What is a grapple?

A grapple is simply a hook or claw that is used to catch and hold something. This generic definition applies to many different devices, the simplest being a ship’s anchor. Other simple examples include a throwing grapple or a multi-spiked hook used for climbing. In engineering or construction it almost exclusively applies to the powered claw that is often seen on large, earth moving machinery.

Grapplers and heavy machines

A grapple is a powered claw that makes use of hydraulic technology by using two or more opposing levers to pinch and then pull or drag materials. Grapples are commonly mounted to tractors and excavators. They are attached to the movable arm where they can extend or retract in addition to moving side to side, which is referred to as a pivot or rotate. Higher end engineering machines may also contain a separate control for rotating the grapple by itself.

Simple grapple machines are made-up of a hydraulic powered fork, also called a “grapple rake,” or bucket in addition to an opposing “thumb” or multiple hooks and levels that enclose and grip different materials for lifting and dragging purposes.

The bucket on the loader or other heavy machine, otherwise known as a multi-purpose or demolition bucket, operates a grapple that forces the hinges on the rear side of the bucket to be forced apart or forced together using cylinders operating on hydraulic technology.

Are their different types of grapples?

There are several other grapples that have specific abilities, like lifting, pushing or digging. The major one is called a lifting grapple, and it functions as an attachment to large, heavy objects so it can support heavy material landing equipment.

Lifting grapples can also stand in as a tie down that hold large objects in place. This is done via attaching ropes or chains to a point on the grapple, securing the bulky item.

Thus grapplers serve many functions and are highly versatile, serving as aids to large, earthmoving machinery or secure supports for large, bulky machinery. Since their inception they have provided a powerful, valuable tool that functions as an essential accessory in any large, engineering or construction project that uses heavy, powerful machinery.