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  1. #21
    Veteran Member
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Balls Creek, NC
    New Holland 1720

    Default Re: Digging with FEL

    Quote Originally Posted by daugen View Post
    Kenny, what would be better? I'm a newbie FEL owner and I would do every one of these scraper options/mistakes if only to see what seemed to work better.
    Now I'm operating at lower rpm, not throwing the full weight and power of the tractor into it.

    I've leveled some heavy gravel backing up slowly and nothing seemed too unhappy. When do you know you are crossing the line, short of getting hit in the eye with hot
    hydraulic fluid?

    Personally I always go in slow, testing how things react and then try to use the least power and capacity of the tractor that will get the job done. I need to do this because I am still relatively new to my machine. I know what I don't know and it's a lot. So... what do you suggest for "back blading" with a FEL?

    don't mean to hijack a digging issue for a blading issue but I think we all want to know not only how to get the job done but how not to damage our expensive machinery.
    I don't know if your would bend the loader arms but if you curled the bucket so as to lift the front end of the tractor off the ground while back dragging the bucket you would put a lot of pressure on the bucket lip and frame attachment points on the loader...

    I have used my bucket back dragging with the tooth bar but did not use that much down force...

  2. #22
    Bronze Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    NB, Canada
    John Deere 2520

    Default Re: Digging with FEL

    I dig quite a bit (mainly ditches) with my JD 2520 & haven't had any issues & my soil is heavy clay. Standard bucket but don't really need to level what I am working on.

  3. #23
    Elite Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Holland, PA
    Kubota L5740, Case IH 255, Gravely 8199G

    Default Re: Digging with FEL

    I think we all have to remember that these are front end loaders, not bulldozers or rear ground engaging rippers of sorts.
    I bought my kubota with an expensive and super heavy duty bucket Long grapple which has worked wonderfully in the woods and in my
    firewood operation. And it has what seem to be four inch teeth on the front, with a tooth bar option I asked for.

    I also just bought a standard basic Kubota bucket for the front, to increase my lifting capacity and do a better job in soft stuff. That has a standard
    plain front. And it's pretty useless digging into things compared to the heavier toothed bucket. But if you want to leave things smooth in landscaping, those
    teeth create their own issues. Which is why, and it took me a while to realize this, having two buckets is really nice, each optimized for certain tasks. And buckets are easy
    on and off.

    I'd use a box blade to loosen things up. They're fun to use and can bite in enough to stop the tractor, but if you don't have one,
    and want to do this all with a bucket, well, any chance any local dealers would have a used box blade you could rent for a day or two?
    and a box blade usually has a purpose built rear scraper so you can use it in both directions. More importantly, it's designed to do this, while your
    FEL, even used with a soft touch, isn't.

    I bet if we all had a 100hp TLB, like a Case or JD, this worry about bending the equipment would be silly.
    I watch the excavator working near where my garden is, and it pushes stuff around like child's play effortlessly. Great fun to watch.

    The suggestion of having weight on back is really good I think, providing a more stable hopefully balanced platform.
    sorry for overthinking this, but I've had the same concerns as the OP.

  4. #24
    Veteran Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Piedmont, NC
    Kubota L4610 & BX2230, Farmall Super M, Super A

    Default Re: Digging with FEL

    Quote Originally Posted by kennyd View Post
    That technique is a fantastic way to bend the curl cylinder rods on the FEL or blow hoses.
    +1 to that. Kind of like digging by scraping your shovel across the ground instead of digging with it. Just as that's hard on your arms and back when you're doing it, it's also hard on the tractor because neither shovel nor FEL are designed to work that way. Leveling loose ground that way is fine.

    The lip of the bucket will cut like a shovel when used properly. With little equipment like this, you don't have a lot of weight to work with, so hard ground is tough. A toothbar helps a lot but the scarifiers on a box blade are specifically designed to dig into hard surfaces. We've dug and moved a lot of dirt with our BX, using the FEL+toothbar on the front and a 48" box blade in back. Once the soil is loose, you can fill the bucket and then the box blade on the same pass.

    As between a backhoe and a boxblade, it depends on the situation. If you're regrading a dirt road, where digging in only a couple of inches is needed, the boxblade is the obvious preference. If you're removing 18" of soil from an area, either would work, probably a backhoe would be best. I'll be removing a mound of about 50' x 30'x 2' later this summer. Will start by opening it up with the backhoe since it's hard-packed, then switch to the FEL and boxblade.

  5. #25
    Platinum Member Notforhire's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Southwestern Virginia
    JD 5055E

    Default Re: Digging with FEL

    Machines like Bobcats, and tractor loaders were designed to be loaders, Ag tractors with FEL attachments are really just material handlers. I do dig with mine. It can be done, but as the man said they not bulldozers. Most manuals I have read suggest no more than 30-40deg. when backdragging so you won't bend the curl cylinders.
    If I needed to do lots of digging and moving of rocks, I would suggest renting a piece of construction equipment. (Bobcat, or TLB, ect.) When the heavy stuff is done, get your tractor to maintain the property.


  6. #26
    Elite Member Chilly807's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Nova Scotia
    Kubota L3400DT

    Default Re: Digging with FEL

    I agree with Kenny on this one.. the trouble with back dragging with the bucket in the dumped position is that it gives the bucket tremendous leverage over the lift cylinders.

    Roll the bucket down and have a look at the geometry of the loader. The whole length of the bucket acts as a lever around the bucket pins, trying to compress the curl cylinders as you drive backwards. Since there is no pressure relief on the work ports of the loader valve, if the bucket lip hooks something solid, pressure increases in the cylinders and hoses until something either bursts or bends, or you run out of power or traction. Usually the curl cylinders will bend first on a smaller loader, next hoses will burst...

    If you want to back drag material, and it IS a valid way to use the loader, be absolutely sure that the lip of the bucket can't get hooked on something solid.

    I try to keep no more than a 45 degree angle between the ground and the bottom of the bucket when back dragging, and the most effective way I've found to back drag is with the bucket bottom nearly flat on the ground and a slight downward pressure on the loader. It's more for smoothing material than anything. It will wear the bottom of the bucket fairly quickly if you're in rocky ground or on concrete or asphalt, however.

    An FEL really isn't meant for digging.. the contact area is too wide to be effective. That's why a hoe is better, concentrated pressure on a much smaller bucket lip. They're intended for loose materials, although they will dig to a certain degree. Skinning sod off the ground should be fine, but it won't be pretty.. it's hard to keep the bucket even close to level, especially after you get a few wheel ruts made.

    Sounds like you have a pretty good dealer if he pointed that out.. although I'm sure he'd like to sell you a back hoe too


  7. #27
    Veteran Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2009

    Default Re: Digging with FEL

    Quote Originally Posted by daugen View Post
    I'm a newbie FEL owner and I would do every one of these scraper options/mistakes if only to see what seemed to work better.
    ...but I think we all want to know not only how to get the job done but how not to damage our expensive machinery.
    Have you looked in your owners manual for the loader? Mine has lots of guidelines on proper operating procedures, even has pictures so you don't have to read too much. For backdragging it says to fill the bucket, place bucket flat on the ground, put it in float position, and back up. This forces the heel of the bucket to do the grading.
    Manual doesn't say this, but I grade going forward by rolling the loaded bucket all the way back, put in float, and then going slowly forward, which uses the bottom rear surface of the bucket to grade with. If you lose traction, raise bucket a little then hit the float again.

    I agree with other posters, never backdrag with bucket rolled forward. I would not even do that for loose material, just too easy to put huge stresses on cylinders and components. Ditto for grading going forward with bucket rolled all the way forward, same problem.
    Kubota B2710, New Holland CM274 front mower, Toro Zmaster ZTR, Ford 908 bush hog, New Idea manure spreader, Swisher trail mower

  8. #28
    Veteran Member PhysAssist's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Upstate NY- see the BIG lake- look just below it...
    Kubota B2320

    Default Re: Digging with FEL

    Hey VT,

    That's a nice solid-looking BB and of course, it is a well known brand name. The condition it's in also looks pretty good, and it is a good width for a BX. Do you know how much it weighs? If not ask your dealer, because the heavier, the better, but then again, with a well-built unit like that one, you can add weight as needed. Around here, that BB for that price would be an excellent deal!

    With ours we often add 100# or more, even though it is already pretty heavy, just to enhance it's ability to dig in.

    Now that we have our #600+ ballast box completed (branded as kubota and bought from our K dealer, but with a slightly different paint tint than the tractors, and with an additional name plate from a Canadian mfg), we don't leave our BB on all the time, but prior to that, the BB never came off because it worked so well counter-balancing loads we picked up with the loader and also helped tons with traction.

    We needed to do some excavation of our pond banks last year, along with some stump pulling, so we rented a trackhoe or mini-excavator for a weekend, and despite my complete lack of any prior experience with one, it went very well. So if you have an occasional need for extensive digging, that would be a great rental to try.

    Just my again,


  9. #29
    Super Member JOHNTHOMAS's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Somerset, Ky
    currently own F3080 F2680 B2620 FEL/BH RTV1140

    Default Re: Digging with FEL

    I'm not encouraging anyone to tilt the bucket on edge and back drag. I'm NOT saying to do that. For sure I'm NOT saying to tilt it back past straight edge and I'm NOT even saying to tilt it not quite straight up edge and back drag. NOT is what I'm saying. I am saying that I've been doing it that way for years with several Kubotas and never broke, damaged, bent anything. Never thought anything about it until I started reading here about how it will destroy my tractor and now when I do it I always look for the bucket to crumble, fall off, turn side ways and blow up my motor. I will concede I do it less often with the bucket pulled back further than straight up because when it hits rocks in that position and doesn't make them pop out of the ground the bucket makes this PING sound as the rock/bucket separate. WARNING do not do what I've been doing for years with my Kubotas with FELs. Again, DO NOT do it the way I've always done it because you could damage your tractor that you bought to do those hard jobs to save your back. If you damage it then your going to have an expense to get your working tractor fixed! Course I didn't think my tractor was going to turn over on its side when it did, thought maybe it would on some other times but NOT the time that it did. I am NOT a good example of how to use a tractor.
    2012 B2620 FEL BH, 2008 F2680 2WD 72" side Discharge Deck, 2012 F3080 4WD 72" rear discharge deck, 2010/2009 RTV1140CPX , RatchetRake, Forks, ...DEARBORN 2 BOTTOM PLOW 12" ?? FOR SALE $425).... Drawbar and Horse Drawn disk 13 Toyota Tacoma Double Cab, 13 Ford Flex. 2009 Subaru Impreza Sport

  10. #30
    Silver Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Still looking...

    Default Re: Digging with FEL

    It weighs 250 lbs. I think it's a bit lighter than other 48" BBs I've looked at. But the price is right. They will even deliver it for the $350. Not a bad deal.

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