Dennis Flanery couldn't justify the cost of a front wheel assist tractor but the Holden, Missouri, farmer felt that his Deere 4430 would be easier on hayfields if the front end had a little more float on soft ground.
"Just putting bigger tires on the front end wasn't an option," he says. "The cast iron axle and spindles weren't heavy enough to handle the pressure of bigger wheels and tires. I could have tried reinforcing the axle but that didn't seem like a good solution, either."
Instead, he removed the 4430's spindles and outer part of the axles and replaced them with spindles off the heavier steering axle of a Deere 7720 combine.
The 4430 axles were designed to adjust in width by telescoping in or out as needed. There was no adjustment on the 7720 axle, so Flanery made new outer axle bars for the 4430 from 2 by 3-in. steel bar stock. He had to have a V-shaped groove cut into the bar to match the V on the center part of the 4430 axle. He made the new axle pieces so front and rear wheel spacings match.
On the outside ends of his new 2 by 3 axle bars, Flanery welded plates made from 1-in. flat steel that he'd sized to match the plates on the combine spindles. He drilled holes to match those on the spindle plates, so mounting them was merely a matter of putting in the bolts.
"I discovered there were two different weights of spindles made for the 7720," he says. " I chose the heavier ones just to be sure."
Flanery bought a pair of 10 by 16-in. wheels off an old Allis Chalmers combine and fitted them with a new set of 16.9 by 26 lugged tires.
He used 3/4-in. tubing to make new connector rods to connect the 4430's power steering cylinder to the tie rods on the spindles. Once he had it together, the 7720 tie-rod ends no longer worked properly with what he'd built. With help from a parts dealer, he found ends made for a Case combine that worked with the Deere spindles. "With the big tires on it, the tractor won't turn as short as it did originally, but so far, that hasn't been a problem," Flanery says.
He bought a new front-end cost and new tires. He bought most of the parts he needed at a local salvage yard. When he was through, he sold the old 4430 front axle, wheels and tires.
"It gives the tractor much better flotation on soft and rough ground than it had with the old front end," he says. "It makes the tractor look like it has front wheel assist." He figures it added a couple thousand dollars to the value of his tractor.