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Homebuilt loader tractor
"It's heavy and stable enough to do a wide variety of jobs, and it never gets stuck," says John Butak, Chippewa Falls, Wis., about his homebuilt 4-WD loader tractor which he built from an old front-wheel drive truck frame, transmission and transfer case, a stationary engine used in lead mines, four equal-sized road grader tires, and a heavy-duty boom and bucket.
Butak shortened the frame of a 1934 FWD front-wheel drive truck to 11 ft. and mounted the engine at the rear. He installed the steering sector from an old International truck and mounted the seat in front between the lift arms, which can lift the 4-ft. wide, 30-in. high bucket up to 11 ft. high. Each axle weighs 2,000 lbs. and the entire tractor weighs 14,000 lbs.
"I've used it to load logs, pick up machinery and dead animals, move concrete feed bunks, scrape dirt, and load manure," says Butak, who built the tractor in 1959. "I wanted a loader tractor, not a tractor equipped with a front-end loader where the front wheels bear all the weight so you're more likely to get stuck in soft ground. These days many farmers mount front-end loaders on 4-WD tractors, but when I built this tractor 4-WD was unheard of. I bought the loader and bucket from a farmer who had built it for his own tractor but discovered it was so heavy that the tractor couldn't lift it. It weighs almost 1,600 lbs. The bucket can be replaced with two 4-ft. long forks which can carry two 16-ft. long, 30-in. dia. logs at a time. It has a rear drawbar and hitch for pulling wagons but it's too clumsy for field work."
Butak bought the diesel engine, a 1938 PD-40 International, for $75. It was originally used in a Wisconsin lead mine to power conveyors and later in an ore-making facility to power a generator. The engine weighs 3,800 lbs. and is rated at 50 brake hp which is equal to about 200 flywheel hp. "The 505 cu. in. engine provides lots of torque;" says Butak. "It doesn't have a starter so I hand crank. I don't use the tractor much in the winter because it's too hard to crank it. I start the engine on gas, then switch to diesel when the engine has warmed up. I shut off the valve on the gas tank and let the gas burn out of the carburetor. When I hear the engine begin to hesitate, I push a throttle to allow diesel fuel into the engine. Then I pull a lever to isolate the spark plug so it doesn't get fouled up with diesel fuel and to increase compression at the same time."
Butak made an oscillating front axle by welding a 4-in. dia. pipe perpendicular to the axle and welding two braces from the pipe to the spindle. He then welded a shaft through the pipe to two cross members on the frame.
The 38-in. long, 5-speed transmission weighs 1,200 lbs. and has a 3:1 reduction gear ratio. The tractor can go 25 mph on the road or crawl in low gears. Roller chain sprockets transfer power from the engine to the transmission. The tractor is equipped with four hydraulic cylinders to operate the boom and bucket and two hydraulic pumps - one to operate the steering and the other to control the hydraulic cylinders. There are weights totaling 2,200 lbs. at the rear.
Butak says he spent $1,200 to build the tractor.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, John Butak, Rt. 2, Box 18, Chippewa Falls, Wis. 54729 (ph 715 723-6204).


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1990 - Volume #14, Issue #1