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The Johnny Bucket Jr. was very easy to unpack, install and put to use on my old, but still hard-working B-210. An installation and instruction sheet was provided, along with the receipt, and all the needed small parts. It arrived in two large boxes, whose combined weight was about 75lbs. The only assembly required was to bolt the bucket assembly from box #1 to the hitch assembly from box #2. This required the two bolts shown in Figure 1, which were included along with flat washers and lock washers.
Attaching the bucket to the tractor was just as easy. It attaches to the hitch points on the front axle, just the same as a snow/dozer blade (or your mower deck). Then, you
use the nice adjustable lift rod provided. It comes complete with pins and clips for the lift rod, and even pins and clips for the hitch points. You MAY need to make minor adjustments to the length of the lift rod – I did, but mine was the first “B-series” bucket made, and John has since
made the needed adjustments. With the lift rod connected to the center hole in the bucket’s lift arm (pictured in Figure 2), and the bucket raised to full height, the bottom edge of the bucket, when tripped, should be approximately 1” off the ground.
The only remaining thing for the first time use was to knot the trip and reset ropes to the appropriate length. The ropes to trip and reset the bucket are already installed, but you’ll need to knot them to the length you desire based upon where you “hang”
them. I hung them from the Vari-Drive lever on my B-210, but they are long enough to reach the gear shift if you want to hang them there. The red rope trips the bucket, while the black rope resets the bucket. (See Figure 3). After at least 12-15 hours of use, this was the only annoying thing I found with using this tool – these ropes would sometimes get under the clutch pedal or caught under the bottom pivot point for the tractor’s lift arm. I think I’ll make some kind of bracket to “contain” them, up and away from both the pedal and the
lift arm, and mount it on the bolt just behind the starter/generator that attaches the side panel. Note that this is NOT a problem with the Johnny Bucket that the manufacturer can easily resolve – the owner determines where to hang the ropes, based upon their tractor, their transmission, and their individual preferences.
Weight & traction -- the secrets to serious work…
I tried the bucket first with just my turf tires, which are loaded with about 50 lbs of marine/RV antifreeze in each tire. I could pick up loose material with just the traction that this provides, but it would start spinning pretty easily when trying to cut
through packed (unloosened) soil. I typically could not scoop a full bucket of dirt before it would start spinning. (See Figure 4).
I quickly went back to the barn and installed my newly mounted 23-8.50 x 12 “ag-type” lug tires. I had just finished loading these tires with almost 6 gallons of windshield washer fluid each. (I haven’t found
time to repaint the rims, so they still look pretty sad.) The additional traction that these lug tires provided was immediately obvious – I could cut enough packed soil to almost fill the bucket. (See Figure 5). I could usually fill the bucket
with loose soil.
So, I decided to go back to the barn once more and add my old, ugly but effective DIY concrete counterweight. This adds about 120 more pounds hanging off the rear of the tractor. Now I was in business – I could now get enough traction to dig into the turf or the slope of the hill. I could consistently fill the bucket and give the hydraulic lift about all the weight it wanted to pick up (See Figure 6).
CAUTION: I don't recommend that you do what I did -- as you'll see, this was a DEMANDING test of the Johnny Bucket AND my tractor. Use your own judgment in placing any additional weight, strain or stress on your tractor. Also be careful when operating
your tractor under heavily-weighted or very demanding conditions. You could easily damage the tractor's axles, axle tubes, transmission or other driveline components.
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