grader for cutting ditches

One of the important earth-moving jobs a motor grader is used for is cutting ditches. To do this well, an operator needs to know how to create proper crowns and slopes, and to be experienced in using a motor grader’s features.

Ditch slopes should vary according to soil type, the gravel used, expected rainfall in the region and and so on. However, certain standard best practices are the same for cutting all ditches.

The basics: getting started

To start, lay out a line marked with visible stakes to help guide you to cut straight. Move the blade at a sharp angle, so its leading edge (toe) is pulled tight behind the front wheel and its heel is raised.

Now you’re ready to do the marker pass. Drive along the line you’ve set out, cutting out about two to four centimetres. Take it easy – if you cut away too much at this point, you may run into steering trouble.

Keep the setting the same, but include the front wheel in the marker cut, with a bit of load on the machine to do the next pass. You should do this pass in first gear.

Next, for the material to be delivered on the outside of the wheels, tighten the blade on both ends. Straddle the windrow so it can be shifted from the bank of the ditch, rather than allowing it to become difficult to manage.

Deeper ditches will require that you repeat these steps, minus the marker pass one. To maintain a straight ditch, have the front wheels lean up the slope.

Need a back slope?

For a back slope, follow these steps:

  • have one set of wheels on the outer edge of the ditch; the other in the bottom of the ditch
  • have the toe down enough to cut the slope and the heel down, angled just enough to give the windrow you need.

To do a thorough job of cleaning the windrow from the ditch, keep both the toe and heel of the blade inside the wheels, almost parallel with the machine. One wheel should be in the bottom of the ditch and the other should be on the first slope when you drive. Both ends of the blade should be set tight, to avoid cutting too deep.

Finally, to clean the bottom of the ditch, have the blade set at the usual sharp angle and take the material up the slope for removal.

What about a flat-bottomed ditch?

A flat-bottomed ditch is made using the same procedure, but keep the blade level to avoid material “leaking” into the bottom of the ditch. Remember that the width of the slope is determined by the angle of the blade.

For information about the range of refurbished Caterpillar 140G, 140H and 140K motor graders available from KH Plant, contact us online or call one of our representatives on +27 83 274 4882.

Do you need expert assistance?

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