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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I worked on a farm road yesterday. While it's a lengthy road, that's not a problem. The problem is a section of it has a fairly steep grade going through woods and it was cut through hillsides so water tends to funnel into the road.

I had rolling dips and water bars put in the road a few years ago and those have made a big difference but periodically have to be maintained, which is mostly what I was doing yesterday with my JD790 loader and rear blade. Some significant ruts had also developed over the winter and those needed regrading.

So, in some sort of organized fashion I took the rear blade and set it to move stuff to the outside with little cutting action. That let me get leaves and debris off the side of the road because from experience, I know that you can't get a decent grade with organic matter in the way.
Then I would push out the exit ditch from the water bar or rolling dip. Some of those are a bit dicey as they have trees on both sides and exit into a steep bank. Roots also come into play so frankly, I was doing things with the 790 that are on the edge of what should be done. Just to make matters more interesting, I"m using a rear blade that's designed for a bigger tractor so if I set the top link so the cutting edge cuts, I've got little ground clearance.

Once the debris was off the road and the ditches cleared, I would rebuild the crown so that water would flow off the road.

Finally, some of the waterbars had gotten degraded by trucks and farm machinery so I tried to rebuild those with a combination of crushed rock and the dirt/soil that was coming out of the ditches.

While I was mostly successful in the areas I worked yesterday I asked myself a few times- "Self, why are you doing this with a 30 hp tractor with less than stellar hydraulics when you should be using a tracked skid steer with a six way blade?". The only answer I could come up with was a lack of :gizmo:.

If money was plentiful, said skid steer would definitely be on site with six way blade, bucket, grapple and maybe even a land leveler/plane. I don't see that happening in the near future but maybe a short term rental the next time I have to do this. Tracks would be nice both for traction and to make it easier to hold a grade.

While I've run a skid steer some, I know there are folks on here with lots of experience. Have any of you used one to build or maintain a farm road with significant grade? What size?

Except for the steepest sections the road is about 20' wide so getting a crown takes multiple passes with the 790 and the blade I can pull with that. A wide blade would be very helpful in those areas but too wide to clean out the ditches. In some cases, I only had a few inches of clearance on the 5' loader bucket.

Maybe I'm just thinking the skid steer is better than the reality so if anyone has used one for this purpose, I'd appreciate your comments.

Treefarmer
 

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When reading what you are doing I immediately think road grader instead of skid steer. But a grader is kind of a machine that is really only useful for one purpose where a skid steer is much more universal.

I come across a lot of things over the years where I think like this - how much better a job I could do with the proper machine or implement. But being poor I have to work with what I have. Brings out the creativity in ones self and can usually get done what needs to be done.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Grader would be nice

When reading what you are doing I immediately think road grader instead of skid steer. But a grader is kind of a machine that is really only useful for one purpose where a skid steer is much more universal.

I come across a lot of things over the years where I think like this - how much better a job I could do with the proper machine or implement. But being poor I have to work with what I have. Brings out the creativity in ones self and can usually get done what needs to be done.
A grader would be nice except parts of this are tight if I had to turn it around. I'm probably just wishing to wish and I can get done what needs to be done with what I have but. . . there's always another to. . . hm, important and needed piece of equipment out there. I really do wish the hydraulics on the 790 had more umph, particularly the loader curl cylinders. I'm used to being able to curl the bucket slightly to maintain a grade and if the ground is sticky at all, I just get the hydraulic squeal. I don't need more lift but a better curl function would sure be nice.

I won't even talk about the 2-3" diameter hickory tree that was in the way of opening up another diversion ditch. I pushed it, I dug around it, I hooked a chain to it and like tar baby, it's still there. It's pretty beat up and won't live but it's still there. Hickory is good wood but this one was right where it needed to go. . . Oh well, this fall I should be able to push it out of there and finish the ditch. I may give it another try tomorrow and see if it will come out. Might even take an old rim with me and run the chain over the rim to get some lift and pull. I would just cut if off but would still have the root to deal with.

Like you say, being poor forces you to think about alternatives that are affordable. On the other hand, if I had money I could just hire someone but then I would miss all the seat time. Besides, the one guy I would like to hire has retired. Too much time on dozers took out his back but man, was he good.

Treefarmer
 

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It is not fair to compare your one ton machine with any 3-4 ton machine, like a skid steer.

My landplane is a miracle on the type road you describe, WAY better than a skid steer.
BUT, the reason it does so well is that I have a 5 ton tractor in front of it.

If I only had my JD 4105, I would be boo-hooing that the landplane is worthless.

If I did not have the heavier IH tractor, I would be buying a Harley rake to take care of the driveway,,,
 

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For doing leveling work or steep long grades a skid loader is the answer. For crowning a driveway perhaps they would do ok with a 6 way blade but I was shocked when I used a box blade on how much better and faster it was. Not even comparible. I think part of it is dragging vs pushing, when pushing a blade or bucket they have a tendency to dig in making it hard to keep it smooth, once it digs in there are soft unpacked spots that even when leveled are not compacted causing wash outs. When pulling a bucket or box blade they dig but are more even pressured and not a prone to bitting in.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Heavier is better

It is not fair to compare your one ton machine with any 3-4 ton machine, like a skid steer.

My landplane is a miracle on the type road you describe, WAY better than a skid steer.
BUT, the reason it does so well is that I have a 5 ton tractor in front of it.

If I only had my JD 4105, I would be boo-hooing that the landplane is worthless.

If I did not have the heavier IH tractor, I would be buying a Harley rake to take care of the driveway,,,
LOL, one of the issues I have is that farm is 50 or so miles away and I'm limited in the size tractor I can haul. If it was closer to home, I could use bigger tractors although a couple of spots would have to be widened.

I think I would probably take my tractor over a wheeled skid steer but a tracked skid steer is a different animal.

A land plane would be good for regular grading but wouldn't help much cleaning and reshaping the diversion ditches. Those are key to keeping the road in shape as I have to keep water from running down the road. I'd really like a land plane but it's probably on the lower part of the wish list.

Lots of choices, they only take money. Too bad it's so hard to get and so easy to spend, lol.

Treefarmer
 

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Discussion Starter #7
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For doing leveling work or steep long grades a skid loader is the answer. For crowning a driveway perhaps they would do ok with a 6 way blade but I was shocked when I used a box blade on how much better and faster it was. Not even comparible. I think part of it is dragging vs pushing, when pushing a blade or bucket they have a tendency to dig in making it hard to keep it smooth, once it digs in there are soft unpacked spots that even when leveled are not compacted causing wash outs. When pulling a bucket or box blade they dig but are more even pressured and not a prone to bitting in.
I have a box blade but decided to take the rear blade so I could more easily move material from the side to the crown of the road. The last full reshaping of the road was done by a master on a dozer with a six way blade. He was hired by a logging company after they totally screwed up the road. I didn't know him at the time and met him at the gate with frankly a questioning attitude. After watching him for about a half hour, I was completely confident in the result. He was awesome on that machine, much, much better than I'll ever be.

Fortunately, if I have the time to work on it I can keep it in shape but sometimes a bit more machine would be very, very nice. My box blade is only a 5' so on much of the road that would mean 4 passes. It would have been just the ticket on some areas that had washed and had ruts but the tractor loader and rear blade pretty well fills up my trailer. I think it's been almost 8 years since the road was reshaped and except for some exceptional rains in the last month, it's held up really well with the occasional touch up.

Ah, well. It's fun to dream.

Treefarmer
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Finished for now. . .

After two full days, I finished what really needed doing. Diversion ditches cleaned out, water bars rebuilt with a combination of stone and gravel, ruts smoothed out etc. Since I was going back and forth anyway, I hauled about 6 tons of stone much of which went to rebuild a stream crossing. The first couple of tons went down very nicely. When I showed up with the second load, the river had flooded the stream so I just had to dump that load close to where it was needed. I checked today and it's under almost 4' of water. Oh well, the rock will be there when the water goes down. Normally the stream crossing is about 3-4' above the level of the river but rains last week brought the river up big time.

This link isn't at my location but I can use it to know what's going on with the river:

https://waterdata.usgs.gov/nwis/uv/?site_no=01674500

I've had enough seat time for a while.

Treefarmer
 

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While working on my severely neglected property (previous owners), I questioned why I got the bigger tractor first, versus the skid steer. With the skid steer, I have equipment that I can actually see, can go on much steeper slopes without fear of tipping or flipping, faster hydraulics and a much nimbler machine. And I have a lengthy driveway to maintain along with a transition road through hills and timber that I have to build. For work that I need to see, I use the skid steer; for grading the drive, I use the 7’ box blade because it does a better job, as previously noted, due to the pulll versus push action.

I know this is a mostly tractor site but my skid steer is used for chores, clean up, maintenance, heavy duty mowing (brush), hill work and is my first choice of equipment for most duties. If it’s field work, obviously it’s the tractor but the rest seems to be the skid steer. It doesn’t hurt that the skid steer has AC either....

Ultimately you have to safely use what you have. I had wanted a skid steer for twenty years but couldn’t get one until recently. I survived and did accomplish what was needed. So yes, it would have been awesome (and quicker) to have had one twenty years ago but, through some thought, effort and creativity, I got by. And when, or if, the day comes that you can get one, you’ll appreciate it all that much more, as I do.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Well said

While working on my severely neglected property (previous owners), I questioned why I got the bigger tractor first, versus the skid steer. With the skid steer, I have equipment that I can actually see, can go on much steeper slopes without fear of tipping or flipping, faster hydraulics and a much nimbler machine. And I have a lengthy driveway to maintain along with a transition road through hills and timber that I have to build. For work that I need to see, I use the skid steer; for grading the drive, I use the 7’ box blade because it does a better job, as previously noted, due to the pulll versus push action.

I know this is a mostly tractor site but my skid steer is used for chores, clean up, maintenance, heavy duty mowing (brush), hill work and is my first choice of equipment for most duties. If it’s field work, obviously it’s the tractor but the rest seems to be the skid steer. It doesn’t hurt that the skid steer has AC either....

Ultimately you have to safely use what you have. I had wanted a skid steer for twenty years but couldn’t get one until recently. I survived and did accomplish what was needed. So yes, it would have been awesome (and quicker) to have had one twenty years ago but, through some thought, effort and creativity, I got by. And when, or if, the day comes that you can get one, you’ll appreciate it all that much more, as I do.
Is your skid steer wheeled or tracked? When the time comes, I'm really thinking I will want tracks because much of the time I would be off road but they are more expensive to buy and maintain. My wish list would include a bucket, grapple, 6 way blade. My ultimate wish list would include a forestry mulching head but that's probably never going to happen due to the high dollar skid steer required and the cost of the head itself. Plus, those are heavy enough that transport would be a problem.

Thanks for the comments.

Treefarmer
 

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Is your skid steer wheeled or tracked? When the time comes, I'm really thinking I will want tracks because much of the time I would be off road but they are more expensive to buy and maintain. My wish list would include a bucket, grapple, 6 way blade. My ultimate wish list would include a forestry mulching head but that's probably never going to happen due to the high dollar skid steer required and the cost of the head itself. Plus, those are heavy enough that transport would be a problem.

Thanks for the comments.

Treefarmer
Wheeled. I’m going to upgrade the wheels to tweels when I have time.

I rented a tracked machine (319e) before I bought. Loved it. What a machine. But it was $15K more than a wheeled version. Also, I plan on using my 318e in the field (pick up bales) and for that work, it turns quicker.

I got both machines stuck in mud. I have three dry creeks but the mud is like quicksand. I had to have my wife pull me and the 319e (track) out with the tractor while I got out on my own with the 318e (wheel). This was hilly terrain. On the other hand, tracks are hands down, way, way better in surface mud (not the muck I got stuck in though!) and hills. I slip and slid on the wheels but they’re not great tires. Still, tracks are awesome.

High flow machines don’t cost that much more. A lot of attachments can’t handle the high flow hydraulics. And that mulucher head? That’ll blow the budget for three years.... I looked at renting a machine and muncher head and it was $1000/day.

They are cheaper meachines out there but I watched some comparative videos on YouTube and JD has some of the best hydraulics. I can attest to that. And I can pick up stuff I never dreamed I would be able to with the 318e and it’s just a mid sized frame.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
As long as I'm dreaming. . .

Wheeled. I’m going to upgrade the wheels to tweels when I have time.

I rented a tracked machine (319e) before I bought. Loved it. What a machine. But it was $15K more than a wheeled version. Also, I plan on using my 318e in the field (pick up bales) and for that work, it turns quicker.

I got both machines stuck in mud. I have three dry creeks but the mud is like quicksand. I had to have my wife pull me and the 319e (track) out with the tractor while I got out on my own with the 318e (wheel). This was hilly terrain. On the other hand, tracks are hands down, way, way better in surface mud (not the muck I got stuck in though!) and hills. I slip and slid on the wheels but they’re not great tires. Still, tracks are awesome.

High flow machines don’t cost that much more. A lot of attachments can’t handle the high flow hydraulics. And that mulucher head? That’ll blow the budget for three years.... I looked at renting a machine and muncher head and it was $1000/day.

They are cheaper meachines out there but I watched some comparative videos on YouTube and JD has some of the best hydraulics. I can attest to that. And I can pick up stuff I never dreamed I would be able to with the 318e and it’s just a mid sized frame.
Well as long as I'm just dreaming, the tracks don't cost any more. It's only when the dream is faced with the financial realities that cost becomes an issue. I have rented a Bobcat and mulcher head which wasn't that bad a few years ago. We had it for a week and it was no where near the cost you were quoted. It may have been before the dealers realized the maintenance on that setup. Running it 8 hours a day it sucked fuel though but of course the mulcher head requires pretty much rated rpm.

Oddly, I've never been on a Deere ss. I've run that Bobcat with the mulcher, a couple of different Cat machines and a Case for a couple of hours but never a Deere. That's a serious lack of experience on my part, I'll have to figure out a way to get a few hours on one.

I see machines running tracks over wheels, both steel tracks and rubber tracks. I'm not sure of the implications of those but I would think a machine built for tracks would certainly be better. On the other hand, you can get the tracks that run on the wheels for a couple, three thousand and have the option of running wheels when you don't need the track flotation. Maybe someone with experience can chime in.

Thanks for relaying your experience. It's nice to hear what others are doing and maybe avoid an expensive mistake.

Treefarmer
 

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Aftermarket tracks over wheels are a pain. If a tire goes flat or requires a dismount, you’re disassembling the track and if the conditions aren’t ideal, it’s not fun. My builder friend had a Bobcat 863 with those tracks and twice I helped him deal with wheel issues when it was 15 degrees with a howling wind. He since went to a big tracked Bobcat and no longer has those issues.

I tried renting a Cat with mulcher head from Altorfer. They were complete donkeys but use the other word. It was a big machine and included delivery. I was going to rent for three days. I called, emailed and personally visited the Springfield store asking when the machine would be ready but always got the answer “we’ll call you when it’s available”. When never came. My Deere dealer said that was typical. So I used that money for most of my first annual lease payment so I guess I can thank them for that.

Regardless, rent before you buy. I preferred the 318e but everybody is different.

And I am seriously looking at the track conversion kit because outside of running in the alfalfa field, tracks would be awesome.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
You've got me thinking

Personally, I see many more farmers going the skid steer route, over a CUT or LCUT. For a given amount of dollars, a skid steer will generally do much more.
Hmmm, I've got to think about that. I really, really like my 790 but it's tempting to think about selling that and going to a tracked skid steer. I'd still have to pony up significant change but selling the 790 and implements would take the top off the cost.

Think, think, think. . . that's a hard one.

Treefarmer
 

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Hmmm, I've got to think about that. I really, really like my 790 but it's tempting to think about selling that and going to a tracked skid steer. I'd still have to pony up significant change but selling the 790 and implements would take the top off the cost.

Think, think, think. . . that's a hard one.

Treefarmer



Just keep in mind regardless of tracks or wheels, a skid will destroy soft soil / lawn. That may or may not be relevant to you.


Another relevant piece of equipment if you have maneuvering room is a telehandler.


About the only downside is that if you're financing either, you'll need a registered farm/business (unlike a 1/2/3/4 series JD).
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Not a lawn machine

Just keep in mind regardless of tracks or wheels, a skid will destroy soft soil / lawn. That may or may not be relevant to you.


Another relevant piece of equipment if you have maneuvering room is a telehandler.


About the only downside is that if you're financing either, you'll need a registered farm/business (unlike a 1/2/3/4 series JD).
LOL, the lawn issue doesn't really matter to me. Right now the only mower behind the 790 is a 5' Bushhog. It does an OK job around the farm but it's not really a lawnmower.

A business is also not really an issue. I can finance it no problem. It's the paying for it that's the problem. Lots of credit available, small amounts of :gizmo:. I don't want to ever mix up the two and think just because people will lend me money, it's a good idea.

Thanks for the telehandler idea. They are also cool machines but considering the multiple uses I'd probably stick with a skid steer. I've never run a telehandler but like running an excavator. If money wasn't an issue, I'd have both a skid steer and an excavator and be busy as can be for a few years at least.

Lots of good ideas and comments from people. I'm reminded just how easy it is to spend money on this stuff but I still appreciate the help, lol.

Treefarmer
 

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I just traded my 2016 4066M that I had for 1 year for a 2015 318E skid steer. I had the SS for 6 weeks testing it before the trade!!! While they are totally different machines designed for totally different tasks, I decided for me the SS would be a LOT more handy to have. dirt work, moving round bales, pushing brush, and building fence are mainly what I use it for. So far I am super happy I made the trade. Yes there are some things the tractor is better for, but as a whole it's a better fit for me, And the Father In Law has a 5065E if I need the tractor.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Your're making it harder. . .

I just traded my 2016 4066M that I had for 1 year for a 2015 318E skid steer. I had the SS for 6 weeks testing it before the trade!!! While they are totally different machines designed for totally different tasks, I decided for me the SS would be a LOT more handy to have. dirt work, moving round bales, pushing brush, and building fence are mainly what I use it for. So far I am super happy I made the trade. Yes there are some things the tractor is better for, but as a whole it's a better fit for me, And the Father In Law has a 5065E if I need the tractor.
Your tasks are similar and in addition, I have tree work- building fire lines, moving brush and a lot of farm/forest roads to maintain. I could put a dent in a lottery prize in a heartbeat. Skid steer with grapple, forestry mulching head, six way blade, bucket, forks etc. Excavator. . . truck and trailer to haul both.

Man, a jackpot just doesn't go far at those prices, lol.

Treefarmer
 

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I'd actually argue in your case a skid is much better suited for the job. Tractors are notoriously "delicate" underneath, until you get "up there" in size, whereas the smallest skid steer is basically designed to be abused with plating underneath that resembles that of a Sherman tank. I've done some things with the 3k skid I used to occasionally rent that I wouldn't ever dream of doing with my 2 series (or a 3 series, if I had it my way).

Still, nothing quite like hopping on a high-up tractor seat. :greentractorride:
 
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