Hook up and operation.
Before you hook up the Black Widow, fully lower the 3-pt arms. They should be within 6" from the ground. Adjust if needed.
After hooking up the 3-pt. Adjust lift arms so the rollers are level to the ground when the widow is raised in the air. And tighten or pin sway arms so widow dose not move from side to side too much and interfere with the tractor tires.
With the Widow setting fully on the ground , adjust the top link so the rip bar frame (square tubing the rip shanks attach to), is flat and level to the ground. You want both rows of rip shanks to dig the same depth. You may fine tune this after digging a little.
In normal operation the 3-pt. is fully down and any draft controls are off. Draft controls are so if the tractor is plowing, and the plow bogs down and goes too deep, the draft controls lift the plow a little so the tractor can keep pulling forward and not be stopped by the load. This function will restrict the Widow from operating properly and must be off. On older tractors it is usually a leaver next to the lifting leaver. On newer electronic tractors there is a button or knob to turn it off. Check with the tractor manufacture if you need to know more. The 3-pt. lift is used only in transport.
You may adjust rip depth with the hydraulics at a stop or in forward motion.
This should give you a idea of our thoughts on Working ground. Ground preparation for safe footing for speed events.
Ground composition. Clay.
Water amount is depending on soil composition. Sand need more, clay needs less.
A simple test is to grab a hand full of dirt and make a fist and make a clod, then bounce it in the palm of your hand and it should break apart fairly easy. If you can't make a clod it's too dry, if it don't come apart easy it may be too wet.
What we are after is firm ground at a sufficient depth. Not deep, not fluffy and most of all not hard. Initial arena prep.
Rip and cross rip the full pen at a depth of 6 to 8". Very important step. don't back off thinking you don't want it too deep. The next step will fix that.
Float at a depth of 1-3" to push the air out and firm up the ground. ( If you want firmer ground make another pass. )
If you push back the loose dirt on top, then you kick the ground with the toe of your boot it should dig in a little. if it doesn't, it's too hard or packed.
Maintain ground thru an event.
After so many runs, work the ground to level, tighten the ground and remove tracks.
Tip; If the tractor bounces as you drive over an area, make another pass until the tractor moves evenly over the ground.
After many passes the ground under the rip shanks may over pack and/or the top dirt may dry out and get looser. Know your ground. This will occur sooner or later and in different degrees depending on ground conditions. That is why there should be a "Big drag". Deep rip ( maybe one direction ) and then float the air out to desired firmness. This also brings up some moisture for a more even ground consistency.
With the "Widow" you can go after hard pack any time necessary. Without stopping you can descend the teeth as you approach the area where it needs to be dug up. ( i.e. Behind a barrel where a horse has slipped, or even all the barrels after 25 runs.) lift the teeth back up to the float depth and drive over the same area on your next pass or two, to firm up the area you just ripped up. This procedure is fast and easy with the widow, and adds very little time to the drag.
These steps are important to achieve safe and fair conditions.
The misconception is that you are changing things and that's not fair, the reality is things are changing with every run and drag, and this procedure brings conditions back to even and safe footing.
The same depth all the time doesn't usually work well. The ground packs harder and harder under that depth and all the body and hold is taken out of the ground above that depth Migrating the conditions to fluff on hard pan.
Sometimes they get by with it in ground that is slow to compact, and the turning horses do the digging for them. Until a horse goes by a turn and tries where the other horses haven't been digging up the ground and the tractor has continued to pack.
It's nice to see the horses flip up a clod now and then in the turns. This shows that the ground has some hold when compacted.
If a horse slips, it's too loose and/or shallow with hard underneath. You must dig out the hard, then float it back down.
Loose and deep are two different things.
Horses don't slip in deep ground, they may stumble, but not slip.
Just remember, if a horse slips, it's too hard.
If a horse stumbles, its choppy and uneven and needs another pass to even out and firm the ground.