Ask Vermeer: What’s the difference between feathering and throttle?

The difference between feathering and throttle has to do with how you want to control your compact articulated loader. When you use feathering, you’re trying to exercise control over the hydraulic speed and power that it’s operating at. 

If you want to get technical, feathering has a lot to do with the hydraulic fluid pumps and motors inside the machine. How fast or slow the compact articulated loader and its attachment can operate is dependent on how many gallons of hydraulic fluid the machine can power per minute.

The throttle method is also about control, but this method obtains control differently. Instead of controlling the hydraulic speed through a switch or lever, you lower the throttle, so the engine is running at a lower rpm. However, running at a lower rpm also lowers the horsepower the engine is producing.

Let’s break it down even further to clearly explain the two methods.

Like your garden hose

A helpful way to explain it is like this: Imagine you pick up your garden hose to water your plants outside. It’s summer, so your plants are thirsty from the high heat. You turn on the water spicket and wait for the water to come out.

Now you have a decision to make. You can either let the water come out unhindered, or you can intervene. Let’s say you choose to intervene. As the water starts to come out of the hose, you press the top of your thumb against the water pressure. This changes the flow of water allowed out of the hose and gives you more control over how the water comes out.

Another way you could intervene to control the flow of the water is to turn the spicket so less water is coming out. Without as much water coming out of the hose, it’s not as powerful as it once was, so it’s easier to control.

This is, in essence, an example of feathering versus throttle. With feathering, you’re in control of the speed and the rate the attachment is powered. With throttle, you’re restricting the flow by lessening the power. In other words, throttle is adjusting the allowable water coming from the spicket, while feathering is the control of speed through the nozzle of the hose.

Same power, more control

With feathering, the goal is to keep the machine operating at the most efficient power but harnessing control of the flow to the attachment on the mini articulated loader. For example, say you have an auger attachment on a Vermeer compact articulated loader, and you want the auger to rotate and dig slowly.

There are two ways you could potentially make this happen. First, you could lower the throttle.

“We don’t always recommend that method,” said Brett Newendorp, Vermeer landscape market manager. “Lowering the throttle is a common way to do it, but the downside is you aren’t able to move the machine or any machine function as fast. It may slow down the attachment you’re using, but it’s also slowing down the entire articulated loader. Vermeer equipment is designed to run at a high-idle rpm, and we offer various controls to give operators the ability to use that power efficiently.” Your other option is feathering. With feathering, your machine stays at its optimal high rpm, while reducing or increasing the amount of hydraulic flow that is sent to the attachment, so the auger can start slowly without limiting the compact articulated loader functions.

More control is coming

“Our customers have been asking us for more control, and we’ve been listening,” said Newendorp. “The multifunction joystick found either standard or optional on Vermeer compact articulated loaders only lets out a little bit of hydraulic flow at a time.”

Eventually, the goal is to provide operators with even more levels of control, so they can precisely harness the amount of hydraulic fluid needed to get the job done efficiently.

Whether you use the feathering method or opt for lowering the throttle, the key is that you’re in control and are keeping safety a priority when working with your Vermeer machine. For more information on feathering and Vermeer compact articulated loaders, visit or contact your local dealer.

Vermeer Corporation reserves the right to make changes in engineering, design and specifications; add improvements; or discontinue manufacturing at any time without notice or obligation. Equipment shown is for illustrative purposes only and may display optional accessories or components specific to their global region.

Mini skid steer attachments available from Vermeer dealers may be manufactured by Vermeer Corporation or other attachment manufacturers. Please contact your local Vermeer dealer for more information on machine specifications and attachments.

Vermeer and the Vermeer logo are trademarks of Vermeer Manufacturing Company in the U.S. and/or other countries.

© 2021 Vermeer Corporation. All Rights Reserved.


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