2000 - Volume #24, Issue #4, Page #11[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
Combine Converted To Front-End Loader
But an end loader or 4-WD tractor with a bucket was well beyond what the Fort Qu'Appelle, Saskatchewan, brothers thought they could spend. They upgraded to a real loader tractor by building their own from a couple of old combines.
"Lawrence designed it and we built it together," Ed says. "We put up hay with a Hesston stacker and feed hay with the front-end loader. We also use it for scraping and loading manure, so we spend a lot of time on the loader."
They started with an IH 815 combine and stripped it down to the frame. "All we had left was a big wheel assembly and the two channel irons attached to that," Ed says. They used the original engine and hydrostatic transmission from the 815, but remounted the engine farther back for better ballast.
To ensure they had plenty of strength in the machine, they added an extra frame from a late 1950's or early 1960's Case 1000 combine. Wheels, axles, and power steering all came from the 815.
With the engine in place, they designed and installed framing and bracing for a quick-attach Leon's front-end loader.
They use a 6-ft. wide self-leveling bucket with a grapple fork on it, so they can use it for hauling both manure and feed.
They designed and built the cab to look more like the cab on a big backhoe and mounted it near the center of the frame. "It has a sloping top, with a window in the front, so we can see the bucket when it's fully raised," Ed says.
While the engine is usually heavy enough to counter the load on their bucket, they clamped 600 to 700 lbs. of flat steel to the back of the frame. This weight is removable, though they've never taken it off.
They used the original combine tires on the drive wheels.
The Bespalko brothers built their loader 7 years ago, mostly to save money. The original 345 cu. in. 8-cyl. gas engine has since been replaced with an IH 414 cu. in. diesel engine. "We could have bought a used bi-directional tractor or something similar. But the total cost of our conversion was only about $3,000. We spent another $6,000 to replace the engine."
They're still not quite finished with the machine. An engine hood and a mast for a fork lift are in the design process.
"It took a lot of time and labor to make this conversion, but in the long run it saved us at least $25,000 over the price of a used machine and maybe $60,000 over the price of a new one."
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Lawrence and Edward Bespalko, P.O. Box 965, Fort Qu'Appelle, Sask., Canada S0G1S0 (ph: 306-3325).
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