Bigger Buckets Aren’t Always Better

excavator bucket selection

Dig Like You Mean It.

From faster bucket wear to increased fuel burn, choosing the wrong bucket can hurt your business. Our experts talk about the do’s and don’ts of excavator bucket selection.


Before you pick a size, you first need to consider:

  • Truck match: Bucket sizing actually starts with the truck in mind. Four to five passes is a nice match for a large excavator (75-100 ton) loading a truck.
  • Impact conditions: How difficult it is to get material out of the ground.
  • Material density: Tells you how much a bucket load would weigh, in ideal conditions, when 100% full.


What’s the difference between general duty, heavy duty, severe duty and extreme duty buckets? It’s the ability to withstand wear in different materials.

  • General Duty: For general excavation and truck loading of dirt, loam and gravel.
  • Heavy Duty: For general construction applications in a wide range of materials with a small aggregate size.
  • Severe Duty: For small to medium sized materials like sandstone, shot limestone, shot granite and the like.
  • Extreme Duty: For aggressive digging and loading applications in broken slag, limestone, broken granite, basalt, hematite and iron ore.

Caterpillar Excavator Bucket ApplicationsEDGE CONFIGURATION

We have two edge types to handle different terrains and tasks.

Spade edge: Offers better penetration and faster cycle times in harder materials. Our quarry-style buckets are often configured with spade edges, where breaking ground is the primary requirement.

Straight edge: Configurations provide for better cleaning and finishing work. Our excavation buckets typically have straight edges since they’re used in soil work, site development and trenching.


Caterpillar Excavator Buckets Edge OptionsStudies have shown a relationship between the number of teeth on a bucket and its production in certain materials.

In hard-to-dig rock, a lower tooth count results in better penetration, just like the spade edge. Thus the buckets we offer for production quarry work have a wider tooth spacing.

In soil work, a tighter tooth spacing delivers better production because of the bridging between the teeth. The higher tooth density is also effective in trenching, which results in a better floor and reduces the time spent finishing the trench.


Caterpillar Excavator Buckets Tooth SpacingWe recommend tooth styles based on the strength of the machine and the assumed application of the bucket.

The general consensus among bucket professionals today is to think about penetration ability and cycle times, rather than just the cost per pound. Why? Let’s say you like the idea of a high abrasion tooth because it has a longer wear life. Now let’s consider the increased penetration ability of a high penetration tooth — which has a shorter wear life but is capable of sending more material through the crusher, making you substantially more money on the increased production, and offsetting the cost of tooth replacement. In this case, the high penetration tooth would actually be a better deal than the high abrasion one.

For the best match, talk with one of our sales reps about your particular application.


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