McClain & Co., Inc. - 40ft Underbridge Inspection Unit Bucket Snooper Truck

The term “bucket truck” is one that is often applied to a wide variety of vehicles that are technically known as aerial work platforms, or AWPs.

These specialized work vehicles are also called by several other names and nicknames including cherry pickers, boom lifts, or even elevated work platforms. Broadly speaking, they are simply a type of aerial access equipment that come in various configurations and capabilities.

These bucket trucks, which are essentially work trucks with an attached aerial lift, are designed to place workers safely into elevated places to perform work that can’t be easily or safely reached even with ladders.

Bucket Trucks: Work Vehicles Designed for a Specific Function

Trucks, in general, are workhorses that are used for a wide variety of tasks across almost every industry and for many personal uses, as well.

However, some specific types of trucks, such as water trucks for example, are designed and built for a narrow range of functions. And this is especially true for what are commonly referred to as bucket trucks, or boom lifts.

According to an entry in Wikipedia,

“An aerial work platform (AWP), also known as an aerial device, elevating work platform (EWP), cherry picker, bucket truck or mobile elevating work platform (MEWP) is a mechanical device used to provide temporary access for people or equipment to inaccessible areas, usually at height.

They are generally used for temporary, flexible access purposes such as maintenance and construction work or by firefighters for emergency access, which distinguishes them from permanent access equipment such as elevators.”

Another way of describing these specialized work trucks is to say that they are “a truck equipped with an extendable, hydraulic boom carrying a large bucket for raising workers to elevated, inaccessible areas.”

And the two components that set these trucks apart from others are the booms and the buckets.

McClain and Company Bucket Truck

The Three Most Common Jobs for Bucket Trucks

In practice, these often rugged and well-engineered vehicles are put to use in a vast number of industries and in a bewildering variety of ways.

However, there are probably just a handful of most common uses for bucket trucks. Here are what we believe are likely to be the top three:

Electrical and Telephone Line Maintenance

Most everyone has seen a utility company crew driving bucket trucks and many have had the opportunity to watch a crew at work in an elevated bucket, as well. Both electrical and telephone company workers make use of these types of vehicles and theirs are probably the most common and obvious uses for bucket trucks. Special insulated bucket trucks elevate workers while protecting them from the potentially dangerous high-voltage wires that are being repaired or replaced.

Tree Trimming and Maintenance

Tree trimmers, or arborists, routinely use bucket trucks to reach the tallest limbs of trees for arboreal maintenance and trimming tasks. Bucket trucks are also used to trim branches away from power lines, roofs, and highway signs. Many arborists make use of special insulated bucket trucks that are used to keep workers safe from potentially dangerous high-voltage wires.

Construction Work

These versatile vehicles make it possible to lift materials and other supplies up to workers positioned on top of buildings under construction. In addition, they can serve as mobile work platforms to place workers along the sides of tall structures for a variety of construction or finishing tasks. Because of their variable reach and ability to be repositioned quickly and easily, they can be extremely versatile on a construction site.

Other uses for bucket trucks include tasks such as window washing, painting, signage installation and maintenance, lighting repair and maintenance, agricultural applications, and more.

Not all bucket trucks are exactly alike, however.

There are a few basic types of bucket trucks that differ primarily on the type of booms and design:

Articulated Overcenter Bucket Trucks

This type of bucket truck has an articulated, or jointed, boom centered in the middle of the truck. They’re particularly suited for use in open construction or industrial settings because the boom can be moved to different positions without moving the truck.

Articulated Non-Overcenter Bucket Trucks

The bucket doesn’t cross over the center of the truck. Non-overcenter bucket trucks will articulate and extend to 180 degrees. However, you can reach to the side only as far as the length of the upper boom allows. They are well-suited for use in fixed locations with easy access, such as building maintenance and some utility services.

Telescopic Articulated Bucket Trucks

These trucks have a wide variety of uses and are built to accommodate almost any situation. This allows the operator to extend the bucket at different degrees and distances. This works better in places with confined space.

Of course, most customers of McClain and Company make use of various types of bucket trucks for bridge maintenance and inspections.

Bucket Trucks and Bridges: Versatility and Access on Wheels

While most bucket trucks are used in various fields to lift workers or materials for utilities work, building maintenance, tree trimming, and sign installation and maintenance, there are other, far more specialized applications, as well.

Namely, bucket trucks can be used for highway and railway bridge inspections, maintenance, and repairs.

Additionally, certain types of “bucket trucks” are designed and built specifically for providing under bridge access for bucket platforms and the workers that they can carry. Others are fitted with special equipment that allows them to be driven on railroad tracks specifically for the purpose of accessing railway bridges.

Oftentimes, all that is needed is for a bridge inspector to be provided suitable access to certain regions alongside a bridge deck or beneath the deck. Very little in the way of tools or equipment is usually needed so the size and capacity of the work platform required is often minimal.

In fact, the typical work platform bucket is just over three feet wide by four feet across with a load capacity of between 600 and 700 pounds. This means these buckets are usually designed for one or two, and occasionally three, workers.

So, it is not the size or capacity of the platform that is essential when using bucket trucks for bridge access – it is the vertical and horizontal reach that these specialized vehicles can provide.

For example, our 60-foot Paxton-Mitchell SNOOPE™ truck is essentially a bucket truck and one that uses outriggers when it’s articulated boom is fully extended. However, unlike the typical utility bucket truck that places a work platform between 29 and 45 feet above the ground, this under bridge access unit can place a bucket as far as 70 feet below a bridge deck and up to 60 feet horizontally under the bridge.

A Bucket Truck by Any Other Name…

[Paxton-Mitchell Co., LLC Snooper® – Circa 1964]

With apologies to Shakespeare, the fact is that bucket trucks go by many names and have seen a dizzying evolution over the years. From simple, truck-mounted boom lifts designed for picking fruit to the far more sophisticated Paxton-Mitchell Co., LLC SNOOPER™ truck that was introduced in 1964, the variety of types and designs has proliferated almost exponentially.

While certain industries have their own terms and particular names for these multi-functional vehicles, at the end of the day, bucket trucks are still designed and used for one primary purpose – to provide aerial access to places that ladders cannot reach, and that scaffolding cannot be used safely or at all.

Some bucket trucks are small – a few even mounted on vans – while others are massive and provide dizzying reach down and under structures such as highway bridges and viaducts.

And McClain and Company is proud to offer a wide range of bucket truck equipment rentals for both under bridge access use and construction and utility work, as well.

For the Best in Bucket Truck Rentals You Can Rely on McClain and Company

When it comes to bucket truck rentals, McClain and Company always strives to provide the absolute best in both quality equipment and exceptional customer service.

In fact, at McClain and Company, we have always made it our mission to only offer our customers the most reliable and versatile bucket truck and under bridge inspection equipment rentals.

For example, when it comes to bucket trucks, we offer equipment ranging from the Aspen Aerials A-75, which enables operators to access virtually any location on wide bridges, to the nimble 35-foot bucket truck units.

One of our principles we strongly abide by is the belief that “Your success is our success.”

In practice, we always make it our goal to do all we can to help you select the best aerial access and under bridge inspection unit rentals for your project.

And if you already know which bucket truck unit you’d like to rent, we invite you to request a quote from us today and schedule your rental with us.

If you have questions about our world-class equipment rental services or want to learn more about bucket trucks or our under bridge inspection unit rentals, you can contact McClain & Co., Inc. by calling us at 1.888.889.1284 or emailing us at [email protected].