The advantage/disadvantage of a canopy on a loader tractor

July 25, 2015

A pair of oak planks bolted to the bottom of my 5′ loader bucket makes it into a very usable fork lift for small jobs. Today I moved 13 pieces of scaffold to re-pile it by the simple expedient of sticking the forks through the bunch of leaning scaffold and lifting it to a new location. Once clear of the grass I had realized that the two pieces with wheels attached which I needed were not in that pile, so I put the 754 pounds of iron back down and located the errant pieces leaning against an old trailer.

So then I skewered the much lighter pile of scaffold ends and loaded on ties and aluminum planks. My 35 hp tractor easily carried the load up a slope to my latest construction project, a large deck elevated about 7′ above the ground. I wasn’t sure that the TAFE 35DI had enough lift to put the dangling scaffold onto the surface of the deck, but a little tilt of the bucket enabled the whole affair to clear the lip as I eased up the slope. That part worked. What went less well was the way one plank tipped over the the top of the bucket and crashed down onto the canopy above my head, then dropped to the ground with more damage to the plank than to the plastic cover.

So a protective canopy is good for more than shielding the tractor’s operator from solar radiation: it’s a hard hat attached to the tractor. Unfortunately, like a hard hat, it restricts visibility. Without the canopy I’m pretty sure I would have seen the plank in an awkward position and adjusted the bucket, but weighing the plus and the minus, I’m pretty glad I paid the $700 for that ugly piece of vinyl above the driver’s seat.

Back when I used this loader to move materials for two garages we built, I had clamps firmly attached to the upper edge of the bucket against this hazard. I’ll put them back on before I lift anything else with potential to slide over the top. Lesson relearned.

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