By Mitch Salva,
Arrow Material Handling Products
The Golden Age of the grapple is upon us … OK, so maybe that’s a bit of an over-statement. However, brush and root grapples have earned their place as a mainstay in many attachment collections. Their versatility and ability to attach onto tractors, loaders and skid steers have made the grapple a popular tool.
In order to keep up with demand, many manufacturers have either upgraded, or introduced new brush and root grapples to their product offerings. And while options are always great, the variety of features, materials used, specifications and designs can be a bit confusing.
Here’s what you need to know when purchasing brush and root grapples:
The arms: grapple arms — sometimes referred to as the grapple lid — comprise the top portion of the grapple design, and are what makes a grapple, a grapple. Brush and root grapples most commonly feature one of two popular grapple arm designs: single or dual arm.
Single arm: single arm grapples commonly feature light-duty, single-cylinder hydraulic construction made for smaller, more compact, brush. There are heavy-duty single arm grapple options made to provide more force for heavier more uniform brush. However, both designs struggle with bulky loads.
Dual arm: dual arms are the most popular solution. The use of two independent arms allows for an equal amount of force with the ability to handle non-uniform bulky brush. This design is favoured in the construction of heavy duty brush and root grapples.
The tines: grapple tines support the load being carried like a bucket, but without edge plates or a solid bottom. This allows the grapple to easily carry brush, sticks and logs while leaving dirt, leaves and other smaller debris behind. Be careful though, not all tines are created equal.
Tine spacing refers to the amount of space between each tine. The correct solution usually comes down to the type of debris being handled. Less space (7.5 to 12.5 cm) between tines is better for compact debris. More space (25 to 50 cm) is best for bulky loads like logs or large limbs. Spacing between 15 and 23 cm is a good middle ground.
Some brush and root grapples feature a reinforcement rod running the width of the attachment to support the tines as they dig into the ground. This is largely a benefit, as it protects against tines bending when pushed against rocks, roots and stumps. As well, it increases the lifespan of the grapple.
The quality of steel in a brush and root grapple is critical, especially when in heavy use. An initial investment in a grapple made from heavy-duty steel saves money in the long run, as it will last longer, need fewer repairs and maintain its value for years to come. The differences between light and heavy-duty steel are:
- Feature Grade 30, or lower, 1 cm or thinner steel
- Lightweight (weighs 317 kg or less)
- Low capacity (less than 794 kg)
- Feature Grade 50, 125 mm or thicker steel
- Heavier (weighs 408 kg or more)
- High capacity (more than 1,135 kg)
It’s the little things that count
Greasable hinge pins – The movement of the jaw as the grapples open and close is kept in place using a hinge pin. In many grapples, this pin makes direct contact with the hinge eventually causing wear and increased friction decreasing the lifespan of the attachment. A greased hinge pin ensures the hinge does not come in contact with the pin.
Hydraulic cylinder guards – Brush and root grapples are subject to a lot of high impacts and abuse and that abuse can be damaging to the hydraulic cylinders. In order to protect the cylinders from damage some manufacturers include cylinder guards.
Hoses and Couplers – Not all manufacturers include hydraulic hoses and couplers with their brush and root grapples. Ensure your quote includes this feature.