So you decided the next attachment for your skid steer will be a grapple. Great idea! However, before making that purchase there are many things to consider. These attachments are primarily for picking up and clamping down on material such as boulders, brush, trees, or scrap material, and moving them to the desired location and dumping. They are popular attachments in almost any industry like landscaping, demolition, forestry, and recycling centers. Below we will go over the many grapple options on the market today and what to look for when matching up the one to your machine.
The first thing you will want to decide is which type of grapple is best for the applications you will be confronted with. The most popular of all these attachments is the grapple bucket. This bucket is just like its name, a skid steer bucket with hydraulic grapples attached. These ones may or may not have sides. Some of the buckets have bolts on the sides to give you the best of both worlds. They are widely used for storm cleanup, recycling centers, and scrap yards. They can pick up and secure material and move without spilling any debris.
Next, let’s talk about a root grapple. This one is shaped like a bucket; however, it has tines instead of a solid bucket. These times are spaced 6” apart and secured with reinforcement bars. It works best for moving brush or other debris. The times allow you to pick up the brush while allowing the dirt and soil to fall back to the ground. These grapples are especially used in logging applications and clearing brush. It can also be used as a rake by tipping it forward, moving forward with your skid steer while raking up any material on the ground. Once you are done simply tilt the grapple up and clamp down on its tins to pick-up the debris.
The third style is a rock grapple bucket. This one is again shaped like a bucket but has tines with 3” spacing. The tines form a valley towards the back of the grapple bucket to allow for large rocks to sit without rolling around. This bucket easily allows you to sift through fields picking up large rocks and securing them with grapples and allowing you to transport them to a rock pile. It can also be used in such applications as demolition and storm cleanup.
The last style is the grapple rake attachment. This style has rake tines that allow you to drive forward and rake the ground of material and then secure the load with your grapple for transporting to the brush or debris pile. Used in such applications as demolition or logging.
The next thing you will want to determine is which size grapple will match up to your machine. If you are running a skid steer below 50 hp, you will want to run a light-duty grapple. If you are running a 100 hp skid steer you will want to run a severe duty one. You will also want to know your machines lifting capacity vs. the weight of the grapple itself. Subtract the weight of it from your lifting capacity to determine what kind of weight you will be able to lift with your grapple. Lastly, you will want to at least cover the width of your tracks or tires. For example, if your machine is 70” wide, you will want a 72” grapple. This will allow you to clear all the debris in front of the machine without running it over with the tracks or tires of the skid steer.
Once you have determined the type, and size of grapple attachment you want, the last thing to consider is the construction of it. Make sure the source of the grapple. Typically, you will only purchase those from well-known manufacturers made in the USA with USA steel. My reason for this is the consistency and strength of the metal, better cylinders, and consistent welds. Next, you will want to look for reinforcement. Does the grapple have gussets, wear bars, or other reinforcement? Do they have a heavy-duty mounting plate? These are all very important due to the type of applications grapples are used for. Look at the cylinders. Are they able to be removed in case of failure? A great feature to have is covered cylinders to protect from heavy objects hitting them. Where are the cylinders placed?
Typically, you will want the cylinders to be equally spaced in the center of the grapple tines in grapple buckets, root, and rock grapples. Many manufacturers don’t like this step and put the cylinders towards the outside of the grapple tine. The problem with this is that they can be more easily damaged in that position. Make sure it comes with hoses and couplers. A nice feature is to have the hoses run internally on the grapple keeping them away from any pinch points. Some of them have hose spring savers. These also work to keep the hoses away from pinch points. Check to see if there are areas to add grease to the grapple pivot points. This will allow for optimal performance and stop metal on metal wear.
Right now, I am writing this article during the hurricane season. A popular storm clean-up attachment is a grapple bucket. With the power of a skid steer and a hydraulically operated grapple attachment, the operator can clean up trash, down trees, and other debris left from heavy storms quickly. This setup is the main form of cleanup after storms. These machines can get into areas that were affected the worst quickly to start the cleanup process. This is a blessing to individuals affected by hurricanes as it is the first step in the rebuilding process.
Grapple attachments are handy tools to make easy work in many applications. I hope the above article will help you make the best choice for your next investment in a grapple.