Multipurpose (4-in-1) buckets have become popular skid-steer attachments. As their name implies, these buckets can perform multiple functions because the bottom and sides of the bucket separate from the back.
“Versatility is the biggest benefit of a multipurpose bucket as opposed to a general-purpose bucket,” says Ashby Graham, JCB skid steer and compact track loader product specialist. “A multipurpose bucket can dig, load, spread, grade, grab and doze vs. simply dig, carry and dump material like a general-purpose bucket.”
“Contractors can accomplish more tasks with one attachment when they rely on a multipurpose bucket,” agrees David Steger, Takeuchi-US product and training manager. “When a skid steer is equipped with a 4-in-1 bucket, contractors don’t have to change attachments or haul additional attachments around with their machine. This saves time, space on the trailer and ultimately money.”
Application is Key to Selection
Before selecting a multipurpose bucket, ask yourself two very important questions: what tasks do you need to perform, and what size bucket will those tasks require?
“If excavating and moving dirt is your main application, a general-purpose bucket may be sufficient,” says Steger. “However, if you are performing clean-up, general utility construction, residential construction or any other application where you are moving dirt and debris, a 4-in-1 bucket becomes advantageous.”
“If the contractor needs to perform multiple jobs, such as those tasks found on a demolition project, a multipurpose bucket is a good choice,” says Graham. “A multipurpose bucket will allow the operator to grab larger material and doze smaller material during cleanup, all with one attachment.”
Because of their clam-style design, multipurpose buckets can operate like a grapple to pick up materials that can’t be handled with a standard bucket. The serrated grapple edges are effective for moving logs, beams, concrete chunks or other bulky materials.
“Skid steers with 4-in-1 buckets are able to dig and grab material with the same attachment,” says Steger. “Grabbing material is the 4-in-1 bucket’s biggest advantage.”
When open, the back of the bucket can also serve as a dozer or box blade. “If you’re doing trench work, the straight-edge dozer blade of the 4-in-1 bucket works well for backfilling,” says Ron Peters, CEAttachments product manager. “You can reach across the trench with the bucket open and use the backside of the bucket to pull material in.”
With the jaws closed, a multipurpose bucket operates like a standard bucket. However, it has the added ability to dump at maximum height. “If you are trying to dump into a truck that exceeds the lifting height capacity of your machine, you can simply open the jaws of a 4-in-1 bucket and let material flow out,” says Peters.
The jaws of the bucket can also be used to sift and filter debris, adds Steger.
Keep the Design in Mind
Multipurpose buckets are available in standard and heavy-duty models. Heavy-duty 4-in-1 buckets incorporate larger cylinders, additional hose protection and reinforced buckets.
According to Peters, heavy-duty multipurpose buckets are appropriate for medium to large skid steers above the 1,700-lb. class range. The application and material density will determine when a heavy-duty model is needed. “Hard, dense material is better worked with a heavy-duty bucket, while lighter material, like sand, is easily worked with a standard 4-in-1 bucket,” he indicates.
To make sure you are purchasing a quality attachment, Graham suggests checking the bucket to ensure the hinges and pins are a heavy-duty grade to better distribute the load. The bucket should have mounted springs on the top to protect the hoses from being damaged during operation. He also recommends considering tooth bars or bolt-on edges to extend the bucket edge life.