Weekend Freedom Machines banner

318 FEL Buckthorn Puller

3256 Views 23 Replies 12 Participants Last post by  galdeer
I have a somewhat serious problem with Buck thorns.

I used to always pull them out by the roots which meant jerk ramming them out of the ground with a chain attached to my 318. Then I would get off the tractor to knock the dirt off the roots, reconnect the chain to the next one, get back on the tractor and do the operation all over again. This is very slow and time consuming especially when the chain slips and only skins off the bark. I thought I would give my FEL a shot at it, so I hooked my chain to the bucket and it pops the bush out of the ground easily. It also holds the roots above the ground which makes it much simpler to knock the dirt off.

This is still a multi part operation however so I came up with an idea for an inverted wedge shaped fork with sharp edges that would mount to the bottom of the bucket. I could guide the "V" into the trunk of the bush and the edges would get a bite so I could pop the nasty creature out of the ground. I would still need to dismount each time but I wouldn't have to hassle with a chain each time. I also believe it would be a lot easier on the tractor. The bushes I pull out are usually less than 2" in diameter.

Well anyway, what do you think?

Jim A.

See less See more
1 - 20 of 24 Posts
The concept is there, but I don't know if it will have the bite you need.
On a side note, I thought "this guy must be from WI" and you were!
It will be interesting to see your success.
I need one also.

Thanks for your replies.
Ideally it would be nice to have a hydraulic jaw to grab and pull, but I would still need to get off the tractor to knock the dirt off unless I installed a shaker. This is getting too complicated. Maybe I can get one of my friends to help me instead.
Scooter, I was planning on having the bevels on the bottom so I think it would grab better. Hey Scooter! You're a neighbor if that's the Johnstown on Cty. A I'm thinking of. I'm in Darien Twnsp. about 3 miles SW of Delavan.

Jim A.
See less See more
Years ago when I worked at a tree nursery we had a bare root blade for the same purpose of digging a tree up roots and all, but leave the dirt. It was a U shaped blade sharpened on the bottom with a few curved bars behind it to hold the root mass after it was dug up. This blade replaced the bucket on a front end loader. To dig, the blade was rolled under like you were dumping with a bucket. Set down on the ground in front of the tree. You used the weight of the tractor, forward motion and hydraulics to roll the blade under the tree and "scoop" it out of the ground. Then raise it up and shake the dirt off using up and down rapidly. Each tractor was different so it took a little practice to get the movements right. Some one was in front to hold the tree trunk to prevent it from damaging the bark, but on dead or junk tress that wasn't necessary. I'm not sure what a Buckthorne is but I'm guessing they are similar to what we called a Hawthorne. Long sharp spikes! We had these in tree and bush form. I hated working with them.
See less See more
I gather a buckthorn is similar to what we call an alder bush. A chap in eastern Ontario used to make what was called the "Scisson's Brush Brute" - a dandy rig for use on FEL's on bigger tractors, a version of which now appears to be manufactured here in Ontario by Don Fluney, and which can be seen at his website: www.fluneywelding.com/forks.html
Appears you're on the right track.

Good luck on your endeavours.
Thanks for your link. That kinda' tells me I may be on the right track. The smallest one they have is 52" which is a little big for my 318's bucket. BTW, thanks for the e-mail.

If you are curious what a Buckthorn is, see:

Nasty buckthorn

Nasty buckthorn next to tree (you can see the stem between the leaves.)

Nasty buckthorn root (notice that there is no tap root, but there are many fibrous roots that hold a lot of dirt.)

I cut one down the other day that was 40' tall with an 8" trunk. Usually they grow into massively huge multi-trunk bushes. They have dull thorns that like to stab you when you least expect it and that make them even nastier to work with! If you leave an area unattended for a year they start sprouting by the hundreds! They will grow to 3' in about 3 years. Their favorite spot is next to trees because the mower can't reach them. I should weedwack more often, but I have so many trees, it gets away from me.
Jim A.
See less See more
I looked you up in the phone book. Yep, you are about ten minutes from my house. I am off of Countyline Road between A and 14.

I like the looks of the first link better than the Northern Tool concept. It seems a bit simpler to me. If you want to get a look at the Northern Tool one in person I believe there is a physical store by the zoo in Milwaukee. If it is not NT than it is Harbor Freight. One of those type of stores.
I think your design might work, but could also be frustrating. You would have to get in low and curl up while pushing forward and hope the wedge got a good enough bite. Small trees are going to want to fall away from the "bite" of the jaws. I am thinking you might end up with a nifty bark stripper a lot of times....

The tool you posted from northern seems neat, here is a less costly version that would work well on a chain on the FEL bucket:


The user testimonials seem pretty positive. Now you would have to get off and beat on the root ball with a shovel, and again to unhook, but it would save wrapping and unwrapping the chain on the trunk each time.
I have used forks on a skid loader to remove them.....I just put the forks together then popped them out, then went around and picked them up and knocked off the dirt....I am also intreged by a bucket attachment I have seen that looks like a very large spade shovel mounted to a loader bucket.....

Good luck with the BT scourge...

Well after much scrutinizing I decided to go with the BG-05 Grubber. I weighed the problems and expense of machining an "experimental" unit against the cost of a complete unit and that seems to be the way to go. This thing must be pretty new on the market because I couldn't see any testimonials about it, but judging from what was said about the other models it seems to me that this company must know what they are doing. I could have gone with the less expensive chain type models, but it seems that this unit would take a lot of time and effort out of the job. I know it's probably going to be made in China so I hope it doesn't break the first time I use it! Wish me luck and I'll keep you posted on how it works out when I get it.

Jim A.
Which one was that? The Sportsmans Guide one? I didn't see a BG-05 on any of the pages.
Hi Scooter,

I ordered it from Northern Tool via Fee Bay. It seems that there are not any other retailers that stock this model yet. I looked all over the internet and Northern was the only one I could find it on besides BAC industries themselves.

Jim A.
See less See more
I made a handy little tool out of 1/2" steel plate that works well for pulling fence posts, stakes, and small trees. I cut a notch in one end that slides around the base of the object to be pulled, then hooked a chain to the other end that hooks to the bucket. When you pull up on the plate the notch really wedges itself onto the object and really bites in. We pull all the tent stakes at the local festival with this contraption and my backhoe. With a buddy running the puller, we can pull them out and have them laying on the ground as quick as I can get to the next one. Here is a very crude drawing of the design. I'm sure different sized "slots" could be used for differences in the size of the item to be extracted. It is sort of like a giant bottle opener!
See less See more

That is a great idea and if I would have known about that some years ago it would have saved me a lot of crawling around on the ground. I still want to get away from having to use a chain so that's why I wanted something that would hold the root ball in the air, making it simpler to knock the dirt off.

Jim A.
I got the thing yesterday and tried it out today and so far I am NOT impressed!! In all fairness, I will have to play with it some more to make an accurate assessment.

Jim A.
I'm really not happy with it. I was hoping I would be able to just drive up and it would grab the bush and I would just lift it out of the ground. Not so. I have to back up and drag it out of the ground. When I try to pull it out of the ground vertically, all it does is slide along the trunk and strip off leaves and branches. The teeth never hit the target. The trunk always ends up behind the teeth where the surfaces are smooth so it doesn't bite in. Another thing I don't like about it is the way you reset it. There is a long lanyard you pull on from the seat to reset the jaws. I always have to pull my guts out to get it to work and most of the time I have to get off the tractor and reset it manually. It's completely useless for small Buckthorns 3/4" or less. I wouldn't recommend this to anyone! I think my original idea would have been better.

Jim A.
Getting ready to tackle a my first adventure with this transaxle. Got it out, and opened up for inspection. found the pinion and bevel gears were worn. Need recommendation on best practice to rebuild. Thanks in advance for helping the rookie.
1 - 20 of 24 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.