Richard L. Parish | 9/15/2008 7:18:12 PM
You should always lower your front loader bucket and/or rear implement when you dismount from a tractor or shut down a tractor. There are two reasons for this.
Safety: If you leave a loader bucket or implement in the raised position, it could fall unexpectedly and injure you or someone else. This could happen when someone bumps the control lever or could happen due to a malfunction. Either way, someone could be injured or killed by a falling implement or bucket. It is particularly dangerous to leave a tractor parked with a bucket or implement raised if there is a chance of children playing on or around it.
Damage to Tractor: Although most people are aware of the safety issue even if they don’t practice it, most folks are not aware that leaving a bucket or implement raised is very hard on the tractor. First, the weight of the raised loader or implement puts a mechanical strain on the tractor – frame, tires, hydraulic components, etc. A more insidious problem is the buildup of hydraulic pressure.
Leaving a loader bucket or implement raised will leave residual pressure in the hydraulic lines to that circuit. That pressure is bad enough, but on a hot day, the oil can warm up, expand and increase the pressure on the high-pressure side of the circuit to well above the design limit. Since the circuit valve is closed, the relief valve is not actuated. The pressure on the high side of the circuit will be the sum of the residual mechanical pressure due to the weight of the loader or implement plus the pressure due to thermal expansion of the fluid. This pressure buildup can cause a hose or other component to burst, thus dropping the bucket or implement.
Recommendation: Always lower a loader bucket or implement to the ground before dismounting or leaving the tractor. This issue is important enough that at least one state highway department has a policy that a worker is fired on the spot if he/she leaves a tractor with a loader bucket raised.
The LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture