Bucket size for backhoe

   / Bucket size for backhoe #1  


New member
May 13, 2020
John Deere 420C
Hi all,

I am planning on getting a LB3104 backhoe for my XR4150H. Just wondering about what size bucket(s) to get. The dealer said they had 12", 16", 18", and 24". I live in the SF Bay Area and the soil on my place is mostly clay with some rocks. The clay is real sticky and heavy when wet, and fairly hard when dry. I was thinking a 24" bucket may have a harder time digging the clay. I know I want a narrow bucket (12")for digging water and irrigation lines, and maybe the 18" for when I want to take bigger bites. I also plan on getting the mechanical thumb. Any thoughts, recommendations would be appreciated. Thanks!
   / Bucket size for backhoe #2  
My advise: Get 2. Get a small bucket for trenching and root ripping. Get the big bucket for digging. And get the thumb. Always get the thumb.

I have a Woods BH that I bought used and came with a 24in bucket. Love it for moving dirt. Digging a hole is quick and easy. However, digging stumps was a nightmare. All the pressure was spread over the width of the bucket, ripping roots was very difficult. I found a 12in bucket at an auction and bought it for $30. It wasn't the right one, but with some modifications, it works well enough. Now I have both, a 12in and a 24in. Swapping between the two is not horribly difficult, but difficult enough that I don't want to do it often. A quick hitch would be nice.

Digging in clay was not a problem with the 24in bucket on my machine, especially if the ground was a bit damp. The thumb works well with the large size bucket too. Able to grab rocks and stumps much easier with the 24in vs the 12.

I was going to mention the price, if the price was very high for another bucket, get the 12in. But seriously, get both.
Hope this info helps. Good luck in making a decision.
   / Bucket size for backhoe #4  
Mine came with an 18" bucket, and I bought a 12" bucket after the fact for trenching. I think it was $200-ish. Definitely need two sizes. Be careful digging in wet clay with the 12" bucket. It clogs up more easily.
   / Bucket size for backhoe #5  
the soil on my place is mostly clay with some rocks. The clay is real sticky and heavy when wet, and fairly hard when dry

This sounds a lot like my land, and your tractor will likely perform similarly to mine (comparing tractor weight, hydraulic flow; I don't know how much HP plays into digging since I'm pretty sure a given hydraulic pump is only going to transfer so much power regardless of the power input because of flow rate & psi being max'd out, something like hydraulic hp = psi*gpm/1714 means that our tractors are likely pushing the hydraulics the same even if I had 100 hp... which I don't).

If you were digging in nice dirt that neither of us has I'd get an 18".

I think you'll find the 12" works fairly decent but I'm strongly considering getting a narrower bucket because most of the year it's all I can do to just peel off an inch or two each pass in this crappy dirt - summertime here the top gets hard as a rock (... like mudstone ok) and any lower you get into the rocks; winter time is easier digging but 12" full of heavy wet clay is enough bother.

If I were you, I'd leave the 18 & 24 to a full-sized backhoe for this sort of work, I don't think you'll be happy above a 12.

I'd kinda like a 6 for trench & tree root work but it would need to be a long & deep bucket since the pins are like 8" on my BH.