Sub-Compact Grapple Roundup

It is well known that “Tractor Time with Tim” would love to have a grapple for Johnny (our Deere 1025R).
In this article, we’ll discuss some of the ‘special needs’ a sub-compact tractor like Johnny has when considering a grapple, and evaluate a few different grapple options.

Grapple Challenges for Sub-Compact Tractors

First, most grapples are large and heavy. This is the biggest issue with grapples and sub-compact tractors. With lift capacities of under 1000 lbs (to full height), we simply cannot afford to devote 400 lbs of that to the grapple attachment itself. So, any grapple attachment which will be useful for a subcompact tractor needs to be lightweight, built out of super-strong steel.

Another challenge we must deal with is hydraulics for the grapple. Deere does not offer any 3rd function kit for the sub-compact tractors, so if you have a Deere, you’ll need to find one from a 3rd party. Kubota owners have better options here. Kubota offers a 3rd function connector option for the BX line specifically for grapples, 4 in 1 buckets, etc. This is a very nice feature. We’ll not delve into the hydraulics discussion any further in this article. Perhaps this is a topic for a future article?

Your tractor will need some sort of quick attach bucket to use a grapple effectively. Kubota uses the standard SSQA (skid steer quick attach), Deere uses JDQA (John Deere Quick Attach), but most other brands do not include any type of quick attach bucket mounting system. Be sure to check your tractor for the loader bucket attachment mechanism, and follow-up with your dealer with questions. Even though your bucket may not be “quick attach”, there may be an upgrade available from the dealer.

For the rest of this article we will focus on grapples specifically designed for subcompact tractors. Each brand listed has an option for either SSQA or JDQA. Additionally, each of these grapples is made in the USA! I’m not sure if the steel is US steel or not, so don’t push me too far, but at least they are constructed here in the states.

Everything Attachments Wicked Root Rake Grapple


Everything Attachments has been aggressively improving their grapple designs over the past several years, responding to customer feedback with lighter yet stronger grapples.
Early in 2017, they introduced their latest 55″ wicked root rake grapple with either JDQA or SSQA mounts. The lid is full-width, and the tines stick downward for digging out roots. There is not much of a ‘platform’ of sorts for carrying brush.

This grapple weights 209 lbs according to the EA website. Additionally, there are some ‘runners’ or depth stops which keep the tines from digging in too far for sub-compacts. Removing these depth stops gets the weight below 200 lbs. Impressive. This light weight is possible because of the 1/4″ super-high strength AR400 steel.

Price is $1595 with an extra $50 for JDQA. EA Provides free shipping within 1000 miles of their factory.

Titan Attachments


Titan offers a 48″ Root Grapple. This grapple weighs more than double the weight of the rest of the grapples in this roundup. For that reason, I did not include it in the original version of this article. However, after it was mentioned in the comment section below, I decided it would be helpful to provide information on this grapple.

The positive aspect of this grapple is its price. $1049 retail including shipping. It is easy to get 5% discount simply by signing up for email list. So, this grapple is by far the least expensive that we evaluate here. Unfortunately, that is where the positive news ends.

The other grapples in the roundup are around 200 lbs. This one adds an additional 250 lbs (450lbs total). At first, this doesn’t sound like a big deal. However, let’s do some calculations to see how much impact this really has to the tractor’s useful lift capacity.

The 1-series Deere (and other sub-compact tractors) will lift approximately 800 lbs to full height with the standard bucket. Maybe a bit less, maybe a bit more.
The 53″ bucket weighs 112 lbs. Let’s round that down to 100 for calculation purposes. So, ~900 lbs total including bucket (or grapple).

So, with a 200 lb grapple, one would have a 700 lb lift capacity. With a 450 lb grapple, one would have 450 lb of available lift capacity. Overall a 35% reduction in lift capacity as compared to the rest of the grapples presented here.

This reduction in usable lift capacity is not acceptable to me, so this grapple will not be making an appearance on Johnny. This grapple might be useful on larger tractor, however, it is not a good fit for a sub-compact.

CT Attachments


CT Attachments is a small manufacturer located in Wisconsin. They specialize in grapples, snow plows and pushers, etc. They have a 50″ grapple made specifically for the JDQA system. This grapple weighs 195 lbs and has a lid which is approximately 2/3 of the width of the grapple. The lower tines point forward further than the EA grapple which should be good for material pickup. The shape of these lower tines indicates that this grapple is not for digging out roots, but rather for picking up large piles of material already on the top of the ground.

There are holes in the lower tines which could contain ‘close outs’ for smaller filtering for rocks, etc. CT can provide these ‘close outs’, or you can use 1/2″ all-thread, or 1/2″ steel rods.

This grapple is constructed with grade 80 steel which is a step below the AR400 steel used in the EA grapple. However, the full 1/4 thickness should be plenty strong for anything a sub-compact or small compact tractor could throw at it.

In addition to the 50″ Deere specific grapple, CT offers a 55″ version in both JDQA and SSQA versions. This grapple uses 5/16″ grade 80 steel for additional strength. This grapple weighs in at 300 lbs.

The 50″ grapple is priced at $1350 + shipping, and the 55″ is priced at $1500 + shipping.

Artillian


Artillian offers a completely different type of grapple construction. Their grapple takes a modular approach, allowing the user tmany different configurations. Each of their grapple components mounts to the popular Artillian fork frame.

The picture on the right shows the main grapple component, referred to as the “Clamp Section”. In this photo, it is mounted to an SSQA compatible fork frame. Customers can choose one, two or three clamp sections for their grapple, depending upon their needs and budget. Each clamp section contains its own hydraulic cylinder and weighs 90 lbs.  Artillian provides a hydraulic manifold to support multiple cylinders if the user chooses to have multiple clamp sections.

The rake section (left) consists of the lower ‘rake’ tines only. No clamping mechanism. This section weighs 40 lbs, and is much more cost effective than the clamp section.
Up to three ‘sections’ of any combination can be placed upon the fork frame providing at least 6 different useful configurations.

In addition to the flexibility when using these various configurations, there is another advantage which could prove quite useful for me. When not needed, these components can be stored individually, taking up much less overall storage space than the other options we’ve discussed.

On the negative side, the componentized approach adds a bit of weight to the most natural configuration (2 rakes plus one clamp) with this solution coming in at 243 lbs.
The plates are 3/8 thick on this grapple which would explain the increased weight over the other solutions. Artillian does not specify whether they use grade 80 or AR400 steel, rather saying “ultra high strength and wear resistent steel”.

If starting from scratch, this grapple is by far the most expensive of those discussed in this article. However, when you purchase the grapple components, you ‘almost’ have a set of pallet forks already included. All you need to add are the forks themselves (~$220).

ConfigurationFrameClamp(s)Rake(s)Total WeightTotal Price
Basic
(Single Clamp)
$549
(73 lbs)
1x
$899
(90 lbs)
-163 lbs$1448 + shipping
Single Clamp
Two Rakes
$549
(73 lbs)
1x
$899
(90 lbs)
2x
$598
(80 lbs)
243 lbs$2046 + shipping

Which one will I choose?

There it is, the top 3 grapple choices that I know of at this point. Which one should I choose? I’m honestly not sure yet. I have the Artillian fork frame already and I love it. So, the cost disadvantage of the Artillian solution is already behind me, and not an issue. I love the modular options offering an ultra light weight (single clamp) solution which I would have attempted to use on the huge rock we took out earlier this summer. I also like this option for storage.

The EA 55″ grapple is quite impressive. Light-weight, super-strong, and would do a great job of digging up roots.

The CT Attachments grapple with its long bottom tines (rakes) would be a good fit for lots of the projects we have as well.

Overall, I really don’t know which direction I will go. I’m not even sure the finance committee will be on board when I finally bring this to a vote!

Meanwhile, do you know of another grapple well suited for sub-compact tractors which would be good competition for those listed above? If so, please let us know in the comments section below.

55 Comments

  1. Great article..

    I too want one but don’t really “need” one. But I ma sure if I had one, I’d be wondering why I didn’t get one sooner..

    Tough choices. Guess Id be leaning to towards the Artillian. Living 20 minutes from Worcester makes it even more attractive..

    Thanks again!

    • Yes, these are all good choices. I’ve been thinking about this for years actually, but digging into the details, it is still hard to choose. Each of these are very good options.

      • The biggest deterrent to me is the cost of the hydraulics. At nearly $700 to set up hydraulics to operate a grapple the total investment is close to or even higher than $2000. Titan makes a nice 48″ grapple. Very affordable. I think you can buy Titan forks and grapple bucket cheaper than the Artillan set up and not have to remove the forks from the frame to slide on the grapple sections. Artilan is too expensive and you have to slide each attachment on and off the fork frame.

        • The Titan Attachments grapple weighs 450 lbs!!! It still costs $1050.
          Assuming your loader will lift 800 lbs to full height (with the bucket), and this grapple weighs 300 lbs more than your bucket, you would be giving up 300 lbs of your 800 lb lift capacity. Are you really willing to do that to save $300-$500??? You would have to get a large frame 2 series to overcome that disadvantage, so it would cost almost $10,000 just to get back to what you could lift with a 1025R and one of the grapples discussed in this article. This is why I left it out. (Perhaps I should add it to the ’roundup’ so that these points would be discussed.)

          There are advantages and disadvantages to the Artillian system. I tried to cover them, but perhaps I should mention the ‘reconfiguration time/effort’.

          I am torn between the three grapples listed, and could see good reasons to buy each of them. However, the Titan is too much compromise in lift capacity for me.

        • You are right about the hydraulics. ..and you are right about the overall cost. Lots of money.
          You said ‘biggest deterrent’…well, the biggest deterrent to me is that I can accomplish almost everything with the forks and bucket that would be accomplished with the grapple. No doubt grapple would be faster, but $2000+ faster? Not yet sure about that!! So, we are definitely on the same page there.

          The Titan Attachments grapple weighs 450 lbs!!! It still costs $1050.
          Assuming your loader will lift 800 lbs to full height (with the bucket), and this grapple weighs 300 lbs more than your bucket, you would be giving up 300 lbs of your 800 lb lift capacity. Are you really willing to do that to save $300-$500??? You would have to get a large frame 2 series to overcome that disadvantage, so it would cost almost $10,000 just to get back to what you could lift with a 1025R and one of the grapples discussed in this article. This is why I left it out. (Perhaps I should add it to the ’roundup’ so that these points would be discussed.)

          There are advantages and disadvantages to the Artillian system. I tried to cover them, but perhaps I should mention the ‘reconfiguration time/effort’.

          I am torn between the three grapples listed, and could see good reasons to buy each of them. However, the Titan is too much compromise in lift capacity for me.

    • What do you think about the EA Compact Wicked Root attachment? It’s 50″ and weighs 274 pounds. It also has the longer lower legs than the one you reviewed above. At $1492 + $50 for JD mount, It comes in at less than the Artillian (I already have their forks) and it’s a dedicated attachment.

      • I have to say, I am a big fan of Ted, who does the videos of products at Everything Attachments. He does a great job of explaining their products along with suggestions on how to use them for the best results. He seems really passionate about providing quality products. Plus, being a tar heel from birth, I like that his company is located in a small town here in NC.

        • Thanks for your comment Ken. I decided to go with the Compact Tractor Attachments (www.ctattachments.com) and couldn’t be happier. At only 194 pounds it’s one of the lightest and with the longer lower blades, it can go under objects which you’re trying to pick up. I have to disagree with Tim’s comment that it would not be good at digging out roots. The build quality is as good as the artillian and crating was perfect. Not a scratch on it. Jeff King will even do custom modifications for you if you want.

          • Pat, thanks for your comments.
            Let me clarify my digging out roots assessment. I’m sure it does a fine job digging out roots. I’m just saying that the shorter tines on the EA grapple would have a bit more leverage because they are short and closer to the loader arms (and tractor).

          • Hmmm, you may well be right Tim but, I was thinking in the exact opposite way. With the longer lower tines, I think I can slip them under the root and use the weight of the tractor to break them loose. Also, remembering your episode where you were moving the sidewalk, the longer tines should allow me to get further under the slab and raise it in a more horizontal position. Maybe we all need to meet somewhere and put all the grapples through their paces.

          • That is a good point, Pat.

  2. Great points. I am really almost at ground zero because my forks are the removable screw-ons. They have worked for all of the tasks I have here, but can’t go to the next level of functionality because at least with the Artillian system it is the base needed to build up to the grapple even before the hydraulics. Lots of money for the one person finance committee to approve. But I see from Tim’s project videos the value those forks bring over what I have now and it is one step closer to the grapple should I ever be able to get one.

  3. Hi Tim, this little grapple looks good but I don’t see them using it on a 1025r. Can you check them out and let me know your thoughts?http://innovativetractorattachments.com

    I should have my 1025r TLB delivered in a couple of weeks.
    Blessings

    • I have spoken with this vendor. I LOVE the creativity of this design. I think it is a WONDERFUL solution for a garden tractor. However, it is not a suitable solution for the 1-series.
      The quick hitch is not strong enough to handle what the 1-series can throw at it.
      Make sense?

  4. Hi Tim, this little grapple looks good but I don’t see them using it on a 1025r. Can you check them out and let me know your thoughts?http://innovativetractorattachments.com

    I should have my 1025r TLB delivered in a couple of weeks.
    Blessings,
    Dennis

  5. Pingback: 2038R or 3039R - Page 4

  6. https://youtu.be/L0tyjeB-yAc
    Check this out!

    I think this may work better than the ones listed above.

  7. The Wicked, hands down Just search Wicked Grapple and see how much feedback you’ll find. http://www.everythingattachments.com/Tractor-Root-Grapples-s/10568.htm

  8. Here is a grapple that maybe interesting to add to list. http://www.loaders.com/Brush-Crusher BC-3000 It a Westendorf Mfg Company product.

    • I just got a response from them (Westendorf). It works off John Deere FEL without modification and costs $1213 dollars plus shipping. Which in my case is $150 dollars. It just attaches and works. Just tried my link to that I had posted on the first comment and it is broken so…humm….just use the: http://www.loaders.com and look for the BrushCrusher section of their website. The one I was checking on is the BC3000. Thanks for all your Videos. I have learned a lot from them.

    • long conversations with Westendorf at the show.

      • Assuming the price is really $1,213 plus shipping, and if it’ll go on the JD 1025

        1. It needs no hydraulics. So, the cheapest option? Easiest to install.

        2. Weight? 140 pounds.

        3. No digging (EverythingAttach idea is root plowing is handy)

        4. No base between the gripper arms to support smaller brush & debris.

        Although I don’t understand how the arms are independently controlled.

        • They are controlled by the loader boom. There is an extended piece of the BC-4200 which goes under the loader boom. As you curl the bucket, this bracket hits the underside of the loader boom, forcing it closed.

  9. I’ve got the Artillian setup on my 2305 and it rocks. Also the excellent support Artillian gives you if you should need it is second to none.

    • Thanks for the feedback Bob!

      • Artillian site lists the grapple-rake-grapple for $3k. They do not list the frame, brush guard, or hydraulics in that price.

        • I do not see the same thing you see. I see $2097 for grapple-rake-grapple, then $549 for the frame.

          • You’re smarter than I am. All I know is at http://www.artillian.com/Grapple.htm If you click on the grapple-rack-grapple image to add to cart, it says $3,047.00

            It only itemizes the 2 grapples & rake. It may be they’re including all the other stuff, but it’s not shown.

            If you are correct, and I believe you are (looking at other costing pages), then maybe Artillian might show a more complete item list in the cart?

          • are you noticing that it shows $1000 shipping …until you enter your zip code? Goofy setup, I admit, but once I entered zip-code, it dropped the shipping to a more reasonable amount.

  10. Wow. I knew you were smarter than me. Crazy shopping cart. So, $2,200 or so, then add 3k rated frame, brush guard, hydraulics, etc. as needed. Which brings you up to roughly $3k (your results may vary based on choices since it is a modular system).

  11. Liked this segment. Yes its me again. Have entertained the grapple. Its lots to consider but weight isn’t my biggest concern. Don’t ever expect to use for excessive loads. How to use john after the storm in Florida will be my next adventure. Wish me luck we are hunking down. John will be put away for the storm in the brush tomorrow w/ attachments where there isn’t larger trees. I don’t trust the shed.

    • Oh my! Grab onto something and HANG ON!
      I was trying to illustrate in this article that weight IS very important. It doesn’t take too big of a log, concrete, etc to be 400lbs. If spending so much on an attachment, I wouldn’t want a couple hundred dollars to cut my lift potential by 40%.
      Anyway, none of that is important…when compared to this storm. Praying for you!

  12. I was considering the idea how much the loader has been moving and carrying stuff in a properly articulated position (lumber, tree branches, etc). The thinking would be picking up cut brush much easier and more controlled to a burn location. Yes I have distance and lots of area to clear to consider. Price along with the ability to grapple was my best consideration. So your article was good but my thought was not to consider the weight of the attachment which would reduce the weight capacity. The ability of the grapple was more important. This may my last window to use wifi for some time. Loosing shingles and a tornado destroyed a few buildings in my local address. Its not over yet, the worse is yet to come.

  13. I bought a TITAN based on previous experience with Titan. The implement is great for my needs. I use it for picking up logs, and brush. This is really great for picking up piles of brush. The weight of the implement was important to leave enough lifting power to lift debris.

  14. When you were on the Everything Attachments website, did you check out the third function hydraulic kits they sell. I believe that might be the solution for powering your grapple when the finance committee finally approves it.

    • I’m seeing here for me that the Brush crusher 4200 fits the bill for me for the ease of use or versatility and definitely price. It fits right up to the loader after dropping the bucket. What more could one ask for. The others seemed too complicated, pricey and I became too lost in the weight issue.

  15. I like that this unit uses the John Deere Quick Attach system, so you can easily switch from your bucket to this and back to the bucket with a minimum of fuss. But I’m not sure I like the idea that you lose the tilt feature. Sometimes I need that to reach further when I am dumping and to clear the sides of some high trailers or trucks. I would also like to have more forks to pick up smaller items.

    • I can see your point. Clearance issues could result with the front of the tractor as well with awkward larger and more difficult brush seeing that its pinned down by rotatating from the top. Its like a running back tucking a football into his side. I still like it. I did well with the bucket moving lumber and smaller stuff. I need it more for large clumps of brush I’ve cut down. Takes a good deal of work to drag the amount I end up cutting. That tends to take the most out of me and the most time.

  16. Going to find a dealer and hope for a demonstration. Contacting the company may get a future show, fair or convention that would allow for a more detailed and closer look in the operation of the unit.

    • how did it go?

      • Not too good. Couldn’t seem to get through 800 numbers. The chat worked well, but it was confusing due to 800 coverage and bad voicemail for those numbers.They are limited for dealers in south east. Spend limited amount of time at trade shows except for midwest. They do seem to be have troubles keeping up with orders on the BC 4200. The closest one to me in florida is NC. Although shipped to me is just over $1500. I really wanted to see one in action.

        • I saw one at the Farm Progress Show, and talked to a sales guy there. There is a thread about it on GreenTractorTalk…and the sales guy I talked with posted there. Name is Glen Coble. Maybe that will help?

          • I like the product but since I can’t see it in person its not likely going to happen. After looking at it more closely online and seeing its simplicity, I think its overpriced. Why should it sell for the same price that I got my 2048 cutter?? I’m thinking more like under a $1000 would be appropriate. Maybe I take the design, lay it out on cad and have someone cut the parts on a cnc laser machine.

  17. Tim, I wanted to ask if you had considered a 4-in-1 bucket instead of a grapple? I’m considering going that route for a few reasons. While not as good at picking up brush, the 4-in-1 bucket will allow me to grasp and pickup many of the same items. In addition, having used a 4-in-1 bucket on larger TLBs, I know the 4-in-1 bucket is more versatile for grading than the standard bucket, doing a much better job of back dragging. It can come in handy when you are trying to pick up dirt or other items close to a fence or other obstacle, because you are able to open the clamshell and drag the dirt into the bucket. For someone in your situation, it would mean you wouldn’t have to choose between which item to take to a job, the bucket, the grapple or both. One other thought. If you have teeth on your bucket, you have to remove them to have a smooth edge available for grading, whereas with the 4-in-1 bucket, you can open the clamshell and have a smooth edge that acts like a dozer blade. I like the W. R. Long Ultra Jaw 2 4-in-1 bucket. It is made for smaller tractors, the bucket is not much heavier than a standard bucket and they make it with or without teeth with our John Deere style quick connect. Of course, just like the grapple, you will have to add a third function valve to your loader. I will be interested in hearing your thoughts.

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