Selecting and Maintaining Excavator Buckets and Teeth


As primary production tools, large hydraulic excavators set the pace for your entire operation. The bucket and teeth at the end of the excavator stick can affect operating costs more than you think.

Primary factors in bucket selection are capacity, durability, edge configuration, tooth count and ground engaging tools selection.

When it comes to selecting the right bucket capacity, consider the machine lifting and breakout capabilities, material density and truck match. Machine capability establishes how much lifting force the machine has for the bucket and payload at a given reach.

Material density tells you how much a bucket load would weigh at ideal conditions of 100 per cent fill. Regarding truck match, bucket sizing starts with the truck in mind. Four or five passes is a nice match for a large 75-to-100-ton excavator. That said, a bigger bucket doesn’t always reduce loading time. If faster loading times are needed, don’t overlook the impact of bucket size and configuration.

Caterpillar offers buckets in four durability categories: General Duty, Heavy Duty, Severe Duty and Extreme Duty. Each differs according to wear packages with proper selection depending on abrasion and impact conditions. Most buckets are set up with spade or straight edges. Spade edges offer better penetration and faster cycle times, compared to straight edge configurations that provide better cleaning and finishing work. Lower tooth count will result in better penetration, faster cycles and better production. There are two defining aspects of bucket teeth – adapter size and tooth tip. A rule of thumb is to use the smallest adapter size that doesn’t suffer breakage, as the smaller size delivers better penetration at a lower weight.



Tips are available for different applications, with Caterpillar offering Penetration, Penetration Plus and Extra Duty tips.

Ground engaging tools (GET) size is selected based on the strength of the machine and the application profile of the bucket. GET selection has a significant impact on the production capability and fuel efficiency of an excavator. A higher penetration tip should boost production, offsetting the cost of faster tip wear. When used in the correct application, a tip should remain sharp.

It’s important to watch for wear to extend bucket life. Inevitably, wear develops at the heel of the bucket and in the corners due to scuffing. Deeper buckets suffer heel wear faster. Wider adapter spacing will result in faster and deeper wear than buckets with tighter tooth spacing. This type of edge wear is referred to as “scalloping”. Cat® buckets that are designed for high abrasion applications come with segments between teeth to control this. Regular inspection for heel wear and scalloping is important to determine when replacement is required.

Corner shrouds can protect bucket corners, but when the bucket wear bars become thin in the corners, complete replacement is necessary.

[colored_box color=”yellow”]To find our more, including how to repair or rebuild buckets contact your Cat dealer.[/colored_box]

NSW/ACT WesTrac 1300 881 064

WA WesTrac 1300 881 064

VIC/TAS William Adams 1300 WADAMS

QLD/NT Hastings Deering 131 228

South Australia Cavpower 08 8343 1600

NZ Gough +64 3 983 2333

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