OT-Need advice on making a carbide tip edger blade to cut through clay tennis court
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    Default OT-Need advice on making a carbide tip edger blade to cut through clay tennis court

    I am trying to improve the performance of the clay tennis court in my neighborhood. Myself and another guy are about the only people that maintain the courts and they do not get much play. There is no $ to get the courts "renovated" which involves removing the clay and putting all new clay down. The courts are 12-13 years old and the "Har-Tru" clay (which I am fairly sure is mainly Bentonite clay) get so compact that it performs like a membrane and does not allow the sub-surface watering system to work properly nor does it allow rain to soak down through into the base material. I have been racking my brain over the last couple of years and trying methods to make the clay permeable with no success. I recently decided to use a commercial type edger and make 1/2-3/4" slots from front to rear on the courts and then come back with a new top dressing of clay. I was able to get one of the 2 courts done but had to make my own blades from flat bar and they wore out way too fast. I used 6" X 2" X 1/8" flat bar and used a couple of variations of bent/slit ends to get the wide kerf but I'd like to not have to use up 6 blades on the second court. I was wondering if I could use some carbide inserts I have laying around (I am a hobbyist and use HS steel cutters) and braze or solder them to a steel blade. I don't have any experience in doing this. I did some research and found a lot of confusing information about exactly how carbide is attached to tool bits. Is it soldering or brazing & whatever it is can someone tell me what I need to do it. I read that the inserts would be OK if the coating is taken off which is easy to do with a diamond "wet stone'. I made another blade that I TIG welded 2 more pieces of 1/8" X 3/8" X 1" to each end figuring I would use it like it is and this would give me a 5/8" kerf but now I am wondering if I can use this thickened face for the carbide inserts to mount to. The additional pieces of steel are welded to each end of the blade in a vertical manner so the leading edge has a good 1-1-1/4" worth of wear available..
    Any help/advice would be greatly appreciated. I am hoping I can use the TIG welder to provide the heat for whatever operation that is appropriate for affixing carbide to steel. I know that a torch is generally used for heating but my torch kit is acting up and the TIG unit is fine and more available.
    Thanks
    Howard
    Hampstead, NC

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    I have used a carbide tipped dado blade from a table saw on an edger before to make a "trench" about 3/4" wide to install drip irrigation tubing. Would something like that do what you need to do? I did try silver soldering carbide inserts to the flat edger blade, but it seemed like the dado blade cut a lot faster. Good luck.

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    Several rough cut skill saw blades stacked might work. Cutting half the teeth off might help. I like the idea of dado blades, but I paid $100 for mine... I guess it's still cheaper than golf.

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    I tried a "custom" circular saw blade but punched out the center for a 1" mount that the stick edger I was going to try used. I bent out alternating teeth at the gullets but the stick edger was not up to the task so I wasted this blade. I have a few dado blades. One is the Freud I won't destroy. I have another set that is hardened steel-would this hold up? And I have another "wobbler" that I would not mind sacrificing but I will have to check out the blade and how it is mounted in the hub.
    I would still like to be able to solder my own carbide on a blade. It would give me a clean 3/4" cut. Currently I am going through blades at about one every 300' and plan on making about 2000' more cuts. I would like to be able to use this in the future as well. If I were to use a MIG welder to build up the ends and then grind into a nice flat tip would this be a lot harder then mild steel?
    Thanks
    Howard

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    How about hard facing the ends and leading edges with hard facing rod (if you have a stick welder avail.). It's not going to outlast carbide but it's quick and easy!

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    I know something about brazing carbide to steel.

    To remove coating on inserts I heat them up to about 1500 F - 2000 F. The carbide growths but the coating does no so it cracks and flakes.

    Then grind the surface of the carbide you want to braze so that it is clean and gray.

    Or we can sell you a few saw tips and save you a lot of work.

    You need to braze but it is often called soldering. Soldering is under 700 F and brazing is over 700 F. There are other definitions.

    You need a braze alloy with a melting range of around 1150 – 1300.

    I like a 49% Silver with Manganese for maximum strength.
    50% silver is more common.
    56% silver with tin is the easiest to use. It does not have the strength of the other two but should work fine.

    You need Black Flux or Purified Black Flux. It has to be brazing flux. Solder flux will get used up too fast.

    We have more information at Buy Carbide Braze Alloy | Carbide Brazing Services and Tips | How to Braze

    Tom

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    Did you consider renting a slit seeder? They can usually be set to slit down to a maximum depth of 1.5 inches. Just don't fill the seed hopper

    A core aerator might work for your purpose too.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Murf View Post
    How about hard facing the ends and leading edges with hard facing rod (if you have a stick welder avail.). It's not going to outlast carbide but it's quick and easy!
    I like that idea. I think the rod is pretty expensive but its fairly simple after that. Shape to suit with an angle grinder.

    Wayyy back in my life, lessee, around 1988...I was a kid working a 5 day a week mower on an incredibly rocky piece of ground. The blades got trashed in no time and one of the leads got some hardfacing rod, welded up the edges, rough sharpened them with a angle grinder, and they lasted impressively longer after that. Perhaps more impressive than that was the guy welded up all the blades in a short-sleeved shirt, ending up with a lobster-grade sunburn for about the next 3 weeks

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    Edger blade
    You could try a 1/2 inch brazed tool bit from Enco . Their brand "C style square nose brazed tool cost $3.89 ea. You could make a 1/2
    edger blade and bolt the brazed tool bit to it. Then change bit when dull.
    jims

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sea Farmer View Post
    Did you consider renting a slit seeder? They can usually be set to slit down to a maximum depth of 1.5 inches. Just don't fill the seed hopper

    A core aerator might work for your purpose too.
    We tried the core aeretor route. The clay is so hard/compact the thing just bounced along barely making an imprint.

    Quote Originally Posted by jims View Post
    Edger blade
    You could try a 1/2 inch brazed tool bit from Enco . Their brand "C style square nose brazed tool cost $3.89 ea. You could make a 1/2
    edger blade and bolt the brazed tool bit to it. Then change bit when dull.
    jims
    I thought about this too but had a couple of concerns. I couldn't figure out how to bolt a bit on the ends without having a space in the center the width of the blade (which would actually be just a cutter holder)
    I was afraid that the bolt and/or the steel that the carbide is cemented to would wear and throw the carbide tip???

    If these bit shanks can be drilled for bolting could I simply weld the shanks of the cutters to the blade ends?
    I so I could use a 1/8" blade and place the shank of each cutter on the edge of the end of the blade by cutting the end of the blade so that the cutter would sit in the end of the blade and I could weld the edges of each cutter in line with blade. I hope I am make a little sense. In this way there would be no blade steel cutting into the clay and, if I used 1/2" cutter, I would have 2 X 1/2" - 1/4" for the two 1/8'' blade thickness = 3/4" kerf.
    Thanks
    Howard

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    edger blade
    You can buy a 3/4 square nose C style brazed bit for less then $8 bucks. If your machine has power to hack it it should be a piece of cake. The tool shanks are tough but not to hard to drill a hole through. You can drill and tap a 1/4 hole in the edger base and bolt tool bit to it.
    It would be cheaper than using hard face on end of mild steel edger and easy to mount new cutter on edger.

    jims

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    Most carbide is really to brittle to do what you want. Hard facing is the industry std approach with a proven track record for things like this!

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    +1 hard facing. We do excavator bucket edges in it. You can buy it in rod form you weld over faces, or by the plate.
    But improving the surface for a grass court is usually done with a hollow tiner designed to make holes and extract soil cores for drainage and break up the surface to deal with your very issue. You can probably rent a large professional one for a day with enough weight to penetrate and get 'er done, and give it a thorough going over. Cutting drainage slits in nowadays is a bit frowned upon.

    Lawn & Garden Tow Behind Aerator Rental in NH & MA - Grand Rental Station

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    Quote Originally Posted by adama View Post
    Most carbide is really to brittle to do what you want. Hard facing is the industry std approach with a proven track record for things like this!
    Yea-I like this. It seems to be the "right tool for the right job". I have a stick welder and will give it a try as soon as I can get a hold of some sticks. I have very little experience with stick welding. I bought the one I have, an old John Deer unit, a long time ago for almost nothing. I know it works but I was so bad at it I put it away. I'll try it again. I would imagine it would be best to make the ends thicker with added material and then putting the hard surface on the thickened end yes?

    Quote Originally Posted by MrFluffy View Post
    +1 hard facing. We do excavator bucket edges in it. You can buy it in rod form you weld over faces, or by the plate.
    But improving the surface for a grass court is usually done with a hollow tiner designed to make holes and extract soil cores for drainage and break up the surface to deal with your very issue. You can probably rent a large professional one for a day with enough weight to penetrate and get 'er done, and give it a thorough going over. Cutting drainage slits in nowadays is a bit frowned upon.

    Lawn & Garden Tow Behind Aerator Rental in NH & MA - Grand Rental Station
    I imagine this would work with grass courts but the clay courts get so compacted there is no way any weighted punch or what have you will penetrate the surface.
    Thanks

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    I realize you said there is no money budgeted for this venture, but I have to ask. With the kind of time you are investing, and now facing "tooling" costs to boot, is there any equipment that is either readily available or could be borrowed or rented reasonably? I only ask, because I have spent time in many different fields of work, and sometimes it pays to spend a little money to save a lot of time. Tennis courts are not exactly small and cutting a 1/2 kerf every 12 inches would take forever, never mind the fact, that at that spacing, you won't gain much. It might pay to actually get a skid steer loader with a scarifier attachment and actually shallow "plow" the surface. You would have to do it while it is fairly dry, or it would just ball up on you. I think, to do this correctly, you would need to kerf it every 6" and do it in both directions (Longitudinal and lattitudinal) to cause the clay to redistribute the way you want it to. If you are just scooping it out to lay new clay, a skid steer with a toothed bucket would knock it out in no time flat, and you could scoop it out too. Even if you just sank the teeth of the bucket in to the clay at your desired intervals, the cost of a skid steer for a day would save you a weeks worth of back breaking work.... just my humble opinion....a skidsteer can rent for as little as 100 for a day around here, and some places close on Sunday, and don't charge you as long as they drop it Friday night and pick it up Monday morning. And for what it is worth, buy a can and fill the unit back up with the proper fuel(most likely diesel) so they don't charge you inflated rates for refueling...

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    The bobcat is absolutely the tool for this job and is what is used to do a professional court resurface job. We were not able to do this due to cost and some other roadblocks. We ended up getting by with the edger cutting 1/2"-3/4" kerfs from font to back about 10" apart. It was a back breaker but we were able to leave the lines down and put only about 3000 lbs on 2 courts where a complete renovation would be several days with no play and several tons of clay and so on.

    The whole goal was to make the compacted clay permeable so the sub surface irrigation would perform properly. We had huge problems with areas not getting moisture and other areas that would bubble up & create dead spots from water pressure pushing it up.

    It seems like you may have expeitence with clay court maintenance? ?? If so please PM me if you wouldn't mind fielding a few questions.

    Thanks
    Howard

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    if you have a tig set most have settings for arc welding. Buy the torch holder and they will run arc rod beautifully compared to a little AC buzz box! Most rods will run a lot nicer on DC than on AC. All you need to do is simply run a bead along your edge. If you make it a nats wider it will help reduce blade wear and friction. Don't get to carried away grinding it to a sharp edge. A bit rounded will often cut just as easily but not be redly damaged by the odd stone and such!

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    Thanks I ordered some hard surface rods and will give this a try.
    Quote Originally Posted by adama View Post
    if you have a tig set most have settings for arc welding. Buy the torch holder and they will run arc rod beautifully compared to a little AC buzz box! Most rods will run a lot nicer on DC than on AC. All you need to do is simply run a bead along your edge. If you make it a nats wider it will help reduce blade wear and friction. Don't get to carried away grinding it to a sharp edge. A bit rounded will often cut just as easily but not be redly damaged by the odd stone and such!

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    I am actually just a dumb fireman/paramedic with a lot of background in farming and some industrial equipment. I also understand drainage to a degree, and I know water doesn't flow through clay worth a darn! I would be glad to answer the questions if I can, and I have some good sources to help, if I can't come up with an answer. I fear that your fix won't last without some additional measures though....

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    Well I may be johnny come lately but I would try to find someone with a tractor and a box blade with scarifier teeth. I have a lot of property with red dirt clay/gravel for roads. IN the summer this stuff sets up like concrete and a box blade just drags across the top. However if I drop the teeth, angle the front to point down and add a 150lb piece of railroad track it busts the hell out of my roads and I can dress them with a back blade. BTW you dont need a big tractor to do this, we got by with a 15hp yanmar and a 4ft box blade to do the busting for years.


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