Picking up lots of big-ish rocks

   / Picking up lots of big-ish rocks #31  
A few years ago I had to place a several 400 pound plus rocks. I used the front loader on my Case 580CK backhoe to move them for a distance and got them close to where my wife wanted them placed. I then used chain wrapped around the rocks and the front loader again to lift the rocks, so the rocks were hanging below the loader. Exact placement was pretty easy because I could just steer the machine with the rock hanging below the loader. The whole process was pretty fast. I made sure there were NEVER any body parts in danger of being crushed if the rock came loose of the chain. Even though everything worked out well I would rent a mini excavator with a hydraulic thumb if I had to place more than 15 big rocks. Just because of the time involved. Plus, the mini with the hydraulic thumb is so fast and easy to use I'm sure I could find other jobs to use up the minimum half day rental fee.
Eric
 
   / Picking up lots of big-ish rocks #32  
Rent an 8 ton mini-x with rotating rock grapple like this

1679480255908.jpeg
 
   / Picking up lots of big-ish rocks #33  
Backhoes are excellent for digging out and removing rocks like that.
 
   / Picking up lots of big-ish rocks #34  
So it's not great, it's not on my backhoe right now, but when i needed to place a bunch of broken concrete around a culvert i installed, i bought this $250 'rock grabber' from Northern Tool. They sell it for their towable hoe but i figured out the pin diameter and spacing would fit my small backhoe.

It didn't work exactly like i wanted it to, but it did get the job done that i was doing, and i still have it. Im going to convert the thumb portion to hydraulic but i need to cut out and rebuild the middle section so it will lay back further when 'stowed', and the 'bucket' thing it came with is nearly useless except as the basis for building something better out of. I plan to build a kind of bucket off of it.
3B66252C-69BB-4276-8103-B1213D71B1EE.jpeg
 
   / Picking up lots of big-ish rocks #35  
So it's not great, it's not on my backhoe right now, but when i needed to place a bunch of broken concrete around a culvert i installed, i bought this $250 'rock grabber' from Northern Tool. They sell it for their towable hoe but i figured out the pin diameter and spacing would fit my small backhoe.

It didn't work exactly like i wanted it to, but it did get the job done that i was doing, and i still have it. Im going to convert the thumb portion to hydraulic but i need to cut out and rebuild the middle section so it will lay back further when 'stowed', and the 'bucket' thing it came with is nearly useless except as the basis for building something better out of. I plan to build a kind of bucket off of it.
View attachment 789995

Amazing what people can come up with to complete a job with what they have.
 
   / Picking up lots of big-ish rocks #36  
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


PART-1627763521959-Resized-20210731-151307-1023-S.jpg


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

100-500# rocks are pretty tiny. To me unweildy for a grapple, at least mine (EA wicked). Especially if on hill or slope. Yours with only the 1 top and 2 bottom tines seems better suited.
 
Last edited:
   / Picking up lots of big-ish rocks #37  
I had a mechanical thumb on my BH92 hoe and converted it to hydraulic. I found it only slightly more useful for moving rock and regretted spending the money.
bdhsfz6,

I am going to politely disagree that a hydraulic thumb is "only slightly more useful for moving rock" unless your talking about moving rock from one location to another some distance away. A hydraulic thumb allows me to keep the pressure on whatever I have grabbed ( rocks, logs, upright tree ) regardless of the angle of the bucket. I can roll the bucket all the way out or full curl in and not drop whatever I have grabbed. Great for placing rocks/ slabs into almost any position and place I can reach with backhoe.

I use the M59's hydraulic thumb for adding rock slabs, shingle style, to the creek bank to prevent erosion. The road is too narrow to face to creek with tractor, so tractor is ninety degrees to creek and hoe reaches over bank edge to place rock slabs upright against the bank. Precise work that requires the control/grip of the rock, that only hydraulic thumb can provide.

Rebuilt a road and ditch due to bad water erosion. Used backhoe to place row of upright, shingle style, slabs of rock. Pics attached.

The M59's thumb's hydraulic circuit has a lower relief valve pressure than the bucket cylinder so curling the bucket causes the thumb to move while still maintaining full pressure on gripped item.

I use the grapple to move a bunch of needed rock to the location, then use the backhoe to choose and place the rocks into final position.
 

Attachments

  • Mouthful of Rock.png
    Mouthful of Rock.png
    916.4 KB · Views: 101
  • Bldg site rock.jpg
    Bldg site rock.jpg
    2.4 MB · Views: 112
  • Road-ditch rebuild.jpg
    Road-ditch rebuild.jpg
    4.8 MB · Views: 98
  • Smaller bldg site rock.jpg
    Smaller bldg site rock.jpg
    1.9 MB · Views: 95
   / Picking up lots of big-ish rocks #38  
For a 100 to 500 pound rock, just use the loader bucket and a pry bar/pipe if needed. Depending on how the rock is situated, you can either dig/pry the rock out with the bucket directly, use a piece of pipe or a pry bar to pry it into the bucket, or just roll it into the bucket. I've moved quite a few rocks that size that way.
 
   / Picking up lots of big-ish rocks #39  
I’ve moved a ton of rocks go rent a mini-ex. With a hyd. Thumb done deal!
 
   / Picking up lots of big-ish rocks #40  
I have many many medium to large rocks, ranging from "I can pick this up possibly without getting a hernia" to "I can't possibly budge this", as in 100-500# (I did say "rocks" not "boulders", though some of these may be boulders depending on the definition), that I need to move, and then later place nicely.
Basically, I'm excavating a small pond near our garden, and after I'm done excavating and setting up the pond just right (shaping, then placing a liner) I'd like to arrange these rocks which I've already dug up nicely around the rim of the pond.

Current tools: tractor with backhoe. has mechanical thumb.

I've used the mechanical thumb some, but honestly so far I've found it difficult to use. More often than not, the rocks I'm trying to grab just slip out of the jaws, and it seems like every rock needs the opening set to a different point, and if I choose a different grab angle on the rock, once again I need to change the opening.

Two things I'm considering:
1) cheaper - log/rock tongs. I'm guessing that these most likely will require a helper to use both in picking up the rocks and for precise placement. Log tongs appear to be as cheap as $130 (tsc), but I'm not sure if the 4-pointed version is going to be that useful on irregular rocks or if the points will grab ok on rocks (vs trees where they obviously bite into the bark).
2) more complex - convert my thumb to hydraulic
There's a couple nice threads here about the actual conversion (

I think in the long run I'd really like having the hydraulic thumb, but it may be more work than I'm able to do before I want to get the rocks moved.

So for my actual questions:
- any have any hints for using the mechanical thumb more effectively?
- anyone have experience using tongs for picking up big rocks?
- to be really specific, has anyone with a branson BH76 backhoe w/ thumb converted it to hydraulic?
Consider using a “stone boat” to move the rocks. Google stone boat if you don’t know. It can be built any size to accommodate your needs. The backhoe would be used to roll the rocks onto the boat / sled. It may be a slow go but the lifting is minimize.
 
 
 
Top