Grapple Fork Definition - Columbus State University

Hay Managing Shop
Equipment, Tools,
and Supplies
Each issue of NAEDA Equipment Dealer
magazine features the latest products in a
section known as the “Equipment Spotlight”.
In this issue, the focus is on Hay Managing
Grapple Fork:
Hay Bale Loading Device
Have your clients been complaining about hay season?
Not loading enough hay, and wasting too much time?
Recommend to them a grapple fork attachment for the
quickest and safest way to load large quantities of hay.
But first what is a grapple fork?
Definition of a Grapple fork
Figure 1 depicts a grapple fork loading hay.
A Grapple fork, seen in figure 1, is a hay bale loading
device that uses tines (hooks) to load as much as eight
small or six large bales of hay at a time.. In this article,
I plan on discussing the grapple fork’s other hay bale
loading family members, discuss the purpose of a
grapple fork, how the grapple fork is used, and what
the grapple fork is made from.
Other Family Memebers
The grapple fork is a member amongst other hay
loading devices such as a “spear loader” and a “round
bale hugger.” In all three cases, the devices are
attached to loaders. Below is a description of each
device along with their uses and the device’s pros and
Figure 2a depicts a spear loader loading hay, and
in the corner is Figure 2b (a three pronged spear
Spear Loader
A Spear loader, seen in figure 2, is ideal for loading
large bales across a long distance. The triple tine spears
(three hooks) on most spear loaders can hold up to
2,500 pounds. Another benefit of spear loaders is how
they are made of forged steel to resist bending and
provide longer wear capability. A Spear loader can also
be adapted to load round and square bales. However,
the spear loader only loads one bale at a time. Thus, if
(continue on page 10)
Figure 3 depicts a round bale hugger loading hay.
9 NAEDA Equipm ent Dealer’s Magazine May 2012
you need to load large quantities of hay bales, we
would not recommend this loader. The hale bale
hugger has a similar problem in only being able to
load one bale at one time.
Round Bale Hugger
Although a round bale hugger can only carry one
bale at a time, they have multiple benefits. Round
bale huggers, seen in figure 3, are used to load
regular wrapped and sileage wrapped bales. The
bale wrappings help preserve the hay for feeding
to cattle and other farm animals. Silegae wrapp
preserves the hay in a sealed container (usually a
plastic bag) while it still contains high amounts of
moisture. Huggers are excellent for loading silage
because their unique design pierces, separates,
and rakes without cutting or reducing the size of
the silage. Nonetheless, similar to spear loaders,
bale huggers can only pick up round bales and
aren’t ideal for loading large amounts of hay bales
at one time.
The Grapple fork, is however specifically made
for loading large amounts of hay, which is further
explained in the next section.
Purpose & Benefits
Grapple forks are perfect for heavy duty loading of
hay. Grapple forks uses 8 tines (or hooks) and four
sets on each side to hook into the bales. The tines
hook slightly inside of the bale’s center, which
creates a better balance of the bales and a less
chance of them falling off the loader. One of the
main safety benefits includes the hooks resting
across the main frame of the grapple fork to
eliminate the need to pile or move extremely heavy
loads. The safety benefits make the grapple fork
great for first time users.
How to use a Grapple Fork
Some models that use a grapple fork use a trip
mechanisim. Trip mechanisms are attached to a
rope used to open the mouth of the grapple fork to
drop they hay inside the barn. Newer models just
attach a grapple fork to a loading device such as a front
ending tractor (a tractor that uses it’s front to
load heavy duty items duty items). Attaching a
grapple fork to tractors has been made easy with a
“Quik-Tatch.” Just line up the loader’s connecting
point to the attachment frame, lock in place, and
you’re good to go. The modifcaitons have been
able to cut down on the time spent on loading hay
and resulted in saving well over 50 percent in time
require to load hay. Now that we’ve discussed how
it’s used, we’ll discuss in the next section what
parts allow the grapple fork to do its job.
Parts of a Grapple Fork
Before modifications were made, the old grapple
fork used ½ inch tines made out of iron, “but
[those] proved to be too light, frequently bending
and giving trouble by failing to withdraw from the
bale when tripped (released). Since then,
modifications were made. Tapared tines (narrow at
the end) approxiamately ¾ inches and sqare-shaped
at the ends have demonstrated they’re more
successful and suitable for the job. The squareshaped ends of the tines are welded to two 1 ¼ inch
wide, and the 2 inch long pipes that make up the
sleeves (arms of the the main part) are made from
black iron pipe coated with green coloring. In
addition, large flat washers are welded on each of
the pipes to prevent their sliding out of the tine
eyes that are connectesd to the sleeves. Accoring
to, washers are flat rings of metal
used to give tightness to a joint used to prevent
movement between the tine and the sleeves. Now
that we’ve explained the parts of the grapple fork,
below we’ve discused the cons to the grapple fork.
The only con to this item is it’s price, $50,000. The
replacement of any damaged items on the grapple
fork will have the same price. However, the
grapple fork comes highly recommend and the
amount of money spent is definitley worth the high
10 NAEDA Equipm ent Dealer’s Magazine May 2012
11 NAEDA Equipm ent Dealer’s Magazine May 2012