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  1. #1
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    Default To top off the loader bucket or not? That is the question.

    Does anybody else's mind wander while operating their tractor, or is it just me? The last few times I've run the loader moving dirt for hours at a time, the old advice that you should never double dip the pile to get a full bucket has danced around. It's been posted here, and in odd places like the operators manual for the loader. Yeah, I actually read the manual. Anyway, is that advice sound??



    let's do the math. Here's the set up. Assume ;


    1) the bucket when fully filled holds 1 cu yard.
    2) time to scoop the bucket into the spoils is 10 seconds
    3) time to back up, readjust the bucket and hit the pile a second time is also 10 seconds
    4) time to raise the arms and dump the bucket is 10 seconds
    5) the bucket when filled a second time goes from 3/4 yard to 1 yard.
    6) travel time from the spoils to a dump truck is 5 seconds
    7) travel from the dump truck to the spoils is 5 seconds



    So... how much dirt can you move in an hour of dedicated focused work?


    One cycle of fill, transport, dump and return is;
    10 seconds fill time + 5 seconds transport + 10 seconds dump + 5 seconds return = 30 seconds.


    120 of these cycles can be done in an hour. Each resulting in 1 yard of dirt moved or 120 yards total moved per hour.




    How much is moved in an hour if a second scoop is needed?


    One cycle to fill, top off, transport, dump and return is;

    10 s fill time + 10 s top off + 5 s transport + 10 s dump + 5 s return = 40 seconds


    There are 3600 seconds in an hour, so 3600/40 = 90 trips can be made moving a total of 90 yards of dirt per hour.




    Pretty obvious that 120 is more than 90! So the old advice is right.




    But is that the whole story? What if your bucket is only filled to 75% and YOU DON'T TOP OFF??


    You still get the same 120 cycles per hour, but each bucket only holds 3/4yard. 3/4of 120 = 90 yards of dirt. So, there is no net gain in dirt moved. Still seems like the old advice is sound!














    But is it right for us small guys that are not dumping into a dump truck parked close to the spoils pile? Hmmmm.... If we adjust the assumptions a bit we can find out!


    let's do the math. Here's the modified set up. Assume ;


    1) the bucket when fully filled holds 1 cu yard.
    2) time to scoop the bucket into the spoils is 10 seconds
    3) time to back up, readjust the bucket and hit the pile a second time is also 10 seconds
    4) time to raise the arms and dump the bucket is 10 seconds
    5) the bucket when filled a second time goes from 3/4 yard to 1 yard.
    6) travel time from the spoils to the dump site is 30 seconds
    7) travel from the dump site to the spoils is 30 seconds




    One cycle of fill, transport, dump and return is;
    10 seconds fill time + 30 seconds transport + 10 seconds dump + 30 seconds return = 80 seconds.




    3600 seconds per hour / 80 seconds results in 45 of these cycles done in an hour. Each resulting in 1 yard of dirt moved or 45 yards total moved per hour.




    How much is moved in an hour if a top off scoop is needed?



    One cycle to fill, top off, transport, dump and return is;

    10 s fill time + 10 s top off + 30 s transport + 10 s dump + 30 s return = 90 seconds




    3600 / 90 = 40 cycles per hour or 40 yards moved.




    Here's the important calculation! How many yards are moved if you DON'T TOP OFF?


    You get the same 45 cycles per hour, but each one only yields 3/4 yard for 33.75 yards total moved per hour.


    Perfect fill = 45 yards
    2nd scoop fill = 40 yards
    Imperfect fill = 33.75 yards


    Aha! As suspected, the advice we have all heard is certainly valid → when the transport time is short. But, if you are moving dirt with the tractor bucket even a modest distance, it pays to ensure the bucket is full.


    Ok, this might be useless information -- but it was bugging me, so I had to post it up. Enjoy.

    jb

  2. #2
    Elite Member Zebrafive's Avatar
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    Default Re: To top off the loader bucket or not? That is the question.

    I have to agree, travel time is what makes the difference. With a long travel time you are most efficient carrying the maximum load each time, especially if it only takes a fraction of the travel time to maximize the load.
    John Deere 2030 JD 245SL Loader
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  3. #3
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    JD2010, Kubota3450,2550, Mahindra 7520 w FEL w Skid Steer QC w/Tilt Tatch, & BH, BX1500

    Default Re: To top off the loader bucket or not? That is the question.

    Put enuf weight on the tractor so you can get a full bucket with one stab.
    This side of 40
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    JD 127 bushog, Flail, SK Tilt Tatch , KK tiller, Rhino rear blade, Post driver, post auger, chipper, pallet fork, Grapple/Loader Buddy, Homemade Splitter/DC Welder

  4. #4
    Super Star Member k0ua's Avatar
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    Default Re: To top off the loader bucket or not? That is the question.

    Quote Originally Posted by SPYDERLK View Post
    Put enuf weight on the tractor so you can get a full bucket with one stab.
    best advice of all!
    James KUA

    Kioti DK35se hydrostat with 2 QA buckets, 48 inch. King Kutter Rotary Cutter. 750 lbs ballast box. Loaded tires, Construction Attachments SSQA Lightweight Pallet forks. EA 50 inch single lid "wicked" Grapple. Satisfied Everlast PA160 welder owner How to add a link to a post . Best way to search TBN


  5. #5
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    Default Re: To top off the loader bucket or not? That is the question.

    Quote Originally Posted by SPYDERLK View Post
    Put enuf weight on the tractor so you can get a full bucket with one stab.
    Funny, but the little L3410 tractor with 4wd usually fills the bucket each time. The big 2wd tractor weighing in at close to 11,000 pounds with 3000 pound hoe on the back, filled tires and 1600 pounds of wheel weights struggles to fill the bucket.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: To top off the loader bucket or not? That is the question.

    Quote Originally Posted by john_bud View Post
    Funny, but the little L3410 tractor with 4wd usually fills the bucket each time. The big 2wd tractor weighing in at close to 11,000 pounds with 3000 pound hoe on the back, filled tires and 1600 pounds of wheel weights struggles to fill the bucket.
    Hi John. I attribute that to the lift as you push advantage given by driven fronts. Traction of 2wd always decreases as the loader bucket supports a load. ... Whereas 4wd traction increases.
    larry
    This side of 40
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    Mahindra 7520 [Pinky] /FEL w Skid Steer QC/w Tilt Tatch & BH, BX1500 [Mighty Mouse]
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    JD 127 bushog, Flail, SK Tilt Tatch , KK tiller, Rhino rear blade, Post driver, post auger, chipper, pallet fork, Grapple/Loader Buddy, Homemade Splitter/DC Welder

  7. #7
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    Default Re: To top off the loader bucket or not? That is the question.

    My suggestion would be to adjust your loading technique for the circumstances that are at hand. Learn what to do and you most likely will have a full bucket each time. Every set of conditions are not the same, so what worked once, even very well is no indication that it will work well again with a different set of conditions.
    Brian
    Top and Tilt Kits by Fit Rite Hydraulics

  8. #8
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    Default Re: To top off the loader bucket or not? That is the question.

    That was actually a pretty good breakdown and analysis.

    Since I don't operate my FEL loading trucks, or even moving one pile to another right next to it, all my use is long distance transport on my property; and ensuring the bucket is full to overflowing is the most efficient use of it.

  9. #9
    Veteran Member jimmysisson's Avatar
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    Default

    What do you do when your bucket won't roll back enough to fill, see pic. Lucky for me I don't move piles of mat'l often.

    -image-4039318853-jpg
    "Anything worth doing is worth doing slowly" Mae West

  10. #10
    Veteran Member RaydaKub's Avatar
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    Default Re: To top off the loader bucket or not? That is the question.

    Quote Originally Posted by john_bud View Post
    Does anybody else's mind wander while operating their tractor, or is it just me? The last few times I've run the loader moving dirt for hours at a time
    Crap. That let's me out right there. I wish I *NEEDED* to move dirt for hours at a time.

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