Is It Worth Repairing Your Used Excavator Bucket?

When you buy used excavating equipment, you don’t have many options. You are limited to what came with the machine.

Many times a used excavator is traded in for a newer model after it has been beat-up for years.

Often the owner of the used machine asks, “Is it worth repairing my existing bucket or am I better off buying a new bucket?”

You usually hear three answers from this question:

1. The dealership will happily quote you a new bucket. OEM buckets are usually made from A514 steel, often called a generic version of T-1. Look for more information on T-1 and A514 in next week’s Wear Plate Wednesday blog post.

2. Bucket fabrication shops will quote you a replacement bucket, often made from AR400 or A514. Click here for a prior blog post with information on comparing steels.

3. Many local fabrication shops have difficulty forming AR400. They usually suggest replacing only the flat section of the bucket floor. If this is your choice, ask your fabricator, "How heavy can you form mild steel the width of your bucket?" Now divide his number by 4. That is the thickness he can form QT Plus ®. JADCO has two quantity 1,000 ton press brakes to form this material.

JADCO QT Plus ® offers you a cost effective option that can potentially last 3 to 4 times longer than AR400. Because A514 or T-1* is not designed as a wear plate, QT Plus ® will last substantially longer.

Using the template tool shown in the photo below, we were able to provide a replacement bottom that will withstand the everyday use this bucket will encounter. The sides will be sectioned and also be replaced with JADCO QT Plus ®.


Buckets are not designed to crush rocks. This one clearly shows it was used far too long. When this bucket was measured last April, the sides had already separated from the bottom as shown in the above photo. The chalk line on the side in the photo, shows where the side will be removed and replaced.

When measuring for a bucket liner or replacement bottom, you need to create a template based on the profile of the existing bucket. That method was not possible with this badly damaged bucket. Using the template tool shown in the first photo, we determined where the bottom would have been originally. That was what JADCO used to create the replacement bucket bottom.


By the time the steel was installed in February, the sides were caved in badly. You can see how much material volume was lost as the bottom of bucket was flattened over time.

Excavating Bucket Bottom by RF-Fast

Click on the bucket image above to hear the customer’s comments about how the bucket ended up in this shape and how the new steel fit. Audio clip length 1:23.

“You notice it considerably more now that new steel in place, ready to be tacked on. You didn’t realize that at the time with the old steel on, how bad it was until you seen the new steel on. It was not as noticeable with the original bucket bottom still in place.”

“I bought this bucket used with the machine. I’m definitely thinking it was operator abuse. And then once the structure of the steel broke away, it just kept smashing and smashing.

This was no different than a punch. Once it mushrooms, it just keeps going.”

How did the QT Plus ® steel fit?
“Perfect. It came out great especially the point that Rich gave me of going tip to tip measurements. Did my tip to tip measurements from the back side of the cutting edge on the bucket. It came out perfect to the back side of the heel of the bucket. All in all very happy."


Here is a diagram with the terms used when measuring for a bucket liner or replacement bucket bottom.

The Tip To Tip measurement is the furthest point of the steel you plan to replace when installing your new JADCO QT Plus ® bottom. Notice how we didn’t go all the way up the heel or curved section at the back of the bucket.

The reason more of the heel was not replaced is the steel was still sound, experiencing little wear in this area. This way the replacement delivers greater value and is less expensive for the customer.


Here you can see how well the new replacement bottom fits at the heel. The profile matches the original. The replacement side piece has been cut to replace the damaged sides.

Smart customers don’t buy steel; they invest in results. That is a completely different mindset.

Selecting JADCO QT Plus ® to rebuild this bucket was a cost effective option that will produce thousands more hours of profitable life.


With solid QT Plus ® wear resistant material installed on the sides and bottom; this excavator bucket is ready for many more seasons of operation.

JADCO’s QT Plus ® delivers greater wear performance IN YOUR APPLICATIONS than the AR400 wear steel you have previously used.

Having the ability to create wear resistant steel having the same hardness through the entire thickness, requires precisely controlled chemistry and careful heat treating.

Why Doesn’t Every Steel Company Make Their Products Last As Long As JADCO QT Plus ®?

This attention to detail from the steel mill in Pennsylvania actually is available to anyone. Yet most steel wear plate distributors choose to limit the proper quantities of these essential elements with the goal of a lower price.

They are planning to sell you more of the same in a few months, robbing more of your profits.

For over 40 years we have focused exclusively on delivering consistent, longer life for our customers.

Now you understand why JADCO delivers better products for our customers. We think differently by only focusing on your results.

Allow us to help you today by calling (724) 452-5252, or email

We will schedule a meeting with one of our local wear plate specialists at a time that best fits your schedule.

Remember, the only thing you have to lose by not working with JADCO, are your profits.

When the wear plate in your excavator or loader bucket gives out, give JADCO a shout! (724) 452-5252