottom of the bucket and spill out the material."
When open, the back of the bucket can serve as a dozer or box blade. "If you're doing trench work, having the straight-edge dozer blade is nice for backfilling," Grimstad notes. "Plus, you can reach across the trench with the bucket open and use the backside of the bucket part to pull material in."
Because of their clam-style design, these buckets can also operate like a grapple to pick up materials that can't be handled with a standard bucket.
Although these buckets definitely offer advantages, there are some drawbacks to consider. Because of the mechanics required to open and close the bucket, you do lose some volume. Cutting edges and hydraulics also add to the weight. For example, CEAttachments' 72-in. heavy-duty dirt bucket weighs 700 lbs., whereas its 72-in. standard-duty 4-in-1 bucket weighs 900 lbs. The added weight, in turn, reduces the weight of material the bucket can carry.
In addition, 4-in-1 buckets can cost up to three times as much, or more, compared to similar-sized dirt buckets. "You will need to evaluate if you need the extra features," advises Grimstad.
Yet, according to Odegaard, many contractors who have made the investment find they don't go back to a standard bucket. "They can do so many things with the combination bucket," he says. "They find they need to leave the seat much less frequently because the machine can now pick up things that the operator used to have to get out of the machine to do." "All specialty buckets have several different applications and each has pros and cons depending on the job," adds Freiburer. "It is very important that the right bucket is used for the given application for both the skid steer and bucket to be cost effective."
Quick Bucket Changes
"Operators can quickly connect loader attachments to the mounting plate, lock two levers and be ready to work," says Justin Odegaard, Bobcat.
The optional Power Bob-Tach system (shown) is approved for use on G-Series and newer loader models. Activating the Power Bob-Tach switch on the dash panel will engage the Bob-Tach wedges into the attachment. The system will then provide a continual charge pressure to keep the attachment secure and hold the levers in the locked position.
With non-hydraulic attachments, operators can change attachments in a matter of minutes. "Operators are more likely to use the right size of bucket when attachment changes are simple," Odegaard notes. "And this can help the operator finish a job sooner thanks to attachment and loader versatility."
Hydraulic-driven attachments require you to shut off the loader and exit the cab to unhook/hook up the hydraulics. "But for standard attachments, the factory- or field-installed Power Bob-Tach system is really a time - and hassle - saver," says Odegaard.