Picking up lots of big-ish rocks

   / Picking up lots of big-ish rocks #21  
You want a grapple in my opinion. Backhoe isn't the greatest for transport even if you can hold the stone, and your bucket and jaws aren't large enough for anything irregularly shaped. Having the attachment on the loader also allows you to watch forward as you are working, which is more comfortable. Plus with a grapple you can drop the stone, roll it, pick it up again to get the profile you want when placing.

I have a mechanical thumb on my excavator, and it's a piece of cake. But, that's an excavator. I won't bother putting a thumb on my tractor backhoe, the machine isn't big enough for it to be useful in my opinion, especially since I have a grapple already. If you were to convert to hydraulic, that's even more weight that will be taken away from the already relatively modest lifting capacity.

I have an Everything Attachments compact grapple, with a single lid. For stone work, single lid will be better for you I think. I can pick up anything from the boulder in the photo, to something the size of a grapefruit, and anything in between, without getting off the seat. I think the lid opens to a little more then 3 feet.

Edit: I also have a set of log tongs I modified with angle iron to use for rocks. Those don't have the right geometry to pinch the rock tight enough, and rocks slip out all the time. They are nice at times in that they can hang off the tip of a fork, or the backhoe. If you construct a set or purchase some with longer upper arms so they pinch tighter that would be better than mine. But that said, with the grapple I have now, the tongs haven't seen use in years. But if money is an issue with getting a grapple, tongs will probably get you along good enough with minimal investment.

But if you can swing it, I would recommend you get the grapple and a third function WR Long or equivalent valve with the switch on the loader handle. Even beyond this project they are very useful.
 

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   / Picking up lots of big-ish rocks #22  
Hard to beat a grapple for transporting. Transporting 0.5 to 1 mile would be a pain with an excavator but placing them would be a dream.

Have dug, transported and placed a few with the Danuser Intimdator. Side gripping gives good bottom side placement options.

Have used a chain/pipe to choke and bite to lift or drag stones.

Have a few menhir or standing stones.

Farm has the remains of horse drawn stone boat. Large foundation and chimney stones of the homestead log cabin stand testament to the ability to move and place large stones before hydraulic oil was invented.
 
   / Picking up lots of big-ish rocks
  • Thread Starter
#23  
You want a grapple in my opinion. Backhoe isn't the greatest for transport even if you can hold the stone, and your bucket and jaws aren't large enough for anything irregularly shaped. Having the attachment on the loader also allows you to watch forward as you are working, which is more comfortable. Plus with a grapple you can drop the stone, roll it, pick it up again to get the profile you want when placing.

I have a mechanical thumb on my excavator, and it's a piece of cake. But, that's an excavator. I won't bother putting a thumb on my tractor backhoe, the machine isn't big enough for it to be useful in my opinion, especially since I have a grapple already. If you were to convert to hydraulic, that's even more weight that will be taken away from the already relatively modest lifting capacity.

I have an Everything Attachments compact grapple, with a single lid. For stone work, single lid will be better for you I think. I can pick up anything from the boulder in the photo, to something the size of a grapefruit, and anything in between, without getting off the seat. I think the lid opens to a little more then 3 feet.

Edit: I also have a set of log tongs I modified with angle iron to use for rocks. Those don't have the right geometry to pinch the rock tight enough, and rocks slip out all the time. They are nice at times in that they can hang off the tip of a fork, or the backhoe. If you construct a set or purchase some with longer upper arms so they pinch tighter that would be better than mine. But that said, with the grapple I have now, the tongs haven't seen use in years. But if money is an issue with getting a grapple, tongs will probably get you along good enough with minimal investment.

But if you can swing it, I would recommend you get the grapple and a third function WR Long or equivalent valve with the switch on the loader handle. Even beyond this project they are very useful.
I have a hard time imagining placing large rocks on a rock wall with a grapple. Placing an individual rock onto an open area yes, but if you're trying to place a 250# rock right next to another similar rock, it seems to me that the grapple would have to drop it at a certain point and that could be a problem.

My rocks are all almost where I want them now; I actually just need to drag them away from a work space, do more work, but then carefully place them.

So far, I think I may try some augmented tongs first (like $100-200) and then most likely rent a mini-ex ($350-400 for a day here) for careful placement.
 
   / Picking up lots of big-ish rocks #24  
A rental would make more sense for a small job but id also suggest you just modify whatever you have until it does what you want. There's no rule saying you can't add metal to the end of your thumb or cut and weld the last 6 inches on at a different angle, etc. Having a power thumb would be nice but just making the one you have better at gripping what you actually try to grip with it, is an equally sound investment of time and probably a lot less time if you're already intimately familiar with hydraulics.
 
   / Picking up lots of big-ish rocks
  • Thread Starter
#25  
A rental would make more sense for a small job but id also suggest you just modify whatever you have until it does what you want. There's no rule saying you can't add metal to the end of your thumb or cut and weld the last 6 inches on at a different angle, etc. Having a power thumb would be nice but just making the one you have better at gripping what you actually try to grip with it, is an equally sound investment of time and probably a lot less time if you're already intimately familiar with hydraulics.
I've wondered if simply strapping some horse stall mat rubber to the thumb may not help a bunch! Like, cut some and wire it on really tight, expecting the rubber & wire to be destroyed every once in a while.
 
   / Picking up lots of big-ish rocks #26  
I have a hard time imagining placing large rocks on a rock wall with a grapple. Placing an individual rock onto an open area yes, but if you're trying to place a 250# rock right next to another similar rock, it seems to me that the grapple would have to drop it at a certain point and that could be a problem.

My rocks are all almost where I want them now; I actually just need to drag them away from a work space, do more work, but then carefully place them.

So far, I think I may try some augmented tongs first (like $100-200) and then most likely rent a mini-ex ($350-400 for a day here) for careful placement.
My excavator is better, and has stronger bite, but I have built walls with my grapple. With stones much heavier than 250 pounds at times. You bite it with the corner, set it in place, then release. A wider double lid grapple would be worse than my narrow single lid for that particular purpose.

But if you don't have regular use for a grapple (would shock me for anyone that owns a tractor, but who knows), then rental of a mini x would make sense for you. Certainly if your only purpose is building walls a mini x is going to be a better tool.
 
   / Picking up lots of big-ish rocks #27  
You could dig them out with the backhoe (if they need digging), stage them with pallet forks or bucket, and then use the rental mini ex to place them.
 
   / Picking up lots of big-ish rocks #28  
A minix is the best for pick up and placement. I would load them in the tractor bucket with the x and dump them close to placement and then use the x to place them accurately.
If you have time I am sure there are cheaper ways
 
   / Picking up lots of big-ish rocks #29  
Your issue is going to be placement...not really getting them out in my opinion. Getting them out you could use pallet forks, a bucket, maybe even something to push them into a spot. However placing them is going to require more precision.


If you can get them out of the way with what you have you could rent an excavator with a hyd thumb to place them. It would be much faster.
All that's needed is adding a grapple to the pallet forks, then you can precisely put them any place you want.

PART-1627763536131-Resized-20210731-150521-5220-S.jpg


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Plus there's a zillion other uses for that combo.

SR
 
   / Picking up lots of big-ish rocks #30  
Many years ago; 400 lbs was easy for me to
pickup but 19 years behind a desk and now
I can still handle the 80 lb cement bags but
if I get a rock to big for me to push into the
bucket I use a strap and winch it in.

willy
 
 
 
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