DR Power Grader - Review
I just used my new 4 foot DR Power Grader last weekend and I'm not impressed. I'm putting together a full video review that I'll try to get posted, but it's not doing what I hoped it would do and I'm already debating sending it back.
Granted I started from an ugly but average scenario where it had not been graded or disturbed in 5-10 years in some spots. There were about a dozen potholes with an average depth of 2-4 inches and a scattering of loose gravel on top of a hard pan of smooth, compacted limestone dust. Another hill had a lot of gravel washed out.
Potholes: it does a fine job of filling them in. Which is to say it takes gravel from one area of the driveway and drags it into the hole. This sounds like a solution, but it's not fixing the accumulation of water in that spot. The teeth only allow less than an inch or so of scarification. It doesn't dig down deep enough to get to the bottom of the pothole, thus it never breaks up the pan of the pothole to re-lay the whole area flat. Since the pan of the pothole is still there, it fills up with water again, you drive through it pushing out the gravel and you have the same problem.
Washouts: my issue related to gravel getting washed down the hill. The sides of the roadbed are too high, making washout inevitable. However filling gravel back up the slope works temporarily until the next washout. I'm fine with that concession. I used the DR to drag gravel up the slope of the driveway and fill the washout back in. I did this several times, backing up and pulling more gravel up the slope. It did great at that, and with the electronic lift function and 2 button remote control, it made it a whole lot easier than it could have been. 5/5 stars.
Washboard/Uneven gravel: the DR levels out both washboard and generally uneven areas. However due to the limited depth of the scarifying teeth, it has left several areas of flat hardpan with a scattering of gravel where the orange rails simply ride on top of the 2 sides of the tire tread and the teeth never touch the road bed. It does not reset the hard pan of the road bed.
Compatibility with machine: I used a 750 Kawasaki UTV in low gear and felt it was a good match going up the slope with a full grader. I wouldn't want to do it in any ATV/UTV without a low gear. In high gear you'd either go faster than the 5 mph limit or tear up your transmission. A full load of gravel happens when you've got the machine all the way down and you're going over 3-4 inches of gravel bed. You will feel it.
Grass: It does get rid of the center line grass that grows between the tire treads. However it takes a long time due to grass getting stuck in the teeth, making them ineffective at grading. I found I had to weave back and forth for 10 passes which pulls the grass out of the center line, clogs the teeth up, cross over onto the road bed and raise the electric adjustment sometimes would let the grass fall from the teeth, then weave back over to the other side to do it again.
I can't see how this would be effective at overseeding a lawn if you wanted to use it for that.
Time: If you're grading your drive for the first time like I did, this will take all weekend. Again due to the limited depth of the scarifying teeth, the first pass would get a slice of the high edges. Several passes later still left me wondering what I was doing wrong. It took me about 30 passes to get an area worked. I did 1800 feet of my drive and it took me 4 hrs on Saturday, 8 hours on Sunday, and 10 gallons of gas. Not fast, but how does that compare to a box blade or other competitor?
Durability of the machine: From the weekend of first use the plastic weight tray broke and dropped all the limestone I had put in there. I don't believe I did/used anything different than I've seen on the DR promotional videos.
The shear pin broke. Just one of the 3 total they give you, but you should expect it to happen. Better that than the frame I suppose.
The two hitch options they give you are fine. If you're going to ever back up with the machine attached, use the pin attachment vs the ball coupler. The ball coupler just pops off when you try to back up, but it's a good option if you don't have any other.
Overall: it's the first use I've had of this thing. I'm not convinced it's what I want to keep. Any competing product that gets deeper into the road bed would be better. I'll hang onto it and see if the potholes redevelop.
It may not be the best product for my use, but maybe it's just enough.