How To Change A Digger Bucket?

How do I fit a digger bucket?

This is a back to basics post, but one that often gets asked, so we have put together some details on how to fit a digger bucket, plus some hacks we have learnt along the way! We will start with the standard pin system pickup.

When a bucket is fitted to the machine with just pins, it is often tricky to get them to line up properly to allow them to slide through. Years ago when I was working on a site, an old JCB 3CX driver saw me struggling to fit some buckets and came walking across with a piece of re-bar which was smaller than the diameter of the bucket pin.

He got me to lower the bucket link into line with the back pin hole, and then slid his piece of re-bar through the bucket hangers, and through the bucket link.

Next he got me to lift the bucket off the ground slightly, and crowd it in - this naturally brought the front holes in the hangers into position with the dipper arm, and was easy to position and slide the bucket pin into position.

With the front pin fixed in place it was easy to slide the re-bar out the back pin holes and replace with a bucket pin. This whole process sounds complicated, but believe me it made life a lot simpler, especially on slightly bigger buckets.

How to remove a digger bucket?

The same process outlined above can also be done in reverse order to remove the bucket from the machine. Alternatively, knock out the back pin, and allow the bucket to swing forward.  Then slowly lower the bucket to the floor until it just touches the ground.  You can then knock out the front bucket pin, and the arm of the machine is released.

Fitting buckets with a Manual Quick Hitch

Where a digger is fitted with a manual quick hitch, the whole process of fitting the digger bucket is much simpler. Manual quick hitches basically fall into 2 categories: Spring Type Quick Hitches and Ratchet Type Quick Hitches.  Both require slightly different methods for picking up the bucket, so I have taken them in turn.

Spring Type Quick Hitch (Rhinox Quick Hitch)

We have put together a video demonstrating how this whole process works: 


In brief, a Quick Hitch has a fixed front hook, which catches on the front bucket pin. Then it has a latch which is held in place by spring.  The machine operator picks up the bucket on the front hook of the Quick Hitch, then using a lever, moves the latch back and allows the back pin to engage with the hitch.

Ratchet Type Quick Hitch (or Wedgelock System)

Ratchet type hitches still have a front hook which picks up the front pin of the bucket, but they use a ratchet to move the back hook. There are advantages and disadvantages of this system!

The disadvantages are:

  • The digger operator has to get out the cab to wind in the latch before removing the bucket
  • The operator then has to get back out the cab to re-wind out the latch to pick up the bucket
  • The hitch relies on a ratchet to operate it, which can easily get lost - a spring type hitch just needs a bar, which even if the official bar is lost it is usually easy to find a replacement.


    The advantages are:

    • The ratchet system can be tightened up tight on the bucket pins, which can take up some slack as a bucket wears
    • The ratchet system can cope with small differences in pin centres


    Fitting Buckets with a Hydraulic Quick Hitch

    More and more excavators are being fitted with Hydraulic Quick Hitches, due to the fact that the operator does not need to leave the cab to change the bucket. Because every hitch manufacturer designs their hitch to operate in a different way, it is wise to check the manufacturers details on the correct and safe operation.



    As with all our blog posts, we love to hear from our readers, with their own thoughts and tips!  Please feel free to add comments below, or email us at




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