The Easy Way to Move Brush And Other Things
Now, if you’re new to tractor ownership, a tractor grapple might be something you’ve never heard of. Or maybe you’ve owned a tractor for a number of years, but haven’t thought about this time and back-saving invention.
So let me explain.
I spent a lot of my early years clearing brush in my family’s apple orchard. The trees needed annual pruning, and afterwards, we had to clear the brush from the orchard. We did it the poor man’s way: My dad would push the brush down the rows with a front-end loader with a flat fork. As brush and limbs rolled underneath or fell off the side, mom and I would manually move that wood to the next row so Dad could push that row. Then we’d manhandle more logs. Boy, was that labor intensive!
Later on, when I started working in a tractor dealership, I found out about grapples. What a discovery!
What Is a Grapple?
A grapple is a hydraulic device that clamps down onto the brush, allowing you to pick it up and move it wherever you want. Shortly after I started at the dealership, we had one of our terrible southern Missouri ice storms and there were limbs and brush down everywhere. It took weeks of clean-up.
Well, the dealership sold grapples by the truckload, and I got to see how efficiently they work. Still, I figured those grapples would should up on Craigslist or at sales in the coming years. But I was wrong. And that told me that once you own a grapple you find lots of uses for it.
Of course, cleaning up your property is the obvious use, since the grapple can easily grab and move downed limbs and brush piles. You may find that a grapple rake does better when you’ve got bigger limbs and big logs you’ve earmarked for your firewood pile. You can use it to pick up rocks that needed to be moved elsewhere on your land. A grapple (also called a root rake grapple) can even dig out the roots of tall weed patches and move that debris to the spot of your choosing. Take a look at a single grapple rake here.
These attachments come in handy for farmers, landscapers, logging, construction and road construction, and many recycling operations. Because the lower part of a solid bottom grapple can also scoop up debris like sand or dirt, it can come in handy for cleanup operations, too.
Pick the Right Grapple
Grapples need to be built strong to handle the tasks they do. Strong steel tines are essential, and reinforcement on the underside of solid bottom grapples will add to their lifetime. Some grapples, sometimes called “skeleton” grapples are tines without a solid bottom, and need to be built from thicker steel.
These attachments also have some small parts like cylinder pins and rods, which will need replacement over time and last longest with regular inspection for wear, a thorough greasing and timely replacement.
There are grapples designed for tractors of all sizes, and it’s important to match the grapple to your machine and to the tasks you want it to do.
And keep in mind that for compact and utility tractors there are two important styles of grapples: one for skid loader compatible-front end loaders and another for the John Deere lynch-pin attach system of the 400-500 Series Deere compacts.
You’ll find the investment in a grapple will save you hours of work and aching muscles.