Posted by: Realist | December 9, 2007

Johnny Bucket Jr

I’m continually amazed at how much we use the Johnny Bucket Jr. The JBJr is a small front-end loader bucket attached to a Sears Craftsman garden tractor. Now before all of you who own “real” tractors laugh, this little contraption is pretty darn amazing. In fact, one of the reasons we chose the $2500 Sears Craftsman GT5000 garden tractor over more expensive alternatives (like Kubota or John Deere) is because there was a JBJr for the GT5000. We use it all the time in place of a wheelbarrow.

Here’s my wife using it to move about 120 lbs of double-size hay square bales.

JBJr and Hay

Here’s the JBJr with about 150 lbs of concrete block.

JBJr and Bricks

The JBJr uses two electric actuators, one to control up/down movement and the other to control pivot for dumping the bucket.  Don’t even think about being cheap and not getting both actuators; you’ll regret it if you do.

Here’s the source: Johnny Products

Back when we were thinking about getting a full-size tractor or CUT (compact utility tractor), we realized we needed a riding lawn mower anyway, since a tractor would have trouble getting in tight spaces. I figured we could try out the JBJr as a poor-man’s front-end loader and see how well it would work. It turns out we rarely need the use of a “real” front-end loader, and the JBJr does 95% of all the tasks we do around the property. Plus, we know 3 neighbors with full-size tractors with front end loaders that can help out if we need them.

We use the JBJr so hard I might say we even abuse it.  I often see my wife scraping horse manure off the ground with the bucket lowered so much the front tractor wheels are several inches off the ground, with only the rear wheels pushing the tractor.  We use it a couple times a week all year long, often for moving horse manure around.  Sometimes we’ll get a load of gravel dropped off and use it to carry gravel over the next few months, a little bit at a time.  We also use it to help spread sand on our riding ring.  I’ve used it to pull out t-posts from the ground.  The uses are endless, to be honest.

It has never once broke in the 2-3 years we’ve owned it.  Neither has the GT5000, and we use it hard.  Elizabeth will run it at full speed bouncing over bumpy ground.  She will often ram a pile of gravel or horse manure at full speed to get a full bucket’s worth.

I am 100% satisfied with the JBJr. Like the 3 bears, it’s “just right”.

The one downside is the JBJr doesn’t have much height so if you want to make a pile of material you can’t.  This is opposed to a real front end loader which will lift material a good 8 feet in the air.

Also, if you have the Sears dozer blade, you’ll need to cut part of the JBJr bracket since it interferes with the dozer blade bracket.  It’s a straightforward fix, and it’s possible that Johnny Products has fixed this by now.

By the way, there is one change that is absolutely required on the garden tractor: chains and filled tires. The biggest obstacle of a garden tractor is lack of weight resulting in lack of traction. I filled up the rear tires with 100-200lbs of windshield washer fluid and added v-bar tire chains. The combination is outstanding and the garden tractor rarely gets stuck. Of course, when it does get stuck, it really gets stuck, since those v-bar chains will dig a hole in the ground in the blink of an eye, and the only way to get the garden tractor out then is to pull it out with the truck.



  1. I loved your post so much I bought the same tractor.

  2. Great post thanks!

  3. I like the bucket but it looks as though there may be something wrong with your steering. In the first photo your machines front wheel is showing some lean.

  4. great post. like the look of your blog also

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