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Scrap Built Loader Tractor
"Be very methodical and take it step by step," advises Jack Lessie, who built a 4-WD, hydrostatic loader tractor from the ground up using scrap iron and salvaged parts.
"I first made a scale model out of wood with moving parts. It was extremely helpful in working out design problems and allowed me to make several changes that would have been much more difficult to make once I started building the actual loader," says Lessie.
The loader is advanced in design with articulated steering and a sophisticated selfleveling boom. Its professional finish and paint job- complete with a model name stenciled to the side - make it look like it could have just rolled off the sales lot of a major farm equipment manufacturer.
The engine is a rebuilt 198 cu. in. Hercules industrial compressor engine. It drives a hydraulic pump and motor that were stripped from a used cement mixer (it was used to spin the mixer). The hydraulic motor powers a transfer case that drives a shaft powering the two axles, which were salvaged along with the transfer case from an industrial loader. A hydraulic cylinder runs along the left side, almost in line with the driveshaft, and is connected to the steering wheel to steer the hinged tractor. The tractor is also hinged to oscillate up and down over obstacles.
Lessie fitted the tractor with a self-leveling boom of his own design so that he could haul wood and other materials in the bucket without spilling his load. The 1-yard capacity bucket stays level at any height.
The tractor has a low and high range. In low it'll travel from 0 to 3 mph. In high range, it'll travel at speeds up to 12 mph. It's equipped with lights for road travel.
The loader, which weighs about 8,000 lbs., is fitted with 12 by 16.5 8-ply tires mounted on Chevrolet truck wheels which are about the only parts he bought new. To make the glassed-in cab, he obtained a cab off an old combine and cut it down to size. He cut and bent all the sheet metal in his own shop, using salvaged scraps for everything possible. One job that he couldn't handle was the bucket, which he hired out to have rolled to shape. It took him about 3 years to complete the project.
"I've got about $4,500 into it. A comparable tractor, purchased new, would have cost about $40,000," says Lessie, noting that he uses it for moving dirt, snow, manure, hauling wood, and many other chores. Lessie says it was the second loader tractor he's built.

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1985 - Volume #9, Issue #2