Is the rule of thumb, "if you can reverse up the hill, you can drive up the hill"?

twotall88

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May 12, 2022
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Update: I redid the measurement with a 8' straight edge and it turns out the top of the hill I'm mowing is 56-60°. I understand the internet says I'm crazy but I'm really not having issues carefully mowing up it in reverse.

I have a 40-46° 56-60° slope that I'm mowing with my BX2380 and 60" MMM. The rear are liquid ballasted and I mow with the FEL off up and down, mostly reverse cutting in 4wd at this point.

Mowing backwards up the hill is definitely 'nose down' feeling for obvious reasons but never even shows a sign of loss of traction with the R4/industrial tires on it. I get sketched out when I drive up the hill even though the front end isn't picking up at all. This is the 3rd time I've mowed my lawn with the BX and I have previously side mowed this hill on my Cub Cadet lawn mower where I could hang off the side to keep traction with R1 tires on the rear.

As such, I'm new to driving up/down hills with 4wd making the difference as there was no way I was making it in 2wd. Is there a dynamic where reversing up makes the difference with weight distribution up and down? Should I get some weights for the front? Edit: I've come to realize that the "if it's steep and you have to go up it, do it in reverse" logic is simply around having more control if you lose traction.
 
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gmgmgm

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Impressive grip, but I'd be more concerned about rolling over sideways - the front wheels don't give any stability, as the tractor is more like a tripod. Reversing up the hill at a slight angle could be too much for it.

I expect the ideal is to have equal weight at back and front, and as low down as possible?
 
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jimh406

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The biggest concern is getting the rear off the ground. The brakes are on the rear. I wouldn’t add any weight to the front for that reason.

This video by Ask Tractor Mike goes into some details of things to consider.

 

twotall88

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BX2380
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Impressive grip, but I'd be more concerned about rolling over - the front wheels don't give any stability, as the tractor is more like a tripod. Reversing up the hill at a slight angle could be too much for it.

I expect the ideal is to have equal weight at back and front, and as low down as possible?
They tell you to reverse up the hill because you will lose traction before you will go end-over-end vs going forward you have the engine up high.

I really get the tripod bit but didn't make that connection until now. I have a lot of slopes on my property and I'm constantly stopping to 'wiggle' the tractor to see if the rear tire picks up at all as I feel out which slops are safe or not to side mow.

The more I read it sounds like I'll be stuck reversing this hill.
 

North Idaho Wolfman

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Going down a steep hill forward in 4wd is the best option.
As far as going up a steep hill, neither is a really good choice, forwards if the backend slides your going to get in trouble real quick, backwards can cause the same effect!
As far as it flipping end over end, well that's really hard to do!
But get it sideways and it will roll without even a blink!
 
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Henro

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I have a 40-46° slope that I'm mowing with my BX2380 and 60" MMM. The rear are liquid ballasted and I mow with the FEL off up and down, mostly reverse cutting in 4wd at this point.

Mowing backwards up the hill is definitely 'nose down' feeling for obvious reasons but never even shows a sign of loss of traction with the R4/industrial tires on it. I get sketched out when I drive up the hill even though the front end isn't picking up at all. This is the 3rd time I've mowed my lawn with the BX and I have previously side mowed this hill on my Cub Cadet lawn mower where I could hang off the side to keep traction with R1 tires on the rear.

As such, I'm new to driving up/down hills with 4wd making the difference as there was no way I was making it in 2wd. Is there a dynamic where reversing up makes the difference with weight distribution up and down? Should I get some weights for the front?
45 degree slope? Hard to imaging climbing one of those, and coming down would be “fun” to say the least.

Are you confusing percent slope with degrees by chance?

How about a picture!
 
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D2Cat

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Use your ROPS and seat belt at all times 'cause eventually a circumstance will occur that catches you off guard.
 

twotall88

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45 degree slope? Hard to imaging climbing one of those, and coming down would be “fun” to say the least.

Are you confusing percent slope with degrees by chance?

How about a picture!
I don't have a picture at the moment, I'll get one this afternoon with a plumb bob in it knowing pictures don't do hills justice. I redid the measurement last night with a 8' straight edge and at the top of the hill it measures 56-60°
 

hodge

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I mow a steep slope in my front yard, using a JD790 with a finish mower. I back up the hill to mow, and I've never lifted a rear tire or lost control. I have done it a few times driving forward up the slope, no issues, but because of conditions (location of my garden), I prefer backing up.
If a person had a loader on the tractor, I could see how it would be possible to lift a rear tire backing up a slope. No loader, it would be almost impossible, unless a rear tire went up on a stump or a rock.
 

GreensvilleJay

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I don't understand the death defying desire to cut grass on any steep hill. I eliminated the 12/12 pitched slope(yeah, 45*) on my property, 35 years ago, turned into 'terraced' flower gardens, mix of perennials,herbs and tomatoes. There's a lot of 'ground covers' that would do great on the slope.
 
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twotall88

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I don't understand the death defying desire to cut grass on any steep hill. I eliminated the 12/12 pitched slope(yeah, 45*) on my property, 35 years ago, turned into 'terraced' flower gardens, mix of perennials,herbs and tomatoes. There's a lot of 'ground covers' that would do great on the slope.
I really want to do retaining walls with drivable 6' flats but that is $$$ to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars. It comes down to time and money. Right now it's a lot easier and faster to ride it cautiously than it is to string trim it.
 

jyoutz

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I really want to do retaining walls with drivable 6' flats but that is $$$ to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars. It comes down to time and money. Right now it's a lot easier and faster to ride it cautiously than it is to string trim it.
Riding a 60 degrees slope isn’t being cautious. Sooner or later, you will roll the tractor and hopefully you are wearing your seatbelt and have the Rops up. Get a wheeled string trimmer or find some other use for that area.
 

RalphVa

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Up the hill in 4wd is the way I'd go. I have one like that off the right side of our driveway.

ALWAYS run in 4wd unless you're going a long distance on paved surfaces. Otherwise, you only have 2 wheel brakes on the rear, and the rears will skid going down a slope. If they skid sideway, you're liable to roll.
 
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Rdrcr

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I mow 40-60% slopes on my hilly property and that’s steep enough. I couldn’t imagine trying much steeper than that.

Mike
 

Henro

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I don't have a picture at the moment, I'll get one this afternoon with a plumb bob in it knowing pictures don't do hills justice. I redid the measurement last night with a 8' straight edge and at the top of the hill it measures 56-60°
Not meaning to beat a dead dog,

BUT if the slope was 45 degrees, then the end of the 8' straight edge, when held level, would be 8 feet above the ground at the end.

How did you hold it level and make that vertical measurement? The end of the straight edge would have been higher than 8', since the angle you state is greater than 45 degrees...

Still wondering if there is confusion between angles and percent grade here.
 

ruger1980

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I don't have a picture at the moment, I'll get one this afternoon with a plumb bob in it knowing pictures don't do hills justice. I redid the measurement last night with a 8' straight edge and at the top of the hill it measures 56-60°
As asked are you confusing angle and percent? A 56 degree angle would be 150% slope and in 8ft would have a 12ft rise. I would like to see the tractor that drives up that slope.
 
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JoeBabbs

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I have a disturbingly steep hill and feel much more stable backing uphill, with loaded tires, and often a backhoe attached.
 

otter

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This is an interesting topic.....I’m working a trail straight down a hill i can not back up but can drive down with no problem. I measured it at 20.56 degrees.
A l3800 w/fel and a rake on three point.
50 degrees? That would be spooky.
 

Grandad4

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These reports of going up/down 50-60 degree slopes are pretty amazing. 60 degrees is 2/3 of the way to doing a face plant or a butt plant with the tractor, depending on whether you're facing uphill or downhill! Is that really something a person does with a tractor and gets away with it ?

Completely aside from the safety considerations discussed so far here, folks need to recognize the potential consequences to engine and hydraulics of operating on extreme slopes. These tractors typically have pickup systems in the oil pan and also in the transmission to supply oil/hydraulic fluid. There will be some slope and orientation where those pickups may no longer draw fluid, potentially leading to starvation in the engine and/or hydraulics. Lack of engine lubrication is bad enough to consider; when the HST no longer has fluid, there is the potential for loss of traction and freewheeling.

I don't know what the operating limits are for these tractors, but I would not assume they are designed to safely operate on a 60 deg. slope or anything close.
 
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Dieseldonato

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These reports of going up/down 50-60 degree slopes are pretty amazing. 60 degrees is 2/3 of the way to doing a face plant or a butt plant with the tractor, depending on whether you're facing uphill or downhill! Is that really something a person does with a tractor and gets away with it ?

Completely aside from the safety considerations discussed so far here, folks need to recognize the potential consequences to engine and hydraulics of operating on extreme slopes. These tractors typically have pickup systems in the oil pan and also in the transmission to supply oil/hydraulic fluid. There will be some slope and orientation where those pickups may no longer draw fluid, potentially leading to starvation in the engine and/or hydraulics. Lack of engine lubrication is bad enough to consider; when the HST no longer has fluid, there is the potential for loss of traction and freewheeling.

I don't know what the operating limits are for these tractors, but I would not assume they are designed to safely operate on a 60 deg. slope or anything close.
Probably closer to 20* or less for the vast majority of models...
 
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