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How To Choose The Right Skid Steer Grapple Attachment

skid steer grapple featured image

If you’re buying a skid steer grapple, make sure to consider these ideas before and after purchase.

A skid steer grapple attachment is an excellent way to carry awkward materials with precision and efficiency. Oddly shaped items (like rocks, logs or piles of concrete), can be moved more easily and efficiently with a grapple. Bucket attachments can be used to carry objects, but they won’t perform as well as a grapple.

GRAPPLE VERSATILITY

These unique skid steer attachments have various uses. They are used for landscaping, farming, construction, logging, road construction and recycling applications. A skid steer grapple can be used to work with almost any type of material.

What makes it special is the lower part of the attachment can easily scoop up loose debris like dirt or sand and is perfect for cleanup operations. In addition, the large tines along the upper jaw can easily grip many different types of large objects such as railroad ties and large rocks.

A BUCKET IS NO SUBSTITUTE

When a loader is equipped with a standard bucket and is used to pick up or move logs and brush, there will be problems. The tipping of uneven loads, loose objects (like rocks) falling out of the bucket in addition to unwanted topsoil removal will be a pain to deal with.

Anyone who has used a bucket for a job it wasn’t suited for can relate to these difficulties. Jobs a skid steer grapple could have accomplished in half the time. A grapple attachment will improve material control and decrease time on the job site, thus lowering cost.

PICKING THE RIGHT GRAPPLE

Plenty of thought should go into choosing a skid steer grapple attachment suitable for your needs. Many people are only interested in price. Price is an important factor, but there are many other things that need to be considered beforehand.

IMPORTANT: Make sure the price includes cylinders, fittings, hoses and couplers. Some manufacturers don’t include these in the price and you will end up forking out more money than you originally thought.

Since there are hundreds of attachment manufacturers and thousands of different grapple models to choose, making a choice can be difficult. To help with this buying process, consider these ideas before and after purchase.

1. DETERMINING SPECIFIC NEEDS

Answer these questions:
What is your application? What do you plan on doing with it? Will your grapple be used for removing brush, trees, logs, manure, asphalt, concrete, scrap, recycling or other materials?

There are many different grapples designed for different applications. The attachment suited for your application should always be considered before purchase.

People working in scrapyards will need a different grapple than people working in forests. Remember that the functions, efficiency and capacity are greatly affected by the design of the grapple.

skid steer grapple hauling brush Virnig Manufacturing

 

2. GRAPPLE CONSTRUCTION

Grapples are exposed to a lot of stress so they must be built strong in order to last a long time. Most skid steer attachment manufacturers will say they have the “best quality”, making it difficult to determine who actually makes high quality products.

Words of advice: buy an attachment based on the quality of materials that are in it and how it is constructed … not by the brand. Every attachment manufacturer or dealer should be able to tell you exactly what is in every attachment they sell.

Here are some specific things to look for to help determine grapple quality.

Tine Yield Strength – Yield strength measures the stress steel can withstand before it remains permanently deformed. A minimum yield strength of 50,000 PSI should be considered. Anything less and the grapple tines may bend or break in high stress areas. The higher the yield strength the better.

PSI Yield Strength

Tine diameter is not everything. Look at the yield strength rating before looking at diameter. A larger diameter sounds good but it is not the whole story.

For example, a 2” thick 1018 Cold Finished round stock (55,000 PSI) will not be as strong as a 2” thick 1045 Cold Finished round stock (80,000 PSI).

Reinforcement and Steel Type – Look for extra reinforcement inside the bucket on solid bottom grapples and gussets at tine tips for skeleton style.

If the tines are designed without gussets look for thicker steel and an inverted “T” shape tine on skeleton styles like this. For round shaft style tines refer to the PSI rating and the diameter.

Laser Cut Steel – Laser technology offers superior cutting abilities compared to plasma. More specifically, laser cutting offers tighter tolerances, which leads to better quality. Overall, laser cut parts are more consistent and precise, ensuring snug joints and smoother moving parts.

Laser-Cut-Skeleton-Skid-Steer-Grapple-Pieces

 

Cylinder Pins, Cylinder Rods and Wear Parts – Even though these parts make up a small part of the machine they are extremely important. Look for parts that can easily be replaced and are easy to grease. These are wear parts and over time they will need serviced and replaced, so it only makes sense to make sure they are easy to get to.

Chrome Plated vs. NitroSteel® Cylinder Rods – Many attachment manufacturers use chrome plated cylinder rods. While these are not a bad choice there are better, longer-lasting rods available for skid steer grapples.

NitroSteel® rods feature a dent and flake proof protective layer chemically bonded with the steel. The finish is extremely hard and is an environmentally friendly and superior performing alternative to chrome plating.

 

3. OPEN “SKELETON” VS. SOLID BOTTOM BUCKET

skid steer grapples Virnig Manufacturing differences

 

OPEN BOTTOM

An open “skeleton” bottom allows for smaller unwanted material to fall through between the tines. Brush grapples and rock grapples will have an open bottom that will sift the dirt and unwanted debris out.

Also, many skeleton grapples will have a cross member (or front comb) at the tine tips. A cross member is a piece of metal that spans across the bottom tines of a skeleton bucket to increase overall strength.

Grapple Cross Member Location

Grapples without cross members at the tine tips will allow material to be penetrated more easily than grapples with cross members at the tine tips. As mentioned above, the grapple tines on a grapple with no cross member should be made of a thicker, higher grade of steel since there is less structural support.

The Industrial Skeleton Tine Grapple and the Root Rake Grapple are some specific examples of attachments without a cross member at the tine tips. Again, notice the the inverted “T” shape of the tines.

SOLID BOTTOM

A solid bottom grapple will capture material for complete removal. With a solid bottom grapple there are no spaces for debris to fall through. That’s what makes these types of attachments a great choice for recycling and scrap yard applications.

4. SELECTING A SUITABLE SIZE

Work will be completed quicker when the required load is adequately carried by the size of grapple you select. Something large enough should be chosen so the trips needed for transporting things would be optimized.

Choose a grapple too small and you will have to make more trips, which results in higher operating costs. Keep in mind that bigger is not always better. The grapple should be big enough for what you need to do but not too big that the machine can’t effectively use the attachment (see #5 below).

5. APPROPRIATE FOR THE MACHINE

It is important to fit the grapple to the machine so it’s not underutilized or overloaded. In order to find a suitable fit you have to know the loader capacity. Some grapples will be too big or too small for your skid steer.

For example, the Virnig Root Rake Grapple is too big for a Bobcat® S185 to handle.
The loader capacity for an S185 is 1,850 pounds and the recommended loader capacity for the RRG is greater than 2,400 lbs.

A Root Rake Grapple on a CAT® 262C (operating capacity of 2,700 pounds) would be a great combination.

If you don’t know your skid steer’s loader capacity click here to find out. If you cannot find it there, a basic Google search for the specs usually works. Feel free to contact us as well.

6. DEPENDABLE DEALER AND MANUFACTURER SUPPORT

Do I know a dependable dealer for the grapple I’m interested in?
Choosing the right dealer can be as crucial as selecting the right attachment. Something on the grapple will eventually wear out or need replacing. Even if you fix attachments yourself, you are not going be capable of manufacturing the parts that need to be replaced.

It’s important to have a dealer and manufacturer who is experienced and can quickly provide the parts and answers to your questions.

WHAT MAKES VIRNIG’S PART SUPPORT SYSTEM UNIQUE?

We use common parts across attachments allowing dealers to stock fewer parts for repairs. Most parts for Virnig attachments are available in-stock and can be shipped as early as the same day the order is received. If you need a part for any Virnig product we will get it to you as quickly as possible. 

Check with your local Virnig dealer for replacement part availability.

skid steer grapple jaw weldment

 

 

Also, we offer specific weldments for our attachments.
If you need a new grapple jaw for a grapple or a new wing for a V-Snow Blade we will build it and get it to you. Not many manufacturers will do this for their customers.

Find Out What Makes Virnig Manufacturing Different.

 

 

GRAPPLES MAKE WORK EASIER

From raking and clearing brush to landscaping and site cleanup, many tasks can be simplified with a skid steer grapple attachment. Finding a proper skid steer grapple should not be stressful. If the above ideas are kept in mind, you can find a highly efficient, durable and safe grapple for your operations.

[Read Next: How To Minimize Downtime With Skid Steer Grapple Maintenance]

 

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