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small loader #2479 04/21/2021 08:36 PM
Joined: Jan 2019
Posts: 732
sonny Online Content OP
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Getting to the point where I could use a small loader around the yard/gardens. Was kickin around the idea of using the axles from a Ford ranger---- 89 or 90 I think, anyway its 4wd and would be fairly small to start with. could narrow up the axles a little---but they are not too wide to start with.
Probably hydro drive would be best. Dont need anything to bulldoze with---just something to move loose compost and dirt with after its broke loose with the skidloaders.
open to ideas here! lol!


"A machine you build yourself is a vote for a different way of life. There are things you have to earn with your hands."
Re: small loader [Re: sonny] #2480 04/22/2021 07:12 AM
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bunkclimber Offline
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why can't you do that work with a skidsteer? I had the same need Sonny,I have pneumatic tire forklifts but they get stuck easy on wet grass,so I needed a way to move items around when its wet from the front shop to the back storage area across grass and sometimes soggy wet grass and mud,as well as needed to use a bucket now and then for snow removal..a skidsteer was out because I need to get out of the machine sometimes with a load raised up to work on it..a used articulated mini loader was well over $25k when I could find one,most were worn out basket cases,i looked at 'em all,(Kubota,TCM,Avant)..so I chose to build one..what I learned Sonny is this..build it with 3/4T axles,4.11ratio or better.The Ranger axles arent up to it. I used IH Scout 2 axles,30spline Dana44s and cut them down to 4ft wide,a little too light for the machine in hindsight. if you can find them,put limited slip differentials in them,but not lockers.Open diffs will cut back on power delivered to the ground,lot of wheelspin and getting stuck with those..Full floater axles(3/4T or 1T) are the best to use,with the weights involved the bearings take a beating with the semifloaters when you break a shaft,and you will..build in as much weight in the ass of the machine as you can,fuel,hydraulic tanks,battery,etc all go to the back..hydraulic drive is OK if reduced enough,the 4.10/4.11 axle ratios allow for that..i used a #60 morse chain drive from one centrally mounted Char-Lynn 104-1028 series motor to a transfer case,this allowed me to tune the sprocket ratio between the motor and transfer case to allow the most speed and power.The one hyd motor has so much torque it ripped the transfer case clean off its mount bolts,so I came up with a girdle for it to expand the mounting points to spread the forces out onto the frame,it was a tough job very tight confines with hoses everywhere and steer cylinder mixed in as well to work around. If you go hydraulic drive use motors with case drains,this allows motor case pressure buildups to vent back to the tank instead of blowing up your motor(s) The drive control is a simple cylinder valve,no fancy stuff here,it holds the machine when you let off of it..takes some seat time to master but works OK when you learn how to run it. The low axle ratios and the reduction drive to the transfer case dampen the drive action,its not so jerky like a 1:1 drive where you feel everything.I have $3K into mine and that wasnt a total OCD build,I used a lot of parts I had around and built most all of the frame myself from 1"plate and 2x4 rectangular tubing. I used a 25hp Kohler direct coupled to a 2-section hyd gear pump,had to custom modify the engine/pump adapter but has been OK so far for 10yrs or running it. A couple photos for you

articulated joint
[Linked Image from kuhnbros.com]

Axle snappage
[Linked Image from kuhnbros.com]

The early axle shafts I cut and welded didnt hold up with the locking diff so I went with limited slip differentials..then I started TIG welding the axle shafts with Cronatron Eagle 100K PSI rod and beveing them first to get a full weld,you can see from the photo the first shafts I did had a learning curve LOL The Dana44s have held up OK housing wise just the shafts broke a lot..gotta have spares..also helps a LOT if you make a notebook with dimensions of everything in it for future rebuild/repair reference..very important..I cant remember what the shafts length were,I haveta go to the notebook..there is a bit of wiggle room in the shafts,the splines dont have to be bottomed totally in the diff to work,you can be even a 1/4" too short and it will still fit up into the axle and diff.Takes some figuring and dimensioning,looks easy but takes a concentrated effort to get it right. Maybe this gives you some insight Sonny as to what I went thru,maybe you are going simpler with what parts you have..That Ranger will get cut and used one way or the other from what Ive seen of your work LOL

Re: small loader [Re: sonny] #2647 06/24/2021 02:14 PM
Joined: Jan 2019
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sonny Online Content OP
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I really need something garden tractor size, ---looked at a loader for a sunstar 20 but cylinders were junk and the guy still wanted $2,000 for it! Loaders this size would work good for my garden work since I wouldnt be really diggin/buldozin, or lifting anything big/heavy with it.
Ya, the skidloaders are great but a bit overkill for garden/yard use.
Was just thinkin about taking a sunstar 20 and make a loader that would mount on the tractor facing the back so it would carry most of the weight on the drive axle. I could strip most everything off and start with engine/frame/axles unit an build from there. Steering could be turned just a hair to make it lay flat so not much mods needed for it. seat would sit sorta over the battery box and part of the engine area. Being hydro forward would become reverse and it moves fairly fast in hi-reverse so that should work without turning anything around in the rearend unit.
Still thinking out loud on this but it may be better than ranger axles. ---- dont really need 4 wheel drive for my use on this one since it would only be used on dry ground.


"A machine you build yourself is a vote for a different way of life. There are things you have to earn with your hands."
Re: small loader [Re: sonny] #2651 06/24/2021 11:13 PM
Joined: Jun 2021
Posts: 1
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Vigo327 Offline
MBN stranger
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Joined: Jun 2021
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I have a Kubota B6100 with FEL that might be about what you're thinking. I love the maneuverability of it. Of course, i did also buy a tiny skidsteer that is roughly the same size (ford CL20 equivalent, mine's an Erickson) but it was cheap and broken and i spend a lot more time fighting it than using it. Even owning the two of those, i still find myself brainstorming a smaller, almost 'pin on' FEL for an engineless Case 442 garden tractor that's sitting here, so i relate to your 'I have things but i still want to BUILD more things' thought here.

I would say that if you already have skidsteers and IF you can actually get them into the space you are trying to work in and they aren't just too big to fit through gates or some such, you might consider adding a caster/casters to the back of one of the skidsteers. That would allow you to maneuver it with a lot less ground disruption and overall would be a simpler project than most loader builds i can scheme up.

But if they're too big or too heavy regardless and you just want something smaller, I would say finding something with some kind of existing 3 pt lift would make things a lot easier to build a light duty loader from. How high do you need to lift anything? Just extending/modifying the 3pt arms might get you an acceptable range of motion if you're not trying to get up very high. Of course, the further out the less lift capacity and the more front counterweight required which eventually causes problems with steering and axles on something light duty. Bucket tilt could be done with an electric linear actuator or if you really just need to carry and then dump you could just build a latching 'dump bucket'. To get stuff to stay in the bucket more when lifted, moving the inboard end of the top link down further would make the bucket roll back a bit when lifted. Anyway, lots of 'rear loader'/'back loader' videos on youtube you can get some design ideas from.

Last edited by Vigo327; 06/24/2021 11:20 PM.

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