Receiver Hitch Road Maintenance

When we first bought our rural, the long unpaved road to the house site was a mess. Ten years of neglect by the previous owner had left it rutted and washed out in places. Maintenance was needed. Our neighbor, by way of a welcome present, scraped and smoothed it with his John Deere tractor and scraper blade.

Summer rains began their work in July, and by early Fall the ruts were starting to appear again on the road. The need for regular road maintenance was apparent. We could hire someone, or purchase a tractor and scraper or box scraper. Everyone in the area has a tractor, mainly for this purpose.

We could not afford a new tractor, so I started looking at used tractors. Lots of used Ford 8n and Yanmars were to be had, at a price range of between 3K and 15K. After looking at a few it became obvious that you get what you pay for. The more serviceable tractors (ones with standard 3 point hitch, a live PTO with hydraulic lift, a bucket loader on the front, and the necessary blade or box implements, were at the higher end of that range. Again, the price was more than we could afford.

Somewhere along the way I had the idea that a blade could somehow be attached to a heavy duty receiver (trailer hitch) on an SUV. Interestingly, there are several companies offering this sort of rig.

I like this idea because of the simplicity. A tractor is one more thing to maintain.

Internet to the rescue. Here’s what I found:

The T-Point Lift. which looks serviceable:

Website: http://www.t-pointlift.com/Q_and_A.html

It has a hydraulic cylinder which seems like it should let the blade or box float over the surface, and not beat up the receiver.

Cost is about $2000 with shipping.

Another option is the Hitch and, by Schmidt Products LLC.:

Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aUtcLjmooMc

Presentation: https://docs.google.com/present/view?id=dg6pscpq_1646c3vcp3gb

This one uses a winch rather than hydraulics to drop and lift the blade. The blade floats free with this one. Not sure what the cost is, but probably similar or a little less the T-Point, once you include the winch and shipping.

Finally, there are towable graders like the Trail’GradeR:

Website: http://trailgrader.com

Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch_popup?v=S7f2DMR3Hrs

Cost seems around 5-6K depending on options.  This seems to me like it would be most workable of the three.

A discussion of these grading devices is on Tractor.net here.

I’d like to be able to maintain my own drive, and help maintain the private road we live on, so will consider these options. For now I have an old iron I beam which I will drag up and down the road.

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Gates Foundation: ‘We need to reinvent the toilet’

Bill Gates, ex Microsoft, recognizes that flush toilet technology is wasteful and costly for areas lacking water resources, liquid waste-transport, and treatment infrastructure, but that toilet technology is pivotal for good human health. 

Overview Video:

Program Fact Sheet:
http://www.gatesfoundation.org/watersanitationhygiene/Documents/wsh-reinvent-the-toilet-challenge.pdf

He’s right, especially for any place with a limited water resource, which is a good part of the world, and certainly true already in my corner. Using 3-5 gallons to flush, transport to a distant treatment facility, chemicaly treat, and dispose of the effluent into a stream is a generally wasteful process, and it’s time to do better. Alternatives need to be as convenient as what we are used to, which poses a surprisingly tough engineering problem.  Some effective technologies already exist, which may or may not be on local code enforcements radar. 

At least someone with influence and bucks is recognizing a problem and doing something about it.  The problem is not limited to the developing world.

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