Grading an "Interesting" Driveway

   #1  

TerryR

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I just finished my fall grading of our driveway, and in light of all the discussions on this topic from time to time I thought I'd share the challenges involved.

The driveway is gravel, a quarter mile long, and gains 150 ft. in elevation, for an average grade of 14%, though it's not uniform and some parts are steeper. The top is at 3,500 ft. elevation, in the Blue Ridge in western North Carolina, so we get snow and/or ice most years, but highly variable. We also get heavy rains from time to time, so washing is an issue. Parts drain to both sides and other parts all to one side.

The objectives in grading are to recover the gravel thrown to the side by traffic and in the process eliminate the depressed tire tracks that cause water to run down the road instead of off to the side, and to remove wash-boarding that develops at several points. I know there are strong partisans in support of various attachments for this task, but I use just a rear angle blade on my JD 870. This time I made one pass up each side to move the gravel into the center, then a pass back-blading to spread it off the center into the tracks, and one final round trip with the back-blade to touch up parts that still needed a little help.

There is little loose gravel - it's all packed or it would toss quickly with traffic. I wait until there's enough rain to make it easy to cut where needed and to re-pack quickly.

Knowing that it "didn't happen without pictures," here's the photos. Starting at the bottom, off the paved road.
road-1.jpg
This section drains to both sides, and is pretty steep. It wash-boards badly on the right side on the straightaway for some reason. The challenge is to grade out the wash-boards without destroying the shallow drain just above the planter. It wash-boards on the left side in the corner, but that's less of a problem to grade out.
road-2.jpg
This section is less steep, but has a shallow "S" curve, and transitions to a right-side drain only.
road-3.jpg
This section is not too steep, but drains only to the right, so has to be graded flat across so the water runs into the ditch and not down the road. This section was a state road until abandoned 40 years ago, and we only own the right half, so can't re-grade the left side.
road-4.jpg
You can see the old road continuing straight while our drive turns to the right. The curve is fairly steep, and wash-boards badly on the right side. I also have to take care to not cut a ditch past the shallow drain at the lower right corner of the photo.
road-5.jpg
This section drains to both sides, and is fairly steep. It faces north-west so even with the leaves off snow and ice doesn't melt well, so the tire tracks need to be graded out so if it snows it can be plowed clean.
road-6.jpg
This little section is nearly level, so presents a challenge to adjust the depth of the blade both coming onto it, and going out into the curve beyond.
road-7.jpg
This section is steep and is shaded by the pines, so snow doesn't melt well here either, so again the tire tracks need to be graded out to facilitate snow plowing.
road-8.jpg
This curve at the top is pretty steep and the inside wash-boards noticeably. It's banked, so there is a transition from crowned to banked and back to crowned.
road-9.jpg
We're at the top. The ditch on the right tends to fill with gravel that has to be recovered, and the parking area on the left accumulates gravel from plowing snow that has to be returned, but otherwise not much problem. End of tour.:)

Terry
 
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   #2  

rekees4300

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Thanks for the pics Terry. You have a challenging lane for sure. My lane is sort of a mini (900 feet) version of yours. I use the same basic technique with a front blade on my JD4300. First round trip moves the side gravel to the center. Next round trip is with blade in float mode and tractor in reverse. That smooths it out but leaves some in the center to help with runoff.
 
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   #3  

MtnViewRanch

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Very very nice. :thumbsup: I am one of those people that can't say enough good things about a land plane grading scraper. (LPGS) But with saying that, it is advantages to have multiple implements to use, especially when maintaining a dive such as yours. And in your case, if only having one implement, a rear blade is the implement of choice.

Thanks for the pictures and documentation. :cool:
 
   #4  

ovrszd

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Washboards are very hard to control on a drive like this. They are caused by the vehicle tires wanting to spin on the loose gravel. Most vehicles have open rear axles so the first wheel that wants to spin is the right one, i.e., right side is usually boarded worse than left. When that is an exception is a curve to the left. In that situation the vehicle weight shifts slightly and causes the left rear tire to want to spin worse because it's turning a tighter radius.

I think you are controlling this very well with your tractor and blade.

I agree with Brian that an LPGS would assist you, but especially in your case, would require tip-n-tilt. Otherwise you would be off the tractor adjusting the grader more than you would be using it.

Thanks for sharing the pics. Interesting to see what people have to deal with to live where they want to live!!! :thumbsup:
 
   #5  

Gordon Gould

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That is quite a driveway in my book. You do a great job.
Thanks for posting. It is neat to see what other folks can do with there equipment.
 
  
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TerryR

TerryR

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I use the same basic technique with a front blade on my JD4300. First round trip moves the side gravelto the center. Next round trip is with blade in float mode and tractor in reverse. That smooths it out but leaves some in the center to help with runoff.

I do all the heavy grading uphill to try to counteract the tendency of the gravel to migrate down the hill. That creates a load for the 870 but it is up to the challenge, though because of traction issues I have to plow snow downhill.

I used to back-blade in reverse, but I found my neck isn't getting any more limber with advancing age and looking over my shoulder to steer was getting to be a pain. So I finally figured out it works just as well to turn the blade backwards and drive forward.

Terry
 
   #7  

ovrszd

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I used to back-blade in reverse, but I found my neck isn't getting any more limber with advancing age and looking over my shoulder to steer was getting to be a pain. So I finally figured out it works just as well to turn the blade backwards and drive forward.

Terry

Yep, and eliminates the worry of bending a 3pt arm.
 
  
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TerryR

TerryR

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Washboards are very hard to control on a drive like this. They are caused by the vehicle tires wanting to spin on the loose gravel. Most vehicles have open rear axles so the first wheel that wants to spin is the right one, i.e., right side is usually boarded worse than left. When that is an exception is a curve to the left. In that situation the vehicle weight shifts slightly and causes the left rear tire to want to spin worse because it's turning a tighter radius.
That explains the wash-boarding on the right in the straightaway at the bottom. Everywhere else it's on the inside of steep curves. Here is seems largely caused by drivers of pickups who don't seem to know that their four-wheel-drive is for (local dealers don't stock two-wheel-drive pickups, so that's seldom an excuse). The other offender is UPS, which runs their little vans here with no weight on the single rear tires.

I think you are controlling this very well with your tractor and blade.
Thanks.

I agree with Brian that an LPGS would assist you, but especially in your case, would require tip-n-tilt. Otherwise you would be off the tractor adjusting the grader more than you would be using it.
Which would mean adding a remote, in addition to the new implement and finding a place to store it. I think I'm getting the hang of adjusting the rear blade. I only had to get off and adjust once after setting up for each different pass.

Thanks for sharing the pics. Interesting to see what people have to deal with to live where they want to live!!!
You're welcome, and thanks to everyone else for there generous comments. It was fun getting the photos and working out the story. We love the area, so a couple of hours to maintain the drive a couple of times a year is well worthwhile.

Terry
 
   #9  

MtnViewRanch

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pass.


You're welcome, and thanks to everyone else for there generous comments. It was fun getting the photos and working out the story. We love the area, so a couple of hours to maintain the drive a couple of times a year is well worthwhile.
Terry

No doubt about that, it is absolutely beautiful. ;)
 

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Great work. Thanks for posting!

Terry
 

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You ARE truly doing a great job on your driveway.
 

ovrszd

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I enjoy projects like this. I'd be like a vulture on a tree limb waiting for the driveway to need a tune-up. :rolleyes:
 

DT86

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Terry,

It looks good! You're not that far from me so the lay of the land looks familiar.

I enjoy projects like this. I'd be like a vulture on a tree limb waiting for the driveway to need a tune-up. :rolleyes:

Richard,

I've got two semi steep gravel driveways to rehab soon. Come East for a week and I'll put you on 'em! I've got one of those 9540 Kubota's and a 96" box blade, I'm sure you'll catch on fast. :)
 
  
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TerryR

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Thanks, guys.

DT86,

Yes it does look a lot like SW Virginia around here. Very pretty country.

Terry
 

/pine

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Hats off...nice job...!
I deal with very similar grades and curves...you've obviously mastered the learning curve of the blade...I assume you have T&T...?
 
  
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TerryR

TerryR

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Hats off...nice job...!
Thanks.
I deal with very similar grades and curves...you've obviously mastered the learning curve of the blade...I assume you have T&T...?
Well, let's just say the first few times it didn't look as good. :eek: Seventeen years of practice helps.

No, I do it all with manual adjustments on a simple old Bush-Hog brand angle blade. Once I get it set for each run I manage it only with the 3-point lift control. This time I got off to set the blade four times - once for each side of the road (since I only grade up hill) plus once because I missed the setup the first time, and once to reverse the blade for back-blading.

Terry
 

wmonroe

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Very good job on the driveway, it is more complicated than my 1000' drive but the steepness is about the same. I understand what you are saying about people not using their four wheel drive, sure I can make it up mine in two wheel drive but it tears up the gravel, snap it in 4x4 quick and all is well. Keep up the good work.
 

k0ua

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Nice place and very good write up and telling of your story. You made the story "come alive" with your pictures and narration.:thumbsup:

James K0UA
 

DKCDKC

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My drive is similar, but longer (a full mile) and steeper (up and down two steep hills). I like the guttering I see in your pix, and wish I could do that to minimize washing, but most of my hilly drive was cut into the side of a hill and there isn't room for a gutter. I find my blade useful, but also use a rock rake to pull the gravel in because of the rocks and stumps close to the drive. I could bend a blade quickly. I also use a box blade to fill in holes, ruts and the like - and to move gravel uphill. I have to work the road three or four times a year - sometimes more if we have a major flood or the like. The spring work is largely to clean up any mess left by snow plowing - if any.

Thanks for posting. I too find my beautiful location well worth the time I have to spend on the drive. And, for Christmas, I spot collections of solar Christmas lights along the drive. I get them on sales after Christmas. Visitors love seeing lights in the middle of a remote forest.
 

ovrszd

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Richard,

I've got two semi steep gravel driveways to rehab soon. Come East for a week and I'll put you on 'em! I've got one of those 9540 Kubota's and a 96" box blade, I'm sure you'll catch on fast. :)

I might be able to run that..... ;)
 

EddieWalker

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Very nice looking driveway. I'd love to have that kind of elevation change, but here in East TX, it's all pretty flat.

Eddie
 

ovrszd

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I spot collections of solar Christmas lights along the drive. I get them on sales after Christmas. Visitors love seeing lights in the middle of a remote forest.

Off subject here, but, I own several acres of steep timber land. We've built trails all over it for 4 wheeling. Last year I found an old wall mount phone booth at the scrap yard. I mounted it on a pole out in the middle of the timber along a trail. Lit it with solar lights. I've had wheelers ask me if that phone works??? Gets em everytime, especially at night!!!! ;)
 

Guesseral

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Ok also off subject, but how do you get the electric to your house it doesn't seem like you would have to many neighbors up there?
 
  
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TerryR

TerryR

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Ok also off subject, but how do you get the electric to your house it doesn't seem like you would have to many neighbors up there?

There are about half a dozen houses along the paved road that you see in the first photo, so a pole line comes up that road. At the end of the road it runs across our field, about half way up the hill to our house. From there it's underground to the house, something like seven or eight hundred feet as I recall.

If this works it might help - try this link to Google Maps. The paved road is Troy Norris Rd, visible in the lower left of the map. The small un-labeled road is the abandoned state road, the lower part of our driveway visible in the first four photos in my first post. Then the drive turns right into the woods, visible as a dark shadow at right angles to the old road, first curving gently right then to the left, before the sharp turn to the left near the right edge of the woods, where it become invisible in the satellite photo.

There is a fence line, which is on our property line, visible from top to bottom about two-thirds of the way across the satellite image. The power line comes up Troy Norris until it makes a sharp turn to the right, then continues across our field to that fence line. It goes underground from there up across the field and into the woods.

Terry
 
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JRL305

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Ours is similar. 1500' up the side of a ridge. 300' elevation change. We had the power and phone line buried the entire way and had to end up getting it concreted. I'm in the process of adding rocks along the sides to keep water from running under the concrete. should be finished in another 30 or so years. Google 530 deer ridge trail in charleston, tn.
 
  
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TerryR

TerryR

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That's quite a driveway I see in the satellite view. Looks like a lot of concrete.

I've thought of having ours paved, but the cost and concern about it getting iced and impassable in have kept me from doing it. With the gravel there seems to be enough traction even when ice does form, at least we've never had a problem with it so far.

Terry
 

kenlip

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I do all the heavy grading uphill to try to counteract the tendency of the gravel to migrate down the hill.

Terry

Hi Terry

I have a similar situation with my driveway but, unlike you, I have ZERO experience. I am (hopefully) getting delivery of my first tractor in two days' time.

When you grade uphill, do you start at the bottom of the hill, which seems to mean dragging a lot of material a long way, or do you start a bit down from the top of the hill, grade to the top, then go down another bit and grade up the previously graded section?

I suppose another way of wording it is, do you grade in 'steps' starting at the top or the bottom?

I probably haven't worded this correctly, using all the right terminology, but hopefully you'll be able to make sense of it.

Thanks
Ken
 

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I lived with gravel drives almost my whole life and maintaining them is a never ending job. Steep drives are really a pain and to keep the water damage to a minimum requires lots of rock, ditching, and colverts. Tight curves and loose gravel are good problem areas also. A heavy roller to pack the rock helps after grading I have found out. And the heavier the roller the better. I have a curve that isn't sharp but it's probably a couple hundred feet long or longer and that's my biggest area of problems. No problem with run off from rain but with delivery trucks and hot rods that think their on the interstate. I'm going to solve the problem of rock getting pushed and threw off in the yard by putting in a nice speed bump. It is aggravating spending thousands of dollars putting rock on the drive and having some ya-ho's come flying in throwing rock everywhere. I feel like i spent the money on rock for the drive not the yard. No one is in that much of a hurry that they have to drive that almost thousand feet in under two seconds. I always have consideration on someone's property knowing how much work and money is spent on keeping up a drive.
 
  
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TerryR

TerryR

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Hi Terry

I have a similar situation with my driveway but, unlike you, I have ZERO experience. I am (hopefully) getting delivery of my first tractor in two days' time.

When you grade uphill, do you start at the bottom of the hill, which seems to mean dragging a lot of material a long way, or do you start a bit down from the top of the hill, grade to the top, then go down another bit and grade up the previously graded section?

Ken,

I start at the bottom and grade all the way to the top. I use an angle blade to move the gravel that gets thrown to the side by traffic back toward the center, clearing the ditch line. Moving gravel up the hill is secondary, so not much gets carried up. My idea is mainly to avoid making the natural migration down hill worse by grading down.

I do grade the top 150 feet or so back away from the garage because I can't get my blade close enough the other way, but that section is level anyway.

I don't use a box blade because I'm trying mainly to move the gravel sideways, not forward.
 

kenlip

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Ken,

I start at the bottom and grade all the way to the top. I use an angle blade to move the gravel that gets thrown to the side by traffic back toward the center, clearing the ditch line. Moving gravel up the hill is secondary, so not much gets carried up. My idea is mainly to avoid making the natural migration down hill worse by grading down.

I do grade the top 150 feet or so back away from the garage because I can't get my blade close enough the other way, but that section is level anyway.

I don't use a box blade because I'm trying mainly to move the gravel sideways, not forward.

Thanks, Terry
 

fried1765

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I lived with gravel drives almost my whole life and maintaining them is a never ending job. Steep drives are really a pain and to keep the water damage to a minimum requires lots of rock, ditching, and colverts. Tight curves and loose gravel are good problem areas also. A heavy roller to pack the rock helps after grading I have found out. And the heavier the roller the better. I have a curve that isn't sharp but it's probably a couple hundred feet long or longer and that's my biggest area of problems. No problem with run off from rain but with delivery trucks and hot rods that think their on the interstate. I'm going to solve the problem of rock getting pushed and threw off in the yard by putting in a nice speed bump. It is aggravating spending thousands of dollars putting rock on the drive and having some ya-ho's come flying in throwing rock everywhere. I feel like i spent the money on rock for the drive not the yard. No one is in that much of a hurry that they have to drive that almost thousand feet in under two seconds. I always have consideration on someone's property knowing how much work and money is spent on keeping up a drive.

I have a 2100 foot long gravel driveway, through a wooded area, and a small hill with a curve.
Because of excessive speed, on the curve, the gravel migrates to the outer driveway edge.
I do think that my..... "Caution - Moose Crossing"..... sign may help a little bit (it is a joke of course).
It is at my seasonal residence in Canada, so there actually is a slight bit of credibility.
Cow crossing...deer crossing....sheep/goats/horses/turkeys etc. are other more believable sign subject possibilities.
 

captjack

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Get a land plane or build one - it will be the best tool you ever have for that - will just require regular maintenance to keep it up but its not hard to drive a tractor up and down the lane a few times a year.
 

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I just finished my fall grading of our driveway, and in light of all the discussions on this topic from time to time I thought I'd share the challenges involved.

The driveway is gravel, a quarter mile long, and gains 150 ft. in elevation, for an average grade of 14%, though it's not uniform and some parts are steeper. The top is at 3,500 ft. elevation, in the Blue Ridge in western North Carolina, so we get snow and/or ice most years, but highly variable. We also get heavy rains from time to time, so washing is an issue. Parts drain to both sides and other parts all to one side.

The objectives in grading are to recover the gravel thrown to the side by traffic and in the process eliminate the depressed tire tracks that cause water to run down the road instead of off to the side, and to remove wash-boarding that develops at several points. I know there are strong partisans in support of various attachments for this task, but I use just a rear angle blade on my JD 870. This time I made one pass up each side to move the gravel into the center, then a pass back-blading to spread it off the center into the tracks, and one final round trip with the back-blade to touch up parts that still needed a little help.

There is little loose gravel - it's all packed or it would toss quickly with traffic. I wait until there's enough rain to make it easy to cut where needed and to re-pack quickly.

Knowing that it "didn't happen without pictures," here's the photos. Starting at the bottom, off the paved road.
View attachment 351277
This section drains to both sides, and is pretty steep. It wash-boards badly on the right side on the straightaway for some reason. The challenge is to grade out the wash-boards without destroying the shallow drain just above the planter. It wash-boards on the left side in the corner, but that's less of a problem to grade out.
View attachment 351278
This section is less steep, but has a shallow "S" curve, and transitions to a right-side drain only.
View attachment 351280
This section is not too steep, but drains only to the right, so has to be graded flat across so the water runs into the ditch and not down the road. This section was a state road until abandoned 40 years ago, and we only own the right half, so can't re-grade the left side.
View attachment 351281
You can see the old road continuing straight while our drive turns to the right. The curve is fairly steep, and wash-boards badly on the right side. I also have to take care to not cut a ditch past the shallow drain at the lower right corner of the photo.
View attachment 351282
This section drains to both sides, and is fairly steep. It faces north-west so even with the leaves off snow and ice doesn't melt well, so the tire tracks need to be graded out so if it snows it can be plowed clean.
View attachment 351283
This little section is nearly level, so presents a challenge to adjust the depth of the blade both coming onto it, and going out into the curve beyond.
View attachment 351284
This section is steep and is shaded by the pines, so snow doesn't melt well here either, so again the tire tracks need to be graded out to facilitate snow plowing.
View attachment 351285
This curve at the top is pretty steep and the inside wash-boards noticeably. It's banked, so there is a transition from crowned to banked and back to crowned.
View attachment 351287
We're at the top. The ditch on the right tends to fill with gravel that has to be recovered, and the parking area on the left accumulates gravel from plowing snow that has to be returned, but otherwise not much problem. End of tour.:)

Terry

Excellent explanation, and photo documentation, Terry.
The land plane may have it's place in some relatively dry areas of the country, but the rear blade is the ONLY tractor drawn implement for driveways like yours, and mine.
The wider the blade the better! (I have an 84" with 16" more offset)
I have been using a rear blade for 45 years, and consider that I have become rather proficient with it. Most of that grading time was spent using a blade behind an 8N.
Because I can do such an such an effective job with the blade, I have usually only used it twice each year.
 

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If you ever have a chance to pick up one of these, you will be a happy camper,

Pony Grader.jpg
 

airbiscuit

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How do you drive the tractor and run the grader at the same time? :confused:

Set the tilt (crown)manually, and then it is just a matter of up or down with the 3 point.
 

Buggs67

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Thanks, guys.

DT86,

Yes it does look a lot like SW Virginia around here. Very pretty country.

Terry

Thanks for directing me here Terry. All these threads are an education. Actively looking for a quality used offset-capable rear blade.
 
  
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TerryR

TerryR

Platinum Member
Joined
Jan 5, 2009
Messages
917
Location
Boone, NC
Tractor
JD 870
Thanks for directing me here Terry. All these threads are an education. Actively looking for a quality used offset-capable rear blade.

You're welcome Buggs. My blade is offset-capable, and has an adjustment that allows the angle horizontally to be set which is supposed to be useful for cleaning ditchlines. But can't remember the last time I used either adjustment. I find I get the best results by setting blade to the angle side to side that works, then adjusting to the top link to move the leading corner up or down thus setting the angle across the roadway.

I do wait until the ground is a bit moist so I'm not trying to dig in to hard dry ground. I'm not worried about setting the angle of attack on the blade to cut into hard ground.

I have a 60" blade, and the rear tires are set as wide as they will go on my JD 870 for stability on our hillside, but haven't found the need for a wider blade. I suppose a few more inches might be useful, but it doesn't trouble me enough to think of replacing it.
 
 
 
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