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After 40 years as a contractor in Oregon, Ted McCoy cashed in his chips and moved to Hawaii. Along with a big spread in Paradise, McCoy bought a used backhoe to help him clear the property, which was strewn with large rocks.
But as McCoy tried to move the rocks, he realized his old, mechanical-thumb-equipped backhoe just wasn’t as efficient as he wanted it to be. “The best I could do was take the big rocks and wedge them under the boom,” McCoy recalls. “I knew I could get a hydraulic thumb, but that old backhoe wasn’t worth spending $2,000 or $3,000 on to install a hydraulic system.”
So McCoy decided to come up with his own thumb attachment for backhoes. “My thumb needs no auxiliary hydraulics,” he notes. “And it uses completely different pivot points than any other thumb on the market combined with adjustable jaws. It has almost an 8-foot stroke. This enables it to pick up items as small as rebar or as large as a 1,000-pound rock.”
The end result is an infinitely adjustable thumb that uses a backhoe’s existing hydraulic system to open and close the thumb without the need for a separate hydraulic circuit or control. “A lot of people think because the thumb moves up and down the boom, it’ll be in your way when you dig. But for the most part it’s not,” McCoy explains. “It will even fit on and work with extenda-hoe booms.”
McCoy says it took several versions to get his Rock Grabber, as he calls the attachment, the way he wanted. But once he did, contractor friends in Hawaii started asking him to build them one.
Today he’s back in Medford, Oregon, and says interest in his rock grabber has continued to grow. He’s patented the design, and his local John Deere dealer has even pointed contractors in his direction. “The Rock Grabber will fit on old, new, large or small backhoes,” McCoy says. “It’s a perfect, affordable attachment for landscapers or anyone who needs to efficiently move different sized rock.”
Currently, McCoy can handle limited production orders for his Rock Grabber. For more information, contact him at (541) 840-8177.