Let the task and terrain guide your decision on frame type and grader size.
Need to level a large construction site or roadway? Look no further than a motor grader to complete the task with ease. These heavy-duty construction machines use a long, adjustable blade to create flat surfaces, spread dirt and remove rocks, brush, debris and snow. Get to know the different types of motor graders available to choose the right one for your job.
Motor graders: Rigid frame and articulated frame
There are two types of motor graders. The difference is in their frames.
Rigid frame motor grader
A rigid frame motor grader is the standard grader for tasks that don’t require precise maneuvering. These machines are popular on farms and construction sites. They have a single, fixed axle and a long rectangular frame with six wheels, four under the rear and cab and two in front. The blade is attached behind the front wheels.
Articulated frame motor grader
Articulated frame motor graders are ideal for large jobs that require maneuverability and precise turning, such as removing snow, constructing curved roads and grading and maintaining gravel roads. They have two axles hitched by pivot pins between the cab and the front wheels. This configuration enables the operator to position the front frame and blade at an offset to the back frame, which allows the grader to maneuver more effectively in tight spaces.
Motor grader sizes
Motor graders are available in a range of sizes from trusted manufacturers such as Case, John Deere, Caterpillar and more. Small graders can move easily in tight spaces but may require more passes to complete a job. Large graders have larger wheels and can power wider blades and other hydraulic attachments, but they can be more difficult to maneuver in smaller spaces. They also use more fuel.
The right size of grader depends on your application.
- Small (80-150 horsepower): Best for small construction jobs and landscaping projects such as leveling and grading lawns and gardens.
- Medium (150-300 horsepower): Ideal for large jobs on highways, roads and construction sites.
- Large (above 300 horsepower): Used in residential, commercial and mining operations. These graders can weigh more than 160,000 pounds, with blades as wide as 24 feet.
Other factors to consider when choosing a motor grader
Once you’ve figured out the frame type and grader size that best fits your requirements, you’ll want to determine the best blade size, whether or not you need 4-wheel drive and what tires and technology features will help you get the job done more easily and effectively.
Motor grader blades, called moldboards, come in widths from 12 feet to 24 feet and heights from 6 inches to 10 inches. Wider blades offer more coverage. You can choose blades made of steel, carbon or tungsten carbide and in shapes such as flat, serrated and curved. Keep in mind that a bigger blade adds weight, which can strain the drivetrain and frame on a smaller grader.
Motor graders come with rear tandem drive or all-wheel drive systems. If you plan to work in mud, gravel, snow or sand, choose an all-wheel-drive grader for more traction and maneuverability.
Tires and treads
Tires can affect traction and comfort. Radial tires absorb the impact of rocks and other large obstacles. Bias tires are stiffer than radial, so you’ll feel the road more. Treads are an important consideration, too. Deeper treads provide better traction but can leave marks. Choose a smoother tread for finish grading.
Modern graders include many advanced technology features to add safety and ease of operation. Examples include automatic articulation and steering, automatic speed controls, diagnostic data collection and preset buttons to control blade movement and storage.
The motor grader is the go-to machine for building and resurfacing roads, leveling and grading land for construction projects, creating sports fields and more. Choosing the right machine among the different types of motor graders will boost your productivity and improve your outcome.