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Grapple or Thumb

Discussion in 'Demolition' started by Wolf, Aug 28, 2007.

  1. Wolf

    Wolf Senior Member

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    Do you guys prefer working with a grapple or a bucket with a thumb for doing demo? Which is your preference and why?

    What do you see as the advantage or disadvantage of each?

    Any favorite tricks when wrecking with a grapple or thumb? Please do share.

    Thanks, guys.
     
  2. PSDF350

    PSDF350 Senior Member

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    No experiance. But having said that I do think a grapple would give greater control at grabbing and ripping things apart. Also being able to lift and move more akward(sp) shapes by getting better grip.
     
  3. rino1494

    rino1494 Senior Member

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    Never used a grapple but have done quite a bit of demo with a thumb. A thumb works just fine for demo.
     
  4. digger242j

    digger242j Administrator

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    I've never used a grapple either; only a fixed thumb. And it worked fine. (Especially after having done a few with just the bucket, and no thumb.)

    For those of us unfamiliar with grapples, do both sides of the grapple move, as with a bucket and hydraulic thumb setup, or is it a case of the "thumb" side of the grapple being fixed, and only the "bucket" side moves, or do they come in both varieties? Inquiring minds want to know... :confused:
     
  5. Nac

    Nac Senior Member

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    I have used both a grapple and a bucket thumb combo. For demo purpose a grapple is much better much more hd and can grab more at a time. With the thumb and bucket combo wen working with heavy items or items you have to pry out or uneven it put a lot of stress on the thumb. I have rip 2 tumbs right of the stick loading shot rock.
     
  6. tylermckee

    tylermckee Senior Member

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    Never used a grapple but ive used a thumb and it works just fine, but i could see a grapple having its advantages.

    We are putting in a 50 lot development right now that is a big rock, had blasters in there for 5 months shooting and drilling. havent had a thumb rip off yet, and i dont see how one would. moving rock for ~30 foot cuts and fills, all the storm sewer and water, set a 20 foot sewer manhole today. Just goes through a lot of teeth and grease.:beatsme
     
  7. Wolf

    Wolf Senior Member

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    Grapples Popular on the East Coast

    Do you think it's a geographic thing---using a thumb or a grapple for demo? It sounds like grapple is big on the East Coast. I remember they used to use clamshell buckets on big old cranes for demo on the East Coast in the old days too.

    Maybe I'm imagining things and geography doesn't make a bit of difference.

    Great replies though. I'd love to see the answer to digger's grapple question posted by somebody too.

    Thanks, guys.
     
  8. Truckie

    Truckie Senior Member

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    Digger I will try to answer this the best I can.
    If you have a 3 - 2 prong grapple it is something like this.
    The back part of the grapple with the 3 teeth stays stationery and is held in place with a stiff arm mounting, it can be moved to 3 different positions by pulling the pin and re setting it.
    The front of the grapple which has 2 teeth is the part that dose all the moving. It is mounted to the front cylinder like a bucket is.
    Here is a picture of the on we use at work.
    I will try and get some better pictures of it for you guys.
    I am not at work today so give me another day and I will post some better pictures for you.]
    I hope you can see the basics in this picture of how it moves and mounts.

    Mike
     

    Attached Files:

  9. mtb345

    mtb345 Well-Known Member

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    i perfer the thumb because both ends are working pieces as with the grapple one side is fixxed so when i m loading demo stuff at ground level into those trailors that are 30 ft tall i can control the angle of material to be loaded i was running a 330 at the time that same machine can take whole 30in dia trees and rip it clean off the ground i can load 3ft rip rap into bucket without dirt that hdro thumb makes my job easer :cool:
     
  10. Truckie

    Truckie Senior Member

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    Here ya go Wolf a few more pictures.
    Digger hope these answers your question.
     

    Attached Files:

  11. Wolf

    Wolf Senior Member

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    Great Pictures

    Thanks for the great pictures, Truckie. A picture is worth a thousand words, and these pictures explain beautifully what you wrote.

    That is an awesome looking grapple, I might add. It just wreaks of power.

    Cool stuff.


    :usa
     
  12. fhdesign

    fhdesign Well-Known Member

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    I'm also in the northeast, and in my area it seems most demo companies prefer grapples and excavating companies prefer thumbs. All my experience is with a thumb.
     
  13. mikef87

    mikef87 Senior Member

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    Thumbs are nice if you have to move a big rock or when your going use it for a few minutes. I have all grapples I feel there stronger and better for demo.
     
  14. Wolf

    Wolf Senior Member

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    Dude:

    What kind of demolition are you doing? What kind of buildings do you get to knock down, and what kind of equipment (hoes/grapples etc.) are you using to do that demo? Thanks, man.
     
  15. mikef87

    mikef87 Senior Member

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    I don't do it to often, mostly old warehouses a few houses. I have a Cat 320 a Cat 345 and a Komatsu PC600 with grapples. A cat 235D with a shear. I have an old Hitachi EX300 thats pretty banged up I use it mostly to load the crusher, because the pumps are tired on it. One job I had i rented a Cat 385 from the local cat dealer to take down a building. Most of my work is utilities and site work.
     
  16. Wolf

    Wolf Senior Member

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    Nice, bro. Hit 'em hard!
     
  17. grubber

    grubber Member

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    For what its worth

    I've used both. In my opionion the grabble sucks on machines that are larger than 65 to 70 thousand lbs. The grapples stationary side is to thick and hard to pick up smaller objects. Mostly, I don't like it because your visibility is limited when picking things up, you can't see behind the stationary side of the grapple. My setup is a rake with a thumb, it serves a similar purpose like the grapple. The ability to grab a lot of stuff at one time is limited with a standard bucket. Hope this helps.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 5, 2009
  18. Demoguy324

    Demoguy324 Well-Known Member

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    Operating engineer, Local 701, Specializing in scr
    Location:
    Ridgefield, WA
    I have used both grapples and thumbs, and in my opinion, if you have a grapple, you are wrecking, handling large/bulk material, or loading trucks. they work best on larger machines. and with an experienced enough operator, you can in fact do some fine picking. at the last company I worked for, buckets/thumbs were unheard of. we had some darn good operators who could pick fine wire with a grapple. the standard 3-2 tooth box grapple can't be beat for heavy demolition work, there are limited parts to break (I.E. Keepers, teeth, cylinders, hoses)

    up until about 2 months ago, i had never used a hydraulic thumb, it does have it's place, however I don't care for the fact that it's hard to hold your scraper beam tight, because you have 2 cylinders one always wants to push the other one, (generally the bucket cyl pushes the thumb cyl.) although I love loading trucks using a hydraulic thumb over a grapple, because you can fold it up at any time and get it right out of the way. I also like the thumb/bucket combo for doing brick demo, because it's much easier to scoop brick than it is to pinch it.

    I have also learned the value of a bucket's ability to do fine picking...though I still run my thumb like a stiff arm grapple most of the time: keep the thumb fixed, put it behind what you're picking and bring the bucket to meet the thumb.

    finally I feel that a grapple has more of a use when picking from a concrete slab, but with a bucket you need to be able to actually get under the material a little in order to get a good grip.

    so. both have their place, and a good operator can make efficient use of either one he is given. it really all depends on the particular situation. unfortunately, most contractors pick one and stick with it, I haven't seen too many that use both thumbs and grapples

    Eric
     
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2007
  19. tylermckee

    tylermckee Senior Member

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    when im doing a lot of fine picking, or something using the thumb a lot i generally keep the thumb out and bring the bucket to the thumb. For one, you have more control, with a thumb switch its either open or close at full speed, and two is its just faster. I can pick up a glass bottle with the thumb, while on the other hand ive seen guys that couldnt pick up a concrete catch basin riser with the thumb. they dont think to gently curl the bucket instead of slaming the thumb closed
     
  20. Cat420

    Cat420 Senior Member

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    I used a Kubota mini-ex that had a sliding switch on the joystick that allowed complete variable control of the thumb. I would assume similar options are available for larger machines.

    I was able to pick up a piece of sidewalk and with it pinched between the bucket and thumb, rotate the whole thing until it was standing up straight to be buried, all without exerting excess force against the bucket or thumb cylinders.