How to blade gravel without 3-point float?

   #1  

NewRodeo

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I just bought the MF 1723E with loader, blade, box-blade. I bought it with the expressed intention of grading my gravel driveway. However, it seems the 3-point hitch does not float. Now every bump and pothole has been multiplied several times. The driveway is far worse than before; one bump becomes several bumps and gouges. The 3-point height is so touchy that it drops or jumps with the 3-point speed turned full turtle. I have tried going backwards too.
What am I doing wrong?

I grew up on fullsized tractors and have years of experience pulling a blade with a JD 4010.
 

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   #2  

RustyA

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Blade is turned to 45* angle when driving forward? Angle top link to not cut so deep if possible. Grade it in the opposite direction forward with blade at 45* in other direction too. Then tilt bucket slightly down and back drag to fill in divots. Don't drop back blade fully down and make more passes. Grade during or right after rain so it cuts more evenly and skips less.
 
   #3  

DMW

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Lower the scarifiers so only they run in the driveway, break up the upper crust of the gravel. Do not turn with them in the stone. After the top layer is loosened up, raise the scarifiers back up, adjust the angle of the box blade so the side plates are parallel to the ground when lowered. Too aggressive an angle, the box blade will dig in stopping the tractor. Not angled enough it will just slide along the top of the stone.
Fill the bucket with gravel, and place in 4WD, it stops the rocking horse motion. Drive slowly as the box blade fills with gravel. You want to power through it, not use speed like a running start. If you hit a snag, it will stop and not damage anything. Going too fast usually ends up bending something. The box blade of a SCUT does not have enough weight to cut into very dry gravel. Best to do after a rain, easier to see the low spots, and decreases dust. The longer a section, the better the finish, for short bits, back dragging with the bucket works better.
Remember, the tractor has more torque, the less you push the pedal. Do not be afraid to use WOT if you have to, they are built to do it.
 
   #4  

nyone

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Scarify it with the box blade and level it with the loader if your 3pt isnt working for you. I find it's easier to place gravel where I want it with the loader and curl the bucket then back drag with the bucket to roughly place the stone then smooth it all out with a box blade that the front is up.
 
   #6  

skipmarcy

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Boxblading is definitely a learned skill and the short wheelbase of a tractor makes it more difficult. You have to learn how to adjust your toplink and feather your 3 pt up & down. A hydraulic toplink is essential to me to get the job done, you'd have to get on/off the tractor many times to adjust the toplink to get the results you want. The suggestions to box at 45 degree angles will also help some but on a narrow driveway it would be difficult.
 
   #7  

Doughknob

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Hi have never heard of a 3 point without float. They all float. They have no down force other than the weight of the implement - definifion of float. You are dropping the lever all the way?
 
   #8  

woody

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A lot of good advice here, but are you using the box blade or the scrape blade because they are used a little differently. I use the scrape blade to clean out my ditches first and then with blade angled toward the right rear wheel I drag the drive down to the end and back up the other side back to the beginning. After that I turn my scrape blade around so it is dragging backwards and go right down the middle. If the ditches don't need cleaning or reshaping just skip that part.
 
   #9  

crashz

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Does the 3pt hitch speed adjustment affect the float too? It might be closed off so much that its blocking movement up and down. Just a thought.

Some pretty good washboard I see on the driveway. The responses above are good, I'd check the level of the box blade when lowered. You may be trying to cut to aggressively and the box is bouncing.
 
  
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#11  
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NewRodeo

NewRodeo

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Several good points made. Thank you.
I did draw the gravel back in from the edges with the blade. I think I now need to switch back to the box-blade.
With the box-blade, the toplink was set to keep it level. With the blade, I may have it too short causing it to cut.
I will try adjusting it on the blade first, then switch back to the box and report back.
 

Midniteoyl

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The 3-point height is so touchy that it drops or jumps with the 3-point speed turned full turtle.
That adjustment controls how fast the 3ph drops, not raises under pressure. If you have it set to too slow, it could make it so the 3ph doesnt float fast enough, or even at all.
 

LD48750

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Agreed, 3pt should be adjusted to full Jack Rabbit not turtle.
 

ROUSTABOUT

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I never use float. Grade a good bit. I use float only on a four bottom break plow with trippers just so I don't have to fool with the trips.
 

DMW

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Always start the run with the box blade as full as possible, stops it from gouging. Keep the 3pt control lever down, and it will follow the contours. If you put it in "neutral" it will stop the box blade from rising/lowering and potentially digging in to the driveway every time you go over a bump. If the blade digs in and stops the tractor, just back up a few inches and lengthen the top link. Small increments until it gets dialed in. The box blade's forte is removing potholes so they don't return. If just dressing the top, a reversed rear blade may work better.
 

Diggin It

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I don't have a BB, but a chain instead of a top link makes all the difference with a landscape rake. The only downward force is the weight of the tool itself. The chain lets it rise freely instead of digging/gouging.
 
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Hi have never heard of a 3 point without float. They all float. They have no down force other than the weight of the implement - definifion of float. You are dropping the lever all the way?
Doughknob, Today, for sure, there are no 3 points except with float only. Years ago, some of the garden tractors had down pressure. What they found out was as the down pressure was exerted, the traction on the rear wheels was diminished and then the garden tractor couldn't pull the fully engaged implement. The solution, of course, was heavier implements - either more steel or adding concrete blocks, etc.
 

workinonit

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I never use float. Grade a good bit. I use float only on a four bottom break plow with trippers just so I don't have to fool with the trips.
If you use a 3 PH you are using float. As has been said mutiple times, there is no hydraulic down pressure, only weight.
 

workinonit

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Those little Masseys don't have draft? Draft takes care of washboarding. Also, I personally prefer a Landplane type blade for grading driveways. They limit how much the blade digs and have a large profile which is desirable when grading. I have 2 boxblades that I hardly ever use unless I need to transfer material from one place to the other.
 

/pine

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For spreading new gravel on a conditioned lane/drive/road etc...I reverse my back blade and shorten the TL...
 

PILOON

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To do grading you need a level base to work from.
What I have found successful is to grade in reverse taking minimal cuts.
In that way the tractor is on a level base so you don't have the 'rock and roll'.
I have spread truck loads of finish over fairly long distances that way.

For that 'hand raked like finish' I reverse my blade and drive forward a few times letting my blade simply float.
Also reversing with a slight angle on the FEL bucket in 'float' will leave that 'raked like' finish.
 

npalen

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Gauge wheels behind a box blade or angle blade make it a more useful tool. A hydraulic top link is icing on the cake.
 
  
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#23  
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NewRodeo

NewRodeo

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Apologies for taking so long to reply.
I was wrong, the Massey 3-point arms do float like others. The attachments are just plenty heavy.
Lengthening the toplink for the blade did make a noticeable difference.
Switching back to the box-blade helped more.
Dragging the reversed blade to smooth will be my next try. I may have to end up buying some sort of drag.

I have concluded that my "gravel" is FAR too powdery. It doesn't have enough bulk/substance or something to get the attachments to float; they just dig.
Guess I need a few loads of good gravel.

2021-09-03_7-35-11.jpg
 
   #24  

blacktruck

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I have concluded that my "gravel" is FAR too powdery. It doesn't have enough bulk/substance or something to get the attachments to float; they just dig.
Guess I need a few loads of good gravel.
Yep, agreed. If it is an old driveway it probably needs a few inches of new gravel to use over the base you have. I'm glad to see the suggestions are working. Keep us posted please.
 
   #26  

fried1765

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Back dragging with the bucket curled works well for loose powdery material.
Back dragging curled, a good habit to destroy the bucket cylinders!
 
   #27  

Maine Hills

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With a box blade the top link adjustment is critical. When moving forward shorten the top link for the box blade to dig in; lengthen the top line for the box blade to "float". As the top link is lengthened the box blade tilts so that the rear edge is lower than the front edge and the rear edge slides over the surface. The front edge only cuts into anything sticking up. Start with a long tip link and the box blade tilted back and then decrease the top link length until the action is as desired.

When moving in reverse the top link length needs to be the opposite. Short for the box blade to float and long for it toe dig in.

For keeping a gravel drive smooth I prefer a "land plane" with several angled blades and the ability for gravel to flow over the top of the blades.
 
   #28  

IndyJay

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With a box blade the top link adjustment is critical. When moving forward shorten the top link for the box blade to dig in; lengthen the top line for the box blade to "float". As the top link is lengthened the box blade tilts so that the rear edge is lower than the front edge and the rear edge slides over the surface. The front edge only cuts into anything sticking up. Start with a long tip link and the box blade tilted back and then decrease the top link length until the action is as desired.

When moving in reverse the top link length needs to be the opposite. Short for the box blade to float and long for it toe dig in.

For keeping a gravel drive smooth I prefer a "land plane" with several angled blades and the ability for gravel to flow over the top of the blades.
Yep, I compare getting that angle right to using a butter knife; are you spreading butter or scraping it off? __)(__
 
   #29  

Bearsixty7

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Back dragging curled, a good habit to destroy the bucket cylinders!
I took it as curl meaning bucket cylinders are retracted and bucket bottom is flat on the ground or the edge is up some, not bucket is dumped all the way around with cylinders fully extended.
 
   #30  

Woodbutcher56

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Hi have never heard of a 3 point without float. They all float. They have no down force other than the weight of the implement - definifion of float. You are dropping the lever all the way?

Hi have never heard of a 3 point without float. They all float. They have no down force other than the weight of the implement - definifion of float. You are dropping the lever all the way?
This is true on most tractors but I have a 50 yr. old Allis Chalmers that has power down on the 3 point arms.
 
   #31  

Frogmore

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I believe (based on the experience of many people here and other tractor forums) that if you spend enough time (and ruin enough driveways) you can get good enough to make things look better when you are done than when you started.

I know the first time I used my neighbors box blade I discovered it wasn't just set it down and go forwards and this was on an already level and flat area. I figured it would take many tens to hundreds of hours to get reasonably good at it. I didn't have the time for that.

I bought a LandPride GS1548 grading scraper. There is a learning curve with it. But even at 0 hours I was getting better results. After 10 or so hours I got good with it. Now, in a couple of hours I can do 1/4 to 1/2 mile of driveway. I use the rippers to dig out any potholes. Then I go over the whole surface multiple times, without needing to adjust the 3PH much at all. This mixes all the material and makes it look like new. My last pass with the GS is at high speed with it lightly grazing the surface. I then follow that with a chain harrow at high speed to smooth it out more. I then drive over it without anything, again at high speed. To compact it a little and because I can, and it is fun to see just how smooth it is.

I am sure there are many people that could achieve similar results with a box blade or rear blade. I do have two rear blades, a standard 5' one and a better 6' one that also tilts and offsets. I use the big one for making/cleaning the edges/ditches. I have used the smaller one for snow. Neither one would do a good job maintaining my drive.

Sometimes it isn't just the operator, having the right tool for the job will make it easier for any operator to do a good job.
 
   #32  

DieselBound

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Frogmore is right, one needs a lot of time on a BB to understand how best to make it work.

I've got a LOT of hours operating BBs and am able to do with it what I need done. The biggest tip that I could give, and I need to constantly remind myself, is to GO SLOW. One doesn't see construction-level grading done fast. It's a lot of adjusting to keep up with the changing surface. I end up running backwards for finish work.

Bonus tip (already mentioned, but worth repeating): hydraulic top link!
 
   #33  

dstriplett

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I have a draft control (which is what I think you are really talking about vs float) on my tractor but I seldom use it. It comes in handy for initial grading but once graded it's easier to me to just feather the blade using the lift control. I'll attach a video link of how I maintain our gravel drive and how I adjust the box blade. You'll get the hang of it after a few tries. As others have said, speed is not your friend here. Probably the most important adjustment is going to be your top link. For a really smooth pass, lengthen the top link and use the rear blade on your box blade to feather out your work. It works like a champ.
 
   #34  

fried1765

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I took it as curl meaning bucket cylinders are retracted and bucket bottom is flat on the ground or the edge is up some, not bucket is dumped all the way around with cylinders fully extended.
My mistaken interpretation!
 
   #35  

smiley

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Unfortunately I don't have a photo of it anymore but years ago I added removable, about 6 ft long, adjustable, angle iron skids, turned up in front bolted to each side of my boxblade. It had a piece of upright angle about 8" - 10" long bolted to the skids just ahead of the blade, with bolt holes an inch apart to adjust blade height up and down. As long as you have some loose material in front of the blade, it does a decent job of leveling.
Smiley
 
   #36  

Graemet

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I use mine at an angle to leave a windrow in the middle, grade both sides like this then turn blade around facing back wards and drop it then run down the drive and it spreads ok normally after rain so not to lose the fines.
 
   #37  

beenthere

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I just bought the MF 1723E with loader, blade, box-blade. I bought it with the expressed intention of grading my gravel driveway. However, it seems the 3-point hitch does not float. Now every bump and pothole has been multiplied several times. The driveway is far worse than before; one bump becomes several bumps and gouges. The 3-point height is so touchy that it drops or jumps with the 3-point speed turned full turtle. I have tried going backwards too.
What am I doing wrong?

I grew up on fullsized tractors and have years of experience pulling a blade with a JD 4010.
The 3pt only floats.. no down pressure. It will only "hold" a position.
You need to adjust the blade to "float" on what material you are trying to spread.
Easiest is to have adjustable wheels on the blade to set for depth of cut.

But turning a blade around and setting it at an angle and making several passes pulling material (gravel) in from the sides to the middle, and then spreading back out with blade set straight across.

Keep playing with it, and you will get it to work the way you want it.
 
   #38  

Hotpot

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My draft control is the key to my box blade use. I was amazed when the results i can get when i discover it. Gravel drives it wroks awesome. Lose dirt is wonderful. i use it on almost on all my box blade work.
A top hydro top link is a must for the Box blade also.
 
   #39  

Katahdin

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I don't have draft control but yesterday re-worked 300 yards of driveway that hadn't been graded in several years. The aggregate is 3/4" crushed concrete asphalt shingle mix.

First I used the aggressive side of a rear blade to angle the edges of the drive back towards center. This put back gravel I had been snow plowing off since winter.

Then I put on the Box Blade and dropped the scarifiers and shortened the top link all the way, then used the lift control to just rake the scarifiers across the driveway with as many passes needed to loosen everything up. I never let the blade touch the driveway with the lift control.

Then I pulled up the scarifiers and extended the top link all the way. This allowed me to pull the BB across the loose gravel to smooth it down.

Final touch was to use the non-aggressive side of rear blade to angle gravel from the side to the center to form a slight crown.

Good results for several hours of work and I only used simple top link adjustments and lift control.
 

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   #40  

JWR

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Hi have never heard of a 3 point without float. They all float. They have no down force other than the weight of the implement - definifion of float. You are dropping the lever all the way?
Quite true -- all 3pt hitch systems I ever saw use hydraulics ONLY to lift and go down on their own only by gravity (or something pulling them down like a plow digging in deeper and pointed downward. Draft control is intended to deal with that secondary downward pull. )
Whatever other issues are involved here are almost certainly a learning curve mentioned by others above.
 
   #41  

Xfaxman

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Quite true -- all 3pt hitch systems I ever saw use hydraulics ONLY to lift and go down on their own only by gravity----------------------------
Now you can see pictures of a 3 point hitch that I built back in 1990 that has down force if needed by inserting 2 pins in the holes:
M 4 Summer 1990.jpg
M 5 Summer 1990.jpg
P2220017.JPG
P2220022.JPG
P2220024.JPG


Downforce works because of the tracks, not rear tires:
M 1 4-1992.jpg
 
   #42  

PILOON

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Back dragging curled, a good habit to destroy the bucket cylinders!
Certainly not in 'float', I've been doing that for years, also I often use light curl 'locked' for some light down pressure.
1600 hrs and no cylinder problems.
Heck I also occasionally back drag with FEL fully vertical and front wheels clear of the surface, kind of back drag dozing. (usually to pull back sand or gravel)
Never have had cylinder damage but then my CUT is an older Mitsubishi, perhaps more HD than newer CUT's.

Only cylinder damage I suffered was a chunk of granite badly scored my lift cylinder shaft causing hydraulic leakage. (new shaft machined by local shop cured that)
 
   #43  

deezler

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If the rear blade and box blade are not floating like you expect, I would also suspect the "full turtle" setting on your 3-pt speed is to blame. Did you try it on rabbit yet? Heavy blades are good, but they do still need to float.
 
 
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