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Thread: 54C on a 420

  1. #31
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    Display Name: naplesjoe

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    Quote Originally Posted by mn317 View Post
    I had a AL Zimmerman 54c blade with hydraulic angle. I had it on my 317 with only minor modifications. When I moved to a 420, I had lined everything up and to me it appeared that I would only need to weld my rear mounts to the bottom of the hitch. It was something I never got around to, heck I only used it once on my 317. I am interested how it works out for you. The person I sold it to was going to put it on a 318, which has much less room.
    I have several of these blades over the years. I usually bought them when I had a use for them or they just popped up out of no place. The first one was when we built a home in Minnesota back in the 70's. I was doing my own contracting and justified the purchase price by doing my own final grading on the lot. I soon learned the limitations of this attachment. It didn't have enough flexibility or blade control to do anything other than somewhat level lumps. I ended up raking the entire property anyway. But it was fun.

    I did use it on a few occasions to scrape ice and packed snow off the driveway. It worked well for that, if I stood on the blade to exert enough down pressure to cut through it. Come summer I found my driveway all scraped to hell with large chips in the concrete where the blade struck the joints. It did get the ice off but with a cost I wasn't happy about. I ended up giving the blade to my brother, never to be seen again.

    Next encounter was after a move to Naples Florida. I was selling a mower deck to a fellow who asked if I want what he thought was a John Deere attachment but had no idea what tractor it was built for. It didn't work on his. It turned out to be a 54c with some modifications. I did take it off his hands for a small discount on the mower deck. He didn't ask for the discount he just wanted to get rid of it. I did have to do the normal mods to cut a relief to clear the hydro lines under my 317. I was at the time installing a very long driveway to the back of my property. Total about 600 feet. Florida swamp soil is pure sand and requires what they call lime rock to make a road that is usable. Here again, I though I would final grade the fresh lime rock that the contractor put down. Well, I did but to be honest the operator of the Bobcat was so good at spreading and leveling that I really did more harm than good. As for using it in the sandy Florida soil, forget it! It just dug in. It worked well back dragging weeds out though.

    Next I decided to place 87 pea rock over the drive do make it look a bit better. Again, the same Bobcat operator spoiled my day buy placing the stuff so well it didn't require and additional dressing. But a few years later, I thought the drive needed a little attention so I dug the 54c out of the brush that had grown around it, hung it on the tractor and used it to scrap the pee rock off the hard lime rock base which it did well. The base was so hard the 54c just jumped around under the tractor and hardly scrapped off enough material to level the low spots. After doing as much as I could I tried to level the pee rock by back dragging it with the blade. After a few hours of playing, I took the shovel and rack and finished the job. I then sold the 54c!

    So, I like to play with this stuff as much as anybody. But the moral here is use the right tool for the job. And in my opinion, these blades have no practical purpose that would ever justify the cost and wear and tear on you tractor. They are a toy and perhaps somebody will chime in here to tell us how well his works in some ideal situation.

    One last thing. I did have a 318 at one point in time and I too slid the blade under it. It could be made to work with modifications that I didn't think were worth it or good for the tractor. I've seen numerous 318's with bent and damaged rear frames. Their just not a stout as the older tractors with the closed frame. I would not only never advise anyone to spend any money on these blades but also for sure not to mount them on an open frame tractor. If your just bladeing fluffy snow or feathers maybe so. But who would want to drag that thing out and hook it up just for that? Perhaps just once.

    Sorry to sound so negative but if you looking for justification for these things, or most anything else, your likely to find plenty of it on these sites. Just trying to save folks from wasting time and money hoping the thing will accomplish something useful.

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    gabby_in_wis (01-06-2020)

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  4. #32
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    Display Name: Chuck Van Dusen
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    Naplesjoe,

    The center grader blade is a very specific tool for a limited set of tasks, and as such requires its own set of operational quirks... My shop made center blade had some downforce added by springs such that the blade remained compliant when needed. Another definite need when using these blades is to set up the travel to limit the down motion to just a little more than below the level line between front and rear axle to avoid the 'digging in' you mention when grading (and at or above that for removing snow or spreading materials...) When using my 322, I also had a front blade, a rear scraper blade and a front Johnny Bucket SR to choose from and the task at hand would determine the choice of attachment. We did not get any meaningful snow in the Portland Oregon area, but maintained several hundred feet of gravel driveway and large gravel parking areas. My wife became very skilled with the center blade and she preferred it to our other attachments for dressing the drives and spreading new material, etc. I have never had experience in really sandy soils,so can appreciate that it might not work as well in that situation...

    Chuck

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    gabby_in_wis (01-06-2020)

  6. #33
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    Display Name: Neil Paku

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    Given all of that commentary, if someone wants to sell me theirs (cheap because they're not much use : ), let me know! __PRESENT

  7. #34
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    Display Name: Kelvin Gebhard
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    Thanks Joe and Chuck. During my career at John Deere I had endless supple of the "right tools" to do a job. Most were experimental models but still rows of machines to take out to do a job. I am well aware this 54C has limitations and likewise as Chuck points out there are required modifications necessary to make it perform to your liking. Down pressure would be one of those mandatory mods.

    I have two 54C blades and 14 garden tractors (2 skidsteers and a compact excavator) so no shortage of toys to play with. It is just I need to put some of the attachments to work that I have laying around. It is either use them or loose them. Neil, I would be willing to part with one but "not cheap". I did not get them cheap so the best way to handle this is what do you have to trade?

    Gabby
    Currently in my garages/sheds: 1967 JD112 RF ... 1972 JD 112 SF ... 1973 140 H3 ... 1977 JD 300 ... 1979 JD 216
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  8. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by gabby_in_wis View Post
    Thanks Joe and Chuck. During my career at John Deere I had endless supple of the "right tools" to do a job. Most were experimental models but still rows of machines to take out to do a job. I am well aware this 54C has limitations and likewise as Chuck points out there are required modifications necessary to make it perform to your liking. Down pressure would be one of those mandatory mods.

    I have two 54C blades and 14 garden tractors (2 skidsteers and a compact excavator) so no shortage of toys to play with. It is just I need to put some of the attachments to work that I have laying around. It is either use them or loose them. Neil, I would be willing to part with one but "not cheap". I did not get them cheap so the best way to handle this is what do you have to trade?

    Gabby
    Don't get me wrong here. I am not saying John Deere put out shoddy or useless equipment. My point is to enlighten anyone who may consider these or any attachment for a specific job. As I mentioned, I'm sure somebody out there has used them successfully (as have I on a few occasions) and could describe how it was used and what material they were working with. In other words, save somebody so time and money. These things are easy to buy, but hard to get rid of. Shipping alone is often a show stopper. As we all have seen so many times on these sites, "Wish I were closer".

    As for down pressure? You have the weight of the tractor and the operator to work with. With the blade being 54"s wide, it just isn't enough and I would certainly like to know how springs mysteriously add more down pressure. The traction just isn't there. Of course you can add to the cost by adding all sorts of weights wheel chains and whatever. But when you do find something it can move efficiently, there is little room forward of the blade before the material piles up into the front wheels. As I mentioned before, knocking down any pile deeper than the front axle just can't be done. You can only take small slices off the corner of the pile with the small amount of blade that protrudes outside of the wheels. About a shovel full.

    I really think a front mounted blade is much more efficient, cheaper and less harmful to the machine. Again. depending on what your doing and within the limitations of the tractor.

  9. #36
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    Naplesjoe,

    The center blade is lifted by the same mechanisms that lift the mower deck. This linkage has "float" so there is NO down pressure from the weight of the tractor, just from the attachment weight of the blade attachment itself. Here is a PDF of the way I added more down pressure to my shop built center blade -- a similar approach could be used for any grader attachment...(sorry for the inconvenient page breaks that often separate pictures from their related text.)

    WFM thread on center blade down force.pdf

    Chuck

  10. #37
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    Display Name: Jeff Kluewer
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    I have only used my 54C in winter. I have the snow thrower skid shoes set for going over gravel and grass, so it will leave some snow on paved surfaces. The 54C will get what snow is left behind and scrape the hard surfaces. I don’t have storage room for any extra length added to the machine for a rear blade, so the 54C works great for me.

    I converted to H3 to be able to angle the blade, have the 2 speed/diff lock, 18” and 26” tires (more clearance), and 450 lbs weight in the rear tires (liquid and iron).
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    Last edited by jeff_kluewer; 01-07-2020 at 04:15 AM.
    '92 JD 318
    '8? JD 332

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