My Review of the Innovative Tractor Attachments Grapple for John Deere Quick Hitch
I operate a very small, one man and one dog firewood operation as more of a hobby that keeps me outside enjoying the woods all winter long. As a one-man team, I take mechanical advantage whenever I can. So, a couple months ago when I first saw a couple pictures and video of a Grapple designed specifically for mounting on the Quick Hitch of the current X series of John Deere GT, I was intrigued.
I exchanged email with the lead innovator behind this attachment, and had one shipped in early February. Prime logging time, but also prime snow plowing time, and both require the JD Quick Hitch.
I was assured the switch over was quick and easy, and the Winter snows were few and far between this year, so I have given the GT Grapple a real workout, and now it is time for a review. In a few words:
It has surpassed my expectations, it is a labor, time, and back saving enhancement to my tool set.
Packaging was surprisingly compact, weight was under 50 pounds, packing was entirely adequate to keep everything from rattling around, and shipping was quick and efficient.
The installation instructions are precise, brief, and easy to follow. In spite of that, I allowed myself a couple minutes of confusion, but Marcus at Innovative Tractor Attachment steered me straight with a couple emails and a follow-up phone call. Excellent Customer Service.
The secret of the clever design is a simple repositioning of the here-to-fore angling cylinder on top of the Quick Hitch to handle grapple jaw open and close. Assuming the Quick Hitch is installed, and in my case configured for Snow Plow duty, I first removed the snow blade from the hitch. Then just pull the cotter pins that hold the lower cylinder in place and drop it clear.
As mentioned, the Grapple itself is less than 50 pounds, certainly lighter than the Quick Hitch and cylinders, so it is easy to mount to the hitch, lift the top over bar, ensure the spring pins at the bottom of the hitch are retracted and pivot the grapple down, release the pins and you are hitched.
The Grapple ships with R-Spring clips to make snapping the cylinder ends in place easier first time and every future time. Much easier than jiggling pliers and drift pin to remove cotter pins.
The Grapple is powder coated, clean, well machined, and manufactured, and looks great on the front of the John Deere X (in this case X728)
The Grapple works best with the SCV lock-out valve closed, just as it does for the Snow blade. The bottom lever raises and lowers the Grapple, and the top lever becomes the open-close circuit for the grapple. Takes very little time to get used to this, probably even less for anyone who has operated an FEL, or back hoe.
And, if I must say so myself, it flat looks great in the woods where I work with it regularly:
Ok, so what is it capable of? Well, Iím sure Iím still learning, (and, in fact, still learning to use my GoPro, so bear with me).
Iíve used it to help me move brush, rotten logs, and clear more firewood trails.
I am cutting larger and larger Red Oak, so that I cannot lift the 18Ē long and 30+" diameter rounds. I had a couple choices, split on site, and then load, haul, and stack. Or, now, I can pick the large rounds up, move them to my stacking location to split them there and save a time consuming load and cart from my operation:
This one is quite long, but shows a variety of picks, lifts, nudges, and handling options
I also do some work for a couple of my neighbors, and one of them offered me a bunch of 4-8í Black Locust logs if I just got them off the edge of her lawn. Many of you know I have a long driveway, so the transport is non-trivial. But, with the grapple, I never left my seat. Pick- transport Ė and drop, in this case on top of other wood blocks to make future sawing handy:
I took a break on one of these runs and snapped a picture of the equipment:
In other cases, I might have a very large log laying on the ground. I donít like to saw through to earth, because the earth here on this hill top is laden with rocks. So, I might saw 70-80% through then roll the log to finish the cuts. But, this time, the log had buried a large branch into the ground anchoring it tightly. I couldnít move it with a Cant Hook (maybe my 2nd New Yearís Resolution is really working well and I no longer swing the same kind of weight around in the woods). I am certain I am exceeding the recommended grapple weight here, but, to be fair, I am mostly pulling this out of the ground, then rolling it over and pushing it up so I can finish my bucking length cuts.
Bottom line: This Grapple carries its load. It saves time, saves labor, and saves my back. The TimberSports Team vote it a keeper.
I know there are several of us here sharing pictures and videos of our use of this Grapple. The Innovator keeps an eye on our site too, so Iím sure you will get any questions answered. Post away! And thanks for reading, looking at the images, and for those not easily bored, thanks for viewing the videos.