Guide to Installing and Changing Bucket Teeth Safely

Correctly installing bucket teeth is crucial to ensuring they can perform as intended. The installation process also gives you the opportunity to inspect bucket adaptors for wear, cracks or a poor fit between the bucket tooth and the adaptor nose.

Safety is critical when changing bucket teeth as the process presents numerous hazards. While no formal qualifications are required you must understand the task and have the required tools to do it safely.

Assess and Control Risks

As with any high risk task, you must first perform a risk assessment to identify any hazards, assess the risks associated with them, and implement risk control measures using the hierarchy of control.

Personal protective equipment (PPE) such as safety gloves, glasses, steel-capped boots and a long sleeve shirt are critical, but are only a last line of defence after other control measures have been put in place.

This risk assessment will also enable you to assess whether you have the right tools for the job and if the bucket and adaptors are in a location, condition and position (discussed below) that will make installing the bucket teeth simpler and safer.

Bucket teeth can be changed out in the field or in the workshop, as long as the bucket is positioned safely and there are no hazards in the surrounding environment such as other machines, high wind, rain or other conditions that may impact the safety of the installation.

Ensure a lockout procedure is followed to ensure no one can start the machine while maintenance is in progress. If the machine cannot be locked out, then you should tag it out by removing the keys, taping over the ignition switch and placing a sign on the dashboard reading: “MAINTENANCE IN PROGRESS – DO NOT OPERATE”. Also consider whether a dedicated lockout person is required.

Common OHS Risks When Changing Bucket Teeth:

  • Crushing risks from machinery, bucket or bucket contents
  • Pinching risks from pins, adaptors, teeth and other parts
  • Impact risks from using sledgehammer
  • Musculoskeletal injury risks from lifting heavy materials
  • Welding risks when replacing bucket teeth adaptors

Bucket Positioning:

Before commencing maintenance, consider that the position of the bucket is critical to bucket tooth installation safety and efficiency. The bucket should be parallel to the ground and empty so nothing can fall out while you are working on it. The adaptors should also be easily accessible so that working on them does not require putting yourself in an awkward position or getting underneath the bucket at any time.

Ensure the bucket is positioned with the teeth parallel to the ground and use jack stands and/or wooden blocks as a secondary bucket support measure to help prevent pinching or crushing incidents.

Bucket Teeth Removal:

Different bucket teeth have different removal and installation procedures. Some use a side pin locking system while others use a top pin locking system. Some will have a pin and rubber while others use a pin and retainer. And there are also hammerless systems such as Cutting Edges hammerless R-Lock bucket teeth adaptor system.

While the installation and removal of each system is similar to that described below for the CAT J-Series – which we have included specific instructions for due to their popularity – there are some procedural differences. Please refer to the installation and removal instructions for your specific system before carrying out maintenance, or contact us for assistance.

Removing Worn CAT J-Series Bucket Teeth:

Removing worn or broken bucket teeth requires a locking pin removal tool and a fit-for-purpose hammer to help you remove the pin and dislodge any stubborn teeth. Remove all bucket teeth on a bucket before installing any new ones.

Start by hammering the pin removal tool into the pin from the side of the tooth with the retainer. It will be more difficult to remove the pin from the other side.

Worn bucket teeth that have been in service for a long time can be seized up with dirt, and very difficult to remove. They often need a strong and accurate blow with the sledgehammer to dislodge the pin or tooth, meaning you are at risk of a miss-strike and metal flying off the hammer or tooth.

You should ensure you have plenty of space to swing the sledgehammer safely, that there are no surrounding trip hazards and that you and anyone else involved are wearing the appropriate PPE.


Installing New CAT J-Series Bucket Teeth:

Big bucket teeth can weigh up to 90kg each which will mean you require a mechanical aid to install them. Even if the bucket tooth only weighs 40kg it will require a mechanical aid or a team lift. Do not try and be a hero and and install it alone as it could easily result in injury.

After removing old bucket teeth and inspecting the bucket tooth adaptor for damage, you should ensure the adaptor nose is clean and free of any dirt to ensure a snug fit with the new tooth.

Next, begin installing your new CAT J-Series bucket teeth, first by inserting the retainer into the adaptor recess and then placing the tooth on the adaptor. Next, insert manually and then hammer the locking pin – recess first- through the tooth and adaptor from the opposite side of the retainer.

Once the pin is flush, the recess will lock into the retainer and your bucket tooth will be installed. Give it a shake to ensure a snug fit on the adaptor and proceed with the next tooth.

There has been a major push in recent years to make bucket teeth systems safer and simpler to install and replace. Cutting Edges’ hammerless R-Lock bucket teeth adaptor system is one such innovative solution.

Another way to drive safety is with high quality, longer-lasting bucket teeth that have longer changeout periods, because “the safest job is the one you don’t have to do”.

Installing New Bucket Teeth Adaptors:

If you are replacing bucket teeth adaptors, you should have a formal qualification as a boilermaker as welding is required. Ensure you follow welding OHS procedures.

Replacing bucket teeth adaptors is a bigger job than replacing bucket teeth, so the bucket should generally be removed from the machine so it can be placed in the perfect position to weld safely.

The work should be done in a workshop or other controlled environment where rain, wind and other factors cannot impact safety or your weld quality.

Potential repercussions of poorly welded bucket teeth adaptors range from serious injury to future quality control issues such as cracking in the adaptor and bucket lip.

Ensure you correctly pre-heat the lip to the appropriate temperature, start and stop your welds in appropriate place and use fit-for-purpose consumables.

Easily Identify Your Bucket Teeth

If you are unsure which bucket teeth you are currently using, simply click through and fill in the form on the following page and Cutting Edges will quickly identify them for you.

Identify Your Bucket Teeth