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  1. #1
    Bronze Member
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    May 2001
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    70
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    La Sal, Utah
    Tractor
    Kubota B2910 HST

    Default 12" versus 16" Backhoe Bucket Size

    I've got a question on potentially switching from a 16" backhoe bucket to a smaller 12" version. As background, back in June, I took delivery on a new kubota B2910 with a BL4690 backhoe (my first tractor). I had previously specified a 12" bucket for the new backhoe, as the anticipated array of trenching I would need to do on my property mostly revolved around electrical conduit, water lines, and drainage lines. The other reason I chose a 12" bucket was that I felt a smaller bucket taking a "smaller bite" would put less overall stress on an admittedly light to medium duty backhoe unit that the 4690 represents. Well, for the first few months of use, I was mostly using the FEL and a box blade on my B2910. However, recently I started using the backhoe in earnest for trenching and my eyes were telling me that the trench width was greater than 12". Sure enough, when I measured the trench and bucket width, I came up with 16"!

    After making my Kubota dealer aware of this belated discovery, they very reasonably offered to provide me with a new Kubota 12" bucket as a direct trade for my "used" 16" bucket. I am inclined to take them up on this offer, but before I do so, I thought I would sanity-check this move. Does anyone out there feel that the difference between the two bucket sizes is not worth the swap-out? Moreover, for those that have a 12" backhoe bucket ... do you find that width of trench is sufficient for most of your needs? (I guess I don't want to move down in bucket size, just to find that the 16" width provides more "flexibility" than a 12" width ... or that my theory that a 12" bucket would allow more digging efficiency over a 16" bucket for the relative power of my backhoe) is not that valid. I could alternatively keep my 16" bucket and purchase the new 12" bucket for $421 from my dealer ... but I am not sure why I would need two backhoe buckets that are so relatively close in size. Any thoughts or suggestions would be most welcome.

    Thanks,
    Don


  2. #2

    Join Date
    Nov 2000
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    320
    Tractor
    Kubota L3710, JD5300, AC D19, IH 806, IH 8950, Ford 8N, Farmal Super M, several others in the past.

    Default Re: 12" versus 16" Backhoe Bucket Size

    I have a 12" and 24" buckets for my backhoe. The 12" gets used 95% of the time. In my use it is usually for trenches. It is nice to have the 24" for loose material. I really prefer the 12" for trenches - less dirt to remove and digs easier. If I only had one bucket, the choice as in your case is more difficult. For all around use a 16-18" is a good compromise. If your plans are mostly for trenching, I would get the 12".


  3. #3
    Gold Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2000
    Posts
    444
    Location
    Central Arkansas
    Tractor
    Kubota /L2650/ LA450/B4690 -- John Deere 450 Dozer

    Default Re: 12" versus 16" Backhoe Bucket Size

    DonC, I have a L2650 with the same backhoe. They come standard with a 16 inch bucket for a reason. It works well, in the two years I have used it, but all my hoe works has been general. Once dug a 250 yard drainage ditch and the 16 worked great. Will be doing some trenching this coming year. I will either rent a trencher or get a smaller bucket.


  4. #4
    Elite Member rbargeron's Avatar
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    May 2000
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    2,582
    Location
    MA
    Tractor
    L5450, L48, L3250, L345

    Default Re: 12" versus 16" Backhoe Bucket Size

    One nice thing about a 16" trench is you can walk and work in it if you need to (assembling conduit, spreading pea-stone. trimming roots back etc) The 12" may make the digging easier - but the 16" is a more versatile tool if you have just one.






  5. #5
    Veteran Member hayden's Avatar
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    Sep 2000
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    1,709
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    MA/VT
    Tractor
    Kubota L5740 cab + FEL, Cat D5G dozer, Kubota KX121 excavtor

    Default Re: 12" versus 16" Backhoe Bucket Size

    I'd vote for the 16" too. I like being able to walk down the trench line and I don't think I could do it with a norrower cut. When it comes to digging a hole, you'll find the 16" much more efficient.


  6. #6
    Super Star Member Egon's Avatar
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    Aug 2001
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    18,206
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    Nova Scotia, Canada

    Default Re: 12" versus 16" Backhoe Bucket Size

    Bucket width:
    Some other factors to consider, type of material you are digging in and depth of trench.
    Sure hope you don't want to dig deep trenches and then walk in them without shoring!
    Egon


  7. #7
    Super Member
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    Apr 2000
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    5,672
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    Cedartown, Ga and N. Ga mountains
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    1998 Kubota B21, 2005 Kubota L39

    Default Re: 12" versus 16" Backhoe Bucket Size

    Don,

    I have a B21 and switched to a 12” bucket for many of the reasons you are considering. In my case, most of my backhoe work involves a great deal of rock and stumps. The extra width of my 16” bucket caused enough leverage to wear out the bushings on the bucket before I noticed it. It was disappointing that the kubota pins didn’t give before the bucket required machine work to fix. I feel the 12” bucket concentrates the stress on the pins with less side load. Do keep in mind that I can dig almost anywhere on my land and will hit rock within 3’ of the surface. I would say that I put my little backhoe through sever duty. If my soil were more forgiving I would stay with the 16” bucket for the volume of material it can move.

    MarkV



  8. #8
    Bronze Member
    Join Date
    May 2001
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    70
    Location
    La Sal, Utah
    Tractor
    Kubota B2910 HST

    Default Re: 12" versus 16" Backhoe Bucket Size

    Thanks everyone ... I really appreciate all of the input. However, as can be the case, there are somewhat conflicting considerations at play based on the responses so far.

    In terms of the soil type I am dealing with ... I live in the high desert of southeastern Utah. I would characterize the ground in this area as:

    First foot or so in depth ... a fairly loose sandy/clay-based soil, knitted together with very tough sage brush root systems.

    1 to 2 feet deep ... very hard-packed sedimentary soil.

    2 to 5 feet deep ... layers of extremely hard-packed sedimentary soil (almost approaching sandstone), intermixed with intermittent layers of cobble stone sized rocks.

    The deepest trenches I would typically dig out would be for domestic water lines, and since the frost line at our 7,000 foot elevation is 32" ... I go to 3 feet deep. Throwing in drainage lines and electrical conduit applications, I am typically backhoeing trenches from 2 to 3 feet in depth.

    But here's the rub, I have a neighbor who has a commercial sized loader/backhoe, who has professionally worked with earthmoving equipment for over 30 years, and as such, he is an artist at what he does. When it comes to his trenches ... they almost always have a uniform depth and have an essentially smooth bottom all along the run of the trench. Then you look at my "newbie butchery" version ... and although the trench is straight, there is nothing uniform or smooth about the bottom of my trenches. I realize that I need to perfect my backhoeing/trenching techniques, but for the time being, I do have to typically resort to either backfilling a bit with some dirt or gravel, jumping into the trench with a hoe, and manually evening-up the bottom of the trench (especially if I am trying to maintain a proper slope for a run of drainage line). The 16" wide trench allows me to do this. I question (as others have pointed out), whether I could work in a trench with only a 12" width.

    Nevertheless, my backhoe application is predominantly trenches, where a 12" width should be more than sufficient (my current "need" to get into them notwithstanding). I also recognize that with the relatively hard soil I am digging in, I would be putting less stress on the backhoe and tractor using a 12" bucket. So, at this point, I am leaning towards swapping-out the 16" for a 12", and see how it goes. If I really miss some of the benefits of the 16", then I may consider keeping the 12" for trenching and purchasing an 18" bucket in the future for more effectively dealing with holes, looser soil, or when I need to move larger quantities of material.

    I have to also admit that I am a bit worried about the wear MarkV mentioned, because I have noticed (and with just a moderate amount of use ... maybe 30 to 40 hours), that the mechanical "action" of the 16" bucket assembly on my backhoe seems to have loosened-up and become much more sloppy than when I was first beginning to use it. I hope that's not the bucket bushings going, because if it is, that is way too premature in my opinion.

    By the way Egon, do you feel that a 16" wide and 3 foot deep trench requires shoring? With the highly compacted nature of the "soil" around here, I can't really see it caving-in, but then I am certainly no soil engineer either.

    Thanks again everyone,
    Don


  9. #9
    Super Member
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    Cedartown, Ga and N. Ga mountains
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    1998 Kubota B21, 2005 Kubota L39

    Default Re: 12" versus 16" Backhoe Bucket Size

    Don,

    Don’t let anything I said get you to worried about your backhoe. I think all units will loosen up some in the first 50 hours. The bucket I had problems with had over 250 hrs and most of it involved rock. kubota buckets are made by Woods and are real well made. Keep you pins greased, Kubota is right proud of them when you need replacements.

    MarkV



  10. #10
    Super Star Member Egon's Avatar
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    Nova Scotia, Canada

    Default Re: 12" versus 16" Backhoe Bucket Size

    3 ft deep trench;
    Hech no, not for that depth. I was thinking of 5 ft or more which is the point at which industrial sites will require shoring unless the sides are backsloped. This depth may vary according to local jurisdictions.
    If your trenches are only three ft. deep and you have placed the spill pile far enough to the side you may be able to lower the hoe bucket and use it as a drag to level the bottom as you drive forward.
    Operating a backhoe requires a lot of skill and just may be one of the hardest pieces of equipment to operate. I can't operate one but have spent many hours watching some good operators on jobsites.
    Egon


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