Thursday, April 23, 2009

Grading a driveway – Part 1

I got a new rear blade (7’) for the tractor this week, half hooked it up last night, and then decided to get a little grading done today. I’d never hooked up a blade before or graded a driveway, so this was an experiment.

I researched last year how to grade, learned a few things (go slow, small cuts), but that’s a long way from doing it. I don’t have the links right now, but I need to research some more links, learn a bit more, and give it another go.

Hooking Up

I’d never hooked up a blade, but it’s a standard 3pt attachment. I hooked up the bottom arm, just holding the blade up and slipping them in, but when I went to hook up the middle arm, the extensible one, it didn’t reach.

I’d gotten the assembly roughly level, which is a mistake. I went in the tractor, lowered the rear arms, and then the blade bent forward. From here I could easily hook up the top, middle arm, then start the tractor, raise everything, and work on getting things level. I left the blade slightly leaning forward for today.


On the right rear arm of my tractor there’s an adjustment to raise of lower that part of the 3pt harness. I lowered mine so that the right side of the blade was lower, giving me an angle to dig in with the edge. My thinking here was that since I had some ruts in the middle where the tires go, and stuff has pushed to the side that I’d first set myself up with a little ditch there (1-2” deep) and then gradually smooth things out.

I also adjusted the blade so that the outside (right here) was further forward. That should push things into the middle of the road, which is where I want to build up to get the crown.

My first start up the right side of the driveway dug in a bit much, even going slow and fiddling slightly with the height, so I got out and made it less of an angle and then went down again. That pushed some stuff to the middle, but not nearly enough. That’s OK, I didn’t expect two passes to do it.

The 2nd time I came back down the left side, again trying to cut my ditch as a point of reference. This side has some worse places, but I didn’t want to get crazy. I also changed the blade to be more level and went up the right side again. 3 passes on the S upslope of my driveway and that side started to look a little better, but I’d guess I want 5-6 more passes on there at least.

The next trip I angled the blade the other way, left side lower, changed the forward angle so it was left side forward, and went up the S upslope like that. It appears to cut in more, but this side has quite a rut and rivulet, so I'm not sure where to go from here. I’ll read up a bit more before I cut too much in there.

Things I Learned

Aside from hooking up the blade, I learned that I can’t jerk the wheel. I found some nice swoops that made it look like a drunk was driving in places. I need to look back and forward, swiveling my head, but not adjusting the wheel unless I’m looking forward.

I think I also need to get more level blade and evenly push more to the center. Right now I’m so angled that after a foot or two the dirt falls under and doesn’t get to the middle.

Next Steps

It’s supposed to rain Sat and Sun, so I might a bit more tomorrow and then I might be stuck until Mon or Tue.

I also should take some pictures and diagram a little of the property. With a driveway running into a valley, I have multiple upslopes going both ways, so it will be a lot of starting in the middle and working my way up.

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