1. Thank you for visiting HeavyEquipmentForums.com! Our objective is to provide industry professionals a place to gather to exchange questions, answers and ideas. We welcome you to register using the "Register" icon at the top of the page. We'd appreciate any help you can offer in spreading the word of our new site. The more members that join, the bigger resource for all to enjoy. Thank you!
  2. ALL NEW MEMBERS READ THIS FIRST!! Thank you for joining Heavy Equipment Forums! If you are new to forums we communicate with "Threads", please search our threads to see if your topic may have already been answered and if not then click "Post New Thread" in the appropriate forum. This will allow all of our members to see your question and give you the best chance to be answered. After you've made a number of posts you will graduate to Full Member status where you'll see a few more privileges. Following these guidelines will help make this the best resource for heavy equipment on the net. Thanks for joining us and I hope you enjoy your stay!!

Grading advice for an amatuer.

Discussion in 'Tractor/Loader/Backhoes' started by Desertmule, Sep 20, 2022.

  1. Desertmule

    Desertmule New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2022
    Messages:
    3
    Location:
    USA
    I bought a 3/4 acre lot in the desert. I've rented a JD 310L EP and last weekend I dug/backfilled a 250'L x 4'D trench for power/water. I'll run sewer out about 80' this weekend.

    After that I can start getting things smooth. The surface is very fine dirt/sand(flour), and some baseball sized rocks mixed in. So far I've been able to knock down the high spots on the lot, but can't get a decent, smooth grade on the surface. I've tried bucket flat/steep/forward/reverse. I've been working this lot when it's dry. What can I do to help myself get this smoothed out?

    After that's done I have 40T of type II that I want to use to build up a 30'x50' RV pad. This pad will be in the center of the property, and the ground has a natural crown there. I'll set up stakes/level strings to define the pad area. What's the best method to move this material in so it ends up as flat as possible before I run a plate compactor over it?

    Any tips are greatly appreciated. I'm really fighting this fine dirt.
     
  2. NH575E

    NH575E Senior Member

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2015
    Messages:
    973
    Occupation:
    Retired Machinist
    Location:
    North, FL
    I think you will need to rid yourself of the rocks before you can think about a smooth grade. Since you are renting see if you can get a compact utility tractor with a rock grader and box blade.

    I don't do great at grading with my backhoe but I can get a decent finish by plowing forward with the bucket flat then smooth by backing up with slight down pressure. Float may work better but mine doesn't work on the hoe.

    Anything other than having the bucket flat ends up gouging one way or the other for me. Does the machine have a bucket level rod? Is it adjusted correctly? I depend greatly on the bucket level rod to keep the bucket flat.

    A smaller tractor with a box or grader blade is a better tool for grading.
     
  3. aighead

    aighead Senior Member

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2019
    Messages:
    2,138
    Location:
    Dayton, OH
    Yup, I'm with NH575E. I've attempted a fair amount of grading with the loader and it rarely goes as well as I'd like. I typically get better, more consistent results with the hoe bucket instead of the loader bucket. That being said I went and bought a tractor and blade and it does a much better job of smoothing things out. Some folks say using the bottom curve of the loader bucket, which is also full of weight, works better but I haven't tried it.
     
  4. Tinkerer

    Tinkerer Senior Member

    Joined:
    May 21, 2009
    Messages:
    8,467
    Location:
    The shore of the illinois river USA
    Try back-dragging with the loader bucket flat on the material, as you start to move in reverse tilt the bucket up slightly, it will cause the rear of the bucket to start pulling the material.
    When you get to a low spot in the fill, tilt the bucket down slightly and that will cause it to release the material.
    The float position will sometimes help using that method.
    Depending on the material it may help to have some of it in the bucket for added weight.
    Be patient, it takes a lot of practice to become proficient with a front-end loader.
     
  5. Finca SDR

    Finca SDR Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2017
    Messages:
    246
    Location:
    Costa Rica
    Yeah good grading skills are the mark of a true 10 or 20 year operator. I've only got 5 years on the big hoes and can sort of fake it for customers.

    First thing, the bucket will cut on the same plane as the back wheels. Make sure your back wheels are at the side to side angle you want to work at, otherwise reorient your machine or maybe sweep your tail back and forth a little to adjust the terrain behind you. It doesn't have to be a lot 2-3 meters will give you room to start scraping back and forth.

    It's nice when your bucket has a square back edge. You can drag it back with the bottom flat on the ground and it will cut like a box blade, especially if you put weight in the bucket. My case had a curved bucket back and I welded on a big piece of angle iron to square it up cuz that's one of my most important tools.

    If you don't have a square bucket back you can run it back and forth with the cutting edge straight up and down perpendicular to the ground, to cut off the high spots and loosen some dirt to work with. Then drag the flat bottom of the bucket backwards to smooth it out.

    The flat bottom of the bucket is like an iron that smooths things out and even compacts a little.

    Eventually you can get to pushing forward with the cutting edge. It digs in deep and causes gouges if you aren't careful. So unless I'm removing dirt, I like to keep it tipped upwards just a tiny bit, microscopic like, with the flat bottom on the ground ironing. But you'll adjust the angle as you move once you get used to it. This works well also for spreading out loose dirt or road material, pushing a full bucket of material forward with the overflow spilling off the front, it fills the low spots and compacts it in and even you dump the last bit out at the end and back drag it smooth.

    After all this stuff you generally want to back drag it smooth and then maybe even roll around on it to compact it, depending on the conditions.

    Hope this helps.
     
    aighead and skyking1 like this.
  6. Finca SDR

    Finca SDR Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2017
    Messages:
    246
    Location:
    Costa Rica
    BTW - off topic but what kind of water can you get in the desert? Municipal? Well? Enough for a household or for livestock/crops? Just curious I think there's lots of homesteaders on this site and what to do about water resources are a hot topic these days
     
  7. JL Sargent

    JL Sargent Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2018
    Messages:
    782
    Location:
    Alabama
    Might help to put a little water on it if possible. Also, if time premits, I like to work on it for a while and then let it rest a bit while I look it all over. Then back at it the next morning for example. Dirt work is best done over time and not in a big hurry. Good luck with it.
     
  8. Delmer

    Delmer Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2013
    Messages:
    8,036
    Location:
    WI
    Only things I can add is to finish with back dragging on diagonals, 45 degrees to the way you started, then 90 to that.

    If it's really bad that you have to move a lot still to get close, you have to be able to see where to cut and where to fill. Easiest for me is to do it in the dark with lighting from the side at ground level to show the peaks and valleys.
     
    HarleyHappy, aighead and moosefd like this.
  9. CM1995

    CM1995 Administrator

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2007
    Messages:
    11,643
    Occupation:
    Running what I brung and taking what I win
    Location:
    Alabama
    Welcome to the Forums Desertmule! Glad to have you.

    My suggestion would be to return the backhoe after your trenching and rent a CTL as they are much easier to grade with.

    What is you experience with dirt moving equipment?
     
    Keith Merrell likes this.
  10. skyking1

    skyking1 Senior Member

    Joined:
    Nov 3, 2020
    Messages:
    4,440
    Location:
    washington
    Finca hit upon most of the points I would make.
    you have to have a long enough flat spot to get started, because of the fixed frame and rear axle geometry. If the material is really flour-like and just flows, anyone would have a hard time with that so don't beat yourself about it. Adding water is about the only solution and it is also really easy to overdo it.
    I get that flat spot started, then start cutting forward with the bucket flat and start to load it up till I have a half-bucket full I am carrying/dozing with. That way it fills in as you go.
    The trick is lifting ever so slightly as you work it, because the loose material will pack down under the front tires and your grade will start to go down.
    Once you have that half bucket of dirt don't dump it out, keep dozing and backing up, moving over, repeat.
    Get off the machine to check that bucket angle, and then read the reference for that that you can see from the seat. Get down frequently and give it the ground eyeball, as everything looks a little different from the seat and you don't want to keep doing the wrong thing if you need to make some adjustments.
     
  11. westerner

    westerner Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2020
    Messages:
    135
    Location:
    Northern Arizona
    This applies to far more than equipment operators:D
     
    HarleyHappy, aighead and skyking1 like this.
  12. HarleyHappy

    HarleyHappy Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2020
    Messages:
    104
    Occupation:
    Welder/Mechanic
    Location:
    So NH
    I don’t seem to have a problem grading but maybe I do it differently.
    I will only dump in reverse as it flows out of bucket better
    I use the bucket with a bit of downward tilt to spread any material then using very slight tilt and down pressure to lay flat
    Then I do the full bucket deal and use it like a dozer in bad areas.
    If I am doing a crown I will move hoe to either side for weight distribution.
    I will also back drag using split brakes to really pack it down.
    Very rarely will I use the rear of the bucket as it doesn’t have a wear edge.
    I repair too many buckets by rookie operators who love to back drag with back of bucket.
    That’s what replacement cutting edges are for.
     
  13. Delmer

    Delmer Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2013
    Messages:
    8,036
    Location:
    WI
    If you're putting in driveways everyday, yes. I'm assuming this is a one time project for a homeowner machine, and the bucket will rust out before it wears out.

    Actually, I see it's a rental, even better:D
     
    HarleyHappy, aighead and CM1995 like this.
  14. aighead

    aighead Senior Member

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2019
    Messages:
    2,138
    Location:
    Dayton, OH
    Drive it like you stole it!
     
    Spud_Monkey and HarleyHappy like this.
  15. CM1995

    CM1995 Administrator

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2007
    Messages:
    11,643
    Occupation:
    Running what I brung and taking what I win
    Location:
    Alabama
    Or return the backhoe for a CTL which will be much easier to grade with...:p:D
     
    KSSS and aighead like this.
  16. Tinkerer

    Tinkerer Senior Member

    Joined:
    May 21, 2009
    Messages:
    8,467
    Location:
    The shore of the illinois river USA
    X2 !!! :D:D:D
     
    HarleyHappy and CM1995 like this.
  17. Finca SDR

    Finca SDR Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2017
    Messages:
    246
    Location:
    Costa Rica
    Ha ha I bet the pieces of angle iron that I weld on the back of my buckets cost a *lot* less than a new cutting edge.

    But I don't even know where to buy a new cutting edge where I live. It's just that the local hardware store is literally the closest establishment to my front door so I just buy cheap pieces of metal and welding sticks there and rebuild everything without even thinking about where to buy the proper parts or how much they'd cost.

    One time the cutting edge fell off my deere's bucket in pieces. I welded it back together and got pissed trying to have the bolt holes line up so just finished welding it to the bucket. That was like three or four years ago now.
     
  18. CM1995

    CM1995 Administrator

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2007
    Messages:
    11,643
    Occupation:
    Running what I brung and taking what I win
    Location:
    Alabama
    LOL - Yep that's CR!:D
     
    Finca SDR likes this.
  19. HarleyHappy

    HarleyHappy Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2020
    Messages:
    104
    Occupation:
    Welder/Mechanic
    Location:
    So NH
    While I love the idea of a piece of angle iron on the back of a bucket, I have to weld one on my dads Kubota, it usually easier to teach the right way.
    Rental, beat the snot out of it.
    Once I figured out how to move the material with the cutting edge tipped just so, then back drag with very slight angle and down pressure it was easy.
    While I realize we’re talking about a in and out job, it looks like the OP will need quite a bit of work done and would benefit from sound advice.
    He will need to know how to cross drag and re-cross for good grading purposes.
    When you use the backhoe as a dozer, the bucket full and go slow.
    Actually find it better to back drag fast as it smooths out faster.
    To each his own.
     
    Delmer and Finca SDR like this.
  20. aighead

    aighead Senior Member

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2019
    Messages:
    2,138
    Location:
    Dayton, OH
    I'm confused when you guys say use the backhoe as a dozer? How's the loader bucket oriented in that method?