Bucket final grades on the fly
A bucket that adjusts final grade on the fly will be launched this summer by Indiana contractor Philip Paull. The Grade Regulator is the latest in a line of attachments he’s created through his three-year old manufacturing firm, Excavating Solutions, building on his more than 20 years of experience as an excavating contractor (see sidebar).
Most excavator buckets can be converted into a Grade Regulator with the addition of what Paull calls a “pilot,” an adjustable steering head welded onto the bucket. The patent-pending pilot moves up and down according to inputs received from a machine’s grade control system.
Here’s how it works:
• Set up your laser and key in your inputs to the monitor mounted in the cab. (Excavating Solutions will offer its own grade control system initially, but Paull envisions the bucket eventually connecting to most systems).
• Start digging. When the grade control system tells you you’re near grade, push a button wired in the joystick to activate the pilot head on the bucket.
• The pilot then takes over, and as you operate the joystick, it adjusts up and down to keep the bucket on grade. “The pilot head control instantly steadies the machine and the bucket’s teeth and will not allow the operator to dig anything but the pre-set grade,” Paull says. He also touts an additional benefit: While in use the pilot acts as a crumber, leaving the ditch clean.
The Grade Regulator has a two-part installation. You can install the electronics yourself, or use your regular laser or machine control supplier. Paull anticipates most contractors will feel comfortable welding the pilot on their own bucket, but also offers an installation option.
Paull, 45, firmly believes the videos on his blog, idigbest.com explain the process best. “I want it to be a place where contractors can post comments and find videos on what other guys are doing with the bucket,” he says.
Philip Paull started his construction firm, Final Grade Excavating, Noblesville, Indiana, at the age of 24, with a practice of hand finish grading “everything behind a machine,” he says. This can sometimes put workers in danger, though, and Paull wasn’t happy with the slower speeds hand finishing requires. So when the recession prompted him to look for new ways to make money, he started Excavating Solutions, excavatingsolutions.net, putting into iron the ideas he had in the field.
To see Paull show how the Grade Regulator works, go to equipmentworld.com/digital.