Click each picture for a closer view
With hydraulic lift, it was quite easy to trip the bucket, then lift the tractor so that the weight of the whole front end of the tractor is bearing down on the cutting edge of the bucket. While this was a bit of a "wild ride" going down the hill on just the bucket and back tires -- no steering --
this worked great for slicing the slope down and loosening the dirt for hauling away. See Figure 13. Though it's not apparent because of the loose, rutted dirt, the tractor was actually sitting there with the front tires 4"-6" off the ground. Talk about hydraulic down pressure! With the engine idling, I could lift
the front of the tractor up and down with a touch of the hydraulic controls.
Note also that the gray thing in the right corner is a walnut tree with a piece of railroad tie leaning up against it -- this shows just how steep the slope was at that point. I couldn't climb back up the hill at this point (too steep) so each pass required that I drive all the way around the barn and
house, and come back down. My neighbor, Jim (a club member, nickname of "seniormoment") saw and heard me "playing" and stopped by. He posed for a picture just to show how steep the slope was that I was working on. See Figure 14. He also saw how much fun I was having -- so he went home, got his larger, 16hp
twin-cylinder Ingersoll (i.e. Case) and snow/dozer blade and came back to help grade this slope off. He graded much of the remaining slope down with his larger tractor, while I "hauled" the material and spread it using the Johnny Bucket Jr. You can get somewhat a sense of how much I had cut off the slope when Jim arrived by looking at Figure 15. Note that these walnut trees have likely grown up where squirrels buried walnuts in the refuse pile. Also, for a perspective, that's a railroad tie sawed in half, leaning against them.
By scooping from piles of loose material pushed to the bottom of the slope, I also tested the limits of what the hydraulic lift could handle. I found that it could lift and carry a bucket full of just about anything -- I even hauled two old clothesline poles cast into concrete bases (more of the
"buried treasure" that I unearthed). But, I found that a bucket full of "dirty pea gravel," with dirt and gravel combined, was just at the upper limits of my hydraulic lift's capacity -- it strained and took a few moments to lift it. I also found that while it could readily carry a bucket completely full of material, that it strained it heavily to lift the bucketful out of the
side of a larger pile. In these cases, pushing into the pile until the bucket filled, then lifting the bucket up as I backed out seemed to work best. I certainly got to learn how to "transport material" -- it's "advertised" purpose -- with this bucket.
The next few pictures try to show how much dirt was moved. Figure 16 shows the depth of the fill in some places, where I was covering downed trees/limbs, and firming up a swampy mess. This was early on, when I was just starting the
project. Figure 17 and Figure 18 show just how large are areas I filled, to help sense how much soil was moved. Figure 17 is just extending the area that was started in Figure 16, but note the filled "road" area to the right of the tractor. In Figure 18 the tractor was not moved -- this is how far into the woods the road goes. These pictures also provide a good view of the overall work site, where the soil was coming from, how far it was hauled, and
where it was put. What is not visible is the area to the left of the graded slope where the "clean fill" was being placed to blend the slope in with the contours of the neighbors' lots.
The 1" ground clearance when the bucket is fully raised and tripped is a great setting when spreading clean fill -- you spread a 1" layer then drive up onto it and continue spreading. Consequently you're not getting your front tires bogged down in deep, loose fill, making it hard to steer. To
add more depth, just take another pass over the same area on the next trip. However, with the debris that I was moving, it would have occasionally been nice to lift the tripped bucket higher to clear a rock or brick that I had just dumped. Instead, it pushed this larger object and left it lying at the end of the pass. Note also that the bucket doesn't work very well to pull
backwards and smooth out material that you've spread. (I think a regular snow or dozer blade works much better in reverse than the bucket.) Pulled backwards, there is no "sharp edge" or corner on the bucket to cut off the higher spots -- so it "floats" over objects quite easily, unless you apply intentional down pressure.
Figure 19 shows a wider view back into the woods, and where the "road" goes to the left of the parked tractor. There's an old stone foundation for a carriage house back in the woods, on the left side of this new "road." I want to access
this foundation to haul some stones out for use in retaining walls and terraces that I'm building. Previously, I'd get stuck every time I entered the woods...
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