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Old 05-22-2011, 12:26 AM   post #1 of 11
migraineman
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Default sod cutter attempt

I've been toying with building a sod cutter recently. I need to make progress on the installation of a 200' french drain in my back yard, and the sod interferes with my moldboard plow's ability to dig in. I'll also be upfront and say that I haven't been welding enough recently, and I needed some therapy. From uncut steel to having a fully welded implement took about 4 1/2 hours, including interruptions from the kids. I skipped paint and took it for a test drive.







The runners on the sides make nice slots in the turf, but I'm unable to get it to bite in properly. I put the tractor in 1st-low, and I stood on the cutter (I'm about 175 lbs.) No dice, it just skipped across the grass. So I moved over to a place where the dirt was exposed. The cutter head bit in nicely, but I spun both wheels. Once the HDAPs were caked with red clay, they might as well have been slicks.





On my last attempt, I hooked a root that was about 1" thick. Cut the root, but put a nice bow-tie in the top of the implement. I'm pleased that my welds held. I don't think I've tested my welds quite this severely before.

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Old 05-22-2011, 12:43 AM   post #2 of 11
cub2900
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Default Re: sod cutter attempt

Nice job! I have attempted to make something very similar. Actually, I've tried several different ways. I have a bigger tractor so traction hasn't been an issue, but I've yet to come up with a way to keep the sod cut nicely. I often lay drain tile for customers after we install a sump pump. I have ended up using a middle buster for this. It works, but the sod does not get cut nicely. It does speed up the process of laying drain tile ALOT. However, installing a french drain would be different.

I think for my middle buster, I'm going to install one disk right in front of it so the sod is cut in a straight line before the middle buster gets to it and rips it apart. With the sod cut nicely, the middle buster will just loosen up the soil under it so it can be dug with a spade effortlessly.

By the way, I made my middle buster and like you, had some large roots put my welds to the test. Nice feeling knowing they are structurally sound huh? Good job!!!
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Old 05-22-2011, 08:03 AM   post #3 of 11
mbrun
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Default Re: sod cutter attempt

I think you are on the right track, but I think you need to get rid of the horizontal crossbar that rides below the sod for now, perhap move it to a point that would ride just above the sod. Next I think you need cutting edges that will penetrate consistently below the roots. Perhaps 4-6 inches in overall length. THis is so you can cleanly shear the sod first.

Next step would be to add something below (perhaps a small diameter hardened roller, or plate) that can be used to gently free the sod free of the earth below. I think that is what you were trying to do with your lower horizontal bar. But I think its presence during initial cut is what is hurting you.

Also, you need to make sure you have a good angle of incident on the front to get good clean initial penetration. Perhaps you can do that simply by adjusting your upper link during initial peneration and then backing it off after you are in.

Just one man's thoughts.
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Old 05-22-2011, 11:24 AM   post #4 of 11
rscurtis
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Default Re: sod cutter attempt

You will need the means to oscillate the blade back and forth. Why not just rent one for a couple hours?
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Old 05-22-2011, 02:47 PM   post #5 of 11
migraineman
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Default Re: sod cutter attempt

I should have posted a better pic of the cutter head -



The cutting blade is a 1 1/4 x 1/4 flat sharpened to a point. It's solidly tack welded in place, but should be easy to remove with a thin cutoff wheel if I've done something horribly wrong. The sharpened point is in intimate contact with the sod ... it's just skipping across the top instead of digging in.

I'll give the device another try when it's not raining outside. I can try a more aggressive incidence angle, and I can add some plate weights to the frame. I'm inclined to use the 12hp Sears Suburban which is equipped with bar-lug tires. Gotta mount a 3-point on that machine first, though.

I'm pretty sure the oscillatory-bar sod cutter is a recent invention. I was hoping for something more simple. And while I could rent a machine, if folks like me didn't actually build stuff, this portion of the forum would be really boring.
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Old 05-22-2011, 05:47 PM   post #6 of 11
DMAC
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Default Re: sod cutter attempt

This idea could be used, pulled by and adjustables 3 pt. instead of being kicked repeatedly.
Great pictures and work man. I know i can cut sod with the ice slicer, but that always entailed a flat shovel to sperate the sod between the cuts.
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Old 05-22-2011, 06:44 PM   post #7 of 11
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Default Re: sod cutter attempt

I had the same idea as DMAC. I rented a sod kicker for a day only cost about $10.It was alot of kickin to clear a 30x30 foot area.I often wondered how it would have workd if it were pulled by a GT. Could always rent one for a day and get all the measurements you need.
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Old 05-23-2011, 09:48 PM   post #8 of 11
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Default Re: sod cutter attempt

migraineman,

You definitely need a more agressive angle at the point at which you initiate penetration. Then after you have penetration you need to retard the angle and have a means to maintain that and prevent deeper penetration. The outward horizontal element of your sides may do that for you naturally. Perhaps even a set of 6" wheels on the outside could serve as the depth limiter and create less friction during the cut.

Another thing to try is to get your assembly started manually and to see what results you get by pulling it. If it cuts well once started, then maybe no change to the vertical element of the horizontal cross member will be nessesary (but I think it will). Perhaps two rollers offset from one another a small distance, one that rolls on the lower earth, the other the rolls the sod up and over it could improve cut efficiency.

I do believe you will ultimately need the sharpened edge of the horizontal crossmember to shear the earth beneath the sod. I see you have that covered.

I would not think you would need to add weight to the assembly, if you have the ability to supply down force from your hitch. If not, then static weight may necessary.
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..Brinly Aerator/Seeder, Moldboard Plow,
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..Craftsman 48" x 18" Roller
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Old 05-26-2011, 11:33 PM   post #9 of 11
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Default Re: sod cutter attempt

I made myself a sod cutter a few years ago, similar to what you are attempting. I made it a very simple rectangular shape and sharpened the bottom bar to cut through the soil and sharpened the uprights about 6 inches high. My tractor 3-point has down pressure. I designed the length so the cutting bar would be about 4 inches below the tractor. I also made the position where the top link attaches higher than other 3-point equipment I have. I also shorten the top link as much as possible. This causes the structure to be upright when cutting sod. When it is lifted, it swings out because of the short top link. This swinging action helps get it started cutting in the sod as you lower the 3-point.
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Old 05-29-2011, 08:50 PM   post #10 of 11
migraineman
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Default Re: sod cutter attempt

Got some more time on this project today. I am pleasantly surprised that we got no rain. The first order of business was to remove that unsightly bend from the cutter head. Props to Dr. Doofenschmirtz for loaning me his hydraulic bendinator, which conveniently has a "reverse" switch allowing it to be used as a de-bendinator. I wish all machines were so thoughtfully planned.



With things straightened out, it was time to add some triangulation to prevent a repeat performance. I found two pieces of tubing from old junker bicycles that were an appropriate length. Yeah, I know, they're made of Chinesium and will be a bear to weld, but I'm letting my inner cheap-bastard show through a little. Besides, if I actually use the stuff, my wife is less likely to complain about all the "junk" I have accumulated. So in spite of some hideous welding (the metal is all full of inclusions and contaminants,) it's much stronger now.



Yesterday, after getting rained on, I spent some time removing the ugly rear battery tray from the Super12, reverting back to the original under-hood battery configuration. I installed a 3-point on the Super12, and hooked up the sod cutter. Better, but still not working right. I put the tractor in 1st low, got off, and stood on the cutter base. It worked briefly, but then bobbed back up to the surface. I did adjust the cutter blade to have more down angle, and I cranked the 3-point top link as short as it would go. I'm starting to consider Plan C.





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Old 06-21-2011, 03:39 PM   post #11 of 11
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Default Re: sod cutter attempt

I think you may have better results if you make the below ground cutter knife Vee shaped rather than just straight across. That way it will have more of a slicing action and help keep it submerged. If you look at a field cultivator shovel, you'll see what I mean on the cutting edge angle.

Your straight design is more the type found on a vibrating cutter machine.
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