Richard L. Parish | 7/6/2007 12:01:33 AM
Front-end loaders are very popular options on compact tractors. Although many of the functions of a front-end loader can be accomplished with other, less expensive implements, front-end loaders are very handy. Loaders are, however, somewhat of a mixed blessing in that most owners and operators leave the loader on their tractor all the time. That makes the tractor heavier and more bulky to maneuver and also adds wear and tear to the loader. Modern loaders are easier to remove and reinstall than in the past, but it is still a significant task to remove or reinstall a loader. On the other hand, removing the bucket from the loader is very easy on some newer loaders, and that greatly reduces the weight and bulk of the implement.
When using a tractor for mowing, tillage or any work other than that directly involving the loader, the loader is in the way. The loader bucket hanging out in front of the tractor interferes with visibility and maneuverability. Because the bucket adds so much weight, the loader tends to bounce badly when the tractor is driven over rough ground. That bouncing is hard on both the tractor and the loader.
On newer tractors, loader buckets are designed for easy attachment and removal (or replacement by other options such as forks). Typically, the operator has only to remove two linchpins, lower the bucket to the ground and back away from the bucket. The bare loader frame does not stick out nearly as far without the bucket and is light enough that bouncing is no longer a major problem.
Reattaching the bucket (or other attachment) is just as easy: lower the loader arms, tilt the attaching bracket forward, drive under the bucket, lift and roll back, then replace the linchpins. Both jobs are virtually effortless and require no tools. Except for removing and installing the linchpins, you do all the work from the tractor seat.
There is really no reason to put up with the inconvenience of mowing, tilling or using other implements with a loader bucket in the way when it is so easy and fast to remove the bucket. You should develop the habit of always removing the bucket when using the tractor with rear-mounted or trailed implements.
The LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture