Poor man (ok, cheap sob) wants a land plane grader/scraper

   #1  

deezler

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Hey folks. Seeking some TBN wisdom on a land plane.

We built our house in 2015 and ended up with around a 1000' of gravel driveway. I put in most of the driveway base myself by hauling many a dump trailer load of 2-3" crushed concrete, and getting deliveries of similar sized limestone. Since then we've thinly top coated it all a few times with 3/4"-minus, but I prefer CLEAN stone to that with fines in it. Yes, it moves around some, but looks real nice, never pot-holes, and most importantly (to me), never sprays or splashes my vehicles with muddy water.

I usually re-work the gravel a few times per year with my basic rear 6' blade, and manage to do an ok job smoothing it out and re-shaping my crown. But my rear blade can only pull straight when reversed for gentler action (it doesn't have holes for angles in reverse, oy). And the 6' blade doesn't fully cover my tractor tire tracks at full angle. So a new 7' scraper blade is also on the future wish list, but for now I am thinking of how to BEST maintain my gravel driveway. A land-plane seems like the single best tool for this type of work. I think I will go 6' wide to match my tractor (30 HP, ~3600 lbs) and be able to fully cover my driveway width in two passes.

They seem like a simple implement, just a few basic pieces of steel, so I hit the googler and find out.... they START at around a $1000 ?!? And good ones are closer to $2000? oof. I don't have $1000+ to drop right now, at least without some major consternation by the wife. I wish I had a welder and some welding knowledge so that I could try to build one myself, but that's not in the cards right now.

So here's my current thinking. Buy the cheapest 6' land plane I can find. For all my searching, that clearly seems to be the ATV grader made by dirt dog.

Dirt Dog Manufacturing >> ATV Equipment - RGV

Cabellas ATV Road Grader

sR2i5rg.png


Cabellas has gift cards on sale for 10% off right now, meaning I could stock up on gift cards, wait until xmas, and buy myself a nice present of a 6' scraper for just ~$555. But of course, this model doesn't have a 3-pt hitch frame. Next brainstorm: just buy a 3-pt carry all (typically available on craigslist every now and then for cheap, theres one for $75 right now) and bolt this ATV scraper onto it.

At just under 400 lbs, it's a bit light. I would probably find a way to add 100-200 more lbs of weights to it also, to ensure a decent bite.

Any thoughts? Hope this doesn't sound too stupid. Yes, I would rather have a heavy duty, purpose built land plane, but if it means waiting until I have $1500 to throw around, it may never happen.

Here's a section of my driveway right after it received a nice layer of 3/4" clean limestone.

KBi8ds5.jpg


My tractor: Yes I have this 6' box blade on hand too, but I have found it a very poor driveway tool. It just picks up and scrapes off all the gravel, or leaves washboards if I try to feather it.

CLlo4T8.jpg
 
   #2  

ruffdog

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Do you have access to a long heavy duty wood skid? Depending how you angle them as you drag them, you can move gravel laterally. Experiment with added weight to dig more front/back. Also, change the attachment point to the tractor to pull up or straight.
 
   #3  

fried1765

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Hey folks. Seeking some TBN wisdom on a land plane.

We built our house in 2015 and ended up with around a 1000' of gravel driveway. I put in most of the driveway base myself by hauling many a dump trailer load of 2-3" crushed concrete, and getting deliveries of similar sized limestone. Since then we've thinly top coated it all a few times with 3/4"-minus, but I prefer CLEAN stone to that with fines in it. Yes, it moves around some, but looks real nice, never pot-holes, and most importantly (to me), never sprays or splashes my vehicles with muddy water.

I usually re-work the gravel a few times per year with my basic rear 6' blade, and manage to do an ok job smoothing it out and re-shaping my crown. But my rear blade can only pull straight when reversed for gentler action (it doesn't have holes for angles in reverse, oy). And the 6' blade doesn't fully cover my tractor tire tracks at full angle. So a new 7' scraper blade is also on the future wish list, but for now I am thinking of how to BEST maintain my gravel driveway. A land-plane seems like the single best tool for this type of work. I think I will go 6' wide to match my tractor (30 HP, ~3600 lbs) and be able to fully cover my driveway width in two passes.

They seem like a simple implement, just a few basic pieces of steel, so I hit the googler and find out.... they START at around a $1000 ?!? And good ones are closer to $2000? oof. I don't have $1000+ to drop right now, at least without some major consternation by the wife. I wish I had a welder and some welding knowledge so that I could try to build one myself, but that's not in the cards right now.

So here's my current thinking. Buy the cheapest 6' land plane I can find. For all my searching, that clearly seems to be the ATV grader made by dirt dog.

Dirt Dog Manufacturing >> ATV Equipment - RGV

Cabellas ATV Road Grader

sR2i5rg.png


Cabellas has gift cards on sale for 10% off right now, meaning I could stock up on gift cards, wait until xmas, and buy myself a nice present of a 6' scraper for just ~$555. But of course, this model doesn't have a 3-pt hitch frame. Next brainstorm: just buy a 3-pt carry all (typically available on craigslist every now and then for cheap, theres one for $75 right now) and bolt this ATV scraper onto it.

At just under 400 lbs, it's a bit light. I would probably find a way to add 100-200 more lbs of weights to it also, to ensure a decent bite.

Any thoughts? Hope this doesn't sound too stupid. Yes, I would rather have a heavy duty, purpose built land plane, but if it means waiting until I have $1500 to throw around, it may never happen.

Here's a section of my driveway right after it received a nice layer of 3/4" clean limestone.

KBi8ds5.jpg


My tractor: Yes I have this 6' box blade on hand too, but I have found it a very poor driveway tool. It just picks up and scrapes off all the gravel, or leaves washboards if I try to feather it.

CLlo4T8.jpg

Don't do it !!!!

You NEED a conventional design rear blade!
Anything else will be a cheap, inadequate, POS!

The blade for you is:
The Everything Attachments Deluxe 6-Way Scrape blade, to maintain your crown.
You would likely find the 72" version to be very satisfactory, due to it's off-set capability.
Take a look at the EA online demo video.

I have the EA 72" version,.....after first buying an off brand blade, and then an 84" King Kutter blade.
Don't do as I did, or you will also have 2 unused blades sitting around.

The (72") ETA-6-VALUE-SB sells for $939 incl. shipping, and is worth every penny, when compared to whatever else you can find on the market.

Find a way to raise the cash!
You will thank me for the remainder of your grading days.
I should probably work for EA,.... but I do not!

I pull my 72" EA blade with my 32HP Ford 1920, and it does a beautiful job!
Everything Attachments..... 1-866-581-5818
 
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   #4  

ruffdog

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But the OP said "I don't have $1000+ to drop right now,....."
 
  
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deezler

deezler

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Thanks RuffDog. Yeah I could experiment with a variety of dragged things behind my tractor, but what I am looking for is a guaranteed way to quickly refresh my gravel, ideally in a single pass, leaving perfectly neat edges on the drive. I'll search for a pic of someone else's results using a land plane to illustrate.

Fried, I do have a rear scraper blade as I mentioned ( I know, my posts are always too wordy). It does do a decent job of reworking my gravel, have had good success with it so far, but a land plane could make it that much more efficient. And I do want the EA 6-way blade. I'll probably buy their 7' version for my next tractor, that I hope to upgrade to eventually (Kioti ck3510 if I can swing it next year).

Here's a crappy pic that I found in a quick search of my photos, to show my rear blade. Is juuuuust barely doesn't clear the tires on one side when angled all the way, which really irks me when clearing snow.

7WSeCm9.jpg
 
   #6  

powerstroke444e

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I have a 48" landplain by land pride and it does a great job as I don't mess up the crown and I am able to keep up speed most of the time. With teeth down or wrong angle it will stop my tractor b26tlb with 1,200lbs of foam in tires I still can lose traction. Spend the money get the right tool and don't go to big you will regret it.
 
  
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deezler

deezler

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Gordon Gould and MtnViewRanch probably post the most pics of their roads before/after land plane work. This is what I want to achieve, a single or double pass to get a perfectly neat driveway egde and totally uniform gravel distribution.

https://www.tractorbynet.com/forums/attachments/340014-land-leveler-post4174652.html#post4174652

430959d1435317505-land-leveler-cornerlpgs1-jpg


The basic rear scraper blade is a wonderful tool in it's own right. But when using it on loose gravel, what happens? It windrows all your material and you can actually have spillage on both ends of the blade. The most frustrating thing I've encountered in working my gravel is accidentally spilling gravel OUT of the driveway into the grass. That sucks. The beauty of a land plane, it would seem, is that the tall sides contain all your material, and the low blades scrape it up but then toss it right over into an even spread. No finessing required, basically. Just drive forward.
 
   #8  

ruffdog

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.... what I am looking for is a guaranteed way to quickly refresh my gravel, ideally in a single pass, leaving perfectly neat edges on the drive.

Yes, land planes or land levelers are great tools to control edge spill-over and to create a center crown, but, to do this with one pass? Most videos will show many passes with scarfiers to loosen the gravel, then, many passes to achieve the final grade.
 
   #9  

DL Meisen

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I manicure my drive way several times a year with a screen harrow.... It is a 8 foot section of 5 foot wide chain link fence folded over in half with a steel bar across fold and chain to attach to tractor and filled with half dozen large (25 pound) rocks.... It you don't let driveway get to bad it's easy to maintain, been doing it this way for almost 12 years.... Still smooth and easy to navigate, but sadly I may have to add more gravel in near future as it is getting pretty beat down.... Best part of all, everything was free to make harrow....

Dale
 

bcp

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Put a tail wheel on your rear blade.

blade-tail-2.jpg
blade-tail-1.jpg


Bruce
 
  
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deezler

deezler

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Yes, land planes or land levelers are great tools to control edge spill-over and to create a center crown, but, to do this with one pass? Most videos will show many passes with scarfiers to loosen the gravel, then, many passes to achieve the final grade.

Yes perhaps the "one pass" idea is somewhat naive, BUT, perhaps plausible on my driveway. Because, I have never added any fines to my gravel mixes, just clean stone. There is a good amount of loose gravel on top and it doesn't tend to get too compacted. I don't plan to use any rippers on it, or even want a land plane with rippers. I still have my box blade with rippers should such aggressive repairs ever be necessary.
 

powerstroke444e

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The next best tool to a landplain is a large roller to compact or settle the gravel find old asphalt roller and make it a pull behind. Also the one pass idea is great but I have found 2-4 times a cross and it holds up better. Then roll it.
 

MAD777

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I'm in a similar situation. I have a 7' Everything Attachments 6-way rear blade and love it for plowing snow on my Kioti CK2610HST.
I would call it an economical way to get a jack-of-all-trades attachment. Well it may not be the best tool for any one thing, it has sufficed. I do use it to maintain my four hundred foot long gravel driveway how about this coming spring, I am going to bite the bullet on EA's Landshark land plane.
I'm on a mountain side where there's plenty of leveling to be done and the land plane with scarifiers, in combination with the rear blade can get me to where I need to be.
 

oosik

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Of all my implements - it's the LPGS about 10% of the time & the rear blade about 90% of the time. My goal - to establish & maintain a reliable driving surface. I have NO desire to create a pool table. My gravel driveway is a mile long. It has a few lumps & bumps. During the rainy season there are a couple puddles. I can live with this.
 

Rustyiron

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Go find some hardwood 4x6 about 10' long. Cut in half for 2 5' pieces and bolt one to each side plate of your box scraper. Cut a 45* angle on each end (s) and see what you get.
Many years ago on a subdivision job there was a landscaper who did this grading for lawns. This was way before harley rakes and land plains and worked very well. There's a lot of beauty in simplicity and common sense.
 

fried1765

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But the OP said "I don't have $1000+ to drop right now,....."

I know he did!
I simply suggested that he try to dig deeper (in his pocket)!
 

rgr33

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Lately I’ve come to appreciate the “buy once, cry once” method of purchasing tools and equipment that I know I value, and will be needing and using on a consistent basis.
I understand the budget factor, but I wonder how happy you will be with less quality. Many of the cheaper substitutes that I have tried in the past, are long gone now, at a substantial discount to the buyer. No money was saved in the long run.
 

Gordon Gould

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If your surface material is just loose rock and not gravel that packs the back of your rear blade should work pretty good. If you can't turn the blade around 180 you could just drive backwards. With the straight edges you say you want you have to be turned around backwards anyways watching the blade all the time with a hand on the controls making continuous little adjustments. This is 3/4" crushed ledge. Spreads nice with the back of the blade.

RoadWork1.JPG

Or make a wooden drag like a landplane. RustyIrons idea sounds good too.

gg
 

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It appears to me you already own a perfectly adequate solution; the box blade. It seems what is lacking is the technique to use it effectively.

That only costs practice, which is free!

If you aren't happy with the box blade because it's not as effective as a land plane, then I can't see how compromising on the land plane is going to be any better. It's just going to give you two implements you are unhappy with.
 

pmsmechanic

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Now I'm going to throw a real curve ball into the discussion.

Go to a pick a part. Find a front wheel drive vehicle with a solid rear axle. Bring the axle home complete with rims and tires. Buy about 30' of 2.5x2.5" square tubing. 1/4" wall would be good. Cut the square tubing in to 2 equal length pieces. Attach the tubing to the axle in an "A" shape by bolting/welding, whatever. Attach your box blade in the center of the "A". Make a good swivel hitch that attaches to the 3 point arms. Use the three point to control the depth of cut with your box blade. Now you have a very controllable grader that will level your driveway very nicely. Use differences in rear tire air pressure to angle the blade enough to put a crown in the road. If you bolt the box blade to the "A" frame you can unbolt it to use on the 3 point as originally intended. Chances are that once you have used it as I described you'll like it enough in most situations that you'll rarely go back.

That should fit your budget till you win the lottery.
 
  
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deezler

deezler

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Well this thread has not particularly gone as I expected! Thank to everyone for your contributions, good discussion here.

There seems to be a lot of nuance in regards to driveway maintenance. I've always enjoyed reading everyone else threads where a simple question yields a dozen different opinions on how to best accomplish the job. But somehow I still thought everyone here would support my desires to get a land plane! You guys are telling me not to buy an implement? Weird, haha.

In case it's helpful. My situation:
- Just want to quickly refresh my loose gravel surface periodically. Not to rip up my base, not to fill in any holes (don't have any), not to move a bunch of material. Just "refresh" the surface.
- My drive is already pretty smooth and even, with a nice crown. I just want to keep it looking pretty, haha.

I don't understand how the box blade could be good at this. If you drop it all the way down, it just pulls and scrapes up material until the entire box is full. That's what it's for. Trying to keep it just barely off the ground means any small bumps or undulations in the driveway surface ahead of it make it move up and down with the rest of the tractor, as it is carried on the 3-pt. The beauty of a land plane is that you let it ride the ground, and it can't hold much material - it evenly deposits whatever it scrapes up, with no fussing required.

The basic rear scraper blade does work well for me though, it's what I've used for the last 5 years. I do still need a better rear blade, so maybe this implement upgrade should jump ahead of a land plane on my list.
 

CoyPatton

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Sounds to me that you want to dress your drive much as I used to dress the infield when I and I my children played softball/baseball.
I used a drag harrow (homemade). It consisted of chainlink fencing. It was attached, when I could get chunks, old electric poles,often I could get these from the local electric company (for little to no cost as a friend’s children also played ball with mine). Some times additional items were added to the fencing to increase aggressive of the drag (usually in spring when grass wanted to take over). Generally it worked well for during season maintenance.
 
  
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deezler

deezler

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^ yes, "dress" could be considered the right verb here.

I have indeed thought about taking a scrap piece of chain link fencing and making a basic drag. However my dilemma is: how do I get it turned around once I get up to the road? Ideally I want something attached to the 3-pt such that I could lift it, back up to the paved road edge and pull towards the house. If I had to keep a drag attached behind the tractor, I would need to take a wide U-turn in the grass adjacent to the driveway, and miss the short part right by the road. And if I weight the fence-drag down with logs/rocks/blocks, I wont be able to manipulate it by hand, only drag it along. Maybe I'm over thinking this.
 

MtnViewRanch

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Here is the frame work to lift the chain.

I think what some people are telling you in not so many words is not to spend very much $$$ on something that is not what you really want-need.

For an interim thing to get by, maybe a few hundred $$$.:confused3: But other than that, you are simply throwing money away.:wink:

Save up and get what you want-need. Don't throw good money away . :thumbdown:

Good luck. ;)
 
  
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deezler

deezler

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Ooh, you just gave me a good idea. A 3-pt carry all frame could also be rigged with chains to suspend a section of chain.

For those of you that have pulled chain-link or drag-harrows over gravel before, how well does it work? Does it accumulate much material, and spill any over the front/sides? Does the chain section squirm and dance around, or stay pretty well planted straight behind?
 

bcp

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To just "dress" the driveway simply turn your rear blade backwards and drive forward. Or use your box blade with the top link adjusted long so the front blade doesn't cut.

Bruce
 
  
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deezler

deezler

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To just "dress" the driveway simply turn your rear blade backwards and drive forward. Or use your box blade with the top link adjusted long so the front blade doesn't cut. Bruce

Only problem with the rear blade idea is that even when backwards, I can get spillage of gravel out the ends. Which means I have to stay away from the driveway edge. Hence why I was thinking that a land plane with closed, boxed sides would allow me to run right down the edge for a very clean cut/dress.

My upper 3-pt link is a real bear to adjust, it's all rusty and beat up. Lengthening it enough to get the front box blade at least an inch or two above the rear edge isn't really feasible. Maybe that's another problem I should solve soon.
 

RSR

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If you're getting spillage out the sides of your box blade, I would posit you are taking too deep of a cut.

The extremely limited knowledge I have in using a box blade has reinforced to me that going slow and being patient (not overly aggressive) gives the best results and is much faster.

Adjusting the top link correctly for what you are trying to do makes a HUGE difference on results too.
 
  
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deezler

deezler

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If you're getting spillage out the sides of your box blade, I would posit you are taking too deep of a cut.

No, spillage from a straight rear scraper blade. Spillage out the top/sides of a full box blade is some heavy duty scraping. Done it with light, dry dirt but not sure my tractor could do it with gravel.
 

RSR

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No, spillage from a straight rear scraper blade. Spillage out the top/sides of a full box blade is some heavy duty scraping. Done it with light, dry dirt but not sure my tractor could do it with gravel.
Ahhh, makes sense now. I must have misread the post.
 

Underdog57

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Deezler: I think you're on the right track, I think a good Land Plane is what you need. And while your at it spend an additional $250. On a hydraulic top link, (money well spent, especially for grading)
 
  
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deezler

deezler

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Deezler: I think you're on the right track, I think a good Land Plane is what you need. And while your at it spend an additional $250. On a hydraulic top link, (money well spent, especially for grading)

Ha, I was just thinking how bad I wanted top and tilt. My tractor doesn't have any hydraulic remotes, though..... next one definitely will.
 

MF243RedTop

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Sounds like the first thing you need is a new quality top link, make sure it's long enough for letting it out for the box blade.
Then some time on the box blade using the rear blade going forward. It will do a nice job, when adjusted out.
By that time you can save $$$ and hopefully buy a quality landplane. JM2C...
 

old and tired

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...My tractor doesn't have any hydraulic remotes, though..... next one definitely will.
Why get a new tractor, add the remotes to yours. Have you ask the dealer if they have a kit for 2 rear remotes? If you don't think you can do it, ask him how much to install them... (If I can add them, ANY one should be able to).

Rear blade in reverse and angled to dump excess in the middle... final path after pulling from the 2 edges, is flatten out the middle crown (or just drive over the middle to pack it down). I could not use a land plane, too many large rocks / base material (or not enough top coat).
 

metalbender

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One pass with a land plane does not complete the job. I usually make four passes on my 1/2 mile gravel drive. The land plane does not carry material, therefore will not fill up. The surface is refreshed by the material flowing over and being redistributed by the low blades. My blades are set about a half inch below the sides.
 

DL Meisen

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Apply the KISS principle ... (Keep It Simple Stupid)..... To surface dress you only need a drag harrowed and you don't even need to lift it with all the fancy booms or forks or what ever on 3PH....

A harrow has been mentioned many times, can be made for FREE or at very little cost, try it first before going expensive or exotic.... Drag harrow has worked for me for 12 years and for first 9-10 years only had a JD riding mower to tow it with....

Dale
 
  
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deezler

deezler

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Cub Cadet 7305, Kioti CK3510seh TLB
Thanks for all the recent posts. Solid advice.

And good news! I actually already had another top link laying around that had come along with one of my used 3-pt attachments some years back. It looked kinda bent and rusty so I had tossed it aside in the barn and never gave it another thought until yesterday.

But! After a quick clean up and lube, it spins way nicer than my original one. And luckily, extends to several inches longer. Way beefier overall.

New one installed, old one laying on top for comparison:
myhiRKJ.jpg


I promptly extended it way out to tip my box blade way back. First test:
OriDHKM.jpg


This is just one pass down each side, done for now!
OFtToDb.jpg


So using the box blade did slice off a good bit of my crown in the interest of smoothing and dressing everything. Once I get the rear scraper blade put on to handle snow plowing (if winter ever shows up here), I can pull the gravel back to the middle and then feather it back into a crown.

Anyway, I will call this a victory and try not to be sad that I don't get to buy another implement. :laughing:
 

RSR

Platinum Member
Joined
Nov 29, 2017
Messages
609
Location
North Country, NY
Tractor
LS XR4145HC
Looks great! You can do a lot with a box blade if you can get it adjusted correctly.
 

BackRoad

Platinum Member
Joined
Apr 30, 2020
Messages
682
Location
Rural PA
Tractor
Kubota MX6000, MF 35
Opening a new pub...

Naming it..."The Crown & Ditch"...

...the two most important words to a highwayman!
 
  
  • Thread Starter
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OP
deezler

deezler

Elite Member
Joined
Jan 30, 2012
Messages
2,565
Location
Southeast MI
Tractor
Cub Cadet 7305, Kioti CK3510seh TLB
The ditch and crown.... I like that. I'm a firm believer in good ditches, even though mine rarely ever flow any water.

I had to go and open my mouth to say something about winter ever arriving....

uGeSYpU.jpg


Glad I got it graded out first. Although it got kinda squishy after snowing all day yesterday, maybe an inch of equivalent water precipitation for 2" of slush.
 

fried1765

Super Star Member
Joined
Jan 6, 2015
Messages
10,206
Tractor
Kubota L48 TLB, Ford 1920 FEL, 8N Ford, Gravely 12 HP "Professional", 48" SCAG Liberty
The ditch and crown.... I like that. I'm a firm believer in good ditches, even though mine rarely ever flow any water.

I had to go and open my mouth to say something about winter ever arriving....

uGeSYpU.jpg


Glad I got it graded out first. Although it got kinda squishy after snowing all day yesterday, maybe an inch of equivalent water precipitation for 2" of slush.

A beautiful looking driveway !!
 

Jim in ICT

Gold Member
Joined
Nov 29, 2009
Messages
347
Location
Wichita, Ks. metro area
Tractor
Kubota B7800HST
I've used everything from a box blade, to a straight blade, and landscape rake, which actually worked fairly well ( and was cheap). Finally broke down and bought a 5' Land Pride land plane. Works really well. We have a lot of local housing developments going up this summer, so I'm doing a bit of finish grading to justify the cost.
 
 
 
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