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He Built His Own Loader Tools
“I salvage scrap metal, steel, old parts and other stuff and make it into all sorts of useful tools,” says Montana handyman Ross “Wilky” Wilkinson. “I started building stuff when I was a kid and learned a lot more during my job with a power company, so it’s an ongoing process,” Wilky says.
  Wilky has built heavy-duty log forks for a loader bucket, made an extra-wide pallet fork, designed and built a flexible blade and created a quick-tach device to mount those tools on a loader. He’s also made special log forks that fit inside a conventional dirt bucket and built a heavy-duty box that mounts on the 3-pt. hitch of his loader tractor. Building that full line of equipment followed his time constructing his own shop, installing a 70-year-old car hoist, refurbishing several old cars, re-building a dozen 50-year-old Deere crawlers and still finding time to harvest logs from his property. All that, and yes he even works full-time.
  “I’ve always had a lot of ideas,” Wilky says, “and a lot of them have turned into things that I really use.” One of his first projects was buying a 955 Deere loader tractor and modifying the quick hitch to accept a backhoe. He welded brackets inside the conventional gravel bucket to accept two large curved teeth made from scrap railroad steel. The 5-ft. long forks were great for moving brush and loading logs.
  After trading up to a larger Deere tractor with a bigger loader, Wilky designed and built his own quick-tach setup to accept a homemade blade and pallet fork. The quick-tach frame is made of scrap steel and mounts to the loader lift arms and tilt cylinders. His 6-ft. wide gravel blade, salvaged from a scrapped Ditch Witch, mounts on the quick-tach frame with a flexible connection made from the springs off a 1984 Camaro. “The springs are strong enough to keep the blade straight for plowing snow or moving a small amount of gravel,” Wilky says. “At the same time it flexes the blade and cushions the impact if I hit something solid.” Wilky said he built the blade with a manual pin system to adjust cutting angles and plans to convert that into a hydraulic system so he can make adjustments from the tractor seat.
  Wilky also built a heavy-duty pallet fork that he uses to load logs and brush. The 4-ft. long forks are made from recycled railroad iron and steel from an old dam. The forks mount to the frame with a sleeve that slides on a solid 2-in. shaft. That makes them adjustable from 2 to 6 ft. wide. “The mounting system lets the forks flex up as the loader goes down, and holds them tight to the frame when its lifting,” Wilky says.
  His handiwork also includes a 4-ft. square utility box that mounts on a quick hitch at the back of his tractor. He uses that for hauling rocks, tools or split firewood. “Tractors and loaders are made to work, and I just enjoy building equipment that helps them work better around my property,” Wilky says.
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Ross Wilkinson, P.O. Box 1226, Thompson Falls, Mont. 59873 (ph 406 827-4916).

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2013 - Volume #37, Issue #2