FELs and digging

   / FELs and digging #1  


Platinum Member
Apr 19, 2019
New Holland WM25 with 200LC front end loader, filled R4 tires 43X16.00-20 and 25X8.50-14 (had a Kubota B6200D with dozer and R1 tires)
I kind of think "front end loader" means an implement on the front end for picking up and moving loads, from a pile. I fear my little CUT bucket (with a straight edge) isn't meant for cutting into the earth, and if I try to do that, I should go easy, because I'm pushing it out of its intended comfort zone.

But I also think a "backhoe loader" that has teeth on the backhoe bucket and ALSO the front end loader bucket is indeed meant for cutting into the earth. So, it's heavier as well as having teeth.

These seem contradictory. So, how do you tell if a bucket on the front is intended for actual digging? Is it the teeth? Is it the fact that there's also a backhoe on the other end? Putting a tooth bar on my bucket could be taking a bit of a chance with it, right?

Enlighten me please? Thanks!
   / FELs and digging #2  
It is more the style of loader and strength of loader arms and frames vs teeth or no teeth. I use my FEL to move dirt but am also conscientious on this not a loader meant to perform heavy excavation work. I do have a tooth bar which helps immensely for digging but the down side is that is really limits curl capabilities. I also usually loosen any hard packed dirt with rippers or my disk to make digging easier.
   / FELs and digging #3  
A toothless bucket can still dig into the earth, it will just take time. Works best when you try to skim a little bit of dirt at a time. If you hit a large rock though, then for the most part, you’re at a dead stop.

Like Oldnslo says above, you could loosen up the dirt first. I used to do that with my tiller.
   / FELs and digging #4  
The type dirt you're digging will come into play as well. I live in an old lake bed - 14,000 years ago at the end of the Ice Age my place was submerged. There are virtually no rocks and the digging is pretty easy. Trenchers work well here for burying pipes here, too.
   / FELs and digging #5  
By contrast here it's clay and rocks. :cry: However the FEL works great to get gravel out of the creek bed.
   / FELs and digging #6  
On my prior tractor, a 7-point toothbar dramatically transformed the digging power. The OE straight cutting edge simply did not apply enough local pressure to bust up hard packed soil without putting the entire weight of the tractor behind it - which was obviously very hard on the loader frame. A tooth bar made it able to penetrate into packed soil - but you still need to dig slowly and carefully. If you see the loader frame twisting, STOP.

My newer tractor came with a piranha toothbar on it, and it works ok too. Concentrating the FEL power on smaller area enables much higher local pressure to break up soil or other materials. Highly reccomended.
   / FELs and digging #7  
There's quite a bit of difference in stress between a 60" loader bucket vs a 20" backhoe bucket digging into the same compacted material. I doubt that the loader bucket on even a backhoe is really intended to dig into very much compacted material. I believe the bucket on my Terramite is more intended to move material that has already been dug by the backhoe bucket. There is a noticeable difference in the size of the arm assembly for the bucket compared to the front loader lift arms and cylinders.

Although adding teeth to a front loader bucket will help somewhat with compacted material, most tractors probably aren't designed to do that and you're taking a risk of damage if you go too far trying to dig with a FEL.
   / FELs and digging #8  
I've done quite a bit of excavating over the years with a variety of kubotas ranging from a b series to a grand L usually for patios and walkways in areas that it wasn't worth damaging the rest of the yard with a skidsteer. I think the determining factor is how much rock is in the soil. We have a mix ranging from soft sand to pure clay but very little rock. I even had a customer that dug a few hundred yards of virgin soil out next to his house to make a walkout basement with nothing but the standard bucket of a deere 1026r. As long as you are digging in a way that causes a consistent load from one side of the bucket to the other and greasing religiously you wont hurt anything.
   / FELs and digging #9  
I've got hard soil with plenty of rocks.
   / FELs and digging #10  
A toothbar essentially puts the same force (the partial weight of your FEL and tractor, and any pushing force) onto a smaller area, fewer points. So more rock, dirt and sod busting PSI, but you can keep the same force on the loader arms and cylinders…or try to.
A spade bucket does the same thing.