The Birth of a Tractor

Page 2-Paint and Reassembly

Page 3-Kubota Diesel Engine Upgrade

 

Several months ago, I decided I needed a project. About 5 years ago I built my own front end loader from a set of plans purchased at CADPLANS.COM. The FEL has served me well however the weight it places on the front axel of a garden tractor with manual steering has been less than ideal. Long story short, I did some digging and found one of these:

This machine is an articulating, 4WD tractor that uses 4 hydraulic motors for the drive mechanism.

After some calculations, I figured I would have upwards between $5-9K to build it. That just broke the budget.

 

I then did some more reading and found a guy that had built one like that using Case garden tractor transaxles:

Now, since I have one of these tractors, and am familiar with the internal workings, this seemed VERY do-able.

I decided that this would be the ticket!!! I started reading everything I could on the building of this style of articulated tractor, watching Ebay, and checking out the MyTractorForum.com. I befriended an interesting individual who had been collecting parts with the intention of building something like this someday, but didn't know if he'd ever get around to it. I mentioned that if he ever decided to clean house, I might be interested in a package deal. Next thing I knew, I was in the truck, driving 8 hours one way to pick up 2 transaxles, a frame, 4 wheels and tires, and a few other bits and pieces.

I figured I'd pick up a piece here and there on Ebay over the next year or two, but that didn't happen. The next week, I found a 1987 Ingersoll 446, that was less than complete. It was missing a seat, oil cooler, fuel pump. WIth a little work, it could have been rebuilt into a pretty nice machine, and to make it even better, it was only about 2.5 hours from my house!!!

3/12/09:
I watched the bidding over the next week and hung right around $330. I was thinking that the 16hp Onan was worth more than that. I thought that it SURELY would go for a lot more than that! 15 minutes before the auction was ending, the price was $359. I figured I would pay $450 max, so I put in my bid, and when the auction was over, I was the proud owner of this beautiful tractor for a grand total of $406!!! I couldn't believe it. This thing was coming together.

3/14/09:
Two days later, I was headed to Maryland to pick it up. A few hours later it looked like this:

3/20/09:
Since this tractor is centered around the articulating joint, I figured I'd start there. I picked up some materials at my local machine shop, and with some help with a friend at work, we were able to come up with this:

This would allow the tractor to not only turn right and left, but pivot horizontally to compensate for uneven ground. I shortened one of the frames I had, added in some support, and mounted it. This would end up being the back half of the tractor.

3/23/09:
I then had to mount the front half. I did some math and redneck engineering, and shortened the other frame I had. I bolted both transaxles in place and welded everything together, so now it looks like this:

3/25/09:
Up til now, I haven't started the engine because it didn't have a fuel pump. I found one on Ebay and was ready to try to fire it up. On a leap of faith, I hooked a battery up and it fired! It sounded GREAT, and didn't appear to burn any oil!! Another piece of the puzzle into place.

3/26/09:
After I got to this point, I started looking at the frame and thought, "Damn! This thing looks really long! It was then that I decided to chop 10" out of the front half. It doesn't sound like much, but it really helped proportion everything.

 

This week I picked away at small things in the evenings, and was able to get the motor, heat shield, oil cooler, and console mounted. I also mounted the hood and the seat.

3/28/09:
My friend Brian showed up today and we were able to get the loader off of my Ingersoll 4016. It normally lives on a winch system I built in the garage. I only install it on the tractor when I need to. We installed in on the tractor to take it up to the shop, and built a temporary winch system out of some scaffolding and an electric winch. I was expecting the worst, but it actually worked very well!

We moved it around and checked the fit on the new tractor. It looked pretty good but we'd have to re-engineer the support arms (which I knew would happen).

We removed the cross member from my Ingersoll 4016, and installed it on the project tractor. We then removed the uprights from the loader and installed them. Then reworked the support arms and welded everything together.

Now, it was time to put everything back together and see how it looks.

 

3/29/09
My friend Brian showed up again so I put him to work on making an enclosure for the fuel tank and getting everything mounted. I only hoped that I left him enough room! I explained what I expected, then turned my attention to working on designing the braking system. I also told him that the seat needed to move back about 3-4" so he took care of that as well. By the end of the day this is what we had come up with:

Hopefully my turning cylinders will arrive tomorrow and I can install the mounts for them. Next comes the floor and the steering valve, and mounting the travel valve, and lastly figuring out all of the hoses.

 

3/30/09
My steering cylinders arrived today and I was able to get them mocked up. I only had a couple of hours to play with this tonight, so that's about all I got done. All of the welds will get reinforced after tear-down.

4/1/09
Earlier in the week I was talking to a friend who is a Graphic Artist and shared my ideas with him. He told me that since I'm putting all of the time into every detail, that I should rework the sticker on the hood. I had already given this some thought, however it was pretty low on the priority list. I told him what I was thinking and went away. A day later he came up with some pretty cool couple of prototypes.

4/2/09
Tonight I was able to lay out the floor. I used Uni-Strut so I can use the anchors to secure the diamond plate. It went together pretty nicely. Tomorrow night I plan to cut the diamond plate and install it.
4/3/09
Tonight I installed the diamond plate on the floor. It turned out pretty good.

4/4/09
Today I added some finishing touches. I was able to mount the Travel Control Valve (TCV), steering valve, and the AUX PTO (which will eventually control the power angle to my snow plow.)


Tomorrow, it's time to tear everything apart!! I will clean up all the welds, add support where needed, then add primer and paint.

 

Tear Down, Paint, and Reassembly

4/6/09
Had a productive weekend. Brian came over again and we got everything disassembled. While I was adding last minute changes, Brian was busy with wrench in hand. It took 3 weeks to put this whole thing together, and only about 2 hours completely tear it apart....how depressing.

Adding gussets and reinforcing welds where needed:

 

Paint and Reassembly

click here