Well, here I go again, trying to save some money and the main thing to keep me busy. Many of you know that I am going to install an outdoor railroad and patio, so the sod has to be removed. A powered sod remover can be expensive, so by looking on the web I have seen some sod sleds pulled behind a garden lawnmower and that is what I am attempting. Of course, mine will be different. The two successful sleds that I saw in action required some extra weight to bury the 2 1/2 inch blade and they did it by having a neighbor ride on the sled for the additional weight. I will attempt to add the weight by adding concrete blocks and tying them down to the sled. In order to make one of these sleds work, there are two variables, one weight, two, enough power to pull the sled once the blade is buried. One can be satisfied by adding blocks, the other is, does my tractor have enough power to pull the sled once the blade is buried, this remains to be seen and you will find out along with me, when the sled is finished. The sled is mainly completed, but I still have to add some wheels to it to drag it around with the blade is out of the turf. Also, I had to reinforce the hitch on the tractor, as the sheet metal that came with the tractor would probably caused me some problems and also the height of the hitch was too high for the center of pull of the sled, so I am correcting that also. I cut off the old hitch because it was in the way and adding angle to the mix for a stronger hitch, here are some pictures and I will add more when I advance further into the project. Bob.
Last edited by machiningfool; 01-17-2016 at 12:56 PM.
OK, today I bolted the new brackets for the new hitch, and I will weld on the hitch tomorrow. Bob.Most of it is done except the installation of some wheels. This thing will be heavy, and that is what I want, but to move it around after shaving the sod, I have to have a way to move it, that is where the wheels come in. I will use one wheel on each side and a trailer tongue jack on the end to lift the blade out of the cutting position and then tow the sled to storage. Bob. Also, don't thank me too soon because this thing might not work, I have my concerns, but thanks anyway.
Last edited by machiningfool; 01-19-2016 at 01:44 PM.
OK, today I mounted the landing gear and painted it, pretty optimistic huh? Tomorrow, I will add some weight in the form of concrete blocks and plywood for the blocks to sit on. I have thought about lining the skids with the same material that they install on airboats to decrease drag, but I will try it without it at first. Here are some pictures of the finished rig and tomorrow or the next day, I will make a video of either the failure or success of this endeavor. I still had trouble with my welder, come to find out that I was using .030 wire and the Tweeco gun uses minimum of .035 wire and the channel that the wire runs in was worn out, so I replaced that and ran .035 and what a difference. It now welds as it should. Bob.
Paul Jones (01-21-2016)
Failure!,failure!-- I started pulling the sled and it seemed to start to cut, for about 4 feet, until the space between the blade and the sled rail filled up with compacted dirt and grass. There can't be anything over the blade, it has to have complete space so that nothing can build up and stop the movement. As soon as that space filled and compacted, it stopped the motion, so I am going to relocate the blade all the way to the end of the sled where there won't be any restriction or build up. I also have a feeling that I will have to figure out a way for more traction, or buy a bigger tractor, or buy a real sod cutter. Here is a picture of the area that the debris built up and stopped the tractor. Bob. Thanks Paul Jones.
Paul Jones (01-22-2016)
OK, no pictures today, but I have made some progress. By the looks of things, I will have to increase the angle of the blade and sharpen it. The blade is not going deep enough and not lowering enough to contact the sled runners. I added three concrete blocks for weight and I think I will have to move some weight to the rear. Traction does not seem to be a problem, as the it will pull forward with it being just above idle, so I believe that I can add much more weight and when I sharpen the blade and get it to go below the roots, it will behave like a sod cutter, we shall see. I will do that tomorrow and try it out again. Moving the blade to the rear solved the problem of sod build up and when the cutter goes deeper, that won't be a problem. Bob.
Well, I have some good news and some bad news. The good news is that the sled functions as it should, and the bad news is that my lawnmower hasn't enough guts to pull it. It pulled it for about 6 ft. and I could hear the bypass screaming in the hydro trans. and that isn't good, so even if I put chains on it, that would not solve the lack of power with my lawnmower, so to pull this thing, one would need a geared tractor with a little more weight and guts, but I still consider the sled a success and here are some pictures of the sod that it lifted. You can see in the second picture that it did indeed get under the roots a lifted the sod. I folded back some sod so that you could see the depth. I started the cut by digging down to the blade depth to sink the blade, sharpened the blade, also I increased the blade angle to about 6 degrees, added about 100 lbs. near the rear of the sled and kept the front of the sled about 1/2 inch above grade, and that is when it cut properly. I can see that a tractor with a three point hydraulically controlled hitch would be ideal for raising and lowering the sled for cutting, I will look for one. I need a tractor anyway. Bob.
Last edited by machiningfool; 01-24-2016 at 11:11 AM.
Paul Jones (01-24-2016)
The soil looks pretty dry and I am use to seeing sod removed when there is a more moisture in the soil which probably acts as a lubricant. That may reduce the force needed to slide under the roots. Maybe there could be a way to inject some water around the cutting edge? Thanks for the updates.
You are right. The soil here where I am in Florida is 70% sand. Moisture disappears rapidly. There is really no problem, except that I don't want to burn my hydrostatic transmission up, it is not made for this type of strain. I am looking for a tractor with a geared type transmission and that will solve the pulling problem. My tractor pulls it, I can hear the thing is really working overtime. I was told by a lawnmower guy that I will soon burn it up if I use it for this type of job. Thanks for your input, and I appreciate it. Well, back to the making of my viaduct molds, Bob.
Paul Jones (01-25-2016)
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