Bobcat vs Caterpillar. Can You Swap Attachments Between Brands?

Introduction

Bobcat and Caterpillar are two of the leading manufacturers of construction equipment. Bobcat specializes in compact equipment like skid-steer loaders, excavators, utility vehicles, and telehandlers. Caterpillar produces heavy machinery including bulldozers, excavators, wheel loaders, and dump trucks. Both companies make high-quality attachments that can be used across their product lines.

Attachment Systems

There are two main types of attachment systems used on construction equipment like skid steers, excavators and backhoes – quick attach and pin grabber systems. Quick attach systems utilize a hydraulic locking mechanism to securely connect attachments, allowing the operator to change attachments without leaving the cab. The quick attach coupler attaches to the equipment and the attachment attaches to the coupler. This provides fast, easy attachment changes compared to traditional pin grabber systems.

Pin grabber systems use a manual pin locking method to secure attachments. The attachment attaches directly to the equipment using pins rather than an intermediary coupler. To change attachments, the operator must get out and pull the pins out manually. This makes changing attachments slower and more labor intensive compared to quick attach systems. However, pin grabber systems are mechanically simpler, more durable, and typically cheaper than quick attach couplers.

Interchangeability

Bobcat and Caterpillar skid steer loaders use different attachment mounting systems, which prevents their attachments from being directly interchangeable. Bobcat uses their own proprietary Bob-Tach mounting system, while Caterpillar uses the industry standard ISO hitch mounting system (Source).

However, there are adapter plates available that allow Bobcat attachments to be mounted on Caterpillar loaders and vice versa. These adapter plates physically connect the Bob-Tach mount to the ISO hitch, bridging the difference between the two systems (Source). Using an adapter may require some adjustment to the attachment controls, hoses, and hydraulics to ensure proper functioning.

So while Bobcat and Caterpillar attachments are not directly interchangeable out of the box, they can be made compatible with the use of adapter mounting plates. The main factors enabling interchangeability are the physical adapter plates and some reconfiguration of the attachment components.

Safety

Using mismatched attachments between different brands of equipment like Bobcat and Caterpillar can be extremely dangerous and should be avoided. Attachments like buckets and forks are designed and engineered specifically for the loader models they are rated for. Trying to force a Bobcat attachment onto a Caterpillar machine, or vice versa, even if it physically fits, can have several safety risks:

  • The attachment may not have the proper hydraulic flow or pressure ratings for the machine it is mounted on, which can cause loss of control or function.

  • The attachment’s weight capacity or lift geometries may exceed the loader’s specifications, potentially causing tip-overs.

  • There could be unforeseen interference issues between the attachment and loader that reduce visibility or even operator clearance.

  • Using a mismatched attachment voids safety certifications and will likely void any warranty coverage.

Simply put, Bobcat and Caterpillar attachments are designed for specific machine models and are not interchangeable. Mixing and matching equipment against manufacturer specifications is an unnecessary safety risk. Stick with attachments made for your exact loader model for the safest operation.

Performance

Mixing and matching Bobcat and Caterpillar attachments can negatively impact equipment performance in a few key areas:

Digging – Bucket designs and teeth systems are engineered specifically for each brand’s loader models. Using a bucket not optimized for your machine can result in reduced breakout force and digging efficiency. According to Tagequipment, you may experience up to a 25% loss in bucket breakout force.

Lifting – The hydraulic systems and weight distribution of loaders are tailored to factory attachments. Putting a heavyweight attachment not designed for your specific model can reduce lift capacity and stability.

Stability – Bobcat and Cat designs use different attachment mounting systems, which can alter the machine’s center of gravity if interchanged. The stability and risk of tipping over may be impacted.

For optimal performance, it’s recommended to use attachments engineered and tested specifically for your machine make and model. Mixing attachment brands should be done with caution and awareness of potential capability and safety impacts.

Warranty

Mixing attachments from different manufacturers can impact the warranty coverage. According to Cat® Warranty Coverage and Registration | Cat | Caterpillar, Caterpillar provides limited warranty coverage on new Cat attachments for 6, 12 or 24 months. However, this warranty only applies when Cat attachments are used with Cat machines. Using a Bobcat attachment with a Caterpillar machine would void the Cat attachment warranty.

Likewise, Bobcat’s warranty only covers Bobcat attachments used with Bobcat equipment, according to Bobcat’s warranty documentation. If a Caterpillar attachment is installed on a Bobcat machine, the Bobcat attachment warranty would become void. Therefore, mixing brands voids manufacturer warranties.

To retain full warranty coverage, attachments and host machines need to be from the same OEM brand. Customers should closely review warranty limitations before mixing attachment brands across different OEM equipment.

Resale Value

The resale value of attachments can vary greatly depending on the brand. According to sales data on eBay, used Bobcat attachments tend to retain their value better over time compared to used Caterpillar attachments (https://www.ebay.com/b/Bobcat-Heavy-Equipment-Attachment/177647/bn_1309194, https://www.ebay.com/b/Caterpillar-Heavy-Equipment-Attachment/177647/bn_1309201). For example, a 2012 Bobcat attachment may sell for 60-70% of its original price, while a 2012 Caterpillar attachment may only sell for 40-50%. This difference is likely due to Bobcat’s reputation for ruggedness and reliability, while Caterpillar is more focused on high-end performance. Buyers looking for good value on the used market tend to favor Bobcat. However, Caterpillar attachments purchased new and maintained properly can still have a decent resale value.

When mixing Bobcat and Caterpillar attachments, the Bobcat attachment will likely retain its resale value better. The overall resale value of the mixed configuration will fall somewhere between typical Bobcat and Caterpillar values. Proper maintenance and condition are always major factors in resale value, regardless of brand.

Availability

When it comes to availability of attachments, there are some key differences between OEM attachments from brands like Caterpillar vs universal attachments that fit multiple brands.

Caterpillar attachments are manufactured by Caterpillar specifically for Cat machinery. This means that availability of Cat attachments may be more regionalized, with greater availability near Cat dealerships and distribution centers 1. Since Cat makes attachments exclusively for their own machines, inventory levels and availability may be more limited than universal attachments.

Universal attachments are made by third-party manufacturers to fit multiple brands and models. Companies like Stinger manufacture attachments like buckets, grapples, and pallet forks to fit Bobcat, Caterpillar, John Deere, and other popular brands 2. Because they serve a wider range of customers, universal attachment manufacturers can maintain higher inventory levels and have better nationwide availability through various dealers and retailers.

So when it comes to availability, universal attachments may have an advantage over OEM attachments due to their broader compatibility and distribution. However, OEM attachments like Cat buckets and hydraulic hammers may still be the preferred choice for Cat equipment owners who want optimized performance and precision fit.

Cost

When considering cost differences between OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) and universal attachments, there are a few key factors to consider:

OEM attachments from brands like Caterpillar and Bobcat tend to be more expensive upfront. For example, a universal bucket for a skid steer may cost $500, while a bucket from Caterpillar may cost $800. However, OEM attachments are designed specifically for your machine, often using higher quality materials and better engineering. This can lead to better performance, durability, and longevity over universal attachments.

You may be able to find compatible universal attachments at a lower upfront price point. However, these may not achieve the same level of performance compared to OEM attachments. There is also a higher risk of compatibility issues leading to equipment damage or safety hazards (StingerAttachments, 2023).

When reselling the skid steer, OEM attachments will typically retain more value over third-party attachments. This is because buyers often prefer the OEM brand and quality.

While OEM attachments have a higher initial investment, their optimized performance, durability, and resale value can make them a smarter long-term choice for many operators.

Conclusion

In summary, the interchangeability of Bobcat and Caterpillar attachments comes down to a few key considerations:

  • Safety – Mixing attachments can compromise safety if not properly matched.
  • Performance – Attachments are designed for specific machine capabilities, so mixing brands may impact performance.
  • Warranty – Using a different brand attachment may void part or all of the warranty.
  • Resale Value – Non-matching attachments may negatively impact resale value of the machine.
  • Availability – Finding parts or service for an attachment not matching the machine brand may be difficult.
  • Cost – Consider whether interchangeability is worth any additional costs incurred.

In many cases, it’s best to use attachments matched to your machine’s brand for optimal safety, performance and long-term value. However, for some generic attachments, interchangeability may be an option if done with care and awareness of the considerations mentioned.

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