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Deere Hydrostatic Makes Ideal Loader Tractor
Leroy Staffanson, Sidney, Mont., built what he says is the ideal farm loader last year when he converted his 730D Deere tractor to hydrostatic drive and fitted it with a high-lift loader.
The all-hydraulic design of the tractor is not the only unique feature on the loader. Its high-lift bucket is stabilized with a set of patented folding parallel bars that smooth out the sway and jiggle caused by working 20 ft. above the small tractor.
"It works so much faster than a conventional tractor loader you can't believe it. It slips into reverse by switching a lever with your finger and zips in and out like a Bobcat skid-steer loader. It goes as fast in reverse as in forward," says Staffanson.
Staffanson converted the tractor to hydrostatic drive by disconnecting the clutch discs from the crankshaft. The engine flywheel runs a varireversable pump and this drives a hydraulic motor which, in turn, drives the transmission. The regular transmission is left in 5th or 6th gear most of the time to give the tractor a full range of speeds. Variable speed hydraulic controls were installed in the cab.
To connect the flywheel to the hydraulic pump, Staffanson used his shop lathe to machine down the flywheel, mount a plate on it and attach a sprocket to that plate to drive the chain. The hydraulic pump is connected to the clutch pulley on the engine by a set of double roller chains. He had to machine down the clutch pulley, too, to mount a bearing on ft.
"It works great and, after 300 hrs. of everyday use, we've had no problems with it," Staffanson told FARM SHOW. "However, I wouldn't advise anyone to do it exactly the way I did it. If I did it again, I would either mount the engine sideways or replace it with a smaller diesel engine to eliminate the clutch pulley, and make enough room to hook the hydraulic pump and motor up directly to the driveshaft. That's because the drive chains on this tractor will require maintenance in the future."
The 730, which is rated at about 55 hp., lost about 20% of its power due to the conversion. But Staffanson says there's still enough power to spin the tires from a standing start and he uses it to dig dirt, handle manure and do any other chores for which he would normally use a farm loader. "You don't notice any loss in power because it's so handy to use," he says, noting that any gas or diesel tractor could be converted to hydrostatic drive.
After converting the tractor, Staffanson built a high-lift front-end loader and mounted it on the tractor for handling the huge piles of loose hay he puts up on his beef ranch. Equipped with either a hay stacker or grapple fork, it'll reach out about 5 ft. in "front" of the turned-around tractor and about 20 ft. up.
Staffanson found that, when working that high, his tractor jerked and bounced around. As a solution, he came up with his unique stabilizing bars. The bars pile up in a neat square pile under the loader in the down position but, when the loader's raised, they fold out like an accordion, stopping any side-to-side movement and transferring movement to the tractor tires and axle where the bars are fastened. The bars are not powered in any way. "They make the tractor much more stable and are completely trouble-free," says Staffanson. The only other attachment to the tractor are three heavy counterweights mounted at the rear.
For more information, contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Leroy Staffanson, Rt. 1, Box 3076, Sidney, Mont. 59270 (ph 406 798-3354).

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1984 - Volume #8, Issue #3