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8 Loader Operation Mistakes

Neil from Messick's here out today with my son Garrett. Garrett and I are doing some work in the backyard. We're taking a large pile of dirt of topsoil that I've kind of been collecting for a while and moving it to a back part of the yard over here where we've been working on a mountain bike track. Have a lot of fun. Garrett's going to spend some time running the tractor today and work through moving some of that dirt and you and I are going to have a conversation about some of the technique that's being used in order to work that loader to get full piles of dirt and work safely and productively.


hold on!

Back out of there!

One of the first and most rookie mistakes that we see made with loaders. So you notice here when Garrett came into the pile of dirt, this bucket is rolled back. When you're sitting up in the operator's seat of a tractor, your sight lines down to the position of this bucket, the bottom part here called the floor, aren't very good. If you run into the pile of dirt with this rolled back, your bucket's going to ride up that pile and you're going to come away with an empty bucket or a bucket that at best just isn't very full. There's two things that you could do in order to fix that. When you're sitting up there in the top of the tractor, usually the top of your bucket, right here, is going to be at the same angle as what the bottom is, the floor. And so you can kind of eyeball down to here, level that bucket out when you go into that pile of dirt. Or if you have a tractor that has a bucket level indicator, there's usually a little notch in this indicator right here. And when it's sitting down in its bracket, that tells you that your bucket is level and you're now ready to go into your pile.

Gee whiz, Garrett! My goodness! How fast do you have to go? Full speed. Full speed.

Over on your left-hand side here, there's a range selector. It says L-M-H, low, medium, high, or what I often say is loader mower highway. This isn't a highway, Garrett.

If you drop this down into low, you're going to have a lot more power, a lot more push power when you go into that pile. It's going to help you get in, penetrate, and fill that bucket.

Give it a go.

Even you know to put things in four-wheel drive.

I've got a four-wheel drive selector over on your right-hand side,

but even that's going to allow the tires to slip in soft dirt like this. So you also have a differential lock on the rear. When you're a four-wheel drive, at best, two of your four tires are going to turn because the tractor has an open differential in the front and the rear. If you really want to get halfway advanced, when those tires start to spin, stop them from spinning, press down on the diff lock pedal with your heel, and then go back to forward again. That can lock in three of your four tires, giving you much more traction to push.

That's it.

That's all the further you full your bucket is. What? Can't you get more than that?

Not right now. Maybe if you give me another tip.

Now, this pile has been sitting here for probably about a year or more and is hard. We hear from a lot of people that feel like, oh, my loader is not quite capable enough. A lot of time, it's just what you're expecting of it. Right. This dirt is compacted. Right. And it takes a lot of machine to even be able to push into it, get in it, and much less get into it and break it out. So the next thing that we're going to do is actually to loosen the pile a little bit, right? Go up there into the top, take your bucket, roll it out, and use that edge to kind of carve it down, cut it down, and pull some of that soil out onto the ground to get it down to the base of the pile where you can actually get into it and scoop it.

God, your loader won't lift. No. No. All you got to do is roll that bucket back, right? If you think of where you have power in your loader, this cylinder right here has got a long fulcrum on it compared to the bucket cylinder down here at the bottom. So when you go into that pile, if you're not able to get in there and break the dirt loose, try curling that bucket back to you. It's going to fill the bucket, it's going to bring the soil back into it, but you also have vastly more power to curl with the bucket than you do by lifting with the boom.

Oh, Garrett, my goodness, your rear end was way up in the air.

Now, I've told you before that I don't keep ballast in the rear tires of my tractor. When we have a full bucket of dirt like this, there's a lot of weight hanging out there in the front, and we need some kind of ballast here towards the back of the tractor to even that out. Now, most of the tractors that leave our dealership are going to leave with fluid in the tires in order to go through and give that rear end ballast in a way that you don't have to think about it. That's the recommended way to ballast a lot of these tractors. Now, I mow with my machine, and I don't want that excess weight. I also own a backhoe, so most of the time, we're carrying another implement around on the back of this machine to give that extra rear ballast. It gives us a little bit of extra traction, but it also makes it a lot safer. Yeah. It keeps the rear end from popping up off the ground if you stop or change directions quickly.

My goodness, Garrett, you're going to roll the tractor over. Holy cow. Now, I think the one common thing that I see on every rollover picture that you see online is somebody carrying the loader bucket way too high. When you're carrying the bucket up in the air like this, you're moving the center of gravity of your tractor way up. This loader right now. Probably has the better part of about 700 or 800 pounds of dirt in it. Imagine what that does to the center of gravity of your tractor that is less than 4,000 pounds, right? It's way up here. At that point, with your load the whole way up here, it doesn't take a whole lot in order to lay this thing over on its side. Pay attention to the pictures that you see of rollover tractors on Facebook, and you're almost always going to notice that the loader is way up in the air like this. Rather, what you should be doing is dropping it down to a comfortable carrying height. At most, maybe two or three feet off the ground.

That's way better.

So, thanks for being a good sport out here today. You should apologize for this. Let's clarify. I do know what I'm doing. I've been handling equipment, driving them around for a couple years now. I do know what I'm doing. I can operate them very safely, and by no means am I an expert, but I am not that dumb.

Garrett has probably moved two-thirds of the pile of dirt back here. Over the course of the last couple of weeks. As a parent, you definitely want to take a cautious look to putting your child in the seat of a piece of equipment. I feel that there's great value in being able to give them responsibility over this kind of thing when they can do it in a safe manner, and hopefully some of these tips help Garrett run the tractor a little bit better, and if you're new to machinery, you might find that you're a little bit better operator, a little bit more productive when you're out using your loader by keeping some of these things in mind. If you're shopping for a piece of equipment and we can help, or if you've got parts or service needs for a machine you've already got, look us up at Messick's. We're available at 800-222-3373 or online at On, if you're looking for a part, most of those parts I've actually taken the pictures for.

Well, that's kind of awkward, but it depends how you want to end that. You could cut it right after I said that. No, I think we should cut it. It's probably going to- I think we should cut it right here. You're probably going to put this in.

No, that's not-.

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