A Brush with Excellence

A skid steer loader is, in essence, a power unit for an attachment. Selecting the correct sweeper attachment configuration and size for your skid steer loader (or its track loader counterpart) is critical from the standpoint of performance and safety. The skid steer specifications must be carefully noted, both for weight-carrying capacity and for hydraulic flow available to the attachment.

The size and weight of the attachment should be within the rated weight-carrying capacity of the skid steer or track loader for safe and efficient operation. Since the sweeper or broom attachment will require continuous flow operation, matching the available hydraulic flow on the auxiliary circuit to the correct attachment is also important. For example, most skid steers and compact track loaders offer many choices for auxiliary hydraulics. Any of these systems can dramatically increase the machine’s versatility by powering a wide variety of hydraulic attachments, including broom and sweeper attachments. Follow these simple steps to select and specify the correct sweeper or broom attachment for your skid steer loader:

1. Select the type of attachment (angle sweeper or collector broom) based on the application.
2. Match the proper model attachment with the weight-carrying capabilities and hydraulic capacities of the skid steer.
3. Select the best brush materials for the application.
4. Select the best options for your application that improve the functionality of the attachment.
5. Select the right brush pattern to match the application.

Angle Sweeper

There are two basic types of sweeper attachments: the angle sweeper and the collector broom. The angle sweeper attachment has an open brush capable of rapidly moving large amounts of material to the left or right side of the skid steer or track loader’s path. In larger areas, the material will be swept to one side or the other in rows called windrows. Angle sweepers are generally available in diameters ranging from 18 to 36 in. and widths from 60 to 120 in. Proper selection will depend on the application requirements and the weight-carrying and hydraulic flow characteristics of the skid steer or track loader. Sweeper attachments are available with a selection of single or dual motor options, with various displacements to match the loader’s available flow. Typical applications for angle sweepers include snow removal, turf thatching and general site cleanup where materials can be safely moved without the need for collection.

Collector Broom

The collector broom attachment has an enclosed brush designed to pick up swept material for later dumping in another area or into a hopper or container for removal from the site. Pickup brooms and hopper brooms are both collector brooms. They are similar in function, being used for street or parking lot cleaning, sweeping bridge decks, etc., but pickup brooms tend to be more heavy duty. They typically have a larger bucket and have caster wheels so they ride the contours of the ground more smoothly.

Collector broom attachments are typically used in applications where the debris cannot be swept to the side and airborne materials must be minimized (as in residential areas). Brush diameters range from 18 to 36 in. and in widths from 60 to 96 in. Proper selection will depend on the requirements of the application and the weight-carrying and hydraulic flow characteristics of the loader. Broom attachments are available with a selection of single or dual motor models with various displacements to match the skid steer or track loader’s available flow. Typical applications for collector brooms include parking lot cleanup, cold planer millings pickup and general site cleanup where materials must be removed from the site.

Collector brooms used for commercial applications utilize one to four support casters for more efficient long-term use. The casters follow the contour of the ground closely and act to keep the brush in constant contact with the surface. They also serve to off load the constant need for operator adjustment while moving over swept surfaces, maintaining efficiency and minimizing brush wear.

Brush Material Selection

Most sweeper and broom attachments are available with either an all-polypropylene or mixed poly/wire brush material. Selection will depend on the specific application for the attachment. The all-polypropylene material moves the swept material quickly from the surface, while a mixed poly/wire brush delivers a more aggressive scratching action. Generally speaking, the poly brush is ideally suited for snow removal and turf work, whereas the more aggressive mixed brush is suited for dirt and debris removal from pavement and other hard-surfaced areas. Your skid steer or track loader dealer can provide recommendations based on your specific sweeping application.

Additional Options

The next step is to consider options that will assist in the specific sweeping application. Sprinkler systems (wet kits), available for both angle sweeper and collector broom configurations, apply a fine curtain of spray mist that carries the airborne particulate to the surface, reducing the dust in the immediate environment. For collector brooms, vacuum dust suppression systems are available for applications in sensitive environmental areas or for sweeping silica or other sensitive materials. Hydraulic angle kits are available for angle sweepers to allow for left- and right- angle operation from the cab of the skid steer or track loader. Curb brooms (gutter brooms) are available for collector brooms that rotate horizontally to sweep material away from curbed areas or buildings into the path of the broom for pickup. Control wire harnesses are generally available to allow utilization of the vehicle’s control systems for selected operations.

Brush Pattern

Often overlooked, brush pattern is critical for proper operation of the sweeper or broom attachment. For efficient operation, the bristles must be able to flex as they leave the swept surface, providing the correct movement of the material away from the brush. If the brush pattern is set too low (with the brush pressed too much into the ground), it will not only result in premature wear on the bristles but also in less efficient sweeping operation. Save money on replacement brushes by taking the time upfront to read the manual and adjust the brush for maximum efficiency and wear characteristics.

Above all, as with any attachment, read the operator’s manual for critical operational instructions and safety warnings. Be aware at all times of the immediate environment, sweeping away from sensitive property and other people. Adjust the brush properly for safe and efficient operation, and never operate the attachment in an unsafe manner. Your skid steer or track loader dealer is uniquely qualified to help you select the right sweeper or broom attachment for your specific application.

Doug Amerman is the director of Sweepster Aviation, a brand of Paladin Attachments, based in Dexter, Mich.